A Guide to the Thomas N. Downing Papers, 1947-1977 Downing, Thomas N., Papers, 1947-1977 29773

A Guide to the Thomas N. Downing Papers, 1947-1977

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 29773


[logo]

Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
USA
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2010 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Lyndon Hart

Repository
The Library of Virginia
Accession Number
29773
Title
Thomas N. Downing Papers, 1947-1977
Extent
196.7 cubic feet (562 boxes)
Creator
Downing, Thomas N. (Thomas Nelms), 1919-2001
Language
English

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

THIS COLLECTION IS LOCATED AT THE STATE RECORDS CENTER. CONTACT ARCHIVES RESEARCH SERVICES FOR ACCESS INFORMATION, DIRECTIONS, AND HOURS.

Military Academy files contain student academic information; they are therefore restricted due to Privacy Act considerations and may not be served. If items from non-restricted series are housed in boxes with these items, the restricted items must be removed before the box is served.

Fourteen cubic feet of records pertaining to the Merchant Marine and Fisheries aspects of Mr. Downing's work have been transferred to the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Microfilm copies of those records are on file at the Library of Virginia (Miscellaneous Reels 3362-3414). Lists of those records that are on microfilm are in folders in the collection and are noted in the Contents List.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Thomas N. Downing Papers, 1947-1977. Accession 29773, Personal Papers Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Hon. Thomas N. Downing, Newport News, 1976.


Biographical Information

Thomas N. Downing served Virginia's First District in the House of Representatives from the 86th through the 94th Congresses. He was the grandson of the late state Senator Thomas J. Downing of Lancaster County (see also Accession Nos. 22035 and 22037, the Downing Family Letters).

Downing was born in Newport News on 1 February 1919. He received his public education in that city, graduating from Newport News High School. He completed his undergraduate education at the Virginia Military Institute, graduating in 1940. During World War II, Downing served as a Combat Troop Commander of Mechanized Cavalry with action in France. He earned a Silver Star for his rescue of two men during a reconnaissance operation in Northern France, and commanded the first of General Patton's Third Army troops to enter Germany. After the war, he earned a law degree from the University of Virginia (1948).

Downing practiced law in Hampton and Warwick, and served as a substitute judge for the Municipal Court for the City of Warwick. In 1958, he won election to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat. He was elected to the following eight congresses before declining to run for re-election in 1976.

At the time of his retirement, Downing's constituency included seventeen counties (Accomack, Charles City, Essex, Gloucester, James City, King George, King and Queen, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, and York) and four cities (Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and Williamsburg). The geographic and socio-economic nature of the district caused Representative Downing to place special interest and emphasis on such areas as marine life and quality, military and technological affairs, and agricultural considerations; his years of membership on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries and the Space Science and Technology (formerly Science and Astronautics) committees were important vehicles toward serving those interests. Additionally, his advocacy for re-opening the investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. led to his being appointed the first chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

After his retirement in 1976, Downing resumed his law practice in Newport News. He was a member of organizations including the American Bar Association, the Lions Club, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He served on the Board of Visitors of the Virginia Military Institute, 1985-1993, and as president of the Board of Directors of the Mariner's Museum in Newport News.

Thomas N. Downing died on 23 October 2001 of complications from intestinal surgery, and is buried in Peninsula Memorial Park, Newport News.

The first box of the Downing Papers contains a small group of records from Downing's two immediate predecessors in the First District congressional seat. Schuyler Otis Bland of Gloucester County (1872-1950) served in Congress from 1918 until his death in February 1950. His seat was filled by Edward John Robeson, Jr., who was born in Haywood County, North Carolina (1890), spent his childhood in Georgia, and settled as an adult in Newport News. Robeson served in the 81st through the 85th congresses; he was then defeated for renomination by Thomas Downing. He died in 1966 and is buried in North Carolina.

Scope and Content

Papers, 1947-1977, of Thomas N. Downing (1919-2001) consist of correspondence, political files, speeches, and related documents; they are the public records related to his 18-year tenure as a congressman representing Virginia's First District in the United States House of Representatives. The records include manuscripts, typescripts, xerox, and other reproductions, newsprint, photographs, printed forms (blank and filled in), published items, and other media. The first box of papers contains a small group of records from Downing's two immediate predecessors in the First District seat, Schuyler Otis Bland (1872-1950) and Edward John Robeson, Jr. (1890-1966).

Arrangement

The papers are arranged by congress and, in general, by category. His office's filing system varied in some respects from congress to congress; there are also certain areas of overlap in the filing system (e.g., general legislation appears as a separate category in some congresses, and in conjunction with general files or committee files in other sessions). These instances of overlap or dual filing are reflected in the Preliminary List of Headings and Contents List which follow.

In some cases, record groups extend over several congresses. When that occurred, the groups are placed within this collection with the latest congress with which they deal; i.e. "Rivers and Harbors Materials, 91st-92nd Congresses" is filed with the records for the 92nd Congress. Such multi-congress record groups are also indicated in the Preliminary List of Headings and the Contents List.

