Thomas M. Foglietta Collection
Thomas M. Foglietta

ABSTRACT

From 1980 to 1997, Thomas M. Foglietta, a descendant of Italian immigrants, represented Pennsylvania's First District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Foglietta's tenure in Congress came at a time when the First District and the City of Philadelphia were faced with overwhelming challenges. Foremost among these challenges was the threatened and eventual closing of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the potentially devastating impact on the area's economy. These papers detail efforts by Foglietta and his staff to save parts of the Navy Yard along with wide-ranging endeavors to maintain ship repair and overhaul work, develop reuse and reinvestment plans, and to retrain workers. Other difficulties during this period in Philadelphia's history included sinking homes in the Logan and Roxborough neighborhoods, physical deterioration of Independence Hall in Independence National Historical Park, and the need for improvements at the Ports of Philadelphia. This collection demonstrates how Foglietta and his staff labored effectively on these issues and collaborated with Mayor Ed Rendell and the City of Philadelphia's Office of Defense Conversion, labor unions, and members of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware Congressional delegations to achieve legislative successes. The papers also provide insight into Foglietta's broader interests such as urban economic development through enterprise zones and concerns over U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Thomas M. Foglietta was born in South Philadelphia on December 3, 1928, the son of Michael and Rose Foglietta and the youngest in a family of three boys and two girls. His grandparents emigrated to Philadelphia from Italy in the late nineteenth century, and his father became active in local politics serving as Republican ward leader and a member of Philadelphia City Council. Foglietta graduated from Philadelphia's South Catholic High School, and later attended Saint Joseph's College in Philadelphia where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Social Science in 1949. In 1952, he graduated from Temple University's School of Law.

From 1953 to 1980, Foglietta maintained a general law practice in Philadelphia. In 1955, at age 26, he followed in his father's footsteps and was elected as a Republican to Philadelphia City Council where he later served as Minority Leader. He served on City Council until 1975 when he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Philadelphia against Frank Rizzo. In 1976, Foglietta was appointed by President Gerald Ford as Regional Director of the Department of Labor for Region III headquartered in Philadelphia; he held that post until 1977.

In 1980, Foglietta made a successful run for Congress as the Representative from Pennsylvania's First District. Although he ran as an Independent, in 1981 he joined the Democratic Party and later was reelected to Congress in eight consecutive elections. In 1992, Foglietta survived a redistricting in which the First became a district with an African-American majority; prior to that time, the First District had been predominantly white ethnic, with a minority component of blacks and Hispanics. This made Foglietta the only white Representative elected to serve in a district with an African-American majority. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Foglietta served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries, the Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees as well as the Select Committee on Hunger. In 1991, he helped found and served as chairman of the Urban Caucus, and in 1992, he won an appointment to the powerful Appropriations Committee where he later served on the Military Construction, Transportation, and Foreign Operations Subcommittees.

Foglietta served in Congress at a time when his district and the City of Philadelphia faced a daunting array of problems and challenges. These included: the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) decision to close the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (PNSY) and the potentially devastating impact on the city's economy; the need to develop reinvestment and reuse plans for PNSY and to retrain workers; sinking homes in the Logan and Roxborough neighborhoods; the need for improvements at the Ports of Philadelphia; potential disruptions to the important Chilean fruit trade; and the extreme state of disrepair of Independence Hall's infrastructure. Despite the demands placed on Foglietta and his staff members by these problems, the Congressman still found time to become involved in issues that he championed such as the economic development of cities and provision of benefits and services to the urban poor. In foreign affairs, he promoted democracy and human rights in South Korea, Haiti, and the former republics of the Soviet Union. In areas pertaining to the environment, Foglietta supported conservation measures to protect marine and ocean resources, and he consistently received high ratings on his voting records from conservation, consumer, and labor groups.

