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Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2006

Lee Hamilton's congressional papers unveiled at IU's Lilly Library

Jan. 20, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- 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, is now open for viewing at the Lilly Library, Indiana University's library for rare books and manuscripts.

Former Ind. Rep. Lee Hamilton in his Capitol Hill office, 1987.

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The exhibition provides 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 Legacy of Honor: An Exhibition from the Congressional Papers of Lee H. Hamilton" runs through April 1.

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 focuses on Hamilton's relationships with his 9th-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," said 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 long-standing mission to provide information to the academic community and beyond. "

Lee Hamilton valued relationships with constituents of the 9th Congressional District, such as these members of the American Legion, ca. 1966.

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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 said. "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."

At a 1968 campaign rally in St. Leon, Ind., Lee Hamilton posed in the Lawrenceburg American Legion Post's vehicle "Pegasus."

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Hamilton is founding director of the Center on Congress at IU, 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.

The Lilly Library houses the collections of more than 50 Indiana politicians, including U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh; Claude Gernade Bowers, U.S. ambassador to Spain during the Spanish Civil War; and Wendell Willkie, Republican nominee for U.S. president in 1940.

The exhibition may be viewed whenever the Lilly Library is open; tours are offered to the public at 2 p.m. each Friday. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday- Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Lilly Library, which is located at 1200 E. Seventh St. on the IU Bloomington campus, is free and open to the public.

To learn more about Hamilton and view a guide to the manuscript collection, go to