Donald M. Payne papers
Scope and Contents
The Donald M. Payne papers contain the professional papers of Donald M. Payne from his time as U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 10th congressional district. The collection includes materials related to Congressman Payne’s legislative work, particularly for the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as on behalf of his district and state. There are also background materials on a wide variety of issues, projects, events, and pieces of legislation relevant to Congressman Payne’s career, and materials related to his involvement in congressional organizations and activities. There are significant files of material on Congressman Payne’s trips abroad, which included trips to a number of African nations as well as nations in Europe and elsewhere. Also included are a large number of press clippings, recorded appearances and speeches, and photographs depicting Congressman Payne with notable public figures and celebrities including Presidents of the United States and several other countries.
The collection covers the years 1988, when Congressman Payne was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, to 2012, shortly before his death.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection includes audio-visual materials. Access copies of audiotapes, audio cassette tapes, video cassette tapes, film reels, or other audio-visual materials may need to be ordered prior to on-site research. Please contact us to inquire about access to audio-visual materials.
This collection also includes electronic records. These materials are not accessible at this time, but will be made available in the future. Please contact us for more information.
Otherwise, materials are available for research at the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center. Advance appointments are required for the use of archival materials.
Conditions Governing Use
All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.
Biographical / Historical
Donald M. Payne, 1934-2012, was New Jersey’s first African American congressional representative and served as New Jersey’s 10th district representative from 1989-2012. During his time in Congress, Congressman Payne served on a number of important committees and was a leading advocate for education, democracy, and human rights.
Born 16 July 1934 in Newark, N.J., Donald Milford Payne attended Barringer High School in Newark and Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. He graduated with a B.A. in 1957. He then attended Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., for graduate studies.
After completing his schooling, Donald Payne became a teacher in the Newark public school system before working as an executive at Prudential Insurance Company and as the Vice President of Urban Data Systems, Inc. In 1970, he was appointed the President of the National Council of YMCAs, the first African American in that position. In 1973 he became the Chairman of the World YMCA Refugee and Rehabilitation Committee, traveling extensively around the world in this capacity. He held this position until 1981.
Donald Payne’s political career began in the 1970s. From 1972 to 1978, he served on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He then served on the Newark Municipal Council from 1982 to 1988. In 1980 and 1986 he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic candidacy for New Jersey’s 10th congressional district, against incumbent Peter Rodino. In 1988, he successfully won the Democratic nomination, then the general election for the 10th district, becoming New Jersey’s first African American congressional representative.
New Jersey’s 10th congressional district covers parts of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties. The district includes the majority of the city of Newark, as well as the cities of Orange, East Orange, South Orange, West Orange, Irvington, Maplewood, and several others, as well as parts of the cities of Jersey City and Elizabeth.
In his first term as congressional representative, Donald Payne was appointed to the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He served on these committees throughout his twelve terms in Congress. He also served on the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections; the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education; the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, of which he was also the chairman; the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; and the Subcommittee on Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight.
In addition to these committees, Congressman Payne served in several other capacities. He was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served as its chairman from 1995-1997. He was a member of the Democratic Whip Organization, and was appointed to the Democratic Steering Committee in 2002 by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed him one of the two congressional delegates to the United Nations, and re-appointed him in 2005 to a second term. He belonged to several other congressional caucuses, including the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and co-founded the Sudan Caucus in 2005.
Congressman Payne’s legislative activities also supported his interests in advocating for education in the United States and abroad and for democracy and human rights around the world. He was closely involved with the development and passage of legislation including the first National Literacy Day in 1989 and the National Literacy Act in 1991, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994, the Africa: Seeds of Hope Act of 1998, the Goals 2000 initiative, the Resolution recognizing genocide in Darfur in 2004, the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act of 2004, the AGOA Acceleration Act of 2004, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006, the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, and the Serve America Act of 2009.
He was particularly active in efforts to improve and increase funding for educational efforts including the Head Start program and student loans for secondary education through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. He was also very active in pursuing efforts related to Africa, particularly in raising awareness regarding Darfur in Sudan. In addition to leading the effort to recognize the genocide in Darfur, he was arrested in 2001 while protesting the Sudanese government outside the Sudanese embassy building in Washington, DC. He was one of five members of Congress selected to accompany President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on their six-nation tour of Africa, and he visited many African nations throughout his congressional career. He was also recognized for his efforts in promoting the Northern Ireland peace process, as having the most supportive record in Congress regarding this issue. Congressman Payne also managed the debate in the House of Representatives in opposition to the use of force in Iraq prior to exploring a diplomatic solution. He also focused on several health and family issues, including the AIDS crisis and securing federal funds to address prevention, education, and treatment; improvements to the Abandoned Infants Act; and promoting the passage of the Family & Medical Leave Act 1993.
