Thomas R. Carper congressional papers
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
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Thomas Richard ("Tom") Carper was born on January 23, 1947, in Beckley, West Virginia, the son of Jean and Richard Carper. He grew up in Danville, Virginia. Carper attended Ohio State University on a Naval ROTC scholarship and was graduated in 1968 with a bachelor of arts in economics. After graduation, Carper served three tours of duty in Southeast Asia as a flight officer in the U.S. Navy, 1968-1973. Carper flew a P-3 Orion aircraft, used for surface and subsurface surveillance of the ocean. During the Vietnam War, the P-3 was used to conduct low-altitude patrols of the coastal waters of Vietnam and Cambodia to detect North Vietnamese infiltrator trawlers attempting to enter the territorial waters of South Vietnam. Carper flew close to 400 hours on such missions. He received the Air Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, two Navy Achievement Medals, and three Vietnam Campaign ribbons. Upon discharge from active duty, he became a commander in the Naval Reserve.
After his return from Southeast Asia in 1973, Carper attended the University of Delaware and received a master's degree of business administration in 1975. He worked as an industrial development specialist for the Delaware Division of Economic Development from 1975-1976 and taught undergraduate classes in business administration. Carper first became involved in Delaware politics as treasurer for the James R. Soles for Congress campaign in 1974. In 1976, he ran for state treasurer on the Democratic ticket and was elected. He won re-election to the office in 1978 and 1980. As treasurer, Carper managed the sale of the state-owned bank and established a cash management system to manage daily balances of over 150 million dollars. He was widely recognized for improving the state's credit rating -- from worst in the nation to a respectable "AA" -- in only five years.
In 1982, Carper ran for Congress and defeated Republican incumbent Thomas B. Evans, Jr., becoming the first Democrat in sixteen years to hold Delaware's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He retained this seat until 1992 when he was elected governor of the state of Delaware. Carper has the longest winning streak of any Delaware politician, having run for and successfully won ten elections between 1976 and 1996 (See Appendix A for election results of Carper's congressional campaigns.).
In 1978 Carper married Diane Beverly Isaacs of Greenwood, Delaware. They were divorced five years later in 1983. In 1986, Carper married Martha Ann Stacy. They have two sons: Christopher, born in 1988, and Ben, born in 1990. Carper is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the New Castle Presbyterian Church, and Common Cause.
Carper was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-eighth and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1983 - January 3, 1993). These five Congresses were under Democratic Party leadership in the House during the Republican administrations of President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and President George Bush (1989-1993). (See Appendix E for presidential elections and House leadership [as well as Supreme Court members] during this time.) With frequently opposing political philosophies, the legislative and executive branches of government dealt with a wide variety of domestic and foreign issues during these times. The 1980s were years of active economic development based on technological growth. Urgent calls were made to balance the federal budget and reduce deficit spending. A national financial crisis occurred in the savings and loan industry. Energy conservation and development of renewable energy resources were important subjects. Environmental issues encompassed "clean up" efforts for acid rain, oil spills, hazardous wastes, and ocean dumping. The Environmental Protection Agency established Superfund. Social concerns included unemployment, homelessness, health care and welfare reform, with increased attention on education, crime, gun control, and drug problems by the end of the decade. Abortion was debated between pro-choice and pro-life advocates. AIDS became a significant health problem; Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Defense topics included international disarmament, a nuclear freeze, and debate over a Strategic Defense Initiative. Foreign affairs pursued accountability for American prisoners of war or soldiers missing in action to prepare for renewed relations with countries in Southeast Asia. The Iran-Contra affair complicated the American role in the struggle between the Contras and Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The United States engaged in the Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait. Calls for international human rights and the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa, followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, reflected significant changes in world order. International trade evolved and led to passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Congressman Carper represented his Delaware constituents in responding to these issues. In addition to traditional congressional functions of solving casework and voting on legislation, Carper served on committees and was a member of several congressional caucuses. He dealt with significant financial issues, particularly the savings and loan crisis, in service through the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee. His Banking subcommittees included Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance; Domestic Monetary Policy; International Development, Finance, Trade and Monetary Policy; Policy Research and Insurance; Housing and Community Development; and Economic Stabilization, of which he was elected chair in the 102d Congress (1991-1992) .
On behalf of Delaware and its coastal issues, Carper was keenly interested in environmental topics. He served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, and its subcommittees for Coast Guard and Navigation; and Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment.
Membership in several caucuses and other congressional organizations gave Congressman Carper a chance to keep abreast of other timely issues. He was a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, the Congressional Steel Caucus, the Environmental and Energy Study Conference, the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, the 70001 Ltd. Club, the Vietnam Veterans in Congress, and the U.S. Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus. Congressman Carper was also a co-founder of the Democratic Budget Study Group.
Throughout his career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Carper was known as a moderate on social issues and a conservative on fiscal issues. In 1985, his voting record was described as "centrist," for siding with a conservative coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans 51 per cent of the time. He was not afraid to take an unpopular position on an issue, such as the savings and loan debacle, when he clashed with Speaker of the House Jim Wright over the amount of money that should be allowed to assist the FSLIC in bailing out thrifts. Carper often proposed compromises between radically different bills before a subcommittee, committee, or the House, attempting to get a basic bill passed, rather than squandering time in disagreement over small points. Carper was esteemed and congratulated by his colleagues in the House for his efforts to strike compromises in these legislative debates; they thought he showed tenacity and genuine interest in passing legislation for the good of the American people.
As a lone congressman, the term given to members of Congress who are the sole representatives of their states, Carper did not have other representatives from his state to work with in bringing forth legislation in the House. Carper usually tried to approach other members of Congress he felt would work with him or with whom he had worked in the past to begin the process of putting together legislation for a specific purpose. He personally lobbied other members for or against legislation affecting Delaware and worked tirelessly to gain their support, expecting the same effort from his legislative assistants. This is illustrated in clippings pertaining to the Annunzio-Wylie Amendment, which would have limited the ability of banks in Delaware to sell insurance. Carper personally went to every member on the House Banking Committee to ask them to vote against the amendment, and the tactic worked.
