Lamar Alexander Papers
Scope and Contents
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Series VI: Writing Materials contains items related to Lamar Alexander’s published and unpublished works.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.
- 1953 - 2017
Conditions Governing Access
Biographical Note - Lamar Alexander
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.
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
- Authors, American -- 20th century -- Political and social views
- Authors, American -- Southern States -- Biography -- Sources
- College presidents
- Educational law and legislation--Tennessee
- Elections--Southern States
- Elections--United States
- Governors -- Tennessee -- History -- 20th century
- Governors' spouses
- Governors--United States--Election
- Nashville (Tenn.)--History
- Political campaigns--Law and legislation
- Political campaigns--United States--Case studies
- Political campaigns--United States--History
- Political parties--Southern States
- Presidents--United States--Election--1996
- Presidents--United States--Election--2000
- Southern States--History
- Southern States--Politics and government
- Southern States--Politics and government--1951-
- Tennessee--Politics and government
- United States--Politics and government
- United States. Congress--Elections
- United States. Department of Education. Office of the Secretary
- University of Tennessee (Knoxville campus)
- Vanderbilt University--Alumni
- Finding Aid for the Lamar Alexander Papers
- Zach Johnson; Kathy Smith
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States