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Finding Aid to the Tom Lantos Papers, 1944-2008, bulk 1979-2008
BANC MSS 2008/121  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Tom Lantos papers
    Date (inclusive): 1944-2008,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1979-2008
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 2008/121
    Creators : Lantos, Tom, 1928-2008
    Extent: Number of containers: 155 cartons, 14 boxes Linear feet: 199.35
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Tom Lantos Papers document the career of a Hungarian-born American politician who was the only Holocaust survivor to have served in the United States Congress. He served 14 terms, from 1981-2008, in the United States House of Representatives as Congressman for the California district encompassing parts of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English, Hungarian and Spanish.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is restricted until January 1, 2013 or the death of Annette Lantos, whichever is later; researchers may apply for access to the collection. Inquiries regarding these materials should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Use Restrictions

    Even though all reasonable and customary best-practices have been pursued, this collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the University of California, Berkeley assumes no responsibility.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Tom Lantos Papers, BANC MSS 2008/121, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Separated Material

    Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 2008.064).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Lantos, Tom
    Lantos, Annette Tillemann
    Wallenberg, Raoul
    Legislators--United States
    United States. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs
    United States. Congress. House. Committee on Government Operations
    Congressional Human Rights Caucus (U.S.)
    San Francisco County (Calif.)--Politics and government
    San Mateo County (Calif.)--Politics and government
    Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Hungary
    United States--Foreign relations--Israel
    Arab-Israeli conflict--20th century
    Refuseniks--Soviet Union
    Tibet (China)--Relations--China
    United States. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
    Animal rights
    Urban transportation--California--San Francisco Bay Area
    Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Calif.)

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Tom Lantos Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Annette Lantos on May 5, 2008.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by David Uhlich in 2011.

    Biographical Information

    Thomas Peter Lantos (1928-2008) was a Hungarian-born American politician who was the only Holocaust survivor to have served in the United States Congress. He served 14 terms in the United States House of Representatives as Congressman for the California district encompassing parts of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.
    Born on February 1, 1928, in Budapest, Lantos was 16 years old when Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany. Because of his Jewish heritage, Lantos was sent to a labor camp in Szob, Hungary; he escaped from the camp twice, making his way back to Budapest the second time, where he went into hiding in a safe house operated by Raoul Wallenberg. Lantos was active in the anti-Nazi resistance movement until Hungary was liberated by Russian military forces in January 1945. After the war, Lantos was unable to locate members of his immediate family, who were mostly sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, but did reunite with his childhood friend, Annette Tillemann, who he married in June 1950. Lantos remained in Hungary after the war, where he began studying economics at the University of Budapest, until 1947 when he was awarded a Hillel Foundation scholarship and immigrated to the United States to attend the University of Washington. Upon his graduation from University of Washington with a Master of Arts, Lantos moved to California to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a doctorate in economics in 1953, and began work as a professor at San Francisco State University, a position he held until he began his political career in 1980. During his time as a professor, Lantos also served as a business consultant, foreign policy commentator for television, and finally a senior advisor to several U.S. Senators.
    Lantos was first elected to office in the House of Representatives in 1980. As a result of his background, Lantos was keenly interested in foreign policy and human rights: he served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee during the majority of his time in Congress, where he briefly served as chairman, and in 1983, Lantos co-founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, of which he served as co-chair for the duration of his time in office; the caucus was reformed into "Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission" upon his death. Lantos also served in key positions on the House Government Operations Committee, where he chaired the Employment and Housing Subcommittee and led the investigation and hearings for the Department of Housing and Urban Development scandals, the House Select Committee on Aging and the Congressional Delegation to the European Parliament. A staunch animal rights activist and environmentalist, Lantos was also deeply concerned with transportation issues in his home district, as well as the protection of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Lantos was also a member of the United States Holocaust Council and the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.
    On January 2, 2008, Lantos announced that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and would not run for a 15th term in Congress. Less than six weeks later, on February 11, 2008, Lantos died of complications from his illness. In a special election held later that year, his chosen successor, Jackie Speier, was elected to fill his vacant Congressional seat. Shortly after his death, his surviving wife, Annette, founded the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice in Concord, New Hampshire.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Tom Lantos Papers consist primarily of files Lantos compiled during his career as a politician. The bulk of the collection is comprised of materials documenting Lantos' work in the United States House of Representatives as Congressman for the California district encompassing parts of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. A significant portion of materials pertain to his service on the Government Operations and Foreign Affairs Committees, as well as the Congressional Human Rights Caucus; also prominent in the collection are Lantos' office and press files, personal correspondence, and a limited amount of campaign and political files. The collection encompasses a range of materials-including correspondence, legislative addresses and hearings, campaign literature, press releases, schedules, and ephemera-most notably documenting such legislation and issues as: Anti-Semitism, Israel and the Holocaust, including Raoul Wallenberg; Human Rights issues, especially in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, China and Tibet, and the Middle East; the Department of Housing and Urban Development scandals; Animal Rights; Bay Area Rapid Transit and the San Francisco Airport; and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
    The Tom Lantos Papers are subdivided into six series:
    • Series I: Personal Files
    • Series II: Campaign and Political Files
    • Series III: Office Files
    • Series IV: Press Files
    • Series V: Constituent Service Files
    • Series VI: Legislative Files