Archivists have grappled with the processing and management challenges of congressional collections, but have spent less time exploring the use of these collections or their utility for research outside traditional topics and disciplines. This case study examines how two department projects produced new insights into congressional collections at an institution examining the importance of its political materials within its collection development policy. A survey of Native American collection materials led to a new understanding of the vast scholarly potential of congressional collections. Likewise, a general assessment of special collections revealed the popularity of congressional collections and the nature of their users. The article recommends using data-informed analysis and a better understanding of American political life for the future development and promotion of congressional collections within and outside the library.

In my first year as congressional archivist for Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries, our new dean of libraries inquired about the use of our congressional collections. Her inquiry came as part of a general review of our collection development policies. Our dean wanted to understand the use of our manuscript collections and related outreach efforts, but she was interested in our large collections of political papers. While asking around campus, she was told political scientists would “rarely, if ever” use our congressional collections. She had me contact a professor of history about his use of these materials. He replied that he had used our manuscript collections, but never our congressional collections; he suggested a canvass of history faculty whose research interests might lead to their use. A “cold call” email to faculty generated a small and disappointing response. Those who replied had never used our congressional collections.

These questions and answers surprised and unsettled me. Here were the papers of prominent politicians, some of a durable national significance, who appeared to be of little or no interest to our faculty. Did faculty disinterest carry over to their undergraduate and graduate students? Was disinterest a function of their unfamiliarity with the materials and our failure to effectively market them? Who, if anyone, used these collections? For what purpose? And were there topics and untapped research potential in the congressional collections waiting to be discovered?

My questioning arose at the same time a series of department projects, each ostensibly unrelated to congressional archives, led to new perspectives on the use of our congressional collections, their users, and how we might explore, understand, and market their research value. My colleague, Wendel Cox, a librarian with a doctorate in American history, first undertook a comprehensive survey of Native American content in our processed manuscript collections. Our conversations revealed the long, close, and deep connection between Congress and the federally recognized Native American tribes—and the wealth of materials he was discovering in our congressional collections related to Indigenous peoples. As a student of American Indian history, to Cox this aspect of congressional collections was a natural connection. Yet, what he discovered proved far richer than even he imagined. Cox's next project was a largely quantitative study of how our collections were used and by whom. His analysis demonstrated that the papers of Stewart L. Udall (D-AZ), a member of the House of Representatives and interior secretary for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and those of his brother, Representative Morris K. Udall (D-AZ), were our most-used manuscript collections. The papers of Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), recently made more accessible, were also among our top collections by use. Moreover, it soon seemed the canvass of our faculty, eminently reasonable on its face, was misplaced. Most of our collection use involved individuals not affiliated with the University of Arizona. These revelations began to answer my questions— and those of my supervisors and superiors—about the value and potential of congressional collections, with implications for how we might approach future acquisitions, processing, and outreach.


Congressional and political collections long had been an integral part of the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections. They range from Marcus A. Smith, a territorial delegate who began his service in 1889, to our most recently processed congressional collection, the papers of Gabrielle Giffords, who left office in 2012 after being wounded in a mass shooting at a Tucson “Congress on Your Corner” political event. The papers of Stewart L. Udall and Morris K. Udall are complemented by a close working relationship with the Udall Foundation, a federal agency that awards scholarships, fellowships, and internships for the study of the environment and Native American development.1 Special Collections receives annual funding from the Udall Foundation for a graduate assistant to work on congressional materials. And we had recently acquired new collections from congresspersons including Republican Jim Kolbe, Republican Jon Kyl, and Democrat Giffords. In short, the papers of congressional and political figures are an accepted part of our mission, especially those with connections to the University of Arizona, southern Arizona, and metropolitan Tucson.

