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Capps (Lois) papers
Mss 333  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Related Materials
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Research Collections
    Title: Lois Capps papers
    Identifier/Call Number: Mss 333
    Physical Description: 110 Linear Feet (103 boxes, 84 digital media, 812 VHS, 10 betacam, 3 cassettes, 8 oversize folders, framed items, and 1 surfboard)
    Date (inclusive): 1989-2016
    Date (bulk): 2002-2015
    Abstract: Lois Capps (1938- ) was an American democratic politician who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 24th congressional district from 1998 to 2017. Spanning from 1989 to 2016, the collection consists of district office files, memoranda, government publications, bills and proposals for legislation, reports, resolutions, newspaper clippings, photographs, video and audio recordings, Walter Capps materials, and awards from her political career.
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Location: Special Research Collections, UCSB Library

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Research Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Research Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift, 2016, 2018

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Lois Capps papers, Mss 333. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Related Materials

    Walter H. Capps, UArch FacP 47. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Biographical note

    Lois Capps (nee Grimsrud) was born January 10, 1938 in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. Her parents were Solveig Magdalene (née Gullixson) and Rev. Jurgen Milton Grimsrud, a Lutheran minister. Both of her parents' families originated from Norway. Lois received a nursing degree from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Washington in 1959 and a Masters in religion at Yale in 1964. In 1960, while at Yale, Lois meet and married Walters Capps, a PhD divinity student studying at Yale. In 1964, after Lois graduated from Yale, she and Walter moved to Santa Barbara, where Walter became a prominent religious studies professor at UC Santa Barbara. Lois worked as a nurse and a health advocate for Santa Barbara public schools and taught early childhood education at Santa Barbara City College. In addition, Capps served as the director of Santa Barbara County's Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project and the Parent and Child Enrichment Center. Lois and Walter had three children. Lois Capps received another Masters from UC Santa Barbara in 1990.
    During Walter's tenure at UC Santa Barbara, he wrote fourteen books and was nationally recognized as an expert on peace and conflict studies and US Democracy. By the nineties, his focus translated into pursuing a congressional seat and was elected as a US Representative for California's 22nd district in 1996. The district The district includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a portion of Ventura County. The seat in Santa Barbara district had been historically held by Republicans since World War II. However, only nine months into his term, Walter suffered a fatal heart attack. Rather than let the seat be filled by someone else, Lois decided to take over the position and ran for the position in a special election in 1998.
    In the congressional seat, Lois Capps served California's 22nd congressional district from 1998 to 2002; California's 23rd congressional district from 2003 to 2012; and California's 24th congressional district from 2013 to 2016 (change do to redistricting). Congresswoman Capps served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she sat on the Subcommittees on Health, Energy and Power, and Environment and the Economy. The Energy and Commerce Committee is known to have the widest range of responsibility in the House, overseeing health care, energy, environmental protection, telecommunications, trade, consumer protection and other important issues. Capps was the primary sponsor of five bills that were enacted: H.R. 3218 (114th): Designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1221 State Street, Suite 12, Santa Barbara, California, as the "Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty…", H.R. 5562 (113th): To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 801 West Ocean Avenue in Lompoc, California, as the "Federal Correctional Officer Scott J. Williams..., H.R. 698 (113th): HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, H.R. 1246 (111th): Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2009, H.R. 1648 (108th): Carpinteria and Montecito Water Distribution Systems Conveyance Act of 2004.
    With Capps' background as a registered nurse was influential in her congressional role as she participated in and led many of the major health policy debates in Congress, including enactment of historic health insurance reform the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. She authored the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which addresses our country's chronic nursing shortage. Capps was a leader in women's health, in particular, by being a voice in for improving access to emergency contraception and authoring legislation to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease and stroke in women, the HEART for Women Act. She has also passed legislation on Lou Gehrig's Disease, improve CPR training in schools, and reduce domestic violence. She advocated to expand children's health care, enact mental health parity legislation and promote stem cell research. She has also been deeply involved in the efforts to protect Medicare, expand the use of health information technology, and improve cancer care. In addition, Lois Capps founded and co-chaired the House Nursing Caucus and served as co-chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, the House Cancer Caucus, the Congressional School Health and Safety Caucus, and the House Democratic Task Force on Health.
    Capps has been a recognized leader in the fight to protect California's coast and environment, especially with new offshore oil drilling. Capps has been an advocate for the protection of the Los Padres National Forest and holding oil companies financially responsible for cleaning up MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) contaminated water supplies. Capps was a key figure in the preservation of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, ensuring public access to the Channel Islands National Park, and securing federal funds to protect sensitive coastal areas from harmful development. Capps helped raise automobile fuel efficiency standards for the first time in thirty-two years and was a key supporter of House passage of the first ever comprehensive bill to address global warming. Moreover, her environmental support expanded to strong support for increased funding for solar, wind and other clean energy technologies, and to require power companies to produce an increasing share of electricity from these renewable sources.
    In 2016 Capps chose to not seek another term and retire from Congress. Her legacy is a noted a steadfast champion for health, education, and environment and had been repeatedly voted as the "Nicest Member of Congress." Upon her retirement from office, Capps has remained in Santa Barbara and with the help of her son, Todd Capps, started the Lois and Walter Capps Project. The project was envisioned as an outlet for community engagement to collaborate in a trans-partisan way to recognize shared community interests and develop effective policies.

