Republican congressman from Michigan's 4th Congressional District, 1934-1962, served on the Education and Labor Committee and the Government Operations Committee, known for his fiscal conservatism and opposition to much of the New Deal legislation, he was particularly concerned with the growing power of labor unions and worked to amend the Wagner Act, eventually becoming a key player in passage of the Taft-Hartley Act. As chair of special subcommittees, Hoffman conducted several investigations into labor racketeering, particularly by the Teamsters Union. Collection includes committee files, some constituent correspondence, topical files, investigation files, press releases, scrapbooks and a limited number of sound recordings and photographs.
The Clare E. Hoffman Papers consist of Congressional files detailing his work on the House Committee on Education and Labor, the House Committee on Government Operations, and various subcommittees, including investigating labor racketeering; files concern in part his sponsorship of labor-related legislation, bills unifying the armed services, and bills authorizing reorganization of the executive branch; and photographs.
The Hoffman collection of congressional papers covers the years 1934-1962. Unfortunately the first few terms of his service are not as adequately documented as might be hoped, as in 1942 Hoffman directed his staff to discard retired files. As a result, except for a few political files and subject files, the Hoffman collection bulks largest for the years 1943-1962.
Despite the fragmentary character of the documentation on Hoffman's early years in Congress, the collection provides a detailed view of the activities of a conservative congressman from western Michigan for a twenty-year period. In recent American history, the years 1943-1962 were important both for wartime politics and for the myriad problems that came after victory: the cooling of relations with the Soviet Union, the integration of returning veterans into the economy, shortages in housing and consumer goods, a renewed militancy among the nation's labor unions, the continuation of the struggle for civil rights for blacks, the fear of internal subversive activities; in short, problems of great importance and complexity, issues for which there were no easy answers.
Hoffman was eyewitness and participant to the politics of these issues. As a representative of increasing seniority, he was a powerful conservative voice within the Congress. Because of his position on the Education and Labor committee, he helped shape the bulk of legislation passed in the postwar period, notably the Taft-Hartley Act. And because of his position on the Expenditures Committee, Hoffman was instrumental in passage of the National Security Act of 1947 that unified the administration of the armed services and enlarge their responsibilities.
Apart from these major pieces of legislation, the Hoffman collection documents the service of a congressman who was attuned to the concerns and politics of his largely rural and small-town district, with constituents economically conservative and ever distrustful of federal encroachments upon their lives. Of special interest are various files of correspondence with the businessmen and small manufacturers of his district. As a good politician, Hoffman was especially mindful of maintaining good relations with these people, and helping them when he could with their labor-related problems.
Like many congressional collections, the Hoffman papers consist in large part of communications with constituents and out-of-district citizens. But because of his power within the Congress, Hoffman's files (letters received and sent) are often substantive in content and a valuable complement to the work of the House, as published in the Congressional Record and other printed sources.