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How to Research the Collections of Former Senators

Information about the location of papers of former senators can be found in the online Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-present. From any entry, click on “Research Collections” to find a list of repositories where the papers of former senators are located and general descriptions of the content of the collections.

Senators' papers are one of the two major categories of primary sources (the other being records of Senate Committees) for documenting the United States Senate. The records created and maintained within a senator's office are the property of the member. Most senators donate their collections to an archival repository in their home state when they leave office. At the repository, a collection is made available to researchers after being processed and organized, and in accordance with any access restrictions included in the deed of gift. Senatorial collections are valued by research libraries because they are rich sources for the study of Congressional History, state and local history, regional issues, national affairs, political science theory, foreign affairs, and public policy.

Members' collections consist of print and/or electronic files and include correspondence, memos, reports, press releases, appointment calendars, speeches, voting records, photographs, and taped interviews that document the legislative and constituent services work of each office. They may include information on personal and political activities, developing legislation, providing services to constituents, press relations and media activities, and basic office administration. Many collections also include papers from family members and from senators' pre- and post-Senate careers.