How do I find the personal papers of my former Senator or Representative?

 

Good question! Personal paper collections actually aren’t held by the National Archives -- although we’re happy to help you find them.

 

Unlike the official records of congressional committees, which are held by the Center for Legislative Archives, personal papers remain the member’s property. Many members choose to donate their personal papers to an archival repository, often in a home state.

 

Personal paper collections have records of a member’s work while in office and can include campaign files, constituent correspondence, invitations, memos, briefing books, appointment calendars, speeches, district files, voting records, press releases etc. Collections can also include papers from members' pre- and post-congressional careers.

 

Since these collections are geographically dispersed around the country, the best way to locate them is through the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Each entry will include a short biography, information on personal paper collections, and a bibliography.

 

The Center for Legislative Archives also maintains a congressional collection index. The index is arranged by state, and then by the name of the holding institution or organization, followed by the name of the member of Congress.

 

There is also the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, a group of repositories that promote the preservation and use of congressional personal papers and research materials. Many member institutions house collections of members papers and other related research collections.

 

For more background, the Office of History, Art & Archives of the House of Representatives has written a post on the personal papers of members of Congress. Likewise, you can read more about Senators' papers and archives from the Senate Historical Office.