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Michael J. Kopetski papers

Identifier: WUA003

Scope and Contents

The Michael J. Kopetski papers are organized into two groups: A) Oregon State Legislative papers and B) United States Representative papers. The Oregon State Legislative group consists of papers generated and received by Kopetski’s office during his two terms representing the Thirty-third District in the Oregon House of Representatives. Materials in this group include campaign files (1984-1986) and documents dealing with legislation Kopetski worked on while in office.

The United States Representative papers group consists of papers generated and received by Kopetski’s office during his two terms in the United States House of Representatives representing Oregon’s Fifth District.

Present in the second group are the following types of materials: constituent/issue mail; Kopetski’s roll call votes and voting records; campaign files for the 1988, 1990 and 1992 congressional elections; press files including copies of press releases and speeches; legislative/committee files including the Agricultural Committee and the Ways and Means Committee; and audio visual material including photographs and audio and video tapes.

During his time in Congress, Kopetski served on the Agricultural Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. He worked on bills dealing with MFN (Most Favored Nation) status for China, nuclear weapons testing, and the Forest and Community Survival Act of 1991. Kopetski was the point person responsible for successfully getting NAFTA through the House of Representatives in 1993. Kopetski also worked closely with Senator Mark O. Hatfield to get the Opal Creek National Reserve legislation through the House in 1993.


  • 1976-1995
  • Majority of material found within 1988-1995


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The majority of the collection is open to researchers. There is one restricted file.

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

Michael J. Kopetski was born October 27, 1949 in Pendleton, Oregon. He received his bachelor of arts from the American University in Washington D.C. in 1971. In 1978 he received his graduate degree in law from the Northwest School of Law, Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Kopetski began his political career in 1968 when he became the Umatilla County Chair for the Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign. He was also the Umatilla Youth Chair for the campaign to re-elect U.S. Senator Wayne Morse. Between 1973 and 1974, Kopetski served as an aide to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, also known as the “Watergate Committee.” He was the Oregon director for U.S. Senator Frank Church’s presidential primary race in 1976. In 1980 he was the Oregon director for Ted Kulongoski’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Between 1977 and 1981, Kopetski served as committee administrator for the Oregon Legislative Assemblies House Education Committee (1977) and House Labor Committee (1979, 1981).

Kopetski was elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1984 and again in 1986. He served on the Judiciary Committee his first term and the Ways and Means Committee his second. Kopetski focused his legislative agenda on childcare issues, family and medical leave, minimum wage, mental health and school funding issues.

After a narrow loss to Denny Smith for the United States House of Representatives in 1988, Kopetski ran again in 1990. Defeating Smith by over 20,000 votes, Kopetski was elected as a Democratic representative from Oregon’s fifth district. He served two terms and was a member of the Judiciary, Agriculture, Science and Space, and Ways and Means committees. As a representative, Kopetski focused on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, successfully passing the nuclear testing moratorium legislation. He also created the Bipartisan House Working Group on Mental Health, was an early leader on passage of NAFTA and normal trade relations with China, and is credited with being the prime legislator to create the Opal Creek Wilderness area.

After 1995 Kopetski assisted in creating the Willamette University College of Law’s Dispute Resolution Center and developed an international trade consulting business. Kopetski is married to Frances Seymour. Kopetski has one son from a previous marriage, Matthew. Matthew and his wife, Karolina, have two daughters.


51 Linear Feet (51 boxes)


The Michael J. Kopetski papers consist of papers generated and received by the office of Congressman Michael J. Kopetski during his two terms in the United States House of Representatives representing the Fifth District of the state of Oregon. Additional materials include papers generated and received by the office of Congressman Michael J. Kopetski during his two terms in the Oregon State Legislature.


The Michael J. Kopetski papers comprise 51 linear feet and are organized into two groups. The first group, Oregon State Legislative papers, contains two series: Campaign files and Legislative records. The second group, United State Representative papers, consists of five series: Campaign files, Constituent service records, 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 largely maintain original order, and 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 Michael J. Kopetski, 1995.

Related Materials

Dennis A. “Denny” Smith papers
Guide to the Michael J. Kopetski papers, 1976-1995
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