Carper identified the major issues in his first congressional campaign to be reversing a faltering national economy, balancing the federal budget, supporting the military but avoiding overspending on development of ineffective weapons, avoiding the proliferation of nuclear arms, supporting higher education, and addressing unemployment, social security, and crime. In his 1984 campaign, Carper referred to his record of sponsoring legislation to strengthen enforcement of fair housing; to ensure continuation of a strong Civil Rights Commission independent of political interference from the White House; and to end discrimination in education against women, minorities, and the handicapped. He had sponsored reauthorization of critical legislation to protect air and water resources, and other legislation to ban sewage sludge dumping off coastal waters and to combat the effects of acid rain. Carper called for negotiation of a bilateral mutual and verifiable freeze on nuclear weapons, and for continuation of the fight to reduce the budget deficit.
Congressman Carper was a proponent of recycling, clean air, and clean water. He was a strong advocate of environmental legislation to protect and clean up the nation's coastal resources, a relevant issue for Delaware. He was opposed to using the ocean as a dumping ground for sludge and chemicals. Carper worked hard to prevent large cities from continuing to dump in the ocean, encouraging them, instead, to find alternative disposal methods such as the use of landfills or incineration. Congressman Carper's additional environmental legislative interests regarded strengthening citizens' rights to know about hazardous substances in their communities.
A member of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee (MMF) from 1983-1991, he was faced with several important pieces of legislation relating to high-profile incidents such as the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and oil crises of the 1980s in the aftermath of the Gulf War, which led to proposals of drilling for domestic oil in the Arctic wilderness of Alaska. As a member of the MMF Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment Subcommittee, Carper traveled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. Carper called for a national energy plan that would consider development of alternate domestic energy resources, but also include conservation measures. On a smaller scale, Carper attempted to change use of daylight savings time with H.R. 4251 The Energy Conservation Daylight Savings Act of 1983. The bill promoted energy conservation by extending daylight savings time by one month, beginning in early March rather than early April. The bill did not pass the House, but is an example of Carper's efforts to conserve energy.
Concern for the health of the nation's economy and the fiscal responsibility of the government prompted Congressman Carper to support the popular call for a Balanced Budget Amendment. He introduced legislation in 1991 and 1992 regarding a balanced budget, accommodating times when this goal could not be met, but seeking to increase the incidence of balanced budgets during periods of sustained economic growth. Carper also supported proposals for line-item presidential veto, or expedited rescission. Carper believed that empowering the president to rescind expenditures at the item level would allow more bills to pass, and put a crimp on legislative "pork" (pet projects benefitting single congressional districts).
Through the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, Carper supported efforts to ensure safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial institutions, and to improve the regulatory structures that supervise them. The crisis in the savings and loan industry in the 1980s was the focus of much of Congressman Carper's work on the Banking Committee during that time. The crisis was precipitated by deregulation of financial institutions, coupled with de-supervision of their practices, and an increase in the cap on insured deposits from $ 40,000 to $ 100,000. Carper's first major bill to pass the House occurred in his second term when he sponsored a bill to strengthen supervision of all United States financial institutions, including savings and loans, but the threat of a presidential veto killed the measure in a Republican-controlled Senate. In 1987, Carper led a fight in the House to substantially raise the insurance premiums that savings and loans were then paying, to allow bankrupt thrifts to be closed and avoid a huge taxpayer bailout. In that fight, Carper worked with the Reagan administration and against Speaker Jim Wright and the S&L lobby, but he lost. A critical collapse in the savings and loan industry in the Southwest occurred due to massive fraud by officers, directors, and others associated with the industry. Carper speared another House fight to authorize $ 75 million to hire FBI agents, investigators, prosecutors, or judges to bring the "looters" to justice; and the House passed the Bank Law Enforcement Act.
With his background of service in the U.S. Navy, Congressman Carper followed with interest issues related to veterans, the national defense, and foreign affairs. Carper was a strong advocate on behalf of veterans in Delaware. He held an important state forum in 1991 to review and explain changes and benefits provided by the Veterans Administration. Carper was also responsible for inclusion of necessary funds in the president's 1993 budget to add a clinic and update quality health services at the Veterans Hospital in Elsmere, Delaware. In 1991, as the United States sought to normalize relations with Vietnam, Carper joined a congressional delegation on a trip to Southeast Asia. Each member of the delegation had previous service in the Vietnam War, and they sought to resolve verification and return of POW/MIA remains.
Carper made other significant trips related to foreign affairs: he traveled to Nicaragua in 1983 and 1987 concerning U.S. aid during the struggle between the Contras and Sandinistas; to the Middle East at the beginning of 1984 to evaluate relations between Egypt and Israel; to Costa Rica in 1988 as one of a five-member congressional delegation observing a summit between the presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador; and to Panama in 1990 to deal with economic and political issues related to the Canal during the dictatorship of General Manuel Noriega.
Carper believed in a healthy defense for national security, but thought growth of any weapons programs should be restrained in light of the budget deficit. He suggested that the United States should abandon land-based missiles, and rely on more effective submarine missiles. He was moderately supportive of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), saying its value was that the threat of its development would lead the Soviets earnestly to negotiate cuts in offensive nuclear weaponry. Overall, Carper believed in stopping the arms race and preferred to promote the economic interests in international relations. In Delaware, Carper was effective in obtaining federal appropriations to improve and continue operations at the Dover Air Force Base, the largest one on the East Coast. Carper held that maintaining Dover's infrastructure would guard the base against being closed in the wake of future military cutbacks.
