Lamar Alexander Papers
Scope and Contents
• Childhood & Education: This series contains materials from Alexander’s childhood and time in school. Some of 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.
• Early Career: This series documents Lamar Alexander’s employment from 1965-1971, after law school and before his campaigns for Governor of Tennessee. There are subseries for his work for Judge John Minor Wisdom, Senator Howard Baker, Jr., President Richard Nixon, and Governor Winfield Dunn.
• Campaigns for Governor: This series contains items from the years 1971-1978, while Alexander was campaigning for governor of Tennessee. He was unsuccessful in 1974 but was elected in 1978. Materials from his sucessful re-election campaign in 1982 are in the Governor series.
• Governor: This series contains Alexander’s personal papers related to his time as governor of Tennessee (1978-1987). It contains subseries related to the early swearing-in event in January 1979, his administration, budget, and various policies. His official governor’s papers are held by the Tennessee State Library & Archives.
• Chair of the Massey Leadership Institute: This series contains items related to Alexander’s activities while he was chair of the Massey Leadership Institute at Belmont College (1987-1988), including his co-founding of Corporate Child Care, Inc., his six-month family trip to Australia, and his writing of Six Months Off: An American Family's Australian Adventure.
• University of Tennessee President: This series contains personal material from 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.
• Secretary of Education: This series 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.
• Alexander for President Campaigns: This series documents Alexander’s two unsuccessful campaigns to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 1996 and 2000. The 1996 campaign series is more extensive, as Alexander fared better in that primary contest.
• Visiting Professor at Harvard: This series contains materials from Alexander’s time as the Roy M. and Barbara Goodman Family Visiting Professor of Practice in Public Service at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government from 2001 to 2002.
• Alexander for Senate Campaigns: This series contains materials from Alexander’s successful campaigns for U.S. Senator for 2002, 2008, and 2014. These materials are currently restricted and may only be viewed with the permission of the donor.
• Senate: This series contains materials from Alexander’s time as U.S. Senator from January 3, 2002, until his retirement on January 3, 2021. These materials are currently restricted and may only be viewed with the permission of the donor.
• Photographs: This series contains photographs processed separately from the rest of the collection. The collection is most extensive from Alexander’s years as governor, but other photographs are also present.
- 1939 - 2020
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. He retired when his term ended on January 3, 2021.
Over the course of his career, Alexander wrote several books, including The Tennesseans: A People and Their Land (1981), Friends: Japanese and Tennesseans (1986), Steps Along the Way: A Governor's Scrapbook (1986), Six Months Off: An American Family’s Australian Adventure (1988), and We Know What to Do (1995).
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
- In Progress
- Zach Johnson, Kathy Smith, Sara Lee Burd, Mary McSparran
- 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