    Scope and Content

    The Lois Capps papers consist of 100 linear feet concerning her legislative career from the 106th to 113th Congress and the duties as a Member of Congress, with a bulk date range of 2002-2015. The majority of the collection documents Capps' tenure in the United States House of Representatives, consisting of legislative, committee, district, campaign, and administrative files. The files include bills, co-sponsored letters, memoranda, research reports, and press mentions. Also included in the collection are materials relating to Walter Capps, photographs, awards, memorabilia, and a considerable amount of audiovisual and digital materials of Capps interviews, news segments, and constituent events.
    Capps' main legislation and policy focuses on environment, health, and education, which remained consistent throughout her political career and are heavily represented in the legislative, committee, campaign, and district files. Areas of significance in the collection include materials relating to budget and commerce, education, energy, environmental economy, protections, and advocacy, women's issues, and healthcare.
    Also notable are materials documenting events and issues of importance to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispos, and Ventura counties, including Chumash land development, environmental protections of Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plains, Gaviota, information on public works projects, and local organizations, services and events.


    The collection is arranged into seven series, each of which is further divided into subseries.
    During processing of the collection, existing original order of files were preserved when possible however Congresses were grouped by sessions. Original filenames were retained when applicable but changed for clarity.
    The series arrangement of this collection is as follows:
    Series I. District Offices Subject Files, 1995-2016, comprised of district office files from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo district offices.
    Series II. Congressional Issues Files, 1998-2016, comprised of materials related to Capp's service in the United States House of Representatives between the 106th and 113th Congress.
    Series III. Press Mentions, 1992-2011, comprised of press releases, newspaper and magazine press mentions of Lois Capps and/or her political interests.
    Series IV. Photographs, 1990s-2015, includes mainly career photographs of campaigning and events in D.C. and California of both Lois and Walter Capps.
    Series V. Awards and Memorabilia, 1990s-2016, comprised of awards, recognitions, gifts, and assorted memorabilia.
    Series VI. Audiovisual Materials, 1989-2016, comprised of VHS, betacam, and cassettes. Mainly of Santa Barbara County local news segments on Lois and Walter Capps, interviews, and events.
    Series VII. Digital Files, 1995-2015, comprised of CDs and 3.5" floppy disks. Mainly contains images and research reports.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Community development -- Santa Barbara County (Calif.)
    City Planning -- California -- Santa Barbara County
    Environmental policy -- California -- Santa Barbara Channel
    Environmentalism -- California -- Santa Barbara -- History
    Oil spills and wildlife -- California -- Santa Barbara Channel
    Political campaigns -- California -- Santa Barbara
    Political participation -- California -- Santa Barbara County
    Santa Barbara (Calif.)
    Santa Barbara (Calif.) -- Environmental aspects
    Santa Barbara (Calif.) -- Politics and government
    transportation -- California -- Santa Barbara County
    Ventura County (Calif.)
    California -- Politics and government
    Santa Barbara Channel (Calif.)
    Capps, Walter H.