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Helen Delich Bentley Papers

Identifier: R0051-HDB

Scope and Contents

The Helen Delich Bentley Papers span the dates 1945-1995. The collection documents the activities of Helen Delich Bentley, who was a maritime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, a television show producer, Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission between 1969 and 1975, and U.S. Congresswoman between 1985 and 1995. It also contains materials documenting Bentley’s political campaigns and materials related to Bentley’s time in international maritime business.

Materials are mainly textual and include newspaper clippings, press releases, speeches, writings, reports, legislative files, committee files, correspondence, subject files, personal papers, campaign materials, and business files. Also present are video recordings of speeches, events, and topics related to Bentley’s congressional term.


  • 1945-1995


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Helen Delich Bentley (b. 1923 - d. 2016) was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1985-1995); chair of the Federal Maritime Commission (1969-1975); international business consultant; journalist; television producer; and private advocate.

Bentley was born November 28, 1923 in Ruth, White Pine County, Nevada. She earned her BA. from the University of Missouri in 1944. Bentley began her career as a journalist in Baltimore, Maryland at The Baltimore Sun where she covered labor issues, maritime news, and the port of Baltimore. She produced a WMAR television show titled "The Port that Built the City and State," which ran from 1950 until 1965. Her reporting work took her abroad to Vietnam. In 1969 she was recruited to be the Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission (1969-1975) during the Nixon administration; she left in 1975 to become a business consultant. Bentley was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1985 and served until 1995. While in Congress, she earned a reputation for her criticism of U.S. Trade policy and for her bipartisan work. Bentley supported the dredging of the Chesapeake Bay to allow large cargo ships. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment. In the 1990s she supported Serbia during the Balkan wars. Bentley ran for Governor of Maryland unsuccessfully in 1994. In 1995, she returned to her career in business and started Helen Bentley & Associates where she worked as an international maritime business consultant and lobbyist. In 2002, Bentley unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

During her life, Bentley earned a number of awards and honors. She was a member of the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. In 2004, she was inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame and into the International Maritime Hall of Fame in New York. During the 300th anniversary celebration of the port of Baltimore in 2006, Gov. Ehrlich named the port in her honor. Bentley died in 2016.

[Information for this biographical note was gathered from a 2016 obituary found in The Baltimore Sun, a 2016 obituary found in the Washington Post, and from previous collection descriptions.]


420.2 Linear Feet


Collection is arranged in 9 series:
  • Series 1: Newspaper Reporter
  • Series 2: TV Port Shows
  • Series 3: Federal Maritime Commission
  • Series 4: Campaigns & Elections
  • Series 5: Pre-Congressional
  • Series 6: Congressional
  • Series 7: Balkans
  • Series 8: Helen Bentley International
  • Series 9: Personal Files

Custodial History

The collection was donated to the University of Baltimore by Helen Delich Bentley on July 16, 1996.

Processing Information

Towson University students completed the initial housing and inventory for the collection before transfer to the UB Special Collection & Archives for donation in 1996. The original finding aid was created in 1996. In 2005, a major water leak in the UB Langsdale Library damaged and destroyed approximately 43% of the total number of boxes in the collection. The finding aid and collection description was revised by Adele Marley, UB Special Collections & Archives staff member, between 2015 and 2016. Box numbering in this collection has gaps as a result of the number of boxes damaged and destroyed by flooding in 2005.
Helen Delich Bentley Papers
Finding aid prepared after accession (1996). Finding aid revised and prepared by Adele Marley (2015-2016). Revised by Laura Bell (May 2020).
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Baltimore Regional Studies Archives Repository

H. Mebane Turner Learning Commons, Room 104
1415 Maryland Avenue
Baltimore Maryland 21201 USA