Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Separated Materials note
Scope and Content
Language of Material:
USC Libraries Special Collections
Title: Alphonzo Bell papers
Identifier/Call Number: 0215
202 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1933-1987
Abstract: Alphonzo Bell, Jr. (1914-2004) was a United States Congressman who represented the 27th and 28th Congressional Districts -
which encompassed the communities of Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, and West Los Angeles - between 1961
and 1977. Materials within the collection date from the 1930s to the 1980s and document Bell's political career.
Conditions Governing Access
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.
[Box/folder# or item name], Alphonzo Bell papers, Collection no. 0215, Regional History Collections, Special Collections,
USC Libraries, University of Southern California
The collection was given to the University of Southern California on November 12, 1976 by Alphonzo Bell.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Alphonzo Edward Bell, Jr., son of Alphonzo Edward Bell, Sr. and Minnewa Shoemaker, was born on September 19, 1914 in Los Angeles,
California. He was born into a pioneering California family, whose ranching and real estate interests in Los Angeles and
San Diego counties date back to the late 1800s. Bell's grandfather, James George Bell, was a cattle rancher who developed
the present-day communities of Bell and Bell Gardens and was instrumental in the founding of Occidental College. Bell's father,
Alphonzo Bell, Sr., was an oil magnate who invested his profits in the development of Santa Fe Springs and several upscale
communities in Los Angeles' Westside, including Bel Air, parts of Beverly Hills, Westwood, and Pacific Palisades. Bell Jr.
grew up on his father's cattle ranch, which was located near the present day community of Bel Air.
In 1938, Bell graduated from Occidental College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. After college, he joined
the United States Air Force and served as a Lieutenant Colonel from 1942 to 1944. Following his service, Bell became an active
businessman in Los Angeles and was a leader in both civic and charitable activities for many years. He joined his family's
oil business, the Bell Petroleum Company, and became its president after his father passed away. When Bell stepped into this
leadership role he decided to concentrate the company's efforts on petroleum and phase out the land development business.
Determined to expand the business, extensive exploration was carried out in California, Texas, and New Mexico. Ultimately,
Bell tripled the value of the company with oil strikes throughout the West. He eventually sold the business in 1974.
Bell had been interested in politics for many years, having been active in statewide Republican Party affairs since his discharge
from the military. His foray into politics began in the late 1940s, when he helped found the Downtown Young Republicans Club
in Los Angeles. However, it wasn't until the late 1950's, when the family business stabilized, that he decided to take a
more proactive role in community leadership. Between 1956 and 1958, Bell served as Chairman of the Republican State Central
Committee of California, and between 1958 and 1960, he served on the Republican Central Committee of Los Angeles.
In 1960, Bell ran for a seat in the House of Representatives and won. He served as a representative of California's 27th
and 28th Districts until 1977. Bell was a political moderate and was widely popular among his constituents, many of whom
were registered Democrats. In 1964, he won reelection with the largest total vote and the largest margin of victory of any
Republican member of the United States House of Representatives. In 1966, Bell's total vote and victory margin exceeded that
of any House member in the nation from either political party. While in Congress, Bell was a member of the House Science
and Technology Committee and the Education and Labor Committee. He also served on the following subcommittees: Science Research
and Development, the General Subcommittee on Education, the Manned Space Flight Subcommittee, the Subcommittee on International
Cooperation in Science and Space, and the Subcommittee on Equal Opportunities.
Despite his family's name recognition and his popularity, Bell was unable to win a higher seat in office. In 1969, Bell ran
for Mayor of Los Angeles but lost to incumbent Sam Yorty. However, in the following election, Yorty was defeated by Tom Bradley,
a Democratic candidate that Bell actively supported and campaigned for in spite of ill feelings on the part of his fellow
Republicans for his support of Bradley. Again, Bell ran for a higher position, this time for a Senate seat in 1976 but lost
the Republican primary to S.I. Hayakawa. Hayakawa went on to unseat Democrat John V. Tunney. Since Bell decided to run
in the Senate primary he did not seek reelection to the House in 1976.
