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Politics and Government: Resources

Broadside poem lamenting the death Of Congressman Jonathan Cilley (Portland, Me., 1838)
Broadside poem lamenting the death of Congressman Jonathan Cilley (Portland, Me., 1838)

Please note when the library recently updated our online catalogs, the links in our subject guides broke. We are working actively to fix this problem. In the meantime, you can search for materials referenced by consulting the library catalog and our catalog of archives and manuscript materials.

Many of Bowdoin’s alumni have entered government service and the political arena, and, in acquiring their personal papers, Special Collections & Archives has amassed a significant quantity of research material for the study of American politics and government. These resources date from the late 18th to the early 21st centuries, documenting political engagement in Maine, nationally, and internationally.

This guide details those manuscript collections with substantial political components, as well as several collections of clippings, pamphlets, and other printed materials. The outline is organized by governmental branch, with cross-references where necessary. Collections too general to be so classified, involving the political process rather than an elected office or concerning specific political issues or events, are identified separately.

Principal among the collections listed in this guide are the papers of Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Representative Thomas H. Allen, Senator Ralph Owen Brewster, Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed, and Senator William Pitt Fessenden, all distinguished alumni of Bowdoin College.

Some collections or items, such as the Henry Clay Frick Autograph Albums (one on Lincoln; the other of Presidential autographs) or the Melville Weston Fuller diaries (1879, 1880 and 1882), may involve politicians or government officials but, since they do not contain much political material, they are not included here.

Although a few archives collections are politically related enough to be of general interest, most of those are of a narrow scope (for example those records concerning the debates in the Massachusetts General Court on founding the College, dealing with the land grants received by the College in its early years, or involving issues of interest to past Bowdoin presidents). Because they are so specialized, they are not included here.