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Dennis A. “Denny” Smith papers

Identifier: WUA002

Scope and Contents

The Dennis A. “Denny” Smith collection documents Smith’s campaigns from 1979 to 1992 and his legislative and voting record during his time in office, the 97th Congress through the 101st Congress. The collection includes campaign files on Smith’s two campaigns against Mike Kopetski, in 1988 and 1990. The collection also contains materials collected by Friends of Denny Smith (FODS), including press clippings from 1979 to 1990. The Daily Schedule file sorters in the Personal/Political series contain a detailed record of appointments, invitations and roll calls for Smith from 1985 to 1990.


  • 1979-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1984-1990


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Biographical / Historical

Dennis Alan (Denny) Smith was born January 19, 1938 in Ontario, Oregon, the son of Elmo and Dorothy Smith. He attended public schools in Oregon, graduating from Grant Union High School in 1956. He graduated with a B.A. from Willamette University in 1961. Smith served in the United States Air Force from 1958 to 1960 and from 1962 to 1967 and in the Oregon Air National Guard from 1960 to 1962. He was awarded the Air Medal with six clusters during his Vietnam service (1965-1966), flying 180 missions. Smith was a co-pilot and flight engineer for Pan American World Airways from 1967 to 1977. He was first elected as a Republican to the Ninety-seventh Congress in 1980 to serve Oregon’s Second District. The 1980 census gave Oregon another congressional district, and in 1982 Smith was elected as the first representative from Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District. Smith served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 to 1991.

While in Congress Smith sat on the Budget Committee, the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, and the Veteran's Affairs Committee. He also chaired several committees, including the Military Reform Caucus, Oregonians Against Crime, and the Republican Task Force on Crime. In the early 1980s, Smith focused on Pentagon spending. In January 1984 he was successful in forcing further testing of the Aegis guided-missile cruiser. Later that year the Divad (division air defense) program was shut down because of Smith’s investigation into over-spending and poor test results.

After an unsuccessful campaign in 1990, he was succeeded by Democrat Mike Kopetski. In 1994 Smith was the Republican nominee for governor. He lost to Democrat John Kitzhaber. Since leaving Congress, Smith has served as chairman of Eagle Newspapers, a family-owned newspaper business and remained active in local and national politics. Smith has six children, including a nephew and two nieces he and his first wife, Kathleen, raised after the death of the children’s parents. Smith lives in the Salem, Oregon area with his wife Deanna.


24 Linear Feet (24 boxes)


The Dennis A. “Denny” Smith papers consist of papers generated and received by the office of Congressman Denny Smith during his five terms in the United States House of Representatives representing the Fifth District of the state of Oregon as well as materials documenting his campaigns.


This collection is organized in four series: campaign files, legislative records, personal/political records, and press relations/media activities records.

Specific arrangements for each series and subseries are described in the series descriptions below. Folders maintain original order whenever it can be determined. There is a certain amount of subject overlap between series as well as duplicate materials in various folders. Researchers are encouraged to examine the entire collection in order to cover all material addressing their interest.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Denny Smith, 1993.

Related Materials

Michael J. Kopetski papers


Smith, Hedrick. 1988. The power game: how Washington works. New York: Random House.
Burton, Philip, David Saltman, Hedrick Smith, and PBS Video. The Power Game. Alexandria, Va.: PBS Video, 1988.
Guide to the Dennis A. “Denny” Smith papers, 1979-1996
Finding aid processed by Rose Marie Walter.
© 2008
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States