Lamar Alexander Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.0734

  • Conditions Governing Access This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu.' />

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of former Governor of Tennessee, Secretary of Education, and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. Currently, only the material predating Alexander's tenure as Senator (pre-2002) is processed for research use. Processing of the Senatorial Papers is expected to be completed in Fall 2023. Please contact Special Collections with access inquiries related to Senate materials.

Series I: Early Years & Higher Education contains materials from Alexander’s time in school. The earliest materials document his first foray into politics through Boys State in the late 1950s. Also contained in this series are materials from his undergraduate and law school years.

Series II: Family Files is a small series containing material related to Alexander’s family and numerous scrapbooks created by Alexander’s mother, Floreine “Flo” Rankin Alexander.

Series III: Early Political Career documents Lamar Alexander’s years between school and his election as governor in 1978. There are subseries for personal papers, political activities, and his 1974 campaign for Governor of Tennessee.

Series IV: Governor contains Lamar Alexander’s personal papers related to his time as Governor of Tennessee (1978-1987). It contains subseries related to the 1978 and 1982 campaigns, material on the early swearing-in event in January 1979, and material related to his time as Governor. His official Governor of Tennessee papers are held by the Tennessee State Library & Archives.

Series V: Post-Governor is a catch all series for materials from after 1987 that do not fit into other series. This includes subseries for miscellaneous material, correspondence, Corporate Childcare, Inc. materials, and material on Alexander’s tribute to Alex Haley.

Series VI: Writing Materials contains items related to Lamar Alexander’s published and unpublished works. There are subseries for the books Friends: Japanese and Tennesseans, Six Months Off: An American Family’s Australian Adventure, an untitled work from his time as Governor, We Know What to Do, and The Tennesseans: A People and Their Land.

Series VII: University of Tennessee President’s Papers contain personal material from Lamar Alexander’s time as President of the University of Tennessee (1988-1991). His official papers are held by the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN.

Series VIII: Secretary of Education documents Alexander’s service as the U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush (1991-1993). This includes administrative material, legislative priorities, and other items from this time.

Series IX: Alexander for President 1996 and Series X: Alexander for President 2000 document Lamar Alexander’s two unsuccessful campaigns to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. The 1996 campaign series is more extensive, as Alexander fared better in that primary contest.

Series XI: Harvard Teaching Materials contains materials from Alexander’s time as a political science instructor at Harvard University before he decided to run for U.S. Senator.

The Oversize series contains large materials from all over the collection. The inventory is somewhat complete, but many 3-dimensional objects remain uninventoried.

The Photographs series contains photographs processed separately from the rest of the collection. The collection is most extensive from his Governor years, but other photographs are also present.

Dates

  • 1953 - 2017

Access Restrictions

All materials predating Lamar Alexander's tenure as Senator (pre-2002) are available for public research and use. Materials from his time as Senator (2002-2021) are restricted and may only be viewed with permission of the donor.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu.

Biographical Note - Lamar Alexander

Andrew Lamar Alexander, Jr. was born on July 3, 1940 in Maryville, Tennessee to Andrew Lamar Alexander, a high school principal, and Genevra Floreine “Flo” Rankin, a preschool teacher. Lamar Alexander graduated with a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and received his J.D. from New York University. He clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Judge John Minor Wisdom from 1966-1967. In 1967, Alexander worked as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Howard Baker. During this time, he met Leslee “Honey” Buhler at a Senate softball game. Lamar and Honey married in January 4, 1969. They have four children together.

Alexander unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1974 but succeeded after running again in 1978. During the campaign, he walked 1022 miles across Tennessee, spending the night with 71 families across the state. On January 17, 1979, Alexander was sworn in by Tennessee House Speaker Ned McWherter three days before the traditional date in order to prevent outgoing Governor Ray Blanton from signing more pardons. He served as Governor of Tennessee from 1979 until 1987, focusing on bringing the auto industry to Tennessee, three large road projects, and reforming education.

After leaving office, Alexander became President of the University of Tennessee (1988-1991) and served in that role until he became U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush (1991-1993). Alexander ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States in both 1996 and 2000. In 2001 and 2002, he taught political science courses at Harvard University.

Alexander ran for U.S. Senate in Tennessee in 2002 and was elected over Democrat Bob Clement. He was reelected in 2008 and 2014. On December 17, 2018, Alexander announced that he would not seek another term and would retire in 2020.

Extent

418 Linear Feet (Processed material: 481 Hollinger boxes of manuscripts, 51 Hollinger boxes of photographs, 10+ oversize boxes. Unprocessed material: 140 linear feet of standard Paige boxes.)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

This collection contains the papers of former Governor of Tennessee, Secretary of Education, and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. Currently, only the material predating Alexander's tenure as Senator (pre-2002) is processed for research use. Processing of the Senatorial Papers is expected to be completed in Fall 2023. Please contact Special Collections with access inquiries related to Senate materials.

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives
Title
Finding Aid for the Lamar Alexander Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Zach Johnson; Kathy Smith
Date
2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


 

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