Congressman Carper also won approval of the House to authorize and appropriate funds needed to build a new bridge across the federally-owned Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at St. Georges, Delaware. Representing an enormous investment in Delaware's infrastructure, the bridge was argued to be a vital link in a new north-south highway to bypass Dover and Smyrna. Carper overcame the initial objections of the Bush administration and the Army Corps of Engineers for the project. Meeting other state interests in transportation, environmental concerns, and protection of tourism, Carper proposed and won approval for several erosion studies and stabilization projects of Delaware's Atlantic Ocean shoreline, as well as the shorelines of the Delaware Bay and the Indian River Inlet.
With Delaware's close proximity to the nation's capital, Carper had the opportunity to be a commuting congressman. He rode the train daily, between Wilmington and Washington, D.C., when Congress was in session. From his constituents in Delaware, Congressman Carper had a popular reputation for accessibility through frequent, statewide town meetings. He held focused forums, such as one to explore the cost and quality of health care in Delaware, and seminars, such as one to encourage Delaware women to strengthen their roles in the businesses. In addition to an office in Wilmington, Carper opened an office in Dover to facilitate contact with Kent and Sussex counties. He secured labor union endorsements and wide support from the business community. At the end of five terms in Congress, Carper was a respected representative for his fiscal responsibility, for his reputation as a consensus-seeking moderate, for his concern for the environment, and for his advocacy of technological, entrepreneurial, and capital development in Delaware. He campaigned successfully for the governorship of Delaware in 1992 and was re-elected to the state's leadership in 1996. In 2001, Carper was elected to the United States Senate, as Delaware's junior senator.
Information derived from the collection
The Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers document his career as Delaware's member-at-large in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1983-1993. The collection spans 1979-1993, but the bulk of the papers covers the time period 1982-1992, from the final days of Carper's term as Delaware state treasurer and the announcement of his intention to run for Congress in July 1982, until November 1992 when he won the gubernatorial election for the state of Delaware. Nearly 84 linear feet in extent with some oversize and audio-visual materials, the contents are typical of materials found in a congressional collection: correspondence with constituents, colleagues, and government agencies; memoranda and notes; speeches; bills, resolutions, and amendments of legislation; financial documents, reports, testimonies, hearings, pamphlets, publications, and reference materials; calendars, schedules, photographs, publicity, newsletters, news clippings, maps, and ephemera.
Some parts of the collection are more complete than others in documenting Carper's ten years in Congress, but the collection in its entirety depicts the congressional duties of representing individual constituents and the state of Delaware, creating legislation, serving on committees, and conducting oversight and investigations. Personal material in the collection is limited to campaign files from Carper's political career between 1982 and 1992, and photographs and other personal ephemera.
The collection as a whole is also typical of modern political papers: it is large and reflects the complex working relationship between the Congressman and his staff. Carper's papers are a composite of his own, personally-generated papers and the working files of his supporting legislative and administrative staff. (See Appendix C for a list of all staff members who served in Carper's office between 1983 and 1993.) As a consequence of the number of people involved in creating the papers, as well as the frequency of turnover in job positions and responsibilities, there is great idiosyncrasy in the breadth, depth, and continuity of the files.
The majority of the files in the collection were maintained by legislative assistants (LAs) in the congressional office of Carper. Assigned a subject area for which they are expected to develop expertise, legislative assistants research and synthesize information on an issue. They monitor all legislation as it moves through Congress. They provide their member of Congress with concise and informed reports with recommended positions and/or suggestions for a vote. Legislative assistants serve in important advisory roles, but, as evidenced in the Carper papers, their advice is not always heeded. Carper's legislative assistants also composed reports or memoranda to brief him on pending legislation, drafted legislation and speeches, and served as liaisons to agencies or other members of Congress. They supported Congressman Carper in all of his duties which required their subject expertise related to work on legislative issues.
Administrative assistants have management as well as legislative responsibilities and are the senior staff in a congressional office. Staff assistants often cover legislative assignments and provide general support with constituent services. Caseworkers serve as liaisons with federal agencies to procure appropriate government services for constituents. Key senior staff or long-term staff who worked for Congressman Carper and whose names appear frequently in this collection include the following: administrative assistant Ed Freel, communications director (later administrative assistant) Jeffrey Bullock, press secretary Timothy Gay, and legislative assistants Liz Ryan, John Baker, Christophe Tulou, Janet St. Amand, and Helen Wiederhorn. Several of these staff were not long-term employees, but were senior staff toward the end of Carper's career in the House, and their papers were included in the office files. Files created by earlier senior staff and legislative assistants are often missing from this collection.
The content and arrangement of the papers, then, reflects the research methods, filing habits, and organizational skills of numerous staff. The absence of a central office filing system, the frequent reassignment of staff responsibilities and subject areas, and the extent of subject overlap in identifiable file series led to an integrated series outline in the archival arrangement of this collection. The integrated series outline incorporates small groups of files that were created by these numerous staff. In cases where a staff member was clearly identified with the creation and content of a file series, this is detailed in series description notes. (See, for example, Series I.B.2. Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee files, primarily maintained by Christophe Tulou; or Series I.F. Trips, largely created by Liz Ryan.) This introductory scope note explains the overall arrangement and content of the collection; longer, detailed scope notes are found with each series description in the finding aid.
The collection is organized in three main subgroups: I. Official Work Files, II. Administrative Files, and III. Personal Files. The first subgroup, Official Work Files, encompasses eight series: TC (Tom Carper's) Personal Files, Committee Work, Issue Files, Regional Issue Files, Constituent Correspondence, Trips, Voting Records, and Publications. The Administrative Files subgroup includes Office Administration and Communications, and the Personal Files subgroup contains Campaign Materials, Photographs, Audio-Visual Materials, and Ephemera.