In 1997, Congressman Foglietta was nominated and confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Italy, a position he held until early 2001. In a May 1997 editorial, the Philadelphia Inquirer lauded his service in the House of Representatives. "Mr. Foglietta has worked hard for the needs of Philadelphia and other cities…But Mr. Foglietta is more than a bring-home-the-bacon guy. He's been a leading voice against despots around the globe. He's been as committed to famine relief in Africa as he was to food assistance at home….Mr. Foglietta [has been] sensitive and intelligent and committed to public service."

Ambassador Foglietta died on November 13, 2004 at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

PHOTO GALLERY: View Slideshow

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

In November 1975, two days before his loss in the Philadelphia mayoral election, Lois Toland wrote the following in a letter to her cousin, Thomas M. Foglietta:

…at this hour it looks black. Maybe Tuesday will be a welcome surprise, but if not I wish to say these few things….You have cause to be bitter. The lack of funds and help and support from your party is a complete disgrace. You are not the loser-they are. The best man ever to run was you and had they done their job, the city would have been in the hands of someone who has loved, lived and breathed for it….Somehow, although it may not seem so today, things always happen for the best…

The last statement seems prophetic when reviewing the political papers of Thomas M. Foglietta. Although the mayoral loss was a great disappointment, it helped to pave the way for his election in 1980 as U.S. Representative from the First District of Pennsylvania. His tenure in Congress came at a time when the First District and the Philadelphia area were faced with overwhelming challenges. His considerable skills and talents as a politician, his dedication to his constituents and to the City of Philadelphia-along with committed, hard-working staff members-combined to make him the right person, in the right place, at the right time. A review of the Congressional papers found in this collection clearly indicate this.

Foremost among these challenges was the potential and eventual closing of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The papers detail Foglietta's efforts to save parts of the Yard along with wide-ranging endeavors to develop and implement reuse and reinvestment plans to attract new businesses, retrain and assist workers, and ensure environmental cleanup of the site. The collection reveals not only efforts and activities in Foglietta's Congressional offices, but also contains information on collaborative efforts with Mayor Rendell and the City of Philadelphia's Office of Defense Conversion, the Governor's office, and labor unions. Other areas of local research interest include the Logan and Roxborough neighborhoods, physical deterioration of the infrastructure of Independence Hall, and efforts to develop and improve the Ports of Philadelphia.

The papers show how Foglietta and his staff members labored effectively and tirelessly on these issues for the benefit of the First District and the Philadelphia area at large. In particular, the work on slowing the demise of PNSY while at the same time keeping parts of it operational and pursuing other avenues of reuse and reinvestment is impressive. These efforts helped to keep PNSY alive while shipyard and city officials considered options for the future. An example of the appreciation of these efforts can be found in the collection's materials on the USS Kennedy SLEP (Service Life Extension Program). In response to successful legislative efforts to keep the overhaul of the USS Kennedy at PNSY, Charles P. Pizzi, President of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, wrote the following to Congressman Foglietta:

On behalf of our 6,000 member businesses, I am writing to convey my thanks and congratulations to you for your efforts to extend the life of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The overhaul of the USS Kennedy at the shipyard not only preserves thousands of area jobs for the near term, but it also provides more time for policymakers to decide on the shipyard's future. [Letter written on September 20, 1991].

Other papers in the collection reveal additional examples of strategies devised and plans implemented to achieve a remarkable legislative record. For example, the extent of the breadth and depth of work performed by Foglietta and his Washington staff is illustrated in great detail in an 'achievements' memo of December 1991 as well as in a departure memorandum by staff member, Anne Rung, written on May 17, 1996, approximately one year before Foglietta's appointment as Ambassador to Italy. The Congressman and his staff appeared to have never slackened in their continuous pursuit to find creative solutions to problems faced by their constituents as well as the City of Philadelphia.

These political papers also provide insight into Foglietta's broader interests such as urban economic development through empowerment zones and concerns over U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War. In his personal notes on the latter, Foglietta wrote: "We spent $77 bil[lion] to solve the problems of Kuwait City-could we not continue that expenditure for 20 more days (1 bil per day) to solve the problems of the cities of the U.S.A." [n.d., Feb. 1991?]. In these notes, he also expressed concerns over Federal spending on sophisticated weapons systems rather than research and development in the civilian manufacturing sectors as well as the high rate of casualties among the Iraqis.

