Skip to main content

Jane Harman papers

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00387

Scope and Contents

The Jane Harman Papers consist of 110 linear ft., dating from 1960 to 1998, and are primarily related to her political life and her legislative career. Types of materials include correspondence, reports and research materials, journal and newspaper articles, press releases, photographs, and video- and audiotapes. The papers are arranged in nine series.

This arrangement largely reflects the functions and activities of a Congressional office while incorporating facets of Harman's life before she became a member of Congress. There are very few materials regarding her personal life outside of her professional career.

The bulk of the papers date from 1993 to 1998 and focus on Harman's first three terms as a U.S. Representative from the 36th district of California. Major topics found in her political and legislative papers include national defense and the military (including women in the armed forces), the environment, space and technology, California-related issues, the Democratic National Party, healthcare, abortion, and domestic and international economic concerns. Generally, there are more materials available from later in her political and legislative career than from the earlier years.

Correspondence comprises at least half of the collection. Also well-represented are background and research materials that her staff used in legislative and political matters.

Notable correspondents include: Les Aspin, Samuel Berger, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Sen. Robert Byrd, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, Gloria Feldt and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vice President Al Gore, Judith L. Lichtman (Women's Legal Defense Fund), Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Ruth J. Simmons (Smith College president, 1995-2001), and Gloria Steinem.

Dates

  • 1960-1998 (ongoing)
  • Majority of material found within 1993-1998

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

Except for the following access restrictions, the papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection:

House Committee files and other portions of SERIES IV. LEGISLATIVE FILES are closed for 30 years until January 1, 2029.

The collection is stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice.

Audiovisual materials may not be used until research copies are made available which may require up to 3 weeks.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to cite the papers for quotations or for publication beyond "fair use" must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property. Jane Harman retains all rights of copyright in her work in all papers and other historical materials in the Harman Collection. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Jane Harman is owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Jane Lakes Harman was born on June 28, 1945 in New York, New York, to Dr. and Mrs. Adolf and Lucille (née Geier) Lakes. Her father, born in Poland, emigrated from Germany to the United States in the 1930s to escape Nazi Germany. Her mother, whose family had emigrated from Russia, was born in the United States and was the first in her family to attend college. The Lakes family moved to Los Angeles in 1949, where Dr. Lakes cultivated a successful medical career. Harman attended public school in Los Angeles and graduated from University High School in 1962.

Fulfilling her mother's dream, Harman attended Smith College, graduating in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government with honors. An active resident of Tyler House during all four years at college, Harman was President of the Young Democrats Club during her senior year. After finishing at Smith, Harman went on to attend Harvard University School of Law and graduated in 1969 with her Juris Doctorate (J.D.). Later that year she married her first husband, Richard Frank. They have two children, Brian, born in 1973, and Hilary, born in 1975.

The stimulus for Harman's career in government and politics came in 1960 when she was an usher at the 1960 Democratic Convention, the convention at which John F. Kennedy was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President. Before launching this aspect of her career, she first established herself as a practicing lawyer in 1970 as an Associate at the law firm of Surrey & Morse in Washington, D.C. She left private practice in 1972 to become a Legislative Assistant to Senator John V. Tunney (D - California), assisting in his work on the Senate Public Works Committee. Harman then took on the position of Chief Legislative Assistant and oversaw legal activities on three of the Senator's committees, Commerce, Judiciary and District of Columbia. In 1973 she moved on to become Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Representation of Citizen Interests. She held this position until 1975 when she became the Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights.

Leaving the Senate in 1977, she moved over to the White House as the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet in the Carter administration, assisting Secretary to the Cabinet Jack Watson. The year 1978 brought a much publicized change to Harman's life. She chose to leave her job at the White House and spend more time with her children. The headline in an article from The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) on June 25, 1978 declared, "Woman Quitting Carter Inner-Circle To Be With Family." Later that year she and her husband Richard Frank, then Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, divorced.

Harman resumed working outside of the home in 1979 by returning to government service as Special Counsel to the Department of Defense. That same year she returned to private practice as a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Tunney. The next year in 1980 she married her second husband Sidney Harman, Chairman and CEO of Harman Industries. They had their first child together, Daniel, in 1982, the same year that Harman rejoined the law firm of Surrey & Morse. Their second child, Justine, was born in 1984. In 1986 Surrey & Morse merged with Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue and Harman continued to work for them until winning her Congressional seat in 1992.