Yet, like many other archives, we needed to review our collection development policy and wondered what, if any, congressional materials we ought to collect in the future. Leadership changes at the University of Arizona Libraries and Special Collections led to reevaluations of collection policy and institutional mission, and it was understandable for a new dean of libraries and a new director of Special Collections to question the value of congressional collections, which are large and expensive. Our two largest collections are congressional collections: Dennis DeConcini (764 linear feet) and Morris K. Udall (1,200 linear feet). Substantial time, labor, and money are required to accession, process, and store such a volume of physical and digital materials. Acquisition of congressional materials often is seen as an opportunity to generate publicity and raise funds. But does the use of these collections justify their cost, the use of our resources, or demands on the generosity of our donors? Our dean expressed her concern about congressional collections just as we planned the processing of the Kolbe and Giffords collections, both of which would place significant demands on our resources. How should we process such large collections? At the same time, changes to southern Arizona's political landscape led us to anticipate a future of close elections and rapid turnovers in office. In this scenario, we might anticipate a series of representatives each serving one two-year term—in sharp contrast to Rep. Morris Udall, who sat in the House for thirty years. What would be the value of political collections of such limited chronological scope? Or the particular demands of a series of smaller collections associated with several representatives?

Furthermore, are congressional collections what researchers seek? After all, congressional collections are widely dispersed: usually deposited in home states, often with alma maters. Anyone using several congressional collections to cover a particular issue or topic might face extensive travel that might even prove cost-prohibitive or affect research programs. Had our researchers long since chosen to seek what they regarded as the same or similar information in presidential libraries or the National Archives and save themselves the expense of extensive travel? Scholars have used congressional collections for legislative histories, biographies, and institutional histories, most of which are out of scholarly favor. Do congressional collections meet the needs of today's—and tomorrow's—researchers?

Many historians and political scientists admit that, in the last few decades, they have not given congressional materials the research attention they deserve due to the changing nature of their fields. Historian Nancy Beck Young stated that a turn in historical research starting in the 1960s and 1970s made it “unfashionable” to study high politics as social and cultural history became more popular.2 Historian Paul Milazzo conceded during a 2005 presentation at the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress that congressional materials had been ignored for many reasons, including the diminishing popularity of examining history from the “top down,” which excludes the experiences of ordinary people.3 Political scientists Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q. Kelly stated that while political scientists used to spend time in the library doing research, the field had become more quantitative and relied on data that is easier to locate. Frisch and Kelly believe political scientists need to be encouraged to visit the archives to collect new data but often lack the patience or financial resources to spend time there to find them.4 Some recent literature argues congressional materials are relevant to current scholarship. Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs, noted that congressional papers are being used more than ever to study gender and race through legislation.5 Was this true for our collections?

Literature Review

Archival literature regarding political and congressional collections began to appear almost forty years ago and has since grown significantly. In 1978, an issue of The American Archivist included three articles on congressional papers—a recognition of needed guidance for these types of collections.6 The first standards for congressional collections were published as the Congressional Papers Project Report, the proceedings of a meeting in 1985 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, sponsored by the Dirksen Congressional Center and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).7 Known as the Harpers Ferry Project, it provided guidance and standards for repositories and congressional collections and was a call to action for more training and publications for congressional archives. It also called for the Society of American Archivists to form a group for congressional archivists (later the Congressional Papers Roundtable, now the Congressional Papers Section) and for the creation of a training manual.

The archival literature is instructive on how to accession and process materials. Manuals for congressional collections include Karen Dawley Paul's Records Management Handbook for United States Senators and Their Archival Repositories and Records Management Manual for Members of the U.S. House of Representatives by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.8 However, both are meant more for members of Congress as donors rather than for archivists. Faye Philips's Congressional Papers Management provides guidance for archivists, and the most recent manual is Cynthia Pease Miller's Managing Congressional Collections.9 These works advise archivists on how to proceed with the specific types of records uniformly found in congressional collections. An American Political Archives Reader, edited by Karen Dawley Paul, Glenn R. Gray, and L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, contains essays, case studies, and presentations on the nature of congressional materials.10 The anthology includes some older material as well as more recent writings that take the reader through the steps of acquiring, processing, and using political collections.

The academic literature on congressional archives specifically addresses the unique aspects of congressional archives and how they differ from other archival collections. Often, management or even other archivists poorly understand these differences. Linda Whitaker, a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the publication Managing Congressional Collections, stated how one obstacle to the creation of the manual was explaining to the SAA Publications Board how congressional archives differ and thus merit their own publication. She said that congressional collections can “generate a political climate all their own.”11 Authors also cite the size, complexity, and cost of processing and caring for the materials. Pease Miller claimed that the average senator generates more than 100 linear feet of files per year in office.12 Other authors addressed dealing with congresspersons as high-profile donors, often with high expectations for their materials.