Fourteen cubic feet of records pertaining to the Merchant Marine and Fisheries aspects of Mr. Downing's work have been transferred to the Mariner's Museum in Newport News. Copies of those records are on file here at the Library of Virginia. Lists of those records on microfilm are in folders in the collection and are noted in the Contents List.

The preliminary headings are an outline to the contents of the collection, indicating areas of overlapping information by means of brackets (e.g. Committees [and General Legislation]). A detailed listing of the contents of individual boxes follows.

PRELIMINARY LIST OF HEADINGS Boxes 1-5. S[chuyler] O[tis] B[land] Papers. Boxes 1-5. Edward J[ohn] Robeson, Jr., Papers. Boxes 1-5. Campaign for Election to 86th Congress, 1958. Boxes 5-24. 86th Congress, 1959-1960: [Military] Academies; General Files [and General Legislation]; Invitations; Legislation Introduced and Failed Enactment, 1st and 2nd Sessions; Newspaper Clippings and Publicity; Political Files; Voting Record. Boxes 24-56. 87th Congress, 1961-1962: [Military] Academies; Committees, General Files [and General Legislation]; Invitations; General Legislation; Legislation Enacted; Legislation Not Enacted; News Releases and Publicity; Political Files; Speech Files; Veterans Affairs, 85th-87th Congresses, 1957-1962; Voting Record. Boxes 65-101. 88th Congress, 1963-1964: [Military] Academies; General Files; Invitations; General Legislation [and Committees]; Legislation Enacted; Legislation Not Enacted, 1st and 2nd Sessions; Marine Foodstuffs--Information Regarding, various dates; Master Files [1964 only]; Political Files; Veterans Affairs, 1961-1964; Voting Record. Boxes 101-132. 89th Congress, 1965-1966: [Military] Academies; Committees [and General Legislation]; General Files [and General Legislation]; Invitations; Legislation Enacted; Legislation Not Enacted, 1st and 2nd Sessions; Master Files; Political Files, 1955-1966; Voting Record. Boxes 132-219. 90th Congress, 1967-1968: [Military] Academies; Committees [and General Legislation]; General Files; Invitations; Legislation Enacted; Legislation Not Enacted, 1st and 2nd Sessions; Master Files; Office Accounts; Political Files, various dates; Post Office and Postmaster Materials, 89th-90th Congresses; Rivers and Harbors Materials, 86th-90th Congresses; Speech Files and Press Releases; Voting Record. Boxes 219-313. 91st Congress, 1969-1970: [Military] Academies; Committees [and General Legislation]; Federal Installations; General Files; General Reports; Invitations; Legislation Enacted, 1st and 2nd Sessions and General; Legislation Introduced and Failing Enactment, 1st and 2nd Sessions and General; Master Files; Newspaper Clippings and Publicity; Office Accounts; Political Files; Publications and Speeches; [Voting Record omitted]. Boxes 314-407. 92nd Congress, 1971-1972: [Military] Academies; Committees [and General Legislation]; Federal Installations; General Files; Invitations; Legislation Enacted, 1st and 2nd Sessions and General; Legislation Introduced and Failing Enactment, 1st and 2nd Sessions and General; Master Files; Newspaper Clippings and Publicity; Office Accounts; Political Files; Rivers and Harbors Materials, 91st-92nd Congresses; Speech Files; Voting Reocrd. Boxes 407-479. 93rd Congress, 1973-1974: [Military] Academies; Committees [and General Legislation]; Federal Installations; General Files; Invitations; Legislation Enacted; Legislation Not Enacted; Master Files; Newspaper Clippings and Publicity; Political Files; Post Office Files, 92nd-93rd Congresses; Speech Files; Voting Record. Boxes 479-557. 94th Congress, 1975-1976: [Military] Academies; Committees [and General Legislation]; General Files [and Federal Installations]; Invitations; Legislation Enacted; Legislation Not Enacted; Master Files; Newspaper Clippings and Publicity; Political Files; Speech Files; Voting Record. Boxes 557-562. Speech Files, Undated and Unspecified Congress.

Contents List

S[chuyler] O[tis] B[land] Papers, 1st District Congressman, 1918-1950.
Back to Top
Edward J[ohn] Robeson, Jr., Papers, 1st District Congressman, 1950-1959.
Back to Top
Campaign for Election to 86th Congress, 1958.
Back to Top
86th Congress, 1959-1960.
Back to Top
87th Congress, 1961-1962.
Back to Top
88th Congress, 1963-1964.
Back to Top
89th Congress, 1965-1966.
Back to Top
90th Congress, 1967-1968.
Back to Top
91st Congress, 1969-1970.
Back to Top
92nd Congress, 1971-1972.
Back to Top
93rd Congress, 1973-1974.
Back to Top
94th Congress, 1975-1976.
Back to Top
Undated and No Congress Specified.
Back to Top
Oversize.
Back to Top