In addition to her professional career, Harman remained actively involved in politics and the Democratic Party throughout the 1980s. In 1984 she served as Counsel for the Democratic Platform Committee. She was Chair of the National Lawyers' Council, the legal arm of the Democratic National Committee, from its inception in 1986 until 1991 when she left to focus on her run for national office. She co-chaired the 1987 Democratic Gala, an event to introduce the Democratic Presidential candidates and begin fundraising for the Presidential and Democratic Party Victory Fund. Harman also participated in public policy activities, serving as Vice-Chair of the Center for National Policy from its reorganization in 1981 to the early 1990s.

Harman ran for California's 36th District Congressional seat in 1992 and won, earning the distinction of being the first Smith College graduate to be elected to Congress. Traditionally the 36th District had been a Republican stronghold. Though Harman is a Democrat, her platform of progressive social policies and fiscal conservatism appealed to a majority of the voters.

In 1994 Harman was up for re-election and narrowly regained her seat. The margin between Harman and her opponent Susan Brooks was 812 votes. Harman was declared the winner and certified as such by the California Secretary of State in December 1994. However, alleging voter fraud, Brooks contested the results in January 1995 to the House Oversight Committee, bypassing the contestation process in California election law. The Committee began an investigation into the allegations and hearings were held in June but any resolution could have taken another year to come about. Brooks thus decided to drop her challenge in July 1995. As required by California code, the Secretary of State continued its investigation into instances of voter fraud well into 1996 but did not return any charges against the Harman campaign. Harman won the next election in 1996, defeating Brooks by over 18,000 votes.

In 1998 Harman decided to forego re-election for her Congressional seat and instead chose to run for Governor of California. Despite valiant efforts and a clean campaign, she lost to Gray Davis in the Democratic Primary. Harman's colleague, Janice Hahn, ran for her old Congressional seat but lost to Republican Steve Kuykendall. During her time away from Congress, Harman taught public policy and international relations classes at the University of California - Los Angeles. She also served on the Boards of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles and the Venice Family Clinic.

Harman ran for the 36th District Congressional seat again in 2000 and was elected. She was re-elected in 2002 and remained in office until February 2011, when she stepped down to take the position of Director, President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Just two months after she took the position, Sidney Harman died after a brief illness.

Jane Harman's Committee Assignments, 103rd-105th Congresses:

103rd Congress:
Armed Services (Research and Technology; Military Forces and Personnel; Oversight and Investigations) Science, Space, and Technology (Space; Technology, Environment, and Aviation) Defense Conversion Committee of the Speaker's Working Group on Policy Development
104th Congress:
National Security (Military Personnel; Military Research and Development) Science (Space and Aeronautics)
105th Congress:
National Security (Military Personnel; Military Research and Development; Merchant Marine) Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Technical and Tactical Intelligence) Democratic Steering Committee

Extent

270 boxes (110 linear feet)

Overview

Legislative aide, White House attorney, Lawyer, Legislator. Papers primarily document Harman's first three terms as a U.S. Representative from the 36th district of California. Types of materials include correspondence, reports and research materials, speeches, journal and newspaper articles, press releases, photographs, and video and audio tapes. Major topics include national defense and the military (including women in the armed forces), the environment, space and technology, California-related issues, the Democratic National Party, healthcare, abortion and domestic and international economic concerns. Notable correspondents include: Les Aspin, Samuel Berger, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Sen. Robert Byrd, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, Gloria Feldt and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vice President Al Gore, Judith L. Lichtman (Women's Legal Defense Fund), Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Ruth J. Simmons (Smith College president, 1995-2001), and Gloria Steinem.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into nine series:
  1. SERIES I: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
  2. SERIES II: PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES (NON-CONGRESSIONAL)
  3. SERIES III: POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
  4. SERIES IV: LEGISLATIVE FILES
  5. SERIES V: CONSTITUENT SERVICES
  6. SERIES VI: MEDIA ACTIVITIES
  7. SERIES VII: OFFICE ADMINISTRATION
  8. SERIES VIII: PHOTOGRAPHS
  9. SERIES IX: AUDIOVISUAL MATERIAL

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Congresswoman Jane Harman donated her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1998. Additional accessions are expected in the future.

Additions to the Collection

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this finding aid.

Additional Formats

Selections from the Jane Harman Papers can be viewed in the Web exhibit Jane Harman: A Woman of Intellegence.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Keen and Kathleen Nutter, 2004

Creator

Title
Jane Harman papers
Subtitle
Finding Aid
Author
Sarah Keen, Kathleen Nutter
Date
2006
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:17-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-04-24: Pencil edits from paper made.
  • 2019-07-10: Added p. 171 of FA to 'General' note

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063