The Don H. Clausen Congressional Papers document Mr. Clausen’s House of Representative service January 1963 – January 1983
as well as selected materials about his career and public service since 1983. Highlights of the collection are materials relating
to the creation of Redwood National Park (in 1968) and its expansion (in 1978), securing the funding for the Lake Sonoma/Warm
Springs Dam project, the King Range National Recreation Area, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, establishing the 200
mile off-shore fishing limit, the forestry and wine industries, the rivers--especially Eel, Russian, and Klamath, Native American
concerns, and aviation--especially aviation education. The photographs (1582 folders) are detailed in a database that is searchable
in this finding aid.
Don Clausen was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election in January 1963. For the next twenty years he
represented the citizens of the geographically large and culturally diverse (then) 2nd California Congressional District.
Clausen, who began his political career in 1955 by winning a seat on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, worked diligently
promoting his vision of Home Rule: wanting the greatest amount of decision making power to be closest to the local level.
"There's no telling how much good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit for it," are the upbeat words Clausen framed
and hung on his office wall. This was how Don Clausen approached being in the minority party the entire time he served in
the House of Representatives.
Donald Holst Clausen was born in Ferndale, California on April 27, 1923. He spent his childhood days on the dairy farm his
parents, Henry August and Marie Holst Clausen, worked - just as his grandparents had before them. The three Clausen boys shared
the farm work, were athletic, participated in 4-H, and took turns entering their prize-winning livestock at the Humboldt County
and California State fairs. Don's first elective office was as President of the Ferndale 4-H Club. Just as Don finished high
school he was injured while working on the farm when a spear of alfalfa pierced his ear. Luckily the horses pulling the hay
wagon kept still long enough for Don's brother to pull the unconscious Don to safety. The injury resulted in a hearing loss
that later that same year forced Don to leave his freshman year at San Jose State University. He then entered the banking
business. When the United States entered WWII he enlisted in the Navy and enrolled in the Naval Aviation V-5 Training Program.
Soon after that his mother noticed that his hearing had returned to normal. Don credits the air acrobatic portion of his training
with his recovery.
After serving as a carrier pilot in the Pacific Mr. Clausen returned to California's north coast and resumed his banking position
in Crescent City. But flying had changed his life and he had made a promise to a fellow Navy pilot. He would do what he could
to help other average, country kids - like themselves - to have access to flight training and opportunities in aviation careers.
Quickly he found a way to start a flight school and ambulance/charter service at the new Del Norte County Airport as well
as an aviation program in the local high school. In 1949 Don Clausen and Ollie Piper were married. They have two daughters,
Beverly and Dawn Marie, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. In the 1950s Clausen entered local politics, winning
a seat on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors and becoming active in the Republican Party at the state and local levels.
These activities put Clausen in a position to run for the congressional seat in 1962. While in Congress, Clausen served on
the Public Works and Transportation and the Interior and Insular Affairs committees. Because of unusually fast turnover in
the House of Representatives in the 1970s Clausen was able to advance rapidly in seniority. This allowed him to be involved
in committee leadership matters and in advancing legislation. The Congressional Papers collection is richer as a result of
When Clausen left Congress in 1983 President Reagan appointed him to the Department of Transportation where he worked with
the Federal Aviation Administration to strengthen aviation education programs and to monitor the FAA in implementing legislation
as Congress had intended. Clausen remained involved with the FAA until 1990. In 1991 he and Ollie left Washington and returned
to their home in the southern part of his old district.
Don Clausen has been awarded the Brewer Trophy (by the National Aviation Association) and the Crown Circle Award (by the National
Congress on Aviation and Space Education), the nation's two highest awards in Aviation-Aerospace Education. In 1997 he was
awarded the Humboldt State University Distinguished Service Medal in honor of his support for Humboldt State University while
serving in the House of Representatives. See the Related Works section of this Finding Aid for additional biographical information.
144 cubic feet (146 boxes)
Copyright to the unpublished material is retained by Don H. Clausen during his lifetime, after which time copyright becomes
the sole property of Humboldt State University Library. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Special
The collection is open for research.