Similarly, many case studies exist on how institutions must prepare for congressional acquisitions and how they manage to process them. In 1994, Mark Greene wrote an appraisal case study of congressional records at the Minnesota Historical Society acknowledging the need to tackle large collections.13 The article foreshadowed the influential and provocative Greene and Dennis Meissner article, “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing” in The American Archivist, which changed the way we approach and process our collections.14 Many congressional archivists dealing with enormous unprocessed collections and substantial backlogs welcomed this new way of thinking. Larry Weimer's essay in American Political Archives Reader specifically addresses the use of “More Product, Less Process” for congressional materials.15

Five essays by historians and political scientists in An American Political Archives Reader present their perspective and aspirations for the use of political collections.16 However, these articles and the literature in general do not include discussions by archivists explaining the use of congressional materials. There seems substantial reason to believe archivists acquire, process, and advocate for congressional collections with neither a full understanding of how these collections might be used nor much sophisticated empirical evidence for how they have been used to date. Archivists have been content simply to assert the importance of these collections or take their research value as self-evident. No wonder we found ourselves unprepared when asked who uses these collections and whether or not use or research potential justifies their accession, processing, and maintenance.

Tribal Resources Survey: Discovering Congressional Collections

My colleague Wendel Cox's time at University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections began with a comprehensive review of processed manuscript collections for content related to seventeen Indigenous peoples of Arizona, New Mexico, and the Mexican state of Sonora. The project sought to establish a foundation for working relationships with these same peoples in the spirit of more ethical stewardship of collections as recommended by the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials (PNAAM).17 To even begin to realize such an aspiration, we first needed to enhance our intellectual control: to know more about our materials, who they represent, what they depict, and what challenges and opportunities they might present for all concerned.18

As that survey began in the fall of 2014, Cox's professional interest in modern tribal politics, self-determination, and sovereignty left him curious about the collections of three Arizona politicians: Stewart L. Udall, Morris K. Udall, and Dennis DeConcini. Stewart Udall represented Arizona in the House, resigning to serve as secretary of the interior for President John F. Kennedy, and, later, Lyndon B. Johnson. Interior Secretary Udall's charge left him a principal in relations with the federally recognized Indian tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Morris Udall succeeded his brother in the House and subsequently served fifteen consecutive terms from 1961 to 1991. Mo Udall served on—and later chaired—the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and his district included various federally recognized tribes.19 Dennis DeConcini served three terms in the Senate (1977–1995). He represented twenty—and, later, twenty-one—federally recognized tribes.

Historians interested in American Indian history underutilize congressional collections, yet this neglect has gone largely unremarked. For example, George P. Castile's foundational works on federal Indian policy during the era of service by Stewart and Morris Udall and Dennis DeConcini relied almost exclusively on executive branch records; with one exception, none who reviewed Castile's work raised his neglect of congressional collections.20 The small literature on government sources for American Indian history includes little treatment of congressional collections. Todd Kosmerick's important two-part article in the Western Historical Quarterly highlighted congressional collections at the University of Oklahoma's Carl Albert Center. It stands as the only study of congressional collections and American Indian history. Kosmerick himself acknowledged the same neglect with his observation that congressional collections are “not the first source most researchers would explore for Native American history.”21 Michael L. Tate's earlier survey of federal sources for American Indian history deals largely with published materials, concluding with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its regional centers, which almost exclusively collect materials from the executive branch and federal agencies. Tate's later essay on sources for the 1960s and 1970s again deals almost exclusively with published federal sources.22 Robert A. Staley's insightful description of the representation of Indigenous voices in congressional testimony is invaluable for beginning to understand the potential of congressional sources—but, again, it deals with published sources, specifically, the Serial Set, the central official published record of the United States Congress.23

Cox was optimistic about the potential for each of our political collections as resources for modern American Indian history, but nothing prepared us for the volume of material or the research opportunities he discovered. Here are the perspectives of tribes, parties to tribal affairs, stakeholders outside Indian Country, federal officials, elected and appointed state and local officials, interested citizens—writing, calling, speaking—and other members of the House and Senate engaged in policymaking and oversight of the executive branch and its agencies. Not only is there a wealth of regionally and tribally specific information, but also an abundance of materials on issues of relevance throughout Indian Country. It soon became evident to us that congressional collections bring together and concentrate in a single place a diversity of observers on specific issues. With the Morris Udall Papers, for example, it seems as if we found a dissertation topic in each related container.

