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Steven Schiff Papers

Identifier: MSS-816-BC

Scope and Content

Steve Schiff's Papers consist of documents from his service as a US Congressman, from 1989 to 1998. The great majority of the contents come from this decade, although there are occasional items from the 1980s and late 1970s. The collection contains the following: Drafts of bills from the various stages of the legislative process. Correspondences with fellow Members of Congress, executive agencies, state and municipal entities and officials, interest groups, and constituents. Memoranda and reports germane to the Congressman's roles as lawmaker, overseer of the executive branch, representative of the State of New Mexico, and member of the Republican Party caucus. Press releases, letters to the editor, and other media tactics. News clippings. Audio cassettes and video tapes of media and community appearances. Photographs.

The collection is divided into five series: Personal, Issues, Legislation, Committee Work, and Communication.

Personal includes biographical information on Schiff and information about his staff.

Issues consists of particular matters that occupied the Congressman's office that did not necessarily take the form of specific legislation. These are divided into subseries: Local for issues directly pertaining to the First Congressional District of New Mexico and the wider state as a whole; National for more broadly applicable issues; and International which involves foreign policy. Occasionally, a folder will contain articles of legislation, but in these cases the legislation came about after substantive interest into the subject had already accumulated. Prominent issues include Petroglyph National Monument (PNM) and the efforts to save Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) from the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) as well as Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs and the "Roswell Incident."

Legislation contains drafts of bills, amendments, rules, etc. from the legislative process. It also contains memoranda, correspondences, newspaper articles, and reports about the legislation. This series is divided into Local and National subseries. When the primary focus is around a specific bill, and not the more generally-related issue, then it falls under Legislation. A major example of national legislation is Schiff's work on health care fraud.

Committee Work contains legislation, material from hearings, correspondences, reports, and news clippings that expressly bear on matters undertaken by the various committees and subcommittees upon which sat Representative Schiff. Corresponding to Schiff's committee assignments, the subseries are Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (commonly known as the Ethics Committee), Government Reform & Oversight, Judiciary, and Science. Specific legislation appears in this series only if it derived from or passed significantly through one of these committees. Noteworthy investigations include Newt Gingrich and healthcare fraud.

Communication is composed of both political- and policy-related documents and audio/video materials. The subseries are as follows: Correspondence; Election, which includes Schiff's campaign materials and opposition research on rivals, real and potential; Media, containing both general strategy outlines for media relations and tactical executions such as television shows and letters to the editor; Outreach, which entails plans for and records of meetings with constituents; Questionnaires, the surveys from interest groups in which Schiff states his positions on various issues; News clippings; and Press Releases.


  • 1977-1998
  • Majority of material found within 1989-1998

Language of Materials

English with some Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research, however, researchers must give advance notice for access to audio tapes in box 19A-19D so that use copies can me made.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biography / History

Steven Schiff, born March 18, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois, served as the US Representative from the First Congressional District of New Mexico (Albuquerque and its environs) from 1989 to 1998 as a member of the Republican Party.

Schiff received a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 1968. In 1972, he graduated with a Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico.

Schiff enlisted as an Airman Basic in the New Mexico National Guard in 1969. In 1994, he achieved the rank of Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve.

After stints as an Assistant District Attorney (1972-1977) and Assistant Albuquerque City Attorney and Counsel for Albuquerque Police Department (1979-1981), Schiff was elected (1980) and re-elected (1984) to the office of District Attorney for Bernalillo County. In 1988, he successfully ran for the open congressional seat in the First Congressional District of New Mexico.

In the US House of Representatives, Schiff sat on the Committees on the Judiciary and its subcommittees on Crime and on Commercial and Administrative Law, where he advocated for stricter juvenile justice and convict sentencing policies. On the Committee on Science—in which Schiff chaired the Subcommittee on Basic Research and sat on the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment—Schiff focused on underwriting the missions of Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and transferring technology for application in the private and public sectors. Serving on the Committee on Government Reform & Oversight, Schiff targeted healthcare fraud and served on the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice. As a member of The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (commonly known as the 'ethics committee'), Schiff took part in the investigation of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Schiff believed in fiscal conservatism and strongly championed the interests of business. He took firm policy and political stances in favor of harsher punishments for criminals. As a Member of Congress, Schiff did not approve of NATO operations in the Balkans, yet he undertook missions to Bosnia and Iraq in his position with Air Force Reserves. Schiff made sustained inquiries into the incident at Roswell and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Schiff was the son of Alan Jerome Schiff (born 3/6/19, died 2/18/90) and Helen Marion Ripper (born 8/11/19) and the brother of Maury Leon Schiff (born 2/26/42), a physicist. On November 8, 1968, Schiff married Marcia Lewis (born 11/1/48) in Chicago, Illinois. They produced two children, Jaimi (born 10/2/77) and Daniel (born 10/15/81).

After an extended battle with skin cancer, Schiff died from melanoma on March 25, 1998. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


19 boxes (19 cu. ft.)


Steve Schiff was the US Representative from the First Congressional District of New Mexico from 1989-1998. A member of the Republican Party, he worked to toughen criminal penalties, supported the interests of capital, and advocated for public investment in New Mexico's national laboratories and military installations. The collection consists of legislation, memoranda, correspondence, press clippings, and audio and video derived from the work of Schiff's congressional office.


Arranged in five series:
  1. Personal
  2. Issues (Subseries: Local, National, International)
  3. Legislation (Subseries: Local, National)
  4. Committee Work (Subseries: Committees on Standards of Official Conduct, Government Reform & Oversight, the Judiciary, and Science)
  5. Communication (Subseries: Correspondence, Election, Media, Outreach, Questionnaires, News clippings; and Press releases)

Related Material

Manuel Lujan Papers Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Libraries

Separated Material

Original VHS tapes and reel to reel are stored in B3.

Processing Information

VHS tapes were converted to DVD in December 2008.
Finding Aid of the Steven Schiff Papers, 1977-1998
Edited Full Draft
Max Fitzpatrick
© 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding provided by: UNM Center for Regional Studies

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131