Series I.A. TC Personal Files and Series III.A. Campaign Materials provide the quickest overview of Carper's congressional career. With subject and correspondence files, Series I.A. TC Personal Files reflects the daily workings of the Congressman, his staff, and the offices of the House. File contents are variously broad in topical scope, and in depth of coverage for any one issue, and there are chronological omissions in this file series. But the range of topics illuminates Carper's involvement with important issues and highlights his accomplishments. Some files in Series I.A. TC Personal Files overlap or complement staff files on the same topic found elsewhere in the collection. Campaign files are especially rich as a synopsis of Carper's congressional career. Press releases, publicity, speeches, and other campaign literature highlight positions and accomplishments that Carper chose to feature in campaigns.
Comprising 24 linear feet, the largest series in the collection is Series I.C. Issue Files. The series is organized in twenty-two topical subseries, using subject terms similar to those found in indexes of Congressional Quarterly, Inc. publications and reflecting the subject responsibilities of the legislative assistants. These topical terms correspond generally to committee names (Appropriations, Foreign Affairs) or to the issues regularly referred to in committees or the legislative process. Other issue terms, such as "Women," "Children," or "Amtrak," were named by subject without regard to committee jurisdiction.
The twenty-two subseries are Agriculture, Amtrak, Animal Welfare, Appropriations, Children, Civil Rights, Civil Service, Commerce, Economics and Finance, Education, Energy and the Environment, Foreign Affairs, Health and Human Services, House Administration, Immigration, Judiciary, Mass Transportation, Miscellaneous, Science and Technology, Veterans, and Women. Series I.C. Issue Files is strongly representative of the work done by legislative assistants in Congressman Carper's office.
The legislative assistants' issue files were used to advise Congressman Carper on legislation before a vote, to support the Congressman in his committee work, and to provide context for dealings with constituents. Staff were expected to do background research, either on their own, by using the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, by speaking with other representatives' congressional staff, by attending meetings, or by all of these methods. Most staff met with constituents or practitioners pertinent to the issue, an invaluable activity that Carper expected of his staff.
A typical issue file might contain research notes, transcriptions of hearings, correspondence, position memoranda submitted by concerned parties, "Dear Colleague" letters, Democratic Study Group (DSG) reports with notations on how to vote or critiques of selected passages in legislation, analyses of issues by legislative assistants, meeting notes taken by legislative assistants, and business cards. Some staff systematically kept almost everything they collected pertaining to a subject; others randomly kept only a sample of articles, correspondence, or publications. In the few desirable cases when longtime staff maintained responsibility for one issue over several years, some issue files are more comprehensive than others; chronological coverage is mostly problematic with frequent gaps throughout the series. Some files on the same topic can be found in several places throughout this collection, either because a new legislative assistant assumed a former staff member's responsibilities or subject area, or because several staff kept overlapping files on topics of special importance to the Congressman. Other issues, such as "Children" could be multifaceted, considered under the purview of several legislative assistants.
In spite of these inconsistencies, Series I.C. Issue Files is a rich source for understanding the scope of legislation and concerns handled by Carper and his congressional staff in the years through the 1980s and start of the 1990s. Most of the legislative assistants' files contain reports and background notes from meetings or personal contacts with other congressional and government staff, which were then compiled into briefing memoranda for Carper's review. Carper tracked any number of issues in a given week, many of which were not related directly to his committee work or pending legislation, but were important to him nonetheless. He had strong interest in following any developments related to the environment; veteran's affairs; foreign relations, especially in Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East; and issues relevant to Delaware. The papers contain extensive documentation on these topics and, to a lesser extent, there are issue files on social security, health care, women's and children's issues, and education. Additional issues related to Delaware and neighboring New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania are found in Series I.D. Regional Issues Files.
Legislative assistants were also responsible for the content of most of the files in Series I.B. Committee Work. The official records of House committees are permanently housed in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, and, by House rule, are closed for thirty years from the date of their creation. The files that remain in Congressman Carper's personal papers are supporting documentation in the form of news clippings, reference files, position papers, "Dear Colleague" letters, studies, published hearings, and other related information collected by the legislative assistants.
The material in Series I.B. Committee Work is useful in documenting the full range of committee work and legislative issues considered by Congressman Carper. His legislative assistants had overlapping responsibilities in their subject assignments, so some of the research reports and legislative analyses found in this series had multiple purposes. For example, the bulk of Series I.B.2. Merchant Marine and Fisheries Files comprises the wider environmental issue files of legislative assistant Christophe Tulou. In addition to reference files, reports, correspondence related to building background information, and news clippings -- all similar to material found in Series. I.C. Issue Files -- there are a number of published hearings, floor statements, press releases, "Dear Colleague" letters, and other public documents that reveal committee actions and Carper's role in committee work. There are almost seven linear feet of files related to environmental issues studied by Carper in the Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee, and the Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment Subcommittee.
Series I.B.1. Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Files includes nearly 10 linear feet of material related to issues handled by Carper in the following subcommittees: Domestic Monetary Policy, International Monetary Policy, Housing and Community Development, Economic Stabilization, and Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance. Key legislation related to public housing included Lead Paint Abatement, Family Self-Sufficiency Act, Tenant Income Verification, Mixed Populations in Public Housing, and Prepayment and Preservation. The series also includes files related to the National Flood Insurance Plan, and the National Flood Erosion Mitigation Act of 1989, legislation of interest to Delaware and other states in coastal zones. Important material in this series relates to Carper's work on behalf of regulatory and insurance reform for banks and financial institutions, notably the 1991 Banking Reform Bill.
Many legislative assistants kept reports and information in their issue files that were helpful in drafting responses to constituent mail. Whether handled by legislative assistants or other staff assistants, these replies were filed with the incoming letters and postcards found in Series I.E. Constituent Correspondence. Most of the 11 linear feet of files in this series is staff-generated, but the correspondence is useful for documentation of contemporary topics and Congressman Carper's stated positions on a number of issues. There are personal replies from Carper in the Constituent Correspondence series, especially when Carper knew the constituent personally, when the constituent was a frequent correspondent, or when the correspondent was "important." Carper's other personal correspondence with constituents appears in Series I.A. TC Personal Files and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the collection.