Nor is there much reason to think what we found in these collections is unique to these representatives. Each man was deeply interested in federal Indian policy and tribal affairs, but they were hardly alone in representing tribes in their districts or states. As we write this article, there are 566 federally recognized tribes in thirty-five states. Seventy percent of U.S. senators have federally recognized tribes located within their respective states. Additionally, eleven states formally recognize tribes who are not federally recognized, with three states (Georgia, Maryland, and Vermont) having only state-recognized tribes.24 For the 113th Congress, the U.S. Census Bureau identified five states (Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) where single House members have federally recognized tribes within their respective states. Thirty-one more states with multiple congressional districts have at least one or more districts with a substantial Indigenous presence. When the Census Bureau includes reservations, home lands, state-designated tribal statistical areas (SDTSA), and tribal designated statistical areas (TDSA), some 135 congressional districts in thirty-six states have a substantial Indigenous presence.25

Moreover, the very nature of American government, tribal sovereignty, and the unique histories of the tribes make congressional collections a likely resource for research touching on Indigenous peoples and related issues. The wealth of materials we found in our collections reflects the role of Congress in the unique nation-to-nation relationship with the tribes; the plenary power over the tribes claimed by Congress; the representation of a state or districts with federally recognized tribes; the multiplication of representation in instances where reservations cross the boundaries of congressional districts and states; the likelihood of a congressional district including more than one tribe; and the political imperatives created by the tribes as voters, voting blocs, and, in some instances, substantial or pivotal portions of the electorate. Finally, the conflicting and shared interests of tribes, local governments, state governments, business and corporate entities, and myriad federal agencies, and the twentieth-century reality of the growth, not diminishment, of tribal lands generated conflict, cooperation, and endless work to secure limited means and assert tribal sovereignty. Congressional collections are catchments: various reports, letters, legislation, telegrams, petitions, research, and other related matter make their way into these collections. Parties call on Congress and individual representatives to address issues touching tribal peoples because of the role of Congress in regard to the tribes. Turning first, or repeatedly, to a congressional collection might provide the backbone for research, where additional research could flesh out an account of particular developments.

Assessment Project: Understanding Use of Congressional Collections

His review of Indigenous content in processed manuscript collections complete, Cox next undertook a holistic analysis of UA Special Collections. He found the existing approaches to special collections assessment in much of the literature largely considers collection management questions, including backlogs, accessibility, and preservation challenges.26 With a relatively small backlog, a substantial degree of accessibility, and modest conservation challenges, Cox was interested in something more and something new. He settled on a novel approach involving quantitative data to explore our users and use relying largely on data generated and retained in the course of our operations.27 Much of that operational data came from our integrated library system (ILS) and its circulation figures. This presented both opportunities and challenges to overcome if we sought to develop future data collection to support more nuanced understandings.

Those opportunities and challenges deserve further explanation. A subject classification table in our circulation system apportions Library of Congress call numbers and Dewey Decimal Classifications into very discrete sections. Our table has more than eight hundred discrete spans for print materials but only a handful of custom designations for manuscripts (e.g., MS for modern manuscripts and AZ for legacy manuscripts). Dummy accounts ascribe collection use to classes of users rather than individuals: specifically, community users, visiting researchers, University of Arizona undergraduates, University of Arizona graduate students, University of Arizona faculty and staff, and University of Arizona alumni. From the data, we can speak reliably about what in our collections interests each class of user. Those interests are distinct to each class and differ markedly from class to class. For print collections, we can describe class interests in great detail because of the granularity of the subject classification table. We cannot do the same for manuscript collections. While the same systems allow us to count the use of manuscript collections and specific containers within collections with precision, it does not allow us to profile the use of any one manuscript collection by user class.

Collectively, researchers not affiliated with our campus—a small number of community users and a larger number of visiting researchers—account for the majority of material requests in our reading room in recent years. Most of what visiting researchers request are manuscripts, and the papers of Stewart L. Udall and Morris K. Udall are our leading collections by use. Together, they account for one-quarter of all manuscript requests.28 The papers of Dennis DeConcini figure in our top fifteen most-used collections—no small accomplishment given that its enormous finding aid has only recently been placed online. The limitations of our existing system and the operational data it gathers precluded us from knowing precisely how much of the use of congressional collections is associated with each specific class of users. An audit of our paper registration forms that might yield this data proved utterly impractical: just sorting the more than two thousand forms from one twelve-month span into user classes required an entire semester of an undergraduate shelver working on this project when not otherwise occupied with user requests during the assigned ten to twelve hours each week. To understand who uses what manuscript collections, we would need to alter our circulation system and practices, something not easily done and a matter for the future.

