John J. Duncan Sr. Papers
The collection primarily concerns Duncan’s career as Republican member of the House of Representatives. It contains Duncan’s correspondence and personal files as well as material from Duncan’s offices in Washington, D.C., and in the counties of Tennessee’s second district. The collection is divided into the following eight series: Legislative, 1965-1988, Political, 1968-1988, Subject Files 1958-1992, Office Files, 1961-1988, Case Files, 1966-1986 (restricted), Personal, 1964-1988, Miscellaneous, 1965-1988, and Audiovisual, 1965-1988.
Series I: Legislative, 1965-1988 covers all twelve of Duncan’s terms in office and contains materials created or collected by John Duncan and his staff. It is divided into nine subseries.
Subseries A: Issues and Correspondence, (1965-1987), consists of letters from constituents, and is arranged chronologically by year and then alphabetically by subject. The subjects of constituent interest pertain to both national and regional social and political issues, including appropriations, energy, industry, labor, benefits, taxes and the TVA. In many cases a carbon copy of Duncan’s response is attached to the incoming item.
Subseries B: Subject Files, 1971-1988, is a much smaller subseries of materials filed by Duncan’s staff. The subjects are similar to those in the Issues and Correspondence subseries and arranged alphabetically by subject.
Subseries C: Tellico Dam, 1971-1978, contains constituent correspondence, clippings, correspondence with legislators, transcripts of court cases and testimonies, petitions and other materials related to the Endangered Species Act and the Tellico Dam, one of the most controversial issues of Duncan’s career. The subseries has been left in the original arrangement.
Subseries D: Budget, 1980-1988, contains diverse materials accumulated during Duncan’s tenure on the Joint Committee on Taxation and the House Committee on Ways and Means, include publications, testimonies, drafts of bills, memorandums, briefings, and correspondence. The subseries has been left in its original order, which is not strictly chronological.
Subseries E: House Resolution Files (1965-198) contains copies of various resolutions and bills introduced or cosponsored by Duncan, arranged chronologically by congress.
Subseries F: House Resolution Status Profiles (1977-1979) consists of legislative digest reports on the status of bills and resolutions brought before the House in the 94th Congress. Many of the documents contain handwritten annotations made by Duncan or members of Duncan’s staff.
Subseries G: Congressional Record Extension of Remarks (1966-1988) consists of clippings from the “Extensions of Remarks” section of the Congressional Record in which Duncan is the spokesperson, arranged chronologically.
Subseries H: Profiles (1965-1988) contains legislative profiles of John Duncan prepared by the Office of Legislative Information that summarizes his activity for a given congress, namely through providing details on measures that he either sponsored or cosponsored. The profiles are arranged chronologically by Congress.
Subseries I: Voting Records (1966-1987) contains Duncan’s copy of a summary of voting records for each house measure in a given Congress.
Series II:Political, 1968-1988, consists of two subseries.
Subseries A: Campaign/Election, 1968-1988 contains news clippings, survey results, petitions, notes, FEC reports, receipts, calendars, and correspondence related to Duncan’s congressional campaigns for election.
Subseries B: Nixon, 1974 contains constituent correspondence regarding the Watergate scandal and subsequent investigations conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the impeachment of Richard Nixon. As is the case with the correspondence in the Legislative Issues and Correspondence subseries, many items here have a yellow carbon copy of Duncan’s response attached.
Series III: Subject Files, 1958-1992 consists of publications, reports and clippings arranged topically around various subjects of interest throughout Duncan’s career as a Representative. This series is further broken down into four subseries.
Subseries A: Clippings, 1964-1981, contains newspaper clippings arranged alphabetically by subject.
Subseries B: Assorted Sources, 1958-1987, contains an additional set of publications arranged alphabetically by subject.
Subseries C: Handbooks and Briefs, 1973-1992, contains those materials and other matter published by the government and other entities, arranged alphabetically by folder title.
Subseries D: Reports, 1972-1979,contains government reports arranged alphabetically by folder title.
Series IV: Office Files, 1961-1988, is composed of twelve subseries.
Subseries A: Assorted, 1961-1986 (bulk 1965-1984) includes correspondence, passports, memoranda, form letters, and other materials arranged in rough alphabetical order. Subseries B: Constituent Correspondence, 1964-1987 (bulk 1969-1980) contains constituent correspondence similar in nature to that found in the Legislative Issues and Correspondence subseries, but designated as miscellaneous by Duncan’s staff. Arrangement is loosely chronological.