Series I.F. Trips includes itineraries, correspondence, reports, and other related documents from Carper's participation in several congressional delegations to foreign countries and the state of Alaska. The bulk of the series concerns an important trip to Southeast Asia in 1991, but there are other files from trips to Central America in 1983 and 1987; to the Middle East in 1983/1984; to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in 1987; to Costa Rica in 1988; and to Panama in 1990. Complementary files are found in Series I.C. Issue Files or Series I.B. Committee Work. A number of sources found in Series I.G. Voting Records and Series I.H. Publications are useful for documenting the final action on legislation or other issues presented elsewhere in the papers. Legislative Activity Guides, published under supervision of the Clerk of the House; Democratic Study Group reports; Congressional Research Service reports from the Library of Congress; and other documents and correspondence record voting action, and provide legislative summaries and voter profiles of members of Congress.
The two series in Subgroup II. Administrative Files include Series II.A. Office Administration and Series II.B. Communications. Office administration encompasses general procedures and housekeeping, House manuals, caucus memberships, financial disclosures and expense authorizations, and guest books and Carper's schedules. Communications includes Capitol Comments, Carper's newsletter for his Delaware constituents, and clippings and other files of the press secretary.
As previously mentioned, Series III.A. Campaign Materials provides a rich overview of Carper's entire congressional career. Each campaign provided an opportunity to recapitulate the major issues of the day and to review Carper's positions, actions, and goals. The remaining photographs, audio-visual material, and ephemera in Subgroup III. Personal Files supplements and illustrates much of the rest of the collection.
Boxes 1-84: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches)
Gift of Thomas R. Carper, 1992, 1998-1999
Processed by Rebecca J. Altermatt, Rob Costello and L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, 1997 November-1999 December. Finding aid encoded by Lauren Connolly, February 2016. Further encoding by Tiffany Saulter, May 2016 and John Caldwell, 2018.
- United States. Congress. House
- United States. Congress. House. Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs
- United States. Congress. House. Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries
- Politicians--Delaware--20th century
- Legislators--United States--Biography
- United States. Congress--Constituent communication
- Flood insurance--Law and legislation--United States--History--20th century
- Housing--United States--History--20th century
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2016 February 16
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
This collection contains audiovisual media that has been reformatted. Please contact manuscripts staff for access.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
Correspondence, staff notes, schedules, press files, floor statements, memoranda, drafts and final versions of bills and amendments, published reports, news clippings.
The TC Personal Files series includes correspondence Congressman Carper personally wrote to constituents, colleagues, and friends, as well as subject files. The correspondence spans the dates 1984-1992, while the subject files date from the 101st and 102nd Congresses, 1989-1992. These latter materials represent working files and reference material personally maintained by Carper. The contents of these files duplicate or complement subject files maintained by legislative assistants found in other series throughout the collection. The subject files reflect the spectrum of issues followed by the Congressman during that four year period: included are Welfare Reform, Central American issues, letters to President Reagan, 1990 Oil Spill Legislation, Delaware Insurance, Interstate Banking, MIA/POW issues, and approaches to balancing the federal budget. Similar personal working files from Carper's previous seven years in office were not available with his papers.
Of particular interest in the Series I.A. TC Personal Files is information relating to Amtrak Railways. (See also Series I.C.2. Issue Files--Amtrak). With over 1,200 employees in Delaware and with Wilmington's role as a major yard on the Eastern Seaboard, the successes and failures of Amtrak ventures were important issues for Carper's Delaware constituents. Numerous memoranda submitted by legislative aide Elizabeth (Liz) Ryan are found in this series; several concern contract negotiations between labor and management. As a daily commuter riding the train between Delaware and Washington, D.C., when Congress was in session, Carper made first-hand observations of Amtrak operations. He was a strong supporter of mass transportation, and after he became governor of Delaware, he served on the nine-member Board of Directors of Amtrak.
A significant number of files in the TC Personal Files relate to Carper's work on the Welfare Reform Act of 1987 (see also Series I.C.13. Issue Files -- HHS -- Poverty/Income Assistance -- Welfare Reform). Included are many "Dear Colleague" letters, correspondence with Carper from those in support of his work on this issue, and side-by-side comparison of proposals from House Democrats (H.R. 1720), House Republicans, Senator Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.), and Congressman Carper. Analyses of each proposal addressed net cost, financing, daycare standards, transitional health care, transitional daycare, and similar issues. Carper's proposal was a compromise between the Democratic and Republican resolutions, costing $2.5 billion versus the $5.2 billion proposed by the Democrats in H.R. 1720, or the $1.1 billion proposed by the Republicans. Carper's bill allowed exemptions for mothers of children under the age of two but required percentages of each state's welfare recipients to participate in work and training programs, and to accept jobs paying minimum wage. Although turned down by the House Rules Committee, Carper's proposal offered several ideas incorporated in H.R. 1720 and gained him favorable notice from many Democrats in the House.
The largest sequence in the TC Personal Files concerns Central America, where the political struggles of the Contras in Nicaragua dominated much of the news in the 1980s and early 1990s. With United States military advisement and financial backing, the Contras sought to overthrow Nicaragua's leftist regime, the Sandinistas. Both factions committed many crimes. At issue for Congress and the American people was the separation of economic and humanitarian aid from military aid to the Contras. The Reagan administration's advocacy of increased military aid was widely criticized.
In 1987, Carper voted for the Skelton-Edwards amendment to the Military Construction Appropriations bill and, with other representatives, petitioned President Reagan to limit aid to the Contras. The goal of the Skelton-Edwards amendment, by limiting aid to the Contras, was to encourage the Sandinistas to negotiate a peaceful solution and for the U.S. government to lead by example. Carper's support for peace in this regional conflict continued in 1988 when he served as one of a five-member U.S. delegation observing the Costa Rican Summit between the presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.
