Carl Otte Papers, 1970-1986

Scope and Content Note

The Otte Papers span the years from 1970 through 1986 and cover many legislative issues, but the files are substantial for his four years in the Senate. Even for these years the collection is missing some correspondence, and there are none of the biographical clipping scrapbooks, statements and press releases, district questionnaires, or the other publicity materials commonly created by Wisconsin legislators. (A few of Otte's district newsletters have been added to the collection from the Archives' Political Vertical File.) Some papers dating from Otte's Assembly years are included in the collection, but they are scant. There are also no papers from any of his political campaigns nor any material concerning his role in local government or the labor movement in Sheboygan.

The papers are arranged in two categories: SUBJECT FILES and CONSTITUENT PROBLEMS. Photographs concerning Otte's legislative activities is available in Madison in the Visual Materials holdings. Xeroxed copies are included in the boxes.

The SUBJECT FILES are arranged alphabetically, with a few topics subdivided into more detailed alphabetical categories. Included here is correspondence from constituents, advocacy groups, departmental executives, and other legislators; minutes; reports; notes; proposals; speeches and statements; and clippings. Of special note within the subject files are materials (including photographs) on Otte's chairmanship of the standing committee on transportation (A box of official records of this committee for the 1985-1986 session is catalogued as part of Series 166.) Also useful are Otte's correspondence and minutes pertaining to the Migrant Labor Council, as no similar files for that organization are in archival custody, and his files of correspondence and minutes on the Legislative Council's Special Committee on Primary Prevention.

The constituent correspondence in the subject files has been extensively weeded to remove routine or redundant letters. In many instances Otte's letters were written by a member of his staff, but there is some indication that he reviewed drafts and made notations concerning the desired response. Interaction with staff is one of the most unusual and important aspects of the Otte papers, for staff input in most legislative offices is oral rather than written. Otte's files, however, include numerous lengthy memos on many topics to the senator from staffer Alice O'Connor.

A file containing copies of the correspondence described above refiled alphabetically by name is known from internal evidence to have existed but was not received by the Archives. Despite the absence of easy name access hich this file provided researchers will note many letters from prominent political figures such as Anthony Earl, Robert Kasten, Robert Kastenmeier, William Proxmire, and James Sensenbrenner scattered throughout the files held by the Archives.

The CONSTITUENT PROBLEMS Files chiefly consist of letters from citizens of his district covering a vast array of topics and concerns and related case work. The files are arranged alphabetically by name. Several files (most notably those of Sue Haldane and Bradley Poth) concern prisoners and various problems associated with their parole and welfare.