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McConnell archives coming to Ekstrom Library

The Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao Archives, to be housed in renovated space in Ekstrom Library, includes hundreds of boxes of papers, photos and other materials expected to offer insight into McConnell’s career and the workings of American government. The collection also will house the papers of Elaine Chao, labor secretary under former President George W. Bush and wife of Sen. McConnell. The cost is being paid for with private donations.

The University of Louisville will be home to the archives of alumnus and long-time U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

McConnellSwearing In

McConnell's initial swearing in.

The Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao Archives, to be housed in renovated space in Ekstrom Library, includes hundreds of boxes of papers, photos and other materials expected to offer insight into McConnell’s career and the workings of American government. The collection also will house the papers of Elaine Chao, labor secretary under former President George W. Bush and wife of Sen. McConnell. The cost is being paid for with private donations.

UofL President James Ramsey announced the archives in January during a program to honor McConnell as the longest serving U.S. senator in Kentucky’s history. That distinction was previously held by Wendell H. Ford, who served Kentucky in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until his retirement in 1999.

McConnell began serving in the Senate in 1984 and recently began his fifth term. He was unanimously elected Senate Republican leader of Congress on Nov. 18 and is only the second Kentuckian to lead his party in the Senate. The first, Alben Barkley, led the Democrats from 1937 to 1949.

McConnell and Bono

With Bono

McConnell is senior member of the Senate’s appropriations, agriculture and rules committees.

McConnell chose UofL for his archives because he "felt comfortable housing them at his hometown university and one of his alma maters," spokesman Robert Steurer says.

McConnel with kids

In El Salvador, 1989

McConnell, who was student body president as an undergraduate, graduated from UofL in 1964 with a degree in political science. In 1991, he established the McConnell Center at UofL, a nonpartisan academic program that prepares students to become future leaders.

UofL already has begun renovation of a 7,000-square-foot area on the lower level of Ekstrom Library that will include a climate-controlled archives room, a reading and seminar room and exhibits and interactive displays designed to help people better understand civic issues.

"Students, scholars and the general public will be able to use the archives to learn more about U.S. government and the making of public policy," says McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg.

Young McConnell at UofL

Senior year at UofL, 1964

The papers will take "years to process" since McConnell is still serving on the Senate, Gregg adds. McConnell’s Senate papers will remain sealed until he retires as a senator.;

Between 1998 and 2008, McConnell secured more than $320 million for research and infrastructure projects at Kentucky universities, including more than $150 million for UofL.

"The senator has long made strengthening Kentucky’s research universities a top priority," Ramsey says. "Higher education in Kentucky simply would not be where it is today without his outstanding vision and support."

Kentucky’s 10 Longest Serving U.S. Senators

  1. Mitch McConnell, 24 years and counting (January 1985-current)
  2. Wendell H. Ford, 24 years (January 1975-January 1999)
  3. Alben Barkley, 23 years (March 1927-January 1949; January 1955-April 1956)
  4. John Sherman Cooper, 20 years (November 1946-January 1949; November 1952-January 1955; November 1956- January 1973)
  5. John J. Crittenden, 20 years (March 1817-March 1819; March 1835-March 1841; March 1842-June 1848; March 1855-March 1861
  6. Joseph C.S. Blackburn, 18 years (March 1885-March 1897; March 1901-March 1907)
  7. Henry Clay, 15 years (November 1806-March 1807; January 1810-March 1811; March 1831-March 1842; March 1849-June 1852)
  8. James B. Beck, 14 years (March 1876-May 1890)
  9. John Brown, 12 years (June 1792-March 1805)
  10. Walter Huddleston, 12 years (January 1973-January 1985)
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