Oberstar, James L. (James Louis), 1934-

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James L. Oberstar was born September 10, 1934 in Chisholm, Minnesota. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul in 1956, with a Baccalaureate of Art in French and political science. He continued with school overseas, completing a Master of Art in European Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium (1957).

After graduation, Oberstar worked as a Navy civilian English language teacher for Haitian military personnel, and taught French and Creole to U.S. Marine and noncommissioned officers in Haiti (1959-1963). He began his political career in 1963, as Chief of Staff to U.S. 8th Congressional District Representative John Blatnik, during which time he concurrently served as the Administrator to the House Public Works Committee (1971-1974). Oberstar succeeded Blatnik as Democrat to the 94th Congress in 1974, a seat he held consecutively through 2010, when he was defeated in a close race by Republican, Chip Cravaak.

Oberstar served in a number of leadership positions over his thirty-five year career in Congress. He was senior Democrat, and later Chairman (2007-2011), of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and held memberships on several subcommittees, including Investigations and Oversight, Economic Development, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Public Buildings and Economic Development, Railroads,; Surface Transportation, Water Resources and Environment, and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation (1989-1994).

In addition to his work on transportation and infrastructure related issues, Oberstar served as the Minority Whip at Large, Co-Chair of both the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and the Upper Mississippi Task Force. He was a member of the Canada-U. S. Interparliamentary Group, House Delegation, the Steel Caucus, Great Lakes Task Force, Renewable Energy Caucus, Native American Caucus, Sportsman Caucus, House Trails Caucus, Forestry 2000, Caucus for Sustainable Development, Travel and Tourism Caucus, Mississippi Caucus, and the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition.

He married Jo (nee Garlick), October 10, 1963, and had six children. Jo Oberstar died from breast cancer in July of 1991. He married Jean (nee Kurth) November 27, 1993.

From the guide to the James L Oberstar Congressional Papers., 1964-2011, (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Blatnik, John A. (John Anton), 1911-1991. John A. Blatnik Congressional papers, 1889-1991 (bulk 1947-1974). Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn Records of the National Organization for Women, 1959-2002 (inclusive), 1966-1998 (bulk) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Elizabeth M. Winston papers., 1928-1992 (bulk 1973-1979). Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Minnesota. Governor's Task Force on Mining and Minerals. Subject files, 1991-1995. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Oberstar, James L., 1934-. James L. Oberstar : commercials , 1986-1990. University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
referencedIn Charles K. Dayton papers., 1922-1979. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn National Organization for Women. Records: Series I-XVI, 1961-1999 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dayton, Charles K., 1939- . Charles K. Dayton papers, 1922-1979. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Winston, Elizabeth M., 1905-2000. Elizabeth M. Winston papers, 1928-1992 (bulk 1973-1979). Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf James L Oberstar Congressional Papers., 1964-2011 Minnesota Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Leech Lake Indian Reservation (Minn.)
Superior, Lake.
Hibbing (Minn.)
Voyageurs National Park (Minn.)
Duluth (Minn.)
Grand Portage Reservation (Minn.)
Chisholm (Minn.)
Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Minn.)
Fond du Lac Indian Reservation (Minn.)
Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.
International Falls (Minn.)
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota.
Eveleth (Minn.)
Advertising, political
Boards of trade
Political campaigns
Community development
Consumer cooperatives
Electric utilities
Iron ranges
Producer cooperatives
Slavic Americans
Taconite industry
Television advertising
Water conservation
Water resources development


Birth 1934-09-10




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