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District of Columbia Statehood Commission Records

Identifier: 048

Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials produced or collected by the D.C. Statehood/Compact Commission (Commission) from 1978 to 1994. The materials include correspondence; reports; clippings; press releases; financial materials; meeting minutes; legislative testimony and bills; Commission publications; pamphlets; brochures; articles; speeches; memorabilia; videos; audiotapes; and photographs. Significant items, activities, and topics covered by the materials include: Commission activities supporting the Constitutional Convention; testimony and public relations materials to promote statehood legislation in the U.S. Congress; legal and other research on territory campaigns to achieve statehood; articles and writings on the issue of D.C. statehood; and public relations and educational activities undertaken by the Commission.


  • Creation: 1788-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1978 - 1994


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions to accessing this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

DC Public Library holds copyright to this collection. Noncommerical use is permitted. Please contact with questions.

Biographical / Historical

In 1979 D.C. residents were presented with a proposal to vote on a Statehood Initiative that would approve legislation to begin an effort to grant D.C. statehood. The Statehood Initiative won approval on November 4, 1980 and became the first public referendum passed in the District’s history. The final enabling legislation, D.C. Law 3-171, as amended D.C. Code Sec. 1-115(b) (1987)), provided for the creation of two commissions - the D.C. Statehood Commission and the D.C. Compact Commission. The D.C. Statehood Commission’s mission was to educate, promote, and advance the proposition of statehood in the District and elsewhere. The D.C. Compact Commission’s mission was to conduct a study of the necessary and appropriate legislative and administration actions needed to achieve statehood. The two commissions consisted of three commissioners from each of the eight wards in the District, appointed by the D.C. City Council.

A provision of the Initiative called for a Constitutional Convention and the writing of a Constitution for the State of New Columbia. On November 4, 1981 45 delegates were elected to a Constitutional Convention. The convention delegates drafted a constitution by May 29, 1982, which was adopted by a majority vote of D.C. citizens on November 2, 1982. In 1985 after the three-year term of the Constitutional Convention expired, the two Commissions were combined. The Commission engaged in a number of educational and promotional activities throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Activities included designing a curriculum for public schools, providing training for D.C. teachers, testifying before Congress on statehood legislation, and establishing a Statehood Resource Center. Walter Fauntroy introduced the D.C. Statehood Bill, H.R. 51, in 1987; however Congress did not vote on the bill until November 1993 and it was defeated by a vote of 277 to 153. The Commission's budget was decreased and activities reduced after the defeat.


51 Boxes

22.5 Linear feet


Series 1: Administrative, 1986-1994 (2.5 linear feet) This series contains files that document the daily administration of the Commission. Included in the files are time and effort reports; by-laws; resolutions; memoranda reporting on Commission activities; mailing and contact lists; Commission stationary; and Commission logo. Of particular significance are contract records, request for proposals solicited by the Commission, and proposals from contractors in response to those requests. A majority of the materials regarding contracts is from the Harrison Institute, which contracted to provide public relations services and conduct legal research for the Commission. The materials are arranged alphabetically by topic and then chronologically by date.

Series 2: Financial, ca. 1978-1995 (2 linear feet) This series contains financial records of the Commission including annual budget and appropriation materials; invoices; payment vouchers; revenue and expense statements; and treasurer reports. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic and then chronologically by date.

Series 3: Meetings, 1978-1995 (3.5 linear feet) Included in this series are meeting minutes, agendas, and background materials for regular and special meetings of the Commission from December 11, 1978 through January 5, 1995. Related materials include recordings of the meetings in the Audiovisual Series (9/19/86 through 5/5/88). Folders are arranged chronologically by date of meeting.

Series 4: Topics, 1788, 1941, 1968, 1980-1993 (3 linear feet) This series consists of correspondence, memoranda, reports, handwritten notes, clippings, publications, statements, pamphlets, brochures, newsletters, lists, and bibliographies covering a variety of topics and activities of interest to the Commission. Of particular significance are materials regarding the D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention; Democratic and Republican conventions; Statehood Constitution; activities by Shadow Senator Jesse Jackson; and state government reorganization. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic and then chronologically by date.

Series 5: Legislative Matters, 1986-1994 (2.5 linear feet) Records in this series include briefing books; congressional testimony and statements; house and conference reports; executive summaries; bills; background papers; appropriation acts; correspondence; and memoranda. Much of the materials are related to H.R. 51, statehood legislation introduced in Congress in 1987, including briefing book drafts and originals; internal memoranda from the House District Committee; testimony; and opposition statements. Other significant materials include 1987 testimony before D.C. City Council on budgets and Congressional testimony supporting statehood before the House Subcommittee on Fiscal Affairs and Health. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic and then chronologically with materials related to specific house and senate bills (i.e., H.R. 51, S118) appearing first.

