James R. Sasser Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.0810

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the political papers of former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to China, James R. “Jim” Sasser. The Sasser Papers (1976-2010) include personal files belonging to both him and his wife Mary Sasser, campaign materials, U.S. Senate files and materials encompassing constituent and non-constituent correspondence, invitations and schedules, office administration files, legislative, subject, and staff files, press clippings, committee work, and speeches, ambassador files and materials, audiovisual materials, photographs, and personal, senate, and ambassador realia.

The Sasser Papers is a collection that could be of interest to researchers interested in the work of a U.S. Senator from Tennessee and the inner workings of a senatorial office during the 1970s and 1980s. This collection also documents the development and management of U.S. foreign relations with China. The Sasser Papers have been organized into the following series and subseries: - Personal o Mary Sasser - U.S. Senate Materials o Campaigns o Correspondence (non-constituent) o Administrative Files o Legislative Files o Subject Files o Staff Files o Press o Committee Work o Constituent Correspondence o Speeches - Ambassador to China - Post-Senate Career - Miscellaneous - Photographs - Oversize and Realia - Audiovisual Materials

The Mary Sasser subseries of the Personal series – processed at the box-level – contains photographs, holiday cards, miscellaneous press clippings, speeches, event materials, and correspondence belonging to Mary Sasser.

The Senate series is made up of the ten sub-series: Campaigns, Correspondence (non-constituent), Administrative, Legislative Files, Subject Files, Staff Files, Press (and clippings), Committee Work, Constituent Correspondence, and Speeches. Campaigns has been processed at the item-level and details Sasser’s 1976, 1982, 1988, and 1994 campaigns. This sub-series contains official election results, polling statistics, reports on campaign funding and expenditures, materials for advertising, debate, and events, speeches, campaign committee records, memoranda, press releases and clippings, reports for other political candidates’ campaigns, and correspondence. Correspondence (non-constituent) has been processed at the box-level and contains correspondence to and from organizations and individuals including White House officials and members of Congress with some files organized based on specific topics. Administrative has been processed at the folder-level and contains invitations and schedules as well as office administrative files during Sasser’s time in the U.S. Senate. Legislative Files has been processed at the box-level and contains miscellaneous files, materials, and notes relating to specific bills and legislative action. Subject Files has some files processed at the folder-level and contains files relating to specific subjects such as Foreign Affairs, Education, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Staff Files has been processed at the box-level with the intentions of preserving the exact organization in which the staff members kept their files. This sub-series contains legislative files belonging to ten individual staff members who served in Sasser’s D.C. office throughout the course of his three terms. Press (and clippings) has been processed at the box-level and contains various press releases, clippings, newsletters, and daily news briefings. Committee Work has not yet been processed but will be comprised of files and materials pertaining to Sasser’s work in the Appropriations, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Governmental Affairs Committees. Speeches has been processed at the item-level and contains miscellaneous speeches that Sasser gave during his time as Senator.

Constituent Correspondence has been processed at the box-level and contains letters to and from his constituents during his time in the U.S. Senate. While some senators discard constituent correspondence when leaving office, Sasser kept these files, making it the largest series within the collection. Correspondence is sorted specifically by subject, issue codes, year, or alphabetical order.

The Ambassador series has been processed at the item/folder-level and contains nomination materials, miscellaneous correspondence, project materials, press releases and clippings, trip materials, invitations and schedules, interview transcripts and speeches, and photographs relating to Sasser’s time in China.

The Oversized & Realia, Audiovisual, and Photographs series have been inventoried.

Lastly, the Miscellaneous series has been processed at the box-level and contains a broad range of files and materials relating to each of the series.

Dates

  • 1936 - 2013

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

James Ralph “Jim” Sasser (born on September 30, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a former attorney, three-term United States Senator, and diplomat. He attended the University of Tennessee for one year before transferring to Vanderbilt University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958. He then received his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1961 and after being admitted to the Tennessee Bar, began practicing law as a partner in the Nashville firm of Goodpasture, Carpenter, Wood, and Sasser.

Sasser’s involvement in Democratic politics is one that began in 1960 when he served as a regional youth director for the late Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver’s campaign. He then went on to serve as the manager for Albert Gore Sr.’s 1970 reelection campaign and was elected Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic State Committee in 1973. In 1976 he decided to launch his own successful campaign for the U.S. Senate which began his three-term career. He was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 1982 and 1988 but was defeated in the 1994 U.S. general election. During his time as a U.S. Senator, he served as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee for six years and was also a member of the Appropriations, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Governmental Affairs Committees.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton, he served as the United States Ambassador to China from 1996-1999. During this time, he played a significant role in strengthening relations between the U.S. and China with a major focus on increasing market opportunities for U.S. companies. He also assisted in the development of close working relationships between President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, and other Chinese leaders. In 1997 and 1999, he accompanied President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhi Ronji on their trips to the U.S. and also hosted President Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Clinton during their historic 1998 trip to China.

Extent

480 Linear Feet (363 Paige boxes, 49 Hollinger boxes, 2 Half-Hollinger boxes, loose oversize material) : Includes 30 linear feet of Audio-visual material and 15 linear feet of Realia

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection contains the political papers of former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to China, James R. “Jim” Sasser. The Sasser Papers (1976-2010) include personal files belonging to both him and his wife Mary Sasser, campaign materials, U.S. Senate files and materials encompassing constituent and non-constituent correspondence, invitations and schedules, office administration files, legislative, subject, and staff files, press clippings, committee work, and speeches, ambassador files and materials, audiovisual materials, photographs, and personal, senate, and ambassador realia.

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Title
Finding Aid for the James R. Sasser Papers
Status
In Progress
Author
Zach Johnson; Krishanna Prince
Date
2019 August
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

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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