Subseries C: Copies of Correspondence, 1965-1986, contains white carbon copies of outgoing correspondence from the Duncan Office. Much of this correspondence is also found in the Legislative Issues and Correspondence subseries as yellow carbon copies attached to incoming correspondence. Arrangement is by date and then alphabetical by last name of respondent.
Subseries D: Employment/Recommendations, 1965-1986, contains materials from administrative job applicants as well as Duncan’s correspondence with recommendees and support seekers. Due to the size and the homogenous nature of this subseries, only randomly selected samples have been retained.
Subseries E: Military Academy Appointments, 1965-1985, contains materials submitted by candidates requesting Duncan’s help in order to enter one of the U.S. Military Branch Academies. Due to the size and the homogenous nature of this subseries, only randomly selected samples have been retained.
Subseries F: Newsletter, 1966-1988, contains materials created during the drafting, printing, and distribution of Duncan’s monthly Congressional Newsletter.
Subseries G: Press Releases, 1970-1988, contains press releases from Duncan’s office.
Subseries H: Publication Requests, 1976-1986, contains requests from constituents seeking Duncan’s assistance in acquiring government publications from the appropriate office.
Subseries I: Questionnaire, 1967-1988, contains materials created during the planning, execution, and analysis of the political questionnaires created and distributed by Duncan’s office.
Subseries J: Schedules, 1979-1988, contains Duncan’s daily and monthly schedules.
Subseries K: Speeches, 1965-1988, contains Duncan’s handwritten speech notes. Most of his notes lack dates and titles. However, they appear to span the entirety of his legislative service. Arrangement is loosely alphabetical by topic or occasion.
Subseries L: Thank Yous, 1971-1982, contains incoming correspondence from constituents and political counterparts thanking Duncan for his assistance in various matters. Due to the size and the homogenous nature of this subseries, only randomly selected samples have been retained.
Series V: Case Files,1966-1986, documents the efforts of Duncan’s congressional office to help constituents. It is restricted for 50 years from the date of the document’s creation. Many of these documents contain personally identifiable or sensitive information of constituents, including social security numbers and in-depth medical histories. Due to this as well as the size and the homogenous nature of this series, only randomly selected samples of each subseries have been retained. The subseries are: County/Agency, Energy, Health and Human Services, Health Education and Welfare, Housing and Urban Development, Immigration, Interior, IRS, Knoxville, Labor, Military, Pardon and Parole, Railroad Retirement and Pensions, Social Security, State of Tennessee, TVA, and Veterans Administration. This series has not been refoldered.
Series VI: Personal Files, 1964-1988, contains legal documents, financial materials, correspondence, realia and ephemera from John J. Duncan and his family. It is composed of five subseries.
Subseries A: Correspondence, 1964-1988, containing correspondence of a personal and non-legislative nature between Duncan and his close friends, colleagues, and family, arranged chronologically.
Subseries B: Miscellaneous, 1968-1988 (bulk 1981-1988), includes lists, speech notes, financial documents, legal documents, and calendars, much of it dating from the final years of Duncan’s life.
Subseries C: Taxes, 1971-1987
Subseries D: Stocks and Bonds, 1983-1987
Subseries E: Certificates and Documents, 1963-1986
Series VII: Miscellaneous, 1965-1988, contains remaining materials not described in existing inventories that were kept of the collection. Much of this series is newspaper clippings, publications, various correspondence, realia and ephemera such as tickets, programs and certificates. Arrangement is alphabetical by folder title.
Series IX: Audiovisual, 1960-1988, is divided into four subseries based on format.
Subseries A: Photographs, 1960-1988, includes color and black and white photographic prints of constituents, politicians, and family, both with and without John Duncan. The subseries also contains negatives and a few slides. Due to this and the size and the homogenous nature of the constituent images, only randomly selected samples of constituent photographs have been retained.
Subseries B: Cartoons, undated, consists of two political cartoons.
Subseries C: Sound Recordings,1968-1988
Subseries D: Video Recordings, 1971-1988
- Bulk, 1964-1988 1958-1992
- Majority of material found within 1964 - 1988
Conditions Governing Access
Series V, Case Files, of this collection is restricted due to Personally Identifiable Information.