Series 6: Clippings and Press Releases, 1978-1987 (.75 linear feet) This series contains clippings and press releases regarding statehood activities and issues. Most of the clippings were compiled by clipping services and public relations firms hired by the Commission The folders are arranged chronologically by date of the clipping or press release.

Series 7: Public Relations, 1987-1993 (2 linear feet) This series contains press packages, publicity events, and educational materials developed by the Commission and public relations (PR) experts. Items and topics of interest include the Fifty Stars slideshow; Liberty Bell Train event; the New Columbia: 51st State of the Union speakers kit; and Action News (the Commission newsletter). Educational materials developed for the general and public school students, including Facts You May Not Know About D.C. and Statehood; Fifty-One Stars: A Test; Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Statehood Economic Issues; and One-Month Daily Curriculum: National Rainbow Coalition for D.C. Statehood Campaign. Also included are editorials; letters to the editor; radio and T.V. reports; public relations reports; correspondence; and brochures and booklets. Many of the materials were produced by the public relations firm Apter and Associates. Related materials in other series include the video, New Columbia: 51st State of the Union. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic and then chronologically by date.

Series 8: Research, 1948-1993 (3 linear feet) This series contains research on successful statehood campaigns compiled by staff for the Commission's Resource Center and includes scholarly articles and papers; U.S. congressional reports and legislation; correspondence; memoranda; and governmental reports. The majority of the research focuses on efforts in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico to achieve statehood. The series also contains research focusing generally on statehood and research strategies for the Commission to undertake. Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject or state and then chronologically.

Series 9: Correspondence, 1987-1994 (.5 linear foot): This series includes single letters of importance; correspondence with Congress; a correspondence log; as well as general correspondence. Single letters appear first and are arranged alphabetically by subject or name of correspondents; the remainder of the correspondence is arranged chronologically. Single letters include a letter sent to community leaders requesting help in promoting the 1990 elections for shadow senators and representatives; a letter to Congressman Romano L. Mazzoli answering questions about statehood for non-federal parts of the district; a letter from the Commission congratulating Jesse Jackson on his election as shadow senator; and various letters to educators and schools about the Statehood education kit.

Series 10: Articles, 1965-1994 (.5 linear foot) This series consists of scholarly and popular articles; reports; booklets; texts of speeches; and other writings.The majority of the articles discuss statehood for the District but also cover the statehood process, Washington, D.C politics, and other related topics. The writings are arranged alphabetically by title.

Series 11: Memorabilia, 1976-1991 (.5 linear foot) This series includes promotional materials created by the Commission and other organizations working for statehood. A sample of these Items include March for D.C. Statehood fliers; The Facts About D.C. Statehood brochure; Mend the Crack in the Liberty Bell, D.C. Statehood Now! bumper sticker; the D.C. Statehood Now button; poems; songs; a D.C. Statehood tote bag; and the Flag for New Columbia. Items in this series are arranged alphabetically by title.

Series 12: Jo Butler Materials, 1978-1993 (.25 linear foot) This series contains material created or about Josephine Butler, a key figure in the statehood movement and Chair of the D.C. Statehood Commission for many years. Materials include a biography, a campaign poster, correspondence, awards, resumes, working files, and resignations. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title.

Series 13: Audiovisual, 1986-1994 (l linear foot) This series consists of audiotapes of Commission meetings. Included are two videotapes titled In the Public Eye: D.C. Statehood and New Columbia: 51st State of the Union. Also included and unidentified photograph and a photograph of the Statehood Now Demonstration. The materials are arranged alphabetically by title.

Custodial History

The Records of the Statehood Commission were donated to the Library by Ned Sloan, Chair of the Commission.

Processing Information

General processing procedures consisted of discarding duplicates, unnecessary binders, and routine transmittals. Oversized documents were removed from the original location in their assigned series and placed in separate containers. All photographs were removed from their original location and placed in the audio-visual series. Separation sheets were inserted in the original location within the folder to indicate the new location of any records placed elsewhere.

Preservation copying of newspaper clippings was performed whenever feasible. Records in folders were arranged, unless otherwise indicated, in reverse chronological order, with undated records appearing at the end of the folder. Folders containing records with no dates are indicated as n.d.

District of Columbia Statehood Commission Records
An inventory of District of Columbia Statehood Commission Records at DC Public Library
Finding aid prepared by Faye Haskins.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001