The correspondence in the 'subject files' series as well as in the personal correspondence section indicate the respect and support for the Congressman from colleagues on Capitol Hill as well as in the White House, Executive agencies, and the Mayor of Philadelphia's office. For example, in a farewell note written upon his retirement from Congress in 1992, Representative Charles E. Bennett of Florida wrote the following: "Friends are rare but you are a priceless jewel. May God bless you. CEB" [Letter written November 19, 1992].

In addition to providing insight into legislative strategies and policy formulation, these political papers illustrate the importance of collaborative efforts with officials of the City of Philadelphia, area businesses, and labor unions as well as members of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware delegations in achieving legislative successes. The collection also shows the inner workings of a Congressional office and demonstrates the importance of teamwork necessary to reach goals. In a note attached to a draft of an achievements memo written in December 1991, chief of staff Tony Green wrote the following to his staff members, "Attached you will find the achievements memo…Kindly review it for typoes and content…By the way, this is something we all have a lot to be proud of."

This is true not only for 1991 but for the other years as well. This collection contains a wide range of materials for researchers seeking information on an important period in Philadelphia's history. It also provides many examples for those interested in understanding why the citizens of the First District and the City of Philadelphia are indebted to Congressman Foglietta and his staff for their fine efforts and dedicated service.

PROCESSING NOTE

This collection was received in two deposits. The manuscripts, art, artifacts, and books from Congressman Foglietta's Washington office were deposited in 1998. The art, artifacts, books, and memorabilia from the Washington Congressional offices arrived in 19 transport containers; the political papers arrived in 25 records storage boxes plus one box with albums and scrapbooks. The art, artifacts, and memorabilia from Ambassador Foglietta's office in Rome were deposited in 2001. These items arrived in seven transport containers.

The bulk of Record Group 1: Political Papers consists primarily of Washington office staff 'subject' files. These files were maintained by staff members who were monitoring specific issues and contain materials such as correspondence, memoranda, testimony, personal notes, background information, draft legislation, and occasionally clippings and press releases. The files appeared to have been arranged chronologically. To reflect their use as well as the strategy and policy formulation for these issues, the files have generally been kept as they were found. Some are quite large due either to the nature of the topic or the fact that an issue area might have been transferred to another individual who would inherit the existing file on the topic.

The folder titles have been derived from the headings designated by the staff members. Within broad issue areas, the folders have been arranged chronologically to give researchers a view of what staffers were working on at a particular time. Within the folders, the documents are generally arranged in chronological order beginning with the oldest date. The span of dates within a folder can range from one month to two or three years. Again this can be attributed to either the nature of the topic or the fact that materials may have been merged as monitoring of issues passed from one staff member to another. Researchers interested in a specific subject area-such as the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard-are encouraged to scan through all the folder titles in the appropriate section of the inventory to determine which might contain useful materials. The inventory lists detailed folder titles and describes the types of materials found within the folders.

It should also be noted that the staff reference notebooks have been maintained as found. They contain many useful materials that augment and at times duplicate items found in the subseries on PNSY. Researchers interested in this topic should consult both Series 1.1 and Series 8 in the inventory.

The items in Record Group 2: Art, Artifacts, Memorabilia, and Books, have been rehoused and preliminary inventories have been compiled.

