Memphis Commercial Appeal: Lamar, Honey Alexander donate papers to Vanderbilt

Posted on August 23, 2011

NASHVILLE -- U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey, have donated their papers to Vanderbilt University, which next month will open a public exhibit of key events in the life of the former governor, university president and two-time presidential candidate.

While the Tennessee State Library & Archives houses the official state papers from his two terms as governor, Alexander has given Vanderbilt his personal papers and memorabilia from 1955 to 2002, starting with his election as governor of Boys State as a high school student through his election to the Senate in 2002.

The collection includes campaign scrapbooks and material, correspondence, video, photographs and the trombone he played nights at a Bourbon Street club while working as a law clerk for a federal judge in New Orleans.

An extensive exhibition of the collection runs from Sept. 17 to Aug. 12, 2012, in Vanderbilt's newly renovated Central Library. It features rare video, transcripts and correspondence surrounding Alexander's early swearing-in as governor three days before his inauguration in 1979, at the urging of state and federal officials who said then-governor Ray Blanton was about to release state inmates critical to a federal clemency-for-cash investigation.

"Lamar Alexander's remarkable career will clearly be seen in the lens of history as one of the most important to Tennessee and the nation in recent times," Vanderbilt chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said Monday.

"Vanderbilt is honored to serve as home to these archives of one of our most accomplished graduates."

Alexander chose his alma mater for the archives -- he is a 1962 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vanderbilt -- over the University of Tennessee, where Alexander served as university president from 1988 to 1991 and where most Tennessee political figures have placed their papers, including former governors Frank Clement, Buford Ellington, Winfield Dunn, Don Sundquist and Alexander's political mentor, former U.S. senator Howard H. Baker Jr.

"Honey and I felt that the archives should reflect the voices of the countless Tennesseans who have worked with us to raise educational standards, attract industry and build confidence among the state's residents," Alexander said in a statement issued through Vanderbilt.