Last Revision Date
Hastings Keith (1915-2005), a native of Brockton, Massachusetts, began his political career, in 1952 when he was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate. In 1958 he was elected to the United States Congress out of Massachusetts as a Republican representing Southeastern Massachusetts, which included all or parts of Plymouth, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, and Barnstable (Cape Cod) Counties. He would go on to serve seven terms in Congress, retiring after his term expired in 1972.
Keith was referred to as the “Cranberry Congressman” after he helped the Plymouth County cranberry industry recover from a national rumor in 1959 that pesticides used in the industry were causing cancer; he was the first Congressman to serve cranberry juice from his office water cooler in Washington, DC. In 1959 Keith, with the aid of Senators John F. Kennedy and Leverett Saltonstall, introduced the Saltonstall-Kennedy-Keith bill to create the Cape Cod National Seashore. In 1961 this bill was adopted and the Cape Cod National Seashore was established, protecting and preserving the land for future generations.
A life-long sailor, Keith was actively involved with many issues that still resonate in today’s political world. He was a strong advocate for energy self-reliance for the United States, and tried to get the country to create a national energy policy. He devoted much time to merchant marine and fisheries issues and was the ranking member of that committee in the House of Representatives.
Scope and Content Note:
The Congressman Hastings Keith Collection primarily focuses on Keith’s involvement in politics, both during his time in office and his efforts at political reform after his retirement from public service. Some material relating to his life outside of politics can be found, including material on his time in the service. The collection consists of 9 series, with each series relating to a broad topic or type of physical material.
Hastings Keith was involved with many significant projects in politics, which are all represented in the collection. Background information, published and non-published, on these projects such as oceanography, national parks, the Vietnam War, and public pension reform include material on the local and national level and is a strength of the collection.