The section of the TC Personal Files dealing with letters to President Reagan offers a look into the day-to-day efforts by congressional representatives to persuade the White House on issues in which they had taken marked interest. In this particular collection, all of the letters from Congressman Carper concern Central America, specifically the circumstances of the Contras and the Skelton-Edwards amendment. The amendment called for changes in the fiscal year 1987 Military Construction Appropriations bill in relation to the amount of aid given to the Contras. According to Carper, the hope was that less aid to the Contras would help bring the Sandinistas to the bargaining table and compel them to negotiate in earnest. Included is a list of the representatives who voted for the Skelton-Edwards amendment. A topic of particular concern to Carper was the status of soldiers declared Missing in Action or Prisoner of War (MIA/POW). Present in the TC Personal Files are copies of House resolutions, articles concerning reported sightings of POWs in Southeast Asia, memoranda from legislative aide Liz Ryan concerning meetings with veterans groups, and information about the 1991 "Truth" bill. The Truth Bill (H.R. 3306) called for the declassification of all reports pertaining to live sightings of Americans still declared missing in action after wars fought in Southeast Asia and Korea, and World War II.
An earnest participant in MIA/POW issues, Carper was part of a congressional delegation (CODEL) that traveled to Southeast Asia on a fact-finding trip in August 1991 (see also Series I.F. Trips). Other delegates were representatives Pete Peterson (D-Fla.), David Skaggs (D-Colo.), John Rhodes (R-Ariz.), Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), and Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.). Three staff members -- Liz Ryan of Carper's office, Laurie Fenton of Kolbe's office, and Ralph Ibson of the Veterans Affairs Committee -- accompanied the congressmen.
The goal of the trip was to answer longstanding questions pertaining to the MIA/POW situation, with hope of bringing closure for the U.S. government and the families involved. The TC Personal Files contain a formal report written by Carper on the situation in Southeast Asia, as well as testimonies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs from Major General George R. Christmas, Ann Mills Griffiths, the Executive Director of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Carl W. Ford, Jr. Of note is the report written by Carper regarding the delegation's findings from the trip. Information on the daily facts of the trip, including itineraries, photos, and correspondence is available in Series I.F. Trips.
Information pertaining to Carper's efforts to bring about a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is worth noting in the TC Personal Files. The intent of the amendment was not to mandate a balanced budget for every single year per se, but rather to increase the incidence of balanced budgets during periods of sustained economic growth. The amendment accommodated exception to the rule under unusual circumstances. Examples given for modification include war, recession, or state-of-emergency situations, in which case mutation would be justifiable. The overall goal of the Balanced Budget Amendment was to address repeated unfulfillment of presidential promises to balance the budget. In light of accelerated federal spending in the 1980s, even a concerted effort to balance the budget appealed to Carper and his colleagues. In much of his writing on the subject, Carper called for fellow members to tackle this tough task in hopes of strengthening the fiscal situation for the present as well as the future. Included in the Balanced Budget Amendment section of TC Personal Files are a number of newspaper clippings, charts depicting the different proposals for the Balanced Budget Amendment, statements by Carper, papers voicing objection to the amendment, reports on the problems of government over-spending, handwritten notes from Carper, and copies of the House Resolutions proposed.
Completing this series are several boxes of "Congressman Carper's Personal Correspondence," which were maintained in Carper's personal office. Correspondents range from members of Congress to personal acquaintances to school children. The files include incoming and outgoing correspondence, with many handwritten drafts of letters from Carper. Often, he wrote lengthy responses to constituents explaining an issue and answering their letters, point by point. Carper frequently composed correspondence soon after a meeting or event, often while taking the train back to Delaware. Letters of condolence usually accompany a newspaper article or notation by his staff regarding the recipient.
Alphabetically by topic and chronologically within topic. Issues that have comprehensive coverage and are extensive in length, such as Central American Issues and Welfare Reform, have been kept together as subseries and are arranged alphabetically, by subtopic within. The files in this series originally came in boxes labeled "TC's Personal Files" and "Congressman Carper's Personal Correspondence." Much of this material is also present in other series but it appears that Carper kept these select files on certain topics in his office, close at hand.Physical Description
6 linear foot
Reflecting the work of several legislative assistants, there is no consistent filing scheme throughout the series. Some files are arranged chronologically by congressional session, with subseries by subcommittee jurisdiction or topic. Some files in this series are arranged by subcommittee jurisdiction; a list of Carper's subcommittees is found at the end of this series description as well as in Appendix B. Many files are arranged in topical subseries, such as those pertaining to Flood Insurance, Housing Bills, and FIRREA, as originally maintained by staff. Late accessions of the papers came from legislative assistant Susan Frank, and remain in discrete groups as noted in the contents list.Physical Description
10 linear foot
Note: end of first chronological arrangement.
Correspondence, memoranda, meeting notes, floor statements, memos, drafts of bills and amendments, final versions of bills, published testimonies, published reports, and clippings.
The bulk of these committee files were maintained by Christophe Tulou, the legislative assistant who covered MMF committee work as well as other environmental issues for Carper from 1983-1991. Unlike the majority of the series in the Carper Papers, this is one of the few file series in the collection that is documented from the beginning of Carper's tenure in Congress until the end. Carper chaired the Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization of the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee in 1991-1992, and Tulou became his legislative staff member for that subcommittee. At that time, LA John Baker took over Tulou's MMF issue and committee responsibilities.
Significant topics in this series include Oil Spills and Pollution, Ocean Dumping and Ocean Incineration, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund, as it was more commonly known. Legislation to address ocean dumping, known formally as the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), was a major issue during Carper's first term in Congress in 1983. The Oceanography and Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment Subcommittee, of which Carper was a member, worked on this legislation. Carper introduced two bills pertaining to MPRSA in November of 1983: H.R. 4491, a bill to impose a user fee to cover processing costs of ocean dumping permits, and H.R. 4492, a bill to prohibit dumping of sewage sludge into the ocean. Delaware, with its extensive ocean coastline, opposed ocean dumping of harmful wastes which could eventually wash up on the Delaware beaches -- major tourist attractions and sources of revenue for many Delawareans.
