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Politics and Government: Resources


The listing below describes collection containing political material relating to individuals who served as state or federal legislators.

Links on the list take two forms: highlighted entries not accompanied by descriptive text lead to an entry elsewhere within the Politics and Government Guide; highlighted collection titles accompanied by descriptive text lead to a guide that details the contents of those collections.

[Click here for a list of Bowdoin alumni who have served in the federal government.]

Senators -- United States

M16 - James Ware Bradbury Papers, 1817-1890. 2 linear feet.

Bradbury (1802-1901, Bowdoin 1825) practiced law in Augusta, Maine (1830-1876), edited the Maine Patriot (1830-1831) and was Kennebec county's prosecuting attorney (1834-1838). He served in the U.S. Senate from 1847 to 1853, was a member of the judiciary committee throughout his tenure, and was chair of a select committee on French spoliations (1852).

Correspondence (1836-1890) makes up the bulk of the collection, which also contains accounts and other financial records (1854-1891); documents, drafts and other material relating to his law firm's business (1831-1885); documents, broadsides, notes and other personal records (1817-1890); and newsclippings.

M59 - Fessenden Papers, 1786-1982 (bulk 1823-1869). 7 linear feet.

The collection focuses on the family and professional life of William Pitt Fessenden (1806-1869), senator from Maine and Lincoln's secretary of the Treasury from July 1864 to March 1865. Fessenden (Bowdoin 1823) was a lawyer in Bridgton, Bangor and Portland, Maine; a Maine legislator (1832, 1840, 1845-1846, 1853-1854), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1841-1843); and a senator from Maine (1854-1864, 1865-1869). As an early member of the Republican Party, he opposed slavery. In the Senate he served as chair of the Finance Committee and, as a member of the Reconstruction Committee, voted against the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Several other family members are also represented in the collection.

The papers contain correspondence, professional and personal records, publications, articles, addresses, reports, lectures, memoirs, a diary, documents, receipts, accounts, clippings, photographs, genealogies, and biographical material related to the Fessenden family.

M148 - Franklin Pierce Collection, 1823-1869.

1.3.3 - Alumni scrapbooks, 1825-1930.

Includes William Pierce Frye.

M68 - William Pierce Frye Papers, 1871-1913 (bulk 1875-95).

M200 - Ralph Owen Brewster Papers, 1909-1962. 150 linear feet.

Ralph Owen Brewster (1888-1961, Bowdoin 1909) received an L.L.B. from Harvard in 1913. A partner in the Portland, Maine, law firm of Chapman and Brewster (1914-1925), he was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1916, resigned in 1917 to enter the U.S. Army, and rose to the rank of captain in 1918. Brewster returned to Maine after the armistice, was reelected to the House, and in 1922 entered the state Senate. He was twice elected governor (1924 and 1926) and was twice defeated for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Brewster subsequently moved from Portland to Dexter, Maine, to run for the Third District Congressional seat which he lost in 1932, but won in 1934, serving three terms in the House, working on legislation to provide old-age pensions and opposing the New Deal. He moved to the Senate (1941-1952), and sat on the Special Senate Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (the Truman Committee), and the Joint Committee to Investigate the Pearl Harbor Attack. Defeated in the 1952 primary, he retired but maintained an active interest in conservative organizations.

The records are largely office files concerning contemporary issues, events and local and national political and legislative initiatives; and general office correspondence spanning the years 1923-1961. Other categories of material include published and unpublished reports and records of legislative initiatives; nomination papers and campaign files from numerous primary and election campaigns; newspaper clippings from all phases of his career; and photographs of which most are official and concern his senatorial career.

M24 - Harold Hitz Burton Papers, 1927-1965.

M202 - George J. Mitchell Papers, 1950 - (bulk 1974-1994). 1100 linear feet.

George J. Mitchell (1933- , Bowdoin 1954) was an officer in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps until 1956. In 1960 he earned a law degree from Georgetown University. He was executive assistant to Senator Edmund Muskie (1962-1965), then returned to private practice, though remaining active in state Democratic politics. While filling a 1977 appointment as U.S. District Court judge, Mitchell took over the remainder of Muskie's Senate term when the latter became Secretary of State under President Carter (1980). His Senate career included membership on the Iran-Contra investigative committee and a term as Senate Majority Leader (1989-1995). He served a pivotal role in the Northern Ireland peace process (1995-1998), and, at the request of President Bill Clinton and Israeli and Palestinian leaders, chaired an international group organized to address the escalating violence in the Middle East (2000-2001).

The collection, the largest in the Library, documents Mitchell's professional and political career, including his 1974 gubernatorial campaign; his career as senator from Maine; his six years of service to the nation as Senate majority leader; and his work in Northern Ireland. The material consists of correspondence, memoranda, reports, financial records, press materials, and other printed matter as well as memorabilia. While the bulk of the collection is paper, there are also audio cassette tapes, video tapes, microfilm, computer tapes, photographs, posters, and other graphic arts materials. Some material in this collection is restricted; consult the collection's finding aid for more information.

Members of the House -- United States

M154 - Thomas Brackett Reed Collection, 1869-1978 (bulk 1869-1902). 0.5 linear feet, 62 microfiche.

Thomas Brackett Reed (1839-1902, Bowdoin 1860) was elected to the Maine House in 1867 and 1868, the Maine Senate in 1869, and was attorney general from 1870 through 1872. After four years in private practice, Reed entered Congress, serving from 1877 to 1898. He was a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Rules, the Ways and Means Committee and several special committees. He served as speaker of the house from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899. A presidential candidate in 1896, Reed lost the Republican nomination to William McKinley. He left Congress in 1899 and re-entered private practice in New York City.

The collection consists of correspondence, essays, manuscripts, articles and clippings about Reed and his policies; and microfiche of speeches, diaries, manuscripts and letters from an extensive private collection of Reed material.

M68 - William Pierce Frye Papers, 1871-1913 (bulk 1875-1895). 0.5 linear feet.

A lawyer and legislator, Frye (1830-1911, Bowdoin 1850) was active and influential in state and national Republican Party politics. Frye served in the Maine House of Representatives (1861-1862 and 1867), as mayor of Lewiston (1866-1867), as Maine attorney general (1867-1869), and in the U.S. Congress, in both the House (1871-1881) and the Senate (1881-1911). He served on the House Ways and Means Committee and, in the Senate, chaired the Committee on Commerce.

Frye's speeches, political and commemorative from 1875 to 1895, make up the bulk of the collection, which also contains some letters, clippings, notes, etc.

M200 - Ralph Owen Brewster Papers, 1909-1962.

M80 - Robert Hale Collection, 1906-1976 (bulk 1942-1971). 8.5 linear feet.

Robert Hale (1889-1976, Bowdoin 1910) was an attorney in Boston (1914-1916), Portland, Maine (1917-1942), and Washington, D.C. (1959-1975). Hale was a member of the Maine Legislature from 1923-1930, serving as speaker in 1929; and was the Maine representative in the U.S. House of Representatives (1943-1959). While in the House, he was a member of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce and the Merchant Marine Committee. Eisenhower appointed Hale to the United States-Switzerland Commission on Conciliation (1959).

The collection contains letters (1938-1969), diaries, speeches, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, and case records (1922-1960), as well as voting records from the U.S. House of Representatives (1943-1944 to 1957-1958).

M296 - Thomas Hodge Allen Papers , 1997-2009.

Legislators -- Maine

M154 - Thomas Brackett Reed Collection, 1869-1978 (bulk 1869-1902).