Just as interesting is how scholars use the Udall collections. For Stewart Udall, 144 of 250 containers had been used (57%), while for Morris Udall, 242 of 775 containers had been used (31%). How might we understand user interests from these patterns? For example, what might these patterns suggest about the scope and nature of any prospective digitization? In a modest experiment, we began to explore sectioning the text of the digital Morris Udall finding aid into descriptions of containers used and not used, weighting the text of each used container accordingly, and creating and comparing three associated word clouds: one cloud for used containers, another for unused containers, and a baseline cloud of content across all containers. The results suggested distinct subjects of interest and subjects of neglect, and further development of this mode of analysis may yield insights. Our congressional collections are heavily used, and we have reason to believe most of the use derives from visiting researchers. How might we better meet their needs with these collections? What are the implications of past use for future marketing of congressional collections? And what might past use tell us about where we ought to concentrate our processing efforts?

Ultimately, analysis of these facets of available operational and other data began to exercise a profound influence on our perspective and strategic planning. We realized most every element of our work—from the acquisition, accession, and processing to reference, instruction, and advocacy—might be informed and changed by a data-informed understanding of how our collections are used and the nature of our users. This new perspective carries beyond our congressional collections, of course, but it also leads to new perspectives on those collections. We were not entirely sure who was using these collections, but had begun to explore what initiatives might answer that and related questions.

To date, much discussion of congressional collections has addressed the challenges of processing, management, and outreach. While these efforts have been valuable, they tread a familiar path. By chance, our experiences led us to look anew at the nature of political collections, what they capture, and how their contents accrue. In exploring content related to tribal peoples, it became apparent that the size and scope of information gathered in such collections and the distinct role of congressional offices inform an unremarked research potential. Much of what we encountered is a function of the nature of federal politics and the modern American political experience. The diffuse nature of the American polity and political process presents a challenge for trying to study and explore these experiences. Where does one look for all of these interests, jurisdictions, and perspectives? The answer, it seems, might be congressional collections, where American politics, joined with modern recordkeeping and political practice, sees the accumulation of vast, diverse, and potentially highly accessible sources. Congressional collections are a nexus, a node, a crossroads where parties meet in the pushing and hauling of modern American politics. Congressional collections serve researchers as a scaffold: a platform from which to work on the construction of our understanding of events; a first stop and point of return for examination of political issues and affairs.

We no longer question interest in congressional collections at the University of Arizona. We also no longer need to assert their value but can offer evidence of their value. We know, for the first time, that our congressional collections are among our most-used and can demonstrate this empirically. Clearly, researchers value these collections, and we have reason to believe that use largely derives from visiting researchers. We also have the basis for inviting others with congressional collections to undertake their own analyses of use, use patterns, and user constituencies to compare with ours. We took a step toward understanding the use of our collections empirically and letting such use inform—not guide, not dictate—processing, reprocessing, and accessibility, as well as marketing and outreach. Our resources—time, money, and energy—might be used more rationally. All of the information that we acquired from these projects will be helpful for creating and justifying funding for collections. We are already using this data for donor development and reporting to the Udall Foundation a significant number of researchers visiting the Udall materials. The foundation allows us to attribute the funds that it provides to help increase discoverability of the Udall collections locally and nationally. The implications for grant funding and fundraising for future collections are also clear.

