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Helen Gahagan Douglas Collection

Identifier: CAC-CC-014
The Douglas Collection covers the former congresswoman's life from her early stage career until her death in 1980. Because the bulk of the materials document her years in Congress, the collection is especially rich in covering events and issues central to the immediate post-World War II era. Due to her service on the Foreign Affairs Committee, there is a large amount of material on the earliest years of the Cold War and the establishment of the new world order. Other topics of note include the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, the European Recovery Act (Marshall Plan), the Korean War, and the creation of the state of Israel. There is also a significant amount of documentation covering the nation's readjustment after the war. Issues dealing with the Office of Price Administration, the Taft-Hartley Act, housing, migrant labor and veterans' concerns are but a few of the myriad topics found in the collection. In addition, there are multiple materials related to the changing roles of women and African-Americans in the post-war years, including those related to the Douglas/Nixon campaign of 1950 and the infamous “Pink Sheet”. The collection also contains excellent insight into the personality of Douglas through the variety of correspondence with Hollywood stars and political elite, her poetry, programs and scripts of earlier plays, and genealogical records.


  • 1922-1980
  • Majority of material found in 1940-1951

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use:

The University of Oklahoma asserts no claim of copyright over photographs in this collection taken by private citizens. Any publication of such photographs requires the consent of the copyright holder.


110.13 Linear Feet (219 containers)

Biographical Information:

Helen Gahagan Douglas (1900-1980) began her professional career on the Broadway stage and was deemed a "star" at age twenty-two. By the 1930s, she left the Northeast and moved to California with her husband, Hollywood actor Melvyn Douglas. Although she made only one movie herself--the science fiction film, She--she soon found herself immersed in politics. She worked with the Farm Security Administration and later was elected Democratic National Committeewoman from California. In 1944, she was elected as the representative of California's Fourteenth District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was successfully reelected to this position in 1946 and 1948. A tireless New Deal Democrat, Douglas was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and served as an alternate delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations. In 1950, she opposed Richard M. Nixon in the general election for the U.S. Senate. The campaign was especially brutal with the Republicans quite "liberal" in their charges that Douglas was a communist. Nixon easily won the election. Though Douglas never entered the political fray again, she remained a tireless public speaker and activist.

Arrangement of Materials:

The Douglas Collection is arranged into 9 series: Theatrical Materials, 79th Congress, 80th Congress, 81st Congress, Political Papers, Subject and Personality Files, Oversize Materials, Photographs, and an Addition. The majority of the collection is organized alphabetically and then chronologically, though some of the subseries may be organized chronologically first. The Addition series consists of 15 subseries that are organized in a variety of ways. It is not clear why so many subseries exist or the origin of their organization. The Photographs series is organized topically.

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Accruals and additions: September 26, 1967; September 7, 1968; April 1969; January 16, 1979; January 17, 1979; June 30, 1980; September 30, 1981; November 15, 1981; April 1, 1985; May 20, 1985.

The Patrick L. Hardy Addition was donated to the Carl Albert Center in 2006.

The James M. and Jean T. Babcock Addition was donated to the Carl Albert Center in April 2009. James Babcock, former archivist at the University of Oklahoma, helped secure the Douglas collection for the university in the early 1950s. Over the years, he and Mrs. Babcock established a friendship with Mrs. Douglas and her family.
Guide to the Helen Gahagan Douglas Collection
Language of description
The collection description/finding aid is written in English
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections Repository

630 Parrington Oval
Room 202B
Norman Oklahoma 73109 United States