Congressman Payne also served on the Boards of Directors for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Congressional Award Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, TransAfrica, the Discovery Channel Global Education Fund, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, the Newark Day Center, the Fighting Back Initiative, and the Newark YMCA. He received many awards from national, international, and community organizations, including the Democracy Service Medal from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003, the Visionary for Africa Award from the Africa Society in 2004, the Henry T. Yost Award from the American Association of University Professors in 2010, the Educational Pioneer Award from the Center of Academic Enrichment and Outreach in 2008, the Africa Grand Leadership Prize from the Celebrate Africa Foundation in 2007, the Distinguishes Community Health Defender Award from the National Association of Community Health Center, Inc., in 2006, and the George Thomas “Mickey” Leland Humanitarian Award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in 1996, among many others.
Donald Payne married Hazel Johnson in 1958 and the couple had three children. Donald Payne, Jr., a public official, Wanda Payne, a teacher, and Nicole Payne, a school principal. Hazel Johnson Payne died in 1963, and Donald Payne never re-married. He also has a brother, William D. Payne, who served in the New Jersey General Assembly 1998-2008.
In February 2012, Congressman Payne announced he was undergoing treatment for colon cancer. He died 6 March 2012, in Newark, N.J. His son, Donald Payne, Jr., succeeded to his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
53.35 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Donald M. Payne, 1934-2012, was New Jersey’s first African American congressional representative and served as New Jersey’s 10th district representative from 1989-2012. During his time in Congress, Congressman Payne served on a number of important committees and was a leading advocate for education, democracy, and human rights. The Donald M. Payne papers contain the professional papers of Donald M. Payne from his time as U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 10th congressional district. The collection includes materials related to Congressman Payne’s legislative work, particularly for the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as on behalf of his district and state.
The materials were arranged and prepared by the Congressional Records Service prior to their arrival at Seton Hall University. For the most part, the arrangement and titles have been kept as found.
The collection has been arranged as follows:
- Series 1.
- Congressional and legislative papers, 1988-2012
- Series 1.1.
- Legislation, 1989-2012
- Series 1.2.
- Committee on Education and the Workforce/Labor, 1990-2011
- Series 1.3.
- Committee on International Affairs/Foreign Relations, 1992-2012
- Series 1.4.
- Congressional member organizations, 1991-2011
- Series 1.5.
- Correspondence, 1988-2011
- Series 1.6.
- Testimony for guest participation before Congressional committees, 1990-2011
- Series 1.7.
- Legislative memos, 1989-2011
- Series 2.
- State and District relations, 1991-2012
- Series 2.1.
- Appropriations, 1993-2011
- Series 2.2.
- Case files, correspondence, district grants and projects, and recommendations, 1991-2012
- Series 3.
- Background materials, 1989-2011
- Series 3.1.
- Education and children, 1999-2011
- Series 3.2.
- International affairs and foreign relations, 1989-2011
- Series 3.3.
- State and district, 1989-2010
- Series 3.4.
- General subject files, 1990-2011
- Series 3.5.
- Publications, 1991-2004
- Series 4.
- Member profile, 1988-2012
- Series 4.1.
- Press clippings, 1988-2012
- Series 4.2.
- Videos of appearances, 1989-2011
- Series 4.3.
- Speeches, 1989-2011
- Series 4.4.
- Photographs, 1988-2011
- Series 4.5.
- Travel and scheduling, 1989-2011
- Series 4.6.
- Biographical and awards, 1989-2010
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Preservica Public URL
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection is the gift of the heirs of Donald M. Payne, Sr., to the Archives and Special Collections Center in 2013. Accession number 2013.0026.
Materials were packed and prepared by the Congressional Records Service in Washington, D.C., prior to delivery to Seton Hall University. The collection was processed by Tracy M. Jackson, 2013-2014. Finding aid prepared by Tracy M. Jackson and Brianna LoSardo, 2014.
- Donald M. Payne papers, 1988-2012
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Tracy M. Jackson
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.