Practically speaking, our insights about the nature of materials touching on Indigenous issues in congressional collections are salient to tribal people and scholarly interest in Indigenous affairs. They afford a novel opportunity to connect and communicate with tribes and establish positive working relationships. Likewise, our newfound knowledge that many of our users are not local should encourage on-site public programming to be distributed globally through online audio and video. Understanding that the Stewart Udall and Morris Udall Papers are our most used collections and likely by researchers who are not local to the southern Arizona area demonstrates the need to put more effort into assisting visiting researchers to view these collections. The Udall Foundation previously funded research trips to the University of Arizona Special Collections, but funding reductions resulted in this program being cut. New data suggest these allocations ought to be revisited and may drive external fund-raising. Many parts of the Stewart and Morris Udall Papers have been digitized. Although it is cost prohibitive to digitize collections in their entirety, identification of containers and associated topics that receive the most attention and analysis of the materials already digitized should direct and focus future digitization efforts. Currently, political collections are one of many collecting areas of the UA's Special Collections.29 Our data might be used to promote them and entice more financial donations and, if warranted, an enlargement of the program that could one day create an independent unit or center separate from Special Collections with its own funding and programming, such as the South Carolina Political Collections at the University of South Carolina Libraries or the Modern Political Archives at the University of Mississippi Libraries.30

Importantly, understanding how scholars use our collections through data will help us better advocate for our archives. SAA president Dennis Meissner has called for stories and arguments for collections based on “a bedrock of data.” Meissner admitted the difficulty of gathering the data, but he argued it is imperative to demonstrate the value of collections.31 Data is the language of today's decision-making, he observed. To be better stewards and advocates, we must make our points with it. We anticipate using the data that we gained from these projects to promote them to our supervisors, funders, and potential donors, and to educate them on the use and strengths of congressional collections.

The late Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O'Neill is most closely associated with the long-standing observation that all politics is local.32 It might be better to say that American politics has many dimensions that may come together nowhere more consistently and comprehensively than in modern congressional collections. One of the insights of recent scholarship on American political history has been the significance not only of the evolution of the state but also how the state is comprised of a multiplicity of jurisdictions and overlapping public and private spheres.33 As we learned from an unrelated search for Indigenous content, congressional collections gather together materials illustrative of the conjunction of the local, the state, the national, and as we saw, the tribal. There is little reason to think this phenomenon is associated only with tribal affairs and issues, but merely acute in such instances. A fresh look at congressional collections by institutions that house them by the archivists who care for them may reveal that the nature of American politics disposes such political papers to consolidate a multiplicity of voices and ideas on issues of the day from different vantages and public and private spheres.

Similarly, assumptions about the neglect of congressional collections, the reason for so many lamentations about the future of political papers, might be misplaced. Our data have changed our perspective on political collections and cast their future at our repository in a different light. A generalized anxiety has given way to optimism grounded in facts: our congressional collections are used, used extensively, and deserve creative, thoughtful, and empirically grounded attention for their further promotion, enhancement of access, and profile via outreach to potential users. It is time for archivists with political collections to place themselves on a new footing, one firmly grounded in empirical evidence, where new directions arise from a much wider-ranging conception of the implications of American political life for the nature and utility of these collections. Only when we have glimpsed the possibilities, which come to us through collaboration, will we be able to share those new prospects and potential with others and do away with tired and untrue assumptions. Each institution's experience is likely to differ, of course, but much can be learned from a concerted effort to explore users and use through operational data and have those insights inform our decision-making. Sharing those ideas and data with each other, especially as they speak to the use of congressional or political collections, offers the prospect of gaining insights through discerning patterns large and small, comparing and contrasting experiences, and building a comprehensive account of the state of political collections. There is no reason to wait to do this.

Maurita Baldock is a supervisory archivist in the Preparation Section of the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. She previously was an assistant librarian and archivist at the University of Arizona Libraries and served as an archivist and then curator of manuscripts at the New-York Historical Society. She holds an MSLIS from the Pratt Institute and an MA in history with a certificate in archival management and historical editing from New York University. She was the recipient of the 2014 Congressional Papers Roundtable Pre-Conference Scholarship and is currently serving as chair of the J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award Subcommittee.

Maurita Baldock is a supervisory archivist in the Preparation Section of the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. She previously was an assistant librarian and archivist at the University of Arizona Libraries and served as an archivist and then curator of manuscripts at the New-York Historical Society. She holds an MSLIS from the Pratt Institute and an MA in history with a certificate in archival management and historical editing from New York University. She was the recipient of the 2014 Congressional Papers Roundtable Pre-Conference Scholarship and is currently serving as chair of the J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award Subcommittee.

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J. Wendel Cox is a research and instruction librarian at Dartmouth College. A librarian and a historian, he earned a PhD in American history from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked at the University of Kentucky, the Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy Department, and the University of Arizona Libraries. His current research projects include mid-twentieth-century dog control in Denver, assessment in special collections, and a monograph on cougars (Puma concolor) in North American history.