The Modern Political Archives are housed at the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy. Researchers interested in consulting the MPA collections are advised to contact the Modern Political Archives
Conditions Governing Use
The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Modern Political Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
330 Linear Feet
This collection documents the congressional career of Republican John J. Duncan Sr., who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Tennessee's second District from 1965 until his death in 1988. The collection contains material from Duncan’s office in Washington, D. C., and offices in each county of his district. The materials reflect Duncan’s reputation as a congressman primarily dedicated to serving his constituents. Materials here also document Duncan’s instrumental role in the passage of a bill to exempt Tellico Dam from the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986, passed when Duncan was ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. There are also some materials throughout the collection from Duncan's term as mayor of Knoxville (1959-1965), and one series concerning Duncan's family and personal life.
John J. Duncan Sr. is chiefly known for his twelve terms of service as a Representative of Tennessee’s Second Congressional District.
Born in Scott County Tennessee on March 24, 1919, Duncan was the sixth of ten children. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1942 and earned a law degree from Cumberland University in 1948. In 1942 he married Lois Swisher. During World War II, Duncan served in the U.S. Army as a criminal investigator.
After the War, Duncan made his foray into state politics. He served as the assistant attorney general of Knox County from 1947-1956, and as head of the legal department for the city of Knoxville from 1956-1959. He was the campaign manager for Howard H. Baker, Sr.’s 1954 congressional campaign – the seat he would go on to fill after Baker’s death in 1964. In the interim, however, he was elected Mayor of Knoxville in 1959 and served until he was elected to fill the late Baker’s seat in the 89th Congress in 1964.
At the time of his death on June 21, 1988, Duncan was the ranking Republican Member on the House Ways and Means Committee, and senior House Republican Member of the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Sources: Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, “John J. Duncan Sr.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, “DUNCAN, John James, (1919 – 1988).”
- Series I: Legislative, 1965-1988
- Subseries A: Issues and Correspondence, 1965-1987
- Subseries B: Subject Files, 1971-1988
- Subseries C: Tellico Dam, 1971-1978
- Subseries D: Budget, 1980-1988
- Subseries E: House Resolution Files, 1965-1988
- Subseries F: House Resolution Status Profiles, 1977-1979
- Subseries G: Congressional Record Extension of Remarks, 1966-1988
- Subseries H: Profiles, 1965-1988
- Subseries I: Voting Records, 1966-1987
- Series II: Political, 1968-1988
- Subseries A: Campaign/Election, 1968-1988
- Subseries B: Nixon, 1974
- Series III: Subject Files, 1958-1992
- Subseries A: Clippings, 1964-1981
- Subseries B: Assorted Sources, 1958-1987
- Subseries C: Handbooks and Briefs, 1973-1992
- Subseries D: Reports, 1972-1979
- Series IV: Office Files, 1961-1988
- Subseries A: Assorted, 1961-1986 (bulk 1965-1984)
- Subseries B: Constituent Correspondence, 1964-1987 (bulk 1969-1980)
- Subseries C: Copies of Correspondence, 1965-1986,
- Subseries D: Employment/Recommendations, 1965-1986
- Subseries E: Military Academy Appointments, 1965-1985
- Subseries F: Newsletter, 1966-1988
- Subseries G: Press Releases, 1970-1988
- Subseries H: Publication Requests, 1976-1986
- Subseries I: Questionnaire, 1967-1988
- Subseries J: Schedules, 1979-1988
- Subseries K: Speeches, 1965-1988
- Subseries L: Thank Yous, 1971-1982
- Series V: Case Files,1966-1986 (RESTRICTED)
- Series VI: Personal Files, 1964-1988
- Subseries A: Correspondence, 1964-1988
- Subseries B: Miscellaneous, 1968-1988 (bulk 1981-1988)
- Subseries C: Taxes, 1971-1987
- Subseries D: Stocks and Bonds, 1983-1987
- Subseries E: Certificates and Documents, 1963-1986
- Series VII: Miscellaneous, 1965-1988
- Series IX: Audiovisual, 1960-1988
- Subseries A: Photographs, 1960-1988
- Subseries B: Cartoons, undated
- Subseries C: Sound Recordings, 1968-1988
- Subseries D: Video Recordings, 1971-1988