The crux of the Ocean Incineration predicament centered around the New York Bight dumping area and New York City's unwillingness to stop ocean dumping of waste altogether. Carper and other members of Congress advocated complete cessation of dumping, a position mandated with a 1981 deadline from the MPRSA amendment. New York City was successful in obtaining several extensions, arguing that it would be too costly for them to switch to land-based dumping or incineration methods. The Bight, a recreational and fishing area twelve miles off the shore of New York State in the Atlantic Ocean, had been used as a dumping site since 1924. An alternate site in use since the 1930s, 106 miles off the coast of New Jersey and Delaware, was proposed in lieu of dumping at the Bight area. Termination dates for dumping at the twelve-mile Bight site as far back as 1983 had been set, but during each successive Congress these dates were pushed back as New York City was continually granted extensions. The city argued that alternative means of getting rid of waste, including building waste water treatment plants or spreading land sludge would be expensive and put an unnecessary financial burden on the citizens of New York City. The 106-mile site was no better alternative to Carper. New Jersey had contended with waste washing up on its shores for several years, prompting beach closings in the 1980s, and Carper did not want this to become a reality for Delaware beaches. In addition, Carper cited Philadelphia's success at ending ocean dumping as further example of a large city's ability to find alternative disposal methods.
Oil incineration and ocean dumping are two closely related topics but the staff maintained very separate and extensive files on each of these topics. Oil spill files contain hearings, legislation, speeches, clippings, and research documents concerning oil spills in the Delaware River. They have been put in chronological order. This issue fell under the jurisdiction of both of Carper's subcommittees, Coast Guard and Navigation, and Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment. The former committee addressed clean up and response to spills, and the latter environmental concerns and crises caused by spills.
Information on the Grand Eagle, Exxon-Valdez and Presidente Rivera 1989 spills is included in this series. These oil spills prompted passage of bills that specified which parties should be responsible for the clean up of oil spills and advocated double hulling of ships. Even though one of the subcommittees on which Carper served might have had jurisdiction over part of legislation concerning these larger issues, since the final reports came directly from the MMF Committee, they have been filed under the general files of the MMF series.
In the 99th Congress (1985), Carper was appointed to the Congressional Task Force on Toxic Emergencies, partially in response to oil pollution liability issues. This appointment and Carper's activities are documented in the files relating to Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), or the more common name, Superfund, which are located in Series I.C.11. Issue Files -- Energy and the Environment.
The Waste Reduction Clearinghouse Act of 1987 was a bill sponsored by Congressman Carper and Senator Joseph P. Biden, Jr.. The bill's purpose was to facilitate exchange of information on technologies to reduce hazardous waste via the establishment of a Waste Reduction Clearinghouse. Other significant file groups include weakfish legislation, which Carper introduced in 1992. Providing for the conservation and management of weakfish, Carper's H.R. 288 was modeled after earlier bills on striped bass conservation and management along the Atlantic coastline. Other important issues for Delaware included wetlands, fisheries management, and Delaware estuaries and bays. More information on these issues can be found in Series I.D. Regional Issues Files.
As a member of the Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee, Carper worked on issues such as user fees for recreational boaters, oil spill response team clean-up responsibility, oil spill liability, and commercial fishing industry vessel safety. The Coast Guard was part of both the Department of Transportation and Department of Defense during wartime, and Carper believed that it should be funded to the fullest extent possible, but not at the expense of increasing the nation's deficit.
In 1995, the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee was absorbed into the Committee on Resources. The Coast Guard is now under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Arranged by general Merchant Marine and Fisheries (MMF) Committee topics, followed by issues dealt with in the two subcommittees: Coast Guard and Navigation, and Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment. Arranged alphabetically by topic and chronologically within. Most files were arranged in reverse chronological order and this original filing order has been preserved. Issues that consist of extensive groups of files, such as Oil Spills and Pollution, Ocean Dumping, and Ocean Incineration have been maintained as separate groups within the series. Issues that fell under jurisdiction of both of Carper's subcommittees, such as Oil Spill and Ocean Dumping legislation, are listed under the general committee issues.Physical Description
6.5 linear foot
(Includes report by J.R. Geraci: Clinical Investigation of 1987-1988 Mass mortality of Bottlenose Dolphins along the U.S. Central and South Atlantic Coast, April 1989)
Correspondence, clippings, legislation, reports, testimonies, notes, memoranda, articles, CRS reports, DSG publications.
Series I.C. Issues Files comprises the majority of the Thomas R. Carper Papers. The files span Carper's career as Delaware's member-at-large in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1983-1992. The files highlight the issues of the times and the corresponding legislation which Carper considered during his terms in Congress. These files are rich, both in their reflection of Carper's own thoughts and the work of his staff. The series reflects the day-to-day work of a member of Congress and illustrates the important role of legislative assistants (LAs) in a congressional office. With developed expertise in assigned subject areas, LAs collected, analyzed, and supplied the Congressman with information used throughout the daily performance of his duties, from legislative action and committee work, to response to constituent concerns. Handwritten memoranda, and drafts of speeches and letters throughout the papers are evidence of Carper's direct actions and personal thoughts.
Much of the correspondence in these files is from organizations and associations that would be affected by pending legislation. Carper's replies are often carefully worded and non-committal when legislation is being deliberated. Since his stance on issues is not always evident, the Series I.G. Voting Records is useful for revealing how Carper ultimately voted on issues.
