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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Oklahoma City council member and state labor leader Joseph C. "Joe" Campbell was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 21, 1896. While a young boy, he moved with his parents, John C. and Louella Childress Campbell, to Oklahoma City. Joseph Campbell graduated from Oklahoma City High School in 1910 and attended Russell University, Nashville, Tennessee, for two years. While a teenager, he became a trapeze performer and toured the United States. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as an electrician during World War I and became a lieutenant in the Twenty-first Balloon Company. Returning to Oklahoma City after the war, he married Edna Lampo on June 2, 1919. They had one daughter, Joann.

Throughout his political career Campbell was a controversial individual. Between 1919 and 1922 he was an Oklahoma City mounted police officer and earned the rank of lieutenant while John "Jack" C. Walton was mayor. When Walton became Oklahoma governor in 1923, he commissioned Campbell as a major in the Oklahoma National Guard. He served in the guard until December 7, 1923, when he was removed from the payroll after Walton's impeachment. Campbell was elected president of the Oklahoma State Federation of Labor in 1925, serving eight years. From 1935 until his death in 1944 he was an Oklahoma City Council member from Ward Three. Campbell, Leonard Dickerson, and others formed a strong, five-member majority faction on the council, which sought to oust Oklahoma City manager W. A. Quinn in 1939. That year, Campbell won reelection over James Pulliam by a margin of 132 votes. Pulliam brought a lawsuit against Campbell on charges of election manipulation and bribery. In the early 1940s Campbell and other council members put aside their differences to promote the building of the Douglas Aircraft facility in eastern Oklahoma City (later Midwest City).

Campbell was a business agent for the local theatrical stage employees' union and a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Operations. He was a Methodist and a member of the American Legion, Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, and Masonic order. He died of a heart attack on June 29, 1944, and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Linda D. Wilson


"Joseph C. Campbell," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 1 July 1944.

Rex Harlow, comp., Makers of Government in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Harlow Publishing Co., 1930).

Ray W. Lucke, ed., Who's Who in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Mid-Continent Publishers, 1931).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Campbell, Joseph Childress,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CA034.

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