Skip to main content

Charles and Lyntha Wesner Collection

Identifier: CAC-PP-2017-2
This collection documents the political activities of Charles Wesner, a founding member of the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club, and his wife Lyntha Wesner, a local activist and councilwoman in the City of Norman government, from 1960-1997. The records in the collection attest to the Wesners' environmental and civic concerns, and documentation of the couples' participation in the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the Sierra Club reveal their commitment to promoting democratic values by ensuring citizen participation. The bulk of the collection consists of typed and handwritten correspondence, administrative records, newsletters, and research related to Lyntha's role in Norman government and to the Sierra Club in the mid- to late-1970s. Executive committee meeting minutes, agendas, membership lists, foundational documents from 1971, and correspondence provide insight to the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club's internal functions and activities, while newsletters, correspondence, informational pamphlets, and news clippings reveal the major concerns of the group during the collection period. Major concerns include the China Study in 1960, the National Clean Water Act of 1972, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company rates and utility reform, natural areas in Oklahoma and the south, water quality and development plans, environmental impact statements, the plans for the Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant, and the Alaska National Land Act. Information focuses on the Norman Chapter (Red Earth Group), the Oklahoma Chapter, the Southern Plains Regional Conservation Committee, and the Gulf Coast Regional Conservation Committee within the Sierra Club. The collection also includes advertisements, campaign buttons, flyers, and other materials related to Lyntha's election campaign for city council in 1975 as well as her role in managing Bill Dawson's 1978 campaign and documentation from other elections.


  • 1960 - 1997
  • Majority of material found within 1974 - 1979

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires prior notice to access. If you wish to view these materials, please contact the Congressional Archives staff to arrange an appointment.


5.83 Linear Feet (6 containers)

Biographical / Historical

Married in Lawton, Oklahoma on July 28th, 1962, Charles and Lyntha Wesner have supported one another’s lifelong commitment to servant leadership and advocacy on behalf of Oklahomans at the local, state and regional level.

Charles and Lyntha Wesner’ individual and collaborative advocacy efforts are illustrated throughout the papers in this collection. As Mrs. Wesner notes, “Charles and I share a lifetime interest in public policy, especially as it relates to the environment. With the passage of NEPA in 1969, followed by significant improvements to the Clean Water Act (CWA) we were positive and hopeful that our country could move forward in this area.”

In the summer of 1966, four years after graduating from The University of Oklahoma in 1962, Mrs. Wesner returned to Norman, Oklahoma with her husband Charles and their young sons, Jake and Ben. Upon returning Dr. Wesner established his dental practice, and Mrs. Wesner became a volunteer in the Norman Public Schools. While volunteering, she “learned about the needs of Norman Youth by working on the Juvenile Shelter Board.” She “soon found City Government fascinating and tried to learn what [she] could” as a member on the local government study committee of the League of Women voters. She remains an active member of the League to this day.

In 1973-74 Mrs. Wesner completed graduate course-work in political science and public administration and used that knowledge to propel her burgeoning interest in city government and advocacy. In 1975 Ms. Wesner was elected to the Norman City Council and re-elected in 1977. In the same year her fellow council members elected her to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore. As Lyntha notes “Charles’ support when I was elected to the Norman City Council was critical, as I also had responsibilities as a mother of two young sons.”

In 1971 Dr. Wesner became a founding member of the Sierra Club’s Norman Chapter, “Red Earth” covering Norman and Southern Oklahoma. Charles has continued to serve in varied leadership roles within the Sierra Club at the local group (Red Earth), chapter (Oklahoma State), regional and national level. In the 1970s Charles served on the Norman (Red Earth) Group’s executive committee as both vice chair and chair. He resumed leadership again in 2008 until 2011 and most recently held an appointment to the executive committee from 2013 to 2017. His current appointments entail membership on the chapter’s legislative committee, the staff oversight committee and as the chapter’s compliance officer.