J. Wendel Cox is a research and instruction librarian at Dartmouth College. A librarian and a historian, he earned a PhD in American history from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked at the University of Kentucky, the Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy Department, and the University of Arizona Libraries. His current research projects include mid-twentieth-century dog control in Denver, assessment in special collections, and a monograph on cougars (Puma concolor) in North American history.

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1 “About Us,” Udall Foundation,

2 Nancy Beck Young, “Trends in Scholarship in Congress: A Historian's View,” in An American Political Archives Reader, ed. Karen Dawley Paul, Glenn R. Gray, and L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2009), 381.

3 Paul Milazzo, “Congressional Archives and Policy History,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 391.

4 Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q. Kelly, “Dataheads: What Archivists Need to Know about Political Scientists,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 402–7.

5 Julian Zelizer, “Congress Is Back: Scholars Study Its History to Understand Its Problems,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 17, 2013,

6 The three articles include: Lydia Lucas, “Managing Congressional Papers: A Repository View,” The American Archivist 41, no. 3, (1978): 275–80; Eleanor McKay, “Random Sampling Techniques: A Method of Reducing Large, Homogeneous Series in Congressional Papers,” The American Archivist 41, no. 3, (1978): 281–89; Richard Baker, “Managing Congressional Papers: A View of the Senate,” The American Archivist 41, no. 3, (1978): 291–96.

7 Frank Mackaman, Congressional Papers Project Report (Washington, D.C.: National Historical Publications and Records Commission, 1986).

8 Karen Dawley Paul, Records Management Handbook for United States Senators and Their Archival Repositories (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Senate, 2006); Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Records Management Manual for Members of the U.S. House of Representatives (Washington, D.C.: The Office, 2006).

9 Faye Phillips, Congressional Papers Management (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 1996); Cynthia Pease Miller, Managing Congressional Collections (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2008).

10 Karen Dawley Paul, Glenn R. Gray, and L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, eds., An American Political Archives Reader (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2009).

11 Linda A. Whitaker, “The Making of a Manual: Grass Roots Advocacy for Managing Congressional Papers,”

12 Pease Miller, Managing Congressional Collections, 5.

13 Mark A. Greene, “Appraisal of Congressional Records at the Minnesota Historical Society: A Case Study,” Archival Issues 19, no. 1 (1994): 31–43.

14 Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner, “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing,” The American Archivist 68, no. 2, (2005): 208–63.

15 Larry Weimer, “An Embarrassment of Riches: Access and the Politics of Processing Congressional Collections,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 317–46.

16 The five essays are included in the book as “Part VI: Using Political Collections.” They include Nancy Beck Young, “Trends in Scholarship on Congress: A Historian's View,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 381–90; Paul Milazzo, “Congressional Archives and Policy History,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 391–400; Scott Frisch and Sean Q. Kelly, “Dataheads: What Archivists Need to Know About Politicial Scientists,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 401–18; Frank Mackaman, “Congressional Collections: Where the Mundane Becomes Compelling,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 419–28; Douglas B. Harris, “Recovering History and Discovering Data in the Archives: An Alternative Mode of Research for Congress Scholars,” in An American Political Archives Reader, 429–40.

17 “Protocols for Native American Archival Materials,” Northern Arizona University,

18 For a description of this process, its context, and how it leads to a broader, more inclusive and collaborative institution of PNAAM in academic archives, see Verónica Reyes-Escudero and J. Wendel Cox, “Survey, Understanding, and Ethical Stewardship of Indigenous Collections: A Case Study,” Collections Management, 42, nos. 3–4 (2017): 130–38.