OVERVIEW OF ARRANGEMENT

Record Group 1: Political Papers (24 linear feet)

Subgroup I: City Council, Mayoral Race, and Early Congressional Papers

Series 1.    Albums/Scrapbooks, 1954-1982 7 volumes   
       
Series 2.   Correspondence and Memorabilia, 1959-1971 1 box


Subgroup II: Later Congressional Papers

Series 1.      Subject Files  
1.1   Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (PNSY), 1987-1997 17 boxes
1.2   Persian Gulf War and Other Defense Issues, 1990-1997 1 box
1.3   Logan/Roxborough, 1986-1991 1 box
1.4   Southwark Plaza/Redevelopment, 1990-1992 2 folders
1.5   Ports of Philadelphia  
    a. Chilean Fruit Trade, 1988-1992 4 folders
    b. Port Unification/Port Improvement, 1987-1992 7 folders
    c. Delaware River Dredging, 1988-1993 6 folders
    d. North Europe-USA Rate Agreement, 1991-1992 3 folders
    e. Other Issues, 1988-1994 4 folders
1.6   Independence National Historical Park (INHP)/ Washington Square, 1989-1997 2 boxes
1.7   Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities, 1990-1997 1 box
1.8   Other City of Philadelphia Issues, 1991-1997 1 box
1.9   Other Issue Areas, 1989-1997 1 box
       
Series 2.   Personal Correspondence and Files, 1980-1997 2 boxes
       
Series 3.   Speeches, 1988-1995 1 box
       
Series 4.   Press Releases and Press Coverage Statistics, 1983-1997 2 boxes
       
Series 5.   Newsletters, Annual Reports, and Legislative Achievements, 1983-1996 1 box
       
Series 6.   Other Congressional Files pertaining to Reelection, Committee Assignment, Voting Records, 1980-1995 1 box
       
Series 7.   News Clippings, 1983-1997 2 records boxes
       
Series 8.   Congressional Staff Reference Collection, 1990-1996 21 notebooks,
1 box
       
Series 9.   Photographs, ca. 1982-1996 1 box
Record Group 2:  Art, Artifacts, Memorabilia, and Books, ca. 1980-2000                                  (40 linear feet)  approximately 400 items

SERIES DESCRIPTION

Record Group 1, Subgroup I, City Council, Mayoral and Early Congressional Papers

Series 1. Albums/Scrapbooks, 1954-1985 (7 volumes)

     This series primarily contains clippings pertaining to Foglietta's service on Philadelphia City Council and his election campaign for mayor in 1975. In addition, there are scrapbooks of the funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco as well as a scrapbook on the death and funeral of John B. "Jack" Kelly, Jr., a member of City Council and Princess Grace's brother.

Series 2. Correspondence and Memorabilia, 1959-1971 (Box 1)

     Of particular interest in this series is the letter to Foglietta from his cousin on the eve of his mayoral election loss in 1975. In this poignant letter, she expresses her dismay and disappointment over the situation as well as her hopes for his future. The series also contains a telegram expressing sorrow over the election loss and two memorabilia items.

Record Group 1, Subgroup II, Later Congressional Papers

Series 1. Subject Files, 1986-1997 (Boxes 2-27)

     This series is comprised of staff 'subject files.' The name subject file is something of a misnomer since the files contain incoming and outgoing correspondence, memoranda, staff notes as well as pertinent studies, reports, draft legislation, hearing testimony as well as other background information. The files in Series 1.1, PNSY are the most comprehensive. This subseries contains general information on PNSY along with materials pertaining to BRAC hearings on base closure, the decision to finally close PNSY, the impact of the BRAC decision, and reactions in the public and private sectors. It also includes materials on reuse, reinvestment, conversion efforts, and worker retraining. In addition, this subseries contains materials pertaining to the bankruptcy of Baldt Anchor & Chain, even though the company is located in Chester, Pa. These files were located with staff files on PNSY perhaps because the issue was viewed as part of reuse and reinvestment efforts. For this reason, the Baldt Anchor files were left as found. Other useful materials in the subject files section can be found in the subseries on the Persian Gulf War, Logan/Roxborough neighborhoods, Southwark Plaza/Redevelopment, Ports of Philadelphia, Independence National Historical Park/Washington Square, and Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities.

Series 2. Personal Correspondence and Files, 1980-1997 (Box 28)

     This series is comprised primarily of congratulatory letters for reelection to Congress along with birthday greetings. Notable in this series are letters of appreciation from the son of Kim Dae-Jung (South Korea) and Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti). In addition, this series contains Foglietta's personal file of notes and thoughts expressing his concerns over U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War as well as the exorbitant costs.

