John N. Happy Camp Collection


102 cubic feet

portrait of Happy Camp

Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

John Newbold Happy Camp was born in Enid, Oklahoma, on May 11, 1908. After attending elementary and secondary schools in Blackwell and Douglas, he graduated from Waukomis High School. Afterwards, Camp attended Enid's Phillips University before beginning a career in banking. Eventually he rose to the presidency of the Waukomis State Bank. Long active in civic affairs, Camp headed the Great Salt Plains Boy Scout Council. He also served on the governing boards of the Oklahoma State Fair, the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce, and the Christian Church Foundation.

Blessed with a most agreeable name (among other things, it allowed his campaign workers to style themselves "Happy Campers"), Camp entered elective politics in 1942. Except for the very worst years of the Dust Bowl, Oklahoma's northwestern corner had been Republican ever since its settlement by Kansas wheat farmers. Camp's election as a Republican to the state legislature in 1942 signaled the area's return to form. It was also the first of his ten elections to one of Garfield County's two slots in the state house of representatives.

Leaving the legislature after 1962, Camp sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1966 but lost a runoff to State Senator Dewey F. Bartlett. He thereupon received Bartlett's appointment as chairman of the Oklahoma State Board of Public Affairs and served in that position from 1967 through 1968.

After long controversies over apportionment formulas, the 1967 legislature finally redefined Oklahoma's congressional districts. Years of population loss in southwestern Oklahoma forced the legislature to add other area's voters to the old Sixth District, then represented by Republican James V. Smith. Political circumstances dictated that the additions would come from the Republican northwest. The result--the new Sixth--was expected to be one of the most Republican districts in the United States. In 1968, Camp carried that district by 15,000 votes to become its first representative in Congress.

Camp's most notable committee service was on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and the Science and Astronautics Committee. During his years in Congress, he maintained an unflinchingly conservative voting record. That hardly put him at odds with his district. In 1972's presidential race, Oklahoma's Sixth District gave Richard Nixon a greater percentage of its presidential vote (79%) than did any district outside the Deep South.

So great was Nixon's fall from grace over the Watergate scandal that it affected even conservative rural Oklahoma. Only months after the president's resignation in 1974, Sixth District voters stunned the nation by replacing Camp with a young challenger, Glenn English, the thirty-three year-old director of the state Democratic Party. The reversal was so complete that English even carried the only two Oklahoma counties (Alfalfa and Major counties) that claimed a majority Republican registration.

As Glenn English went to Washington to begin a long tenure in Congress, Happy Camp returned to Oklahoma. He died in Enid on September 27, 1987.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The John N. Happy Camp Collection consists of 102 cubic feet of material and covers the period 1967-1974. The collection is arranged into several series; internal arrangement is either chronological or alphabetical by topic. While Camp's papers are particularly strong in energy, mining, and Native American subjects, in contrast there are only a few cubic feet of routine materials on science and astronautics. The collection also is especially strong on agricultural topics. Documents contained in the collection include correspondence, legislation, publications, clippings, voting records, speeches, press releases, reports, proceedings, invitations, campaign literature, lists, memorabilia, and notes.

Camp gave his papers to the University of Oklahoma in 1976.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following is a detailed listing of series, boxes, folders, and documents that can be found in this collection.

Series 1: General Correspondence, 1967-1974

This series includes 39.5 cubic feet of material and consists largely of constituent correspondence. The series is particularly strong on agriculture and Indians. During Camp's last years in Congress, there are increasing amounts of material related to outer space and the Watergate affair.

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Series 2: Legislative, 1967-1974

The series of 35.5 cubic feet of material consists of four subseries-including General Legislative Correspondence, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Committee on Science and Astronautics, and Water Projects. The General Legislative Correspondence (19.5 cubic feet) is arranged by congressional session. Within each session, materials are arranged alphabetically by either committee name or by topic. In addition to constituent mail, these files include pamphlets, reports, and other materials. The Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs files (9 cubic feet) are arranged by these topics: Alaska (including Alaskan native land claims and the Alaskan pipeline); energy; environment; irrigation and reclamation; mines and mining; national parks and recreation; trust territories; water and power; Indian affairs; and committee files. The files for the Committee on Science and Astronautics (4 cubic feet) contain routine correspondence in addition to subcommittee statements, hearings, and reports pertaining to NASA and the space shuttle. The Water Projects files (3 cubic feet) complete the legislative series.

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Series 3: Personal, 1969-1974

Consisting of 5.3 cubic feet of material, this series is arranged chronologically with an alphabetical arrangement within it. It mainly consists of correspondence.

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Series 4: Happy Camp Bills, 1969-1974

This series of 4.7 cubic feet includes bills that Camp either introduced or co-sponsored in Congress. The materials are arranged by Congress. In addition to copies of the bills, this series has correspondence, reports, memoranda, and statements.

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Series 5: Personal Trip, 1969-1974

This small series of 1 cubic foot consists of materials related not only to congressional travel but also personal trips taken by Camp.

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Series 6: Campaign, 1968-1974

This series of 5 cubic feet is arranged chronologically. For the most part, it consists of correspondence.

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Series 7: Schedules, 1969-1974

This series has 1 cubic foot of material and includes appointment books, weekly schedules, and trip itineraries.

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Series 8: Voting Records, 1969-1974

Containing 3 cubic feet of material, this series is arranged by Congress. There are also some news releases and newsletters in this series.

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Series 9: Committee Information (Personal), 1967-1974

This series of 1 cubic foot has a variety of material, including information on Republican politics, personal finances and insurance, the congressman's family.

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Series 10: Republican Research Committee Digest of Legislation, 1973-1974

This series has 1 cubic foot of material and covers Camp's last term as a congressman.

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Series 11: Log, [1970]-1974

This series of 1 cubic foot also has a copy of a federal energy office briefing book as well as county profiles for Oklahoma counties.

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Series 12: Floor Information and Administration Statements, 1973-1974

Covering only 1973 and 1974, this series consists of 1 cubic foot.

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Series 13: Questionnaires and Miscellaneous, n.d., 1969-1974

Including .3 cubic foot of material, this series has questionnaires and a small file related to Camp's office staff.

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Series 14: Oversize, n.d., 1969-1974

Consisting of 2.7 cubic feet of material, this series has scrapbooks as well as memorabilia, especially from Camp's campaigns.

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Series 15: Maps, 1962-1974

There are 150 maps in this collection and include several related to water projects in Oklahoma.

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Users should also check the photos found in the Happy Camp Photograph Collection. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.

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