19 Stewart and Morris Udall represented Arizona's 2nd congressional district. The district's changing boundaries routinely altered—or even eliminated—representation of wholes or parts of Arizona's federally recognized tribes. As of the 113th Congress, six of Arizona's nine congressional districts encompass wholes or parts of the reservations of Arizona's twenty-two federally recognized tribes. Congressional districts and reservations are not coterminous. Consequently, the number of tribes within the bounds of each district varies, and some tribes are represented by more than one representative. The 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th congressional districts encompass, respectively, twelve, three, nine, two, two, and two reservations. The 2nd congressional district currently does not include any federally recognized tribe. See “Arizona American Indian Areas by Congressional District,”

20 Castile's two works are To Show Heart: Native American Self-Determination and Federal Indian Policy, 1960–1975 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998) and Taking Charge: Native American Self-Determination and Federal Indian Policy, 1975–1993 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2006). Donald L. Fixico's review of George P. Castile's To Show Heart: Native American Self-Determination and Federal Indian Policy, 1960–1975, The Journal of American History 86, no. 4 (2000): 1882, laments Castile's neglect of congressional collections. Contrast Fixico's review with Christopher K. Riggs's in Montana: The Magazine of Western History 52, no. 2 (2002): 73–75; and in Pacific Historical Review 70, no. 1 (2001): 147; Raymond Wilson's in Kansas History 23, no. 4 (2000): 265; Michelle LeBeau's in “Reviews,” American Indian Culture & Research Journal 24, no. 1 (2000): 259; Larry Burt's in Great Plains Quarterly 20, no. 1 (2000): 75; W. Ben Secunda's in Chronicles Of Oklahoma 77, no. 4 (1999): 478–79; Rolland Dewing's in Nebraska History 80, no. 1 (1999): 41; Karl Eschbach, “The Resurgent Indian,” American Studies 39, no. 3 (1998): 175–82.

21 Todd Kosmerick, “Exploring New Territory: The History of Native Americans as Revealed through Congressional Papers at the Carl Albert Center[;] Part I,” Western Historical Quarterly 30, no. 2 (1999): 203–11, quote on 203. See also Kosmerick, “Exploring New Territory: The History of Native Americans as Revealed through Congressional Papers at the Carl Albert Center[;] Part II,” Western Historical Quarterly 30, no. 4 (1999): 499–508.

22 “Studying the American Indian through Government Documents and the National Archives,” Government Publications Review 5, no. 3 (1978): 285–94, and “Red Power: Government Publications and the Rising Indian Activism of the 1970s,” Government Publications Review 8A (1981): 499–518.

23 “Congressional Hearings: Neglected Sources of Information on American Indians,” Government Information Quarterly 25 (2008): 520–40.

24 National Conference of State Legislators, “Federal and State Recognized Tribes, National Conference of State Legislatures,”

25 U.S. Census Bureau, American Indian Areas by Congressional District [113th Congress], “Congressional Districts Relationship Files (State-based),” The thirty-sixth state, Hawaii, appears as a function of including Indigenous Hawaiian homelands.

26 The scope of most archival assessment practice is described in Martha O'Hara Conway and Merrilee Proffitt, “The Practice, Power, and Promise of Archival Collections Assessment,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage 13, no. 2 (2012): 101–4.

27 The inspiration for this direction came from Joyce Chapman and Elizabeth Yakel, “Data-Driven Management and Interoperable Metrics for Special Collections and Archives User Services,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage 13, no. 2 (2012): 129–51. The failure of special collections to explore users and use is demonstrated by Hea Lim Rhee, “Reflections on Archival User Studies,” Reference & User Services Quarterly 54, no. 4 (2015): 29–42.

28 Other leading manuscript collections include the American Vaudeville Museum; the papers of author and environmentalist Edward Abbey; A. E. Douglass, the father of dendrochronology; and the papers of Edward Twitchell Hall, anthropologist and correspondent of Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Mead, Erich Fromm, and others. Researchers used approximately 40 percent of manuscript collections over a thirty-six-month span from 2012 to 2015. The top-ten manuscript collections represented just short of two-thirds of manuscript use in our reading room (62%) over the same period.

29 Other collecting areas include Arizona and the Southwest, Borderlands, History of Science, Literature, Performing Arts, and the University of Arizona materials.

30 “University Libraries–South Carolina Political Collections,” University of South Carolina,; “Modern Political Archives: Introduction,” The University of Mississippi Libraries,

31 “Collecting Data that Demonstrate Value,” Archival Outlook (January/February 2016): 2.

32 Tip O'Neill with Gary Hymel, All Politics Is Local, and Other Rules of the Game (New York: Times Books, 1994).

33 For a stunning insight into the complexity of American politics through unexpected subjects, see, for example, Jessica Wang, “Dogs and the Making of the American State: Voluntary Association, State Power, and the Politics of Animal Control, 1850–1920,” Journal of American History 98, no. 4 (2012): 998–1024.