John N. "Happy" Camp Collection


John N. "Happy" Camp Collection


John Newbold "Happy" Camp was born in Enid, Oklahoma, on May 11, 1908. After attending elementary and secondary schools in Blackwell and Douglas, he graduated from Waukomis High School. Afterwards, Camp attended Enid's Phillips University before beginning a career in banking. Eventually he rose to the presidency of the Waukomis State Bank. Long active in civic affairs, Camp headed the Great Salt Plains Boy Scout Council. He also served on the governing boards of the Oklahoma State Fair, the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce, and the Christian Church Foundation.

Blessed with a most agreeable name (among other things, it allowed his campaign workers to style themselves ""Happy Campers""), Camp entered elective politics in 1942. Except for the very worst years of the Dust Bowl, Oklahoma's northwestern corner had been Republican ever since its settlement by Kansas wheat farmers. Camp's election as a Republican to the state legislature in 1942 signaled the area's return to form. It was also the first of his ten elections to one of Garfield County's two slots in the state house of representatives.

Leaving the legislature after 1962, Camp sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1966 but lost a runoff to State Senator Dewey F. Bartlett. He thereupon received Bartlett's appointment as chairman of the Oklahoma State Board of Public Affairs and served in that position from 1967 through 1968.

After long controversies over apportionment formulas, the 1967 legislature finally redefined Oklahoma's congressional districts. Years of population loss in southwestern Oklahoma forced the legislature to add other area's voters to the old Sixth District, then represented by Republican James V. Smith. Political circumstances dictated that the additions would come from the Republican northwest. The result--the new Sixth--was expected to be one of the most Republican districts in the United States. In 1968, Camp carried that district by 15,000 votes to become its first representative in Congress.

Camp's most notable committee service was on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and the Science and Astronautics Committee. During his years in Congress, he maintained an unflinchingly conservative voting record. That hardly put him at odds with his district. In 1972's presidential race, Oklahoma's Sixth District gave Richard Nixon a greater percentage of its presidential vote (79%) than did any district outside the Deep South.

So great was Nixon's fall from grace over the Watergate scandal that it affected even conservative rural Oklahoma. Only months after the president's resignation in 1974, Sixth District voters stunned the nation by replacing Camp with a young challenger, Glenn English, the thirty-three year-old director of the state Democratic Party. The reversal was so complete that English even carried the only two Oklahoma counties (Alfalfa and Major counties) that claimed a majority Republican registration.

As Glenn English went to Washington to begin a long tenure in Congress, Happy Camp returned to Oklahoma. He died in Enid on September 27, 1987.


The Camp Collection is arranged in 17 series: General Correspondence, Legislative, Personal, Happy Camp Bills, Personal Trips, Campaign, Schedules, Voting Records, Committee Information (Personal), Republican Research Committee, Digest of Legislation, Log, Floor Information and Administration Statements, Questionnaires and Miscellaneous, Oversize, Maps, Photographs, and Audio-Visual. The vast majority of the series are organized chronologically, though some sub-series may be alphabetical. The Oversize series is organized by format.


The collection was donated by John Camp to the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives.





The University of Oklahoma asserts no claim of copyright over photographs in this collection taken by private citizens. Any publication of such photographs requires the consent of the copyright holder.



Collection Items

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