During Bell's tenure, he received the Distinguished Service Award by the National Education Association, the Citation of Merit
by the California Association of Adult School Administrators, and won the 1974 CACVE/ Governor's Award of the California Advisory
Council on Vocational Education. On three occasions he received the Watchdog of the Treasury Award from the National Associated
Businessmen, given to Congressmen for support of economy in government. He was unanimously commended by both the Los Angeles
City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1974, and was the recipient of numerous commendations and
honors from educational, scientific, and public service organizations.
Bell is credited with being instrumental in the passage of several groundbreaking pieces of legislation including the Clean
Air Act, the Environmental Policy Act, the Older Americans Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Emergency
School Assistance Act, the Higher Education Act Amendments, the Housing and Urban Development Act, the Family Assistance Act,
the Fair Labor Standards Act Amendments, the Coal Mine Safety Act Amendments, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments,
the Emergency Employment Act, the Budget and Impoundment Control Act, the Solar Heating and Cooling Demonstration Act, and
the Fire Prevention and Control Act.
Bell was a member of the Bel-Air Country Club, California Club, Jonathan Club, Petroleum Club of Los Angeles, and the University
Club. In 1970, Bell married actress and tennis champion Marian McCargo, who he affectionately called "the love of his life".
Both Bell and McCargo had previously been married. Bell had nine children: Stephen, Fonza, Matthew, Robert, Anthony, William,
Graham, Harry, and Richard. Bell died from pneumonia on April 25, 2004, just 18 days after McCargo died of pancreatic cancer.
The collection is organized into the following series: 1. Campaign Materials; 2. Correspondence; 3. Legislative Files; 4.
Speeches and Presentations; 5. Subject Files; 6. Photographs and Slides; 7. Clippings; 8. Publications. Original file titles
were used to describe the materials in the collection.
Separated Materials note
The books have been removed from the collection and cataloged separately.
Scope and Content
The collection includes correspondence, administrative records, regulations and legislation, campaign materials, budget reports,
commission and agency agendas, speeches, newspaper clippings, articles, and photographs from Alphonzo Bell's political career.
The material is primarily print, originals, and photocopies.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Speeches, addresses, etc., American -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Politicians -- California -- Archival resources
Legislators -- United States -- Correspondence
Political campaigns -- California -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Resolutions, Legislative -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
Elections -- United States -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Legislative hearings -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
California -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Education -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Legislative hearings -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Bills, Legislative -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
National parks and reserves -- Law and legislation -- California -- Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (Calif.) -- History -- Archival resources
Energy policy -- California -- Archival resources
International relations -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Foreign relations -- Japan -- History -- Sources -- Archival resources
Medical care -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Economics -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Budget -- California -- Archival resources
Transportation -- Law and legislation -- California -- Archival resources
Agricultural laws and legislation -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Jews, Soviet -- Archival resources
Apportionment (Election law) -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Archival resources
Police -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Housing -- Law and legislation -- United States -- History -- Archival resources
Labor laws and legislation -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Petroleum as fuel -- Government policy -- United States -- Archival resources
Petroleum -- United States -- History -- Archival resources
Outer space -- Exploration -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Outer space -- Government policy -- United States -- Archival resources
Environmental policy -- California -- Archival resources
Voting -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Archival resources
Parks -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
Washington (D.C.) -- Politics and government -- Archival resources
Percy, Charles H. -- Archives
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous) -- Archives
Republican National Convention -- Archives
Reagan, Ronald -- Archives
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Council -- Archives
Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris) -- Archives
Scranton, William Warren -- Archives
Los Angeles International Airport -- Archives
Romney, George W. -- Archives
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich) -- Archives
National Science Foundation Advisory Council (U.S.) -- Archives
Agnew, Spiro T. -- Archives
Bradley, Tom -- Archives
Finch, Robert H. (Robert Hutchinson) -- Archives
Tunney, John V. (John Varick) -- Archives
Hayakawa, S. I. (Samuel Ichiyé) -- Archives
Yorty, Sam -- Archives
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- Archives
United States. Congress. House -- Archives
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science and Technology -- Archives
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Education and Labor -- Archives
Brown, Jerry -- Archives
Bell, Alphonzo -- Archives