Together, Dr. and Mrs. Wesner have endeavored promoting citizens’ engagement with public advocacy through the organization “Common Cause.” Their active involvement spans the organization’s history from its inception in the 1970s to the present. Due in part to their shared efforts Common Cause remains a vital voice for public accountability at the national level and is well represented by its Oklahoma affiliate.

Marvin Baker is a retired Professor Emeritus of Geography who taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1971-1999. He was also an active participant in the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club during this time. He served as Chairman of the Oklahoma Chapter from and of the Southern Plains Regional Conservation Committee in the late 1970s. He knew Charles Wesner through their time in the Sierra Club. The records he sent to Charles Wesner in July 2017 further flesh out the history of the organization during the time Wesner was active in it.


The Charles and Lyntha Wesner Collection is arranged into three series: Norman Papers, Sierra Club, and Marvin Baker Series. The materials are organized in the order in which they were received.

Processing Information

Lead Processing Archivist: Nathan Gerth

Archives Graduate Assistant: Heather Walser

Student Archivists: LIS 5463- Summer 2017

The Norman Papers were delivered in an old fruit box. The manila envelopes and file folders contained within, "housing" the papers themselves, were in various states of deterioration, so we determined that the documents should be transferred to new folders and boxes. The original envelopes and folders were already divided into two piles within the fruit box, so the two members of our Arrangement team each took a pile. Hand-and typewritten titles on envelopes and folders were transferred to new folders in order to maintain as much of the collection's original intellectual order as possible. We could not discern a clear pattern of order or arrangement before re-housing the documents, so their new folders maintained all previous titles and were grouped together in our boxes. We were wary of rearranging the documents in any physical way for fear of disrupting any intentional arrangement by their creators. The old envelopes and folders were documented in digital photos and deaccessioned.

Many documents in the Norman Papers have signs of being creased, as they were found folded in their original containers, but we flattened all documents for preservation and spatial reasons. Paper clips were removed from all documents, as we determined that this removal would not affect the collection in any negative way. We encountered several documents that had a large number of duplicates. We included the two best copies for the collection and deaccessioned the others. We made a note of which folders contained newspapers and newspaper clippings, because we might decide to add acid-free papers as barriers between them and other papers, to prevent deterioration.

The Sierra Club papers arrived in three cardboard boxes. The majority of the papers were housed in manila folders, and most of them were labeled (some handwritten and some typed). Materials arrived in fairly good condition, neither moldy nor exceptionally dirty. However, the papers are yellowing and some have rust stains. For preservation purposes, we flattened and unfolded documents, removed paperclips and other metal fasteners except for staples, and interleaved newspaper clippings with acid-free paper. In the case of multiple copies of a single document, we kept the best two copies and deaccessioned the others.

We moved the Sierra Club folders from the old boxes to the new boxes without changing the order. The new folders were labeled with the original titles, except for loose materials and unlabeled folders. In cases where the materials had no labels, we created labels that broadly described the content. When folders were overstuffed, we divided the materials into multiple folders; we labeled each of the folders with the same title but added a number in brackets to distinguish them.

The Marvin Baker Series arrived in six 14" X 12" priority mail boxes with newspaper padding. The boxes were numbered 1-6 and contained descriptions of their contents. Dr. Baker had included handwritten letters inside the boxes and typed notes that he taped to the outside of the boxes which describe the arrangement and contents of the documents. I have used these notes to maintain the original folder divisions in series placed the notes in the first folder of documents from each box. Documents in boxes 3-6 were in folders, but they were overextended, so a student worker assisted in placing documents in new folders, removing paperclips and fasteners, and labeling the new folders. Folder titles were assigned based on the descriptions in the notes, the titles of the contents, and on existing folder titles.
Guide to the Charles and Lyntha Wesner Collection
LIS 5463- Summer 2017
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections Repository

630 Parrington Oval
Room 202B
Norman Oklahoma 73109 United States