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Edwards (Don) Congressional Papers
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Don Edwards Congressional Papers
    creator: Edwards, Don
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.1995.01
    Physical Description: 108 boxes (121 linear ft.)
    Date (inclusive): 1963-1994
    Abstract: Don Edwards Congressional Papers document his thirty-two year tenure (1963-1995) in the United States House of Representatives (Calif.). Elected in 1962 (D), Edwards represented San José, Gilroy, and Morgan Hill, and parts of Milpitas and other unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. During his 32-year career, he represented voters from the 9th District (1963-1975), the 10th District (1975-1993), and the 16th District (1993-1995). The papers include biographical material, speeches, committee files, hearings and reports, press releases, newspaper clippings, photographs, slides, office files, correspondence and memorabilia. The collection consists of five series: Series I: Personal; Series II: Legislative Files; Series III: Public Relations/Press Files; Series IV: Office Files; Series V: Constituent Files.


    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has been assigned to the San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections & Archives as the owner of the collection.
    Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files from or derived from these collections is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    The Don Edwards Congressional Papers, MSS-1995-01, San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Don Edwards in 1995.

    Processing Information

    Originally processed as two separate collections by Susan Klingberg, 1997. Danelle Moon and Karla Aleman reprocessed the two collections into one, and prepared the final inventory, 2006. EAD encoding by Bernard Yeh, 2006.


    William Donlon (Don) Edwards (1915- )
    Don Edwards was born and raised in San José, California. His father, Leonard P. Edwards, was the president of the San José Abstract and Title Insurance Company and his mother, Clara Donlon Edwards, worked as a schoolteacher. Educated in the San José public school system, Edwards graduated from San José High School, and in 1936 he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, an L. L. B from Stanford University Law School in 1938, and in 1940 he was admitted to the California State Bar.
    Between 1940-1941, Edwards worked for the FBI and during World War II he served as a Naval Intelligence officer and gunnery officer at sea. After the war, he founded the Valley Title Company of Santa Clara County, where he served as president from 1951 to 1975. He married Clyda Edwards and together they raised five sons: Leonard Perry Edwards, Thomas C. Edwards, Samuel Dwyer Edwards, Bruce Haven Edwards, and William Don Edwards. Edwards lives with his wife of twenty-five years, Edie B. Wilkie.
    Edwards became politically active first as a Republican, serving as the chairman of the California Young Republicans. Influenced by the events following World War II, particularly the impact of the atomic bomb in Japan and fear of the nuclear arms race, he joined the United World Federalist, a peace organization committed to the United Nations and the World Court. He eventually severed ties with the Republicans over the issue of world peace.
    In 1962 he was elected to the House of Representatives, as a Democrat representing San José, Gilroy, Morgan Hill, parts of Milpitas and other unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. During his thirty-two year career, he represented voters from the 9th District (1963-1975), the 10th District (1975-1993), and the 16th District (1993-1995). These districts bridged agricultural interests, with transportation and technology industries located in the Silicon Valley. Congressman Edwards had a special interest in civil rights, foreign affairs, transportation, the environment, and veteran's rights. While in the House of Representatives, he served on a number of committees, including the Judiciary Committee, the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, and the Veterans' Affairs Committee (1961-1993).
    A liberal Democrat and advocate of civil liberties, these papers document Edwards' long-term commitment to social legislation. In 1961, he voted against a measure to fund the House of Un-American Activities, and in 1963 he represented the minority vote to abolish the committee; the House voted to abolish HUAC based on Edwards's motion in 1975. Edwards consistently supported the enforcement of the Bill of Rights, including the draft riots and flag burning of the 1960s and he worked for the enactment of the 1964 Omnibus Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights and the floor manager in the House for the Equal Rights Amendment, he played a key administrative role in Congress. He authored a number of bills promoting individual civil liberties, including the Freedom of Choice Act, which was designed to codify Roe v. Wade, co-sponsored the American Disabilities Act in 1991, and served as the chief sponsor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was enacted in 1993.
    The impact of civil rights and the aftermath of the post-Vietnam war era reinforced Edwards' commitment to protect the civil liberties of his constituents. To this end, he served as a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee for 31 years. Edwards introduced legislation to promote readjustment counseling for Vietnam veterans, and he led the charge to investigate the long-term health impact of Agent Orange. In 1988 he played a key role in promoting the expansion of civil liberties for disabled veterans through The Civil Rights Restoration Act and the Fair Housing Amendment Act. In 1990, the Vietnam Veterans Institute honored him with the "Award for Life Service to Veterans."
    As a Representative to the Silicon Valley, Edwards understood the challenges facing high tech firms, particularly the ability to engage in joint research and development projects without facing antitrust lawsuits. Edwards successfully sponsored legislation to promote this type of research and improving the approval of export licenses. He also raised national awareness of the transportation problems in the Bay Area, and obtained important federal funds for transportation projects, including the Guadalupe Corridor light rail system, BART, earthquake relief and other local transportation projects. Edwards tried to balance business interests with his deep conviction to protect our natural resources and wildlife. While he did not serve on any environmental committees, he drafted legislation passed by the House in 1972 to create the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and he sponsored the Wetlands Reform Act.
    Edwards believed that his political role went beyond service to California voters. In a 1988 interview he stated, "...we're here to help create a national and international agenda." Edwards retired from public life in 1995.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection documents Don Edwards' distinguished thirty-two year career in the United States House of Representatives (Calif.). These materials represent the diversity of Edwards' political work, activities, and interests while serving in Congress.


    The collection is arranged in five series: Legislative Files; Press and Media Files; Congressional Office Files; District Office Files; and Constituent Subject Files.
    Series I: Legislative Files, consist of Edwards sponsored legislation, legislative histories, voting records, the House Committee files of the Judiciary Committee, Post Office & Civil Service Committee, Veterans Committee, U.S. House Committee Files, and legislative issues; Series II: Press and Media Files, includes audio-visual formats, biographical information, newsletters, news clippings, photographs, speeches and writings; Series III: Congressional Office Files, contains correspondence, subject files, daily schedules and trip files. Series IV: District Office Files, documents the administration of his office in San José, and includes press files, campaign files, and commendations. Series V: Constituent Subject Files, represents a sampling of his constituent subject file records.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Civil rights -- United States
    Veterans Affairs -- Law and legislation -- United States
    United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989
    United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-1993
    California -- Politics and government -- 1951-
    Legislators -- United States
    Democratic Party (U.S.)
    United States. Civil Rights Restoration Act
    San José State University. Library. Special Collections.
    Edwards, Don
    Edwards, Don, 1915- 2015
    United States. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    United States. Fair Housing Amendments Act
    United States. Congress. House.