A semitrailer carrying the legacy papers of former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus arrived at the University of Montana on Monday, bolstering the school’s already robust legislative collection.
Crews spent Monday transferring 21 pallets containing more than 900 boxes of Baucus’ papers to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, where the files will be sorted, archived and eventually made available for research.
“The next step is to take these 900-plus boxes and organize them in a way that makes them accessible for future research,” said Donna McCrea, head of the library’s archives and special collections. “It’s going to be a multiyear process.”
The files include photos, correspondence from constituents, votes, speeches, audio and video recordings, and 1 terabyte of electronic data.
Baucus, who now serves as the U.S. ambassador to China, donated what remained of his campaign funds – $850,000 – to the university to help pay for the archiving process.
“It’s an expensive process given the sheer size of the collection and the various formats,” McCrea said. “There’s a real challenge in managing them into the future in a way that makes them accessible, where you can trust, 20 years from now, they’ll look like they do today.”
When the Baucus papers are added to the library’s collection, its records will span more than a century of U.S. congressional history, including that of Republican Sen. Joseph M. Dixon in 1907.
The collection also includes the papers of Sen. James Murray, a Democrat who held the seat from 1934 to 1961. Murray served alongside Mike Mansfield, a UM graduate and Democrat who held seats in both the House and Senate from 1943 to 1977.
After retiring from the Senate, Mansfield was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, a post he held until 1988. Baucus was appointed this year by President Barack Obama as ambassador to China.
“This really adds to our political papers collection,” McCrea said. “I’m really looking forward to discovering how his staff organized the materials.”
At a glance, McCrea said the files appear to be arranged by subject, including energy, tax policy and agriculture. Baucus served two terms as Montana’s Western District congressman, then in the Senate from 1978 until his appointment as ambassador this year.
“The interest will come in his legislative efforts on behalf of Montana and the nation,” McCrea said. “We’re hoping to get his ambassador files as well someday.”