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Bell (Alphonzo) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Biographical note
  • Organization
  • Separated Materials note
  • Scope and Content

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Alphonzo Bell papers
    creator: Bell, Alphonzo
    Identifier/Call Number: 0215
    Physical Description: 202 Linear Feet 204 boxes
    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [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.

    Biographical note

    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
    Mailing lists
    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
    Slides (photographs)
    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
    Appointment books
    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
    Press releases
    Parks -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Washington (D.C.) -- Politics and government -- Archival resources
    Percy, Charles H. -- Archives
    Bell, Alphonzo
    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