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last updated: 3/12/2008

An International Statesman

IU Celebrates Congressional Papers of Lee Hamilton

At an animated reception at the Lilly Library, Indiana University celebrated the first major public exhibition of the papers of former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton, who represented the 9th District of Indiana for more than 30 years.


The exhibition provided a glimpse into the contents of Hamilton's congressional papers housed at IU, which include correspondence, speeches, committee minutes, schedules, legislative research files, and extensive files on infrastructure projects. 

A trove for researchers who wish to learn more about the behind-the-scenes workings of a U.S. representative's office, the collection of papers provides an extensive resource for scholars of American politics and government.

The exhibition focused on Hamilton's relationships with his Ninth District constituents; his ever-increasing role in foreign policy and foreign affairs; and his lifelong commitment to the U.S. Congress. Hamilton served as U.S. representative from 1965 to January 1999, equaling the longest term of service for an Indiana Representative.

"Lee Hamilton's length of service is a testament to the strong relationships he forged throughout his public career," says Patricia A. Steele, Ruth Lilly Interim Dean of University Libraries. "We are pleased he entrusted his papers to the IU Libraries and are proud to make his papers available to researchers. Serving scholars and Indiana citizens in this way is consistent with our longstanding mission to provide information to the academic community and beyond."

A major strength of the collection lies in its portrayal of Hamilton's strong record of service to the citizens of Indiana, evidenced by extensive files on projects ranging from airports and bridges to community development programs and wilderness preservation. The collection contains samples of correspondence to his constituents, which in 1989 numbered about 30,000 personalized letters a year.

A second strength of the collection lies in the papers relating to his work with the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Those documents, protected by law, will be opened biennially as the 30-year-restriction period on them imposed by the House of Representatives expires. The foreign affairs papers currently available to researchers cover the years 1965 to 1974.

Kate Cruikshank, political papers specialist at the Lilly Library, curated the exhibition after spending 18 months organizing the papers contained in 212 cartons. "The papers provide fascinating insights into the inner workings of Hamilton's office," Cruikshank says. "My hope is that the exhibition conveys Hamilton's pride in Indiana, his many contributions to Indiana and the nation, and his unwavering commitment to Congress as our key democratic institution."

Hamilton is founding director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, which seeks to educate citizens on the importance of Congress, and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He served as vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, often called the 9/11 Commission. Hamilton donated his congressional papers to Indiana University in 1998.

last updated: 3/12/2008