Many of the files in this series contain Democratic Study Group (DSG) Fact Sheets, DSG Daily and Legislative Reports, Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports, and Whip Issue Papers. These useful reference tools clarify the issues, background, and the arguments of various pieces of legislation. The DSG reports are non-partisan summaries of the issue, and are especially enlightening. (See also Series I.H. Publications for a more complete description of DSG reports.) Many of the DSG reports have been annotated by staff, sometimes specifying how Carper should or did vote on specific bills. The DSG publications also list daily legislative schedules for the House, including summaries of bills coming before the House, and anticipated amendments.
Twenty-two subseries, arranged alphabetically by issue title.Physical Description
23 linear foot
Legislation, news clippings, correspondence, memoranda, publications, reports, and research materials.
Although agriculture is a prominent industry in Delaware, the collection has very few files relating to this subject. Those included in this series cover topics such as migrant farm workers, use and manufacture of pesticides, crops, and other farm-related legislation. The files contain materials pertinent to Carper's agricultural constituents: farmers, agricultural product dealers, or scientists involved in research. Of note is the documentation on the Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Laboratory in Newark, Delaware. The lab, as part of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, studied alternative methods to pesticides for use in preventing crop damage by insects. This research is known as biological control and integrated pest management. The laboratory researched and imported beneficial insects to feed off of the harmful bugs that destroyed crops. The Delaware lab was one of several in the United States. Both Carper and Senator Bill Roth, Jr., wrote to the Secretary of Agriculture in support of the laboratory and asked for federal funding. Unfortunately, funding for the lab was not included in the Department of Agriculture's FY 1993 budget that was passed by Congress.
Alphabetically by topic.Physical Description
1 linear foot
Correspondence, memoranda, meeting notes, floor statements, testimonies, news clippings, and reports.
The majority of the Amtrak files deal with conflicts between upper management and railroad worker unions over the four year period of 1988-1992. Major matters in the disputes involved wages, health and welfare issues, and possible changes to work environment regulations. Due to Wilmington's position as a major repair yard and travel station along the "northeast corridor" for railroad travel and movement of goods, Congressman Carper maintained a strong interest in resolutions benefiting both Amtrak and labor. As a result, the files contain a significant body of literature pertaining to this topic, and deal with it on the local, state, and national levels.
Amtrak negotiated labor contracts with over twenty unions. For instance, management negotiated separately with the on-board service employees, the yardmasters, the station masters and the machinists. This method is well documented within the files, and provides insight into the complex nature of a system where twenty-plus different unions must be addressed.
Also included in the Amtrak files are letters and information regarding the possibility of 1992 layoffs of Amtrak workers in Wilmington, and Carper's efforts to save those jobs. The issue was unresolved in 1993 when Carper left his congressional office.
Alphabetically by topic and chronologically within. Most file contents were maintained in reverse chronological order and this placement has been retained.Physical Description
.75 linear foot
Correspondence, bulletins, reports, news clippings, testimonies.
The Animal Welfare files focus primarily on issues involving the use of animals in laboratory and biomedical research. Other phenomena touched upon include inhumane trapping of animals, canned hunts, and the contrasting philosophies of animal protection and animal control.
Documentation of the 1989 Silver Spring Monkey case, probably one of the more infamous cases involving use of animals in lab research, is contained in the files. In this case, monkeys at a lab in Silver Spring, Maryland, were used for spinal cord and stroke injury research by having nerves severed in their limbs. They were then observed to see if and how they would be able to regain use of the limbs. News of the experiment generated public outcry and the lab was closed. The monkeys were shipped to labs in Louisiana and Texas, where some of them ultimately died. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was actively involved in prosecution of the scientists in this case. There are conflicting reports about the role of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in this case, and the care given by the labs where the monkeys were sent. Many articles and editorials illustrate the notoriety of the incident at the time.
Arranged alphabetically by subject.Physical Description
.25 linear foot
Correspondence, notes, floor statements, fact sheets, testimonies, news clippings, memoranda, and published reports.
Although limited in size and representing only the last term of Carper's years in the House, the Appropriations files provide a unique understanding of the work that goes into distribution of public funds. Many of the steps involved in this annual legislative exercise are represented in this series. The dissension that frequently occurs over how much money should go where is well documented through correspondence, op-ed articles, and research files. Topics include the following: Agricultural Domestic Food programs, Commerce, Justice and Judiciary, District of Columbia, Interior, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Treasury, and the Postal Service.
Alphabetically by topic and chronologically within.Physical Description
.25 linear foot
News clippings, notes, correspondence, memoranda, publications, reports, and other printed materials.
This series details issues and legislation relating to children during Carper's tenure in Congress, with the bulk of the material from 1988-1992. Issues represented include infant mortality, international family planning, adoption, and, to a lesser extent, pornography, child labor, and international efforts on behalf of children. Major child care legislation includes the Child Care Act of 1987; the Child Care Services Improvement Act of 1988, a component of which would provide dependent tax care credits for working parents; and Early Childhood Education and Development (H.R. 3). Although Carper did not write any legislation in this series, he took an interest in the welfare of children and was an advocate of early childhood education.
Arranged alphabetically by subject. A subseries of Child Care Bills details components of various child care legislation.Physical Description
1.5 linear foot
(with National Governor's Association amendments)
Legislation, correspondence, news clippings, research materials, reports and publications.
Major legislation in this series includes the Civil Rights Acts of 1990 and 1991. The Civil Rights Acts were intended to strengthen and restore Civil Rights laws established by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Largely in response to job bias and discrimination practices toward minorities and women, the Civil Rights Acts provided legal remedies for individuals affected by discrimination and made clear what kinds of acts constituted these violations. Also included in this series and related to the Civil Rights Act are files dealing with sexual orientation discrimination and rights, and voting rights. Files relating to the issue of religious freedom are also included in this series. A file on Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court and the ensuing hearings regarding his alleged sexual misconduct toward former employee Anita Hill is notable in that it contains the transcript of President George Bush's speech on the public's perception of government after the conclusion of the hearing. (See Appendix E for a list of Supreme Court members.)
Alphabetically by issuePhysical Description
.75 linear foot