Series 3. Speeches, 1988-1995 (Box 29)

     This series contains Foglietta's speeches from 1988-1995.

Series 4. Press Releases and Press Coverage Statistics, 1983-1997 (Boxes 30-31)

     This series is comprised primarily of press releases along with a summary of press coverage statistics from 1991-1996.

Series 5. Newsletters, Annual Reports, and Legislative Achievements, 1983-1996 (Box 32)

     This series contains newsletters, 1983-1996. There is also an 'annual report' as well as several 'achievements' memoranda which provide useful, detailed summaries of legislative activities and accomplishments.

Series 6. Other Congressional Files pertaining to Reelection, Committee Assignment, Voting Records, 1980-1985 (Box 32)

     This series includes a few files pertaining to Foglietta's early Congressional campaigns along with information on his voting records. Of particular interest in this series is the material related to Foglietta's efforts to gain a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Series 7. News Clippings, 1983-1997 (Boxes 33-34)

     This series is comprised of newsclippings of Foglietta's Congressional activities as well as his election campaigns and meetings with constituents.

Series 8. Congressional Staff Reference Collection, 1989-1997 (Notebooks 1-21 and Box 35)

     This series contains notebooks and reports that focus primarily on BRAC activities, PNSY closure, and reinvestment and reuse efforts. The notebooks have been left as found and contain correspondence, memoranda, notes, as well as background information and reports. These materials augment and at times duplicate items found in Series 1.1, PNSY. In addition, there is a staff departure memorandum which gives an excellent summary of legislative issues, agenda items important to Foglietta, and suggested courses of action.

Series 9. Photographs, ca. 1982-1996 (Box 36)

     This series includes approximately 60 photographs of Foglietta with constituents and other elected officials and dignitaries. There are also photos detailing a trip to the Berlin Wall and Prague in 1989. Not all of the photographs have been identified.

Record Group 2, Art, Artifacts, Memorabilia, and Books is comprised of approximately 400 items acquired by Foglietta during his service as U.S. Representative from the First District of Pennsylvania and as U.S. Ambassador to Italy. Preliminary inventories have been compiled although there is incomplete information for many items.

References

"Arrivederci." [editorial] Philadelphia Inquirer, May 28, 1997, A16.

Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa. Almanac of American Politics. Washington, D.C.: National Journal
[various editions, 1984-1996].

U.S. Congress. Joint Committee on Printing. Congressional Staff Directory. Washington, D.C.: Govt.
Printing Office [various editions, 1984-1997].

Subjects

Foglietta, Thomas M. (Thomas Michael), 1928-
Legislators-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Philadelphia (Pa.)-Politics and government-20th century
Philadelphia (Pa.)-History-20th century
Military base closures-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Military base conversion-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Navy yards and naval stations-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Shipyards-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Ships-Maintenance and repair-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Harbors-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Dredging-Delaware River (Pa. and N.J.)
Occupational retraining-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Enterprise zones-Law and legislation
Persian Gulf War, 1991-Protest movements-United States
Logan (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Roxborough (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Chile-Commerce-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia
Grape industry
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Independence Hall (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Baldt Anchor & Chain (Chester, Pa.)
Metro Machine Corporation (Norfolk, Va. and Philadelphia, Pa.)
Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Acquisition: This collection is a gift of Thomas M. Foglietta, 1998-2001.

Restrictions: This collection is open for research. However, copyright has not been assigned to the University Archives and Special Collections of Saint Joseph's University. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the University Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University Archives and Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation: Thomas M. Foglietta Collection, University Archives and Special Collections, Francis A. Drexel Library, Saint Joseph's University.

Administrative information:

Processed by: Nancy Miller and Christopher Dixon
Date completed: February 2002
HTML mark-up by: Sumeet Mandloi and Linda Kubala
URL for finding aid: http://www.sju.edu/resources/libraries/drexel/archives/foglietta


Last revision / review: May 16, 2012