Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Thomas Jefferson Steed was born near Rising Star, Texas, on March 2, 1904. At the age of four, he and his family moved to a farm near Konawa in what would later become the state of Oklahoma. Steed's formal education ended after his first semester of high school. He then began a twenty-year career in the newspaper business and worked on papers in Konawa, Ada, McAlester, Bartlesville, Oklahoma City, and Shawnee. During the late 1930s, he served as secretary to three Oklahoma congressmen--Percy L. Gassaway, R. P. Hill, and Gomer Smith. Steed enlisted as a private in anti-aircraft artillery during World War II and was released from active duty in May 1944 with the rank of second lieutenant. He served in the Office of War Information Division's Office for the India-Burma War Theater at Bombay, India, until December 1945.
Steed was elected as a Democrat from Oklahoma's Fourth District in 1948 and to the fifteen succeeding congresses. During his thirty-two years in Congress, he served on the Appropriations, Small Business, Public Works, and Education Committees as well as the Transportation Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Military Construction. His most powerful legislative position was that of chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Treasury and Post Office. In 1976, he was elected as chair of the House Small Business Committee, thus becoming the first Oklahoman to hold a full committee chairmanship in the House since the Congressional Reorganization Act of 1946. He served as a member of the Federal Paperwork Commission and worked to achieve passage of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Some of his more notable legislative accomplishments included helping to create the nation's vast Interstate Highway System, the federal impact aid to schools programs, the Library Services Act of 1956, and the Small Watersheds Act. He worked to protect the interests of the military installations (Tinker Air Force Base, Fort Sill, and Altus Air Force Base) in his district. He also secured funding for the Kerr-McClellan Navigation System, which made Tulsa a seaport. With Senator Robert S. Kerr, he sponsored the legislation creating Lake Thunderbird which brought needed water to Norman, Midwest City, and Del City. Steed was instrumental in the establishment of the Southern Great Plains Experiment Station at Chickasha, the Postal Service Institute at the University of Oklahoma, the Gordon Cooper Vocational School at Shawnee, and additional research and educational centers in his district. Other legislative interests included soil conservation, rural electrification, and water projects.
Steed was not a candidate for reelection in 1980. He retired from Congress on January 3, 1981, to Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he resided until his death on June 8, 1983.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Tom Steed Collection contains 413 cubic feet of material. Although the collection spans the period 1939-1980, most of the documents date from 1948-1980. The collection consists of the types of materials which one might expect to find in a modern congressional collection, including correspondence, legislation and reports, newspaper clippings, publications, memos, schedules, and invitations. Prominent topics found in the papers include Indian affairs, energy, military bases located within the state, soil conservation, water resource development, flood control, agriculture, and rural electrification. National issues such as civil rights, communism, education, gun control, public health, inflation, veterans, the Taft-Hartley law, Panama Canal, Vietnam, and tax reform are also well represented.
Steed gave his papers to the University of Oklahoma over a period of years, beginning in the 1960s. In 1999, the Steed family gave additional papers, photos, and memorabilia.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following is a detailed listing of series, boxes, and folders that can be found in this collection.
Series 1: Legislative, 1948-1980
Consisting of 109 cubic feet of material, this series is initially arranged by Congress and session and then alphabetically by committee. It consists of correspondence, reports, and memoranda. An inventory to this series is available on this web site. See also the Bills Series for additional information on legislative issues.
Series 2: Departmental, 1949-1980
This series of 125 cubic feet is arranged by year and then alphabetically by department or agency. It consists of correspondence, reports, and memoranda.
Series 3: General, 1947-1980
Containing 102 cubic feet of material, this series is arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by subject. The last 8 boxes in the series cover various water projects. The series mainly includes correspondence. An inventory to this series is available on this web site.
Series 4: Informational, 1949-1980
Arranged alphabetically by subject, this series of 25 cubic feet consists of pamphlets, booklets, hearings, reports, government documents, memoranda, clippings, and maps which were used by Steed's office to supplement the congressman's legislative and departmental interests.
Series 5: Bills, 1950-1980
This series of 16 cubic feet is arranged by session of Congress and then numerically by bill number. The bills (copies of which are often present in the folders) in this series were either authored or co-authored by Steed. The series also includes correspondence and reports, and it could be a companion series to the Legislative Series. An inventory to this series is available on this web site.
Series 6: Campaign, 1948-1980
Including 7 cubic feet of material, this series is arranged chronologically. It consists primarily of correspondence and clippings.
Series 7: Post Office, 1949-1972
This series of 2 cubic feet is arranged alphabetically by the name of the town in which the post office is located. Materials consist of correspondence related to the local post office.
Series 8: Addition, 1934-1981
This series of 1 cubic foot was given to the Carl Albert Center in 1999. It includes miscellaneous items, many related to Steed's retirement. The series also has 11 guest books.
Series 9: Clippings, 1960s and 1970s
This series consists of 17 cubic feet. Materials are in envelopes from a clipping service.
Series 10: Oversize, 1955-1979
Comprised of 9 cubic feet, this series has newspapers as well as memorabilia.
Series 11: Maps, n.d., 1962-1974
This series has 29 maps of various places in Oklahoma.