Senator Tower's career spanned a fascinating and often troubled time in our nation's history, and his papers mirror the period and provide insight into the events of the 1960s through the 1980s. The Vietnam War, civil rights, busing, the rise of the Republican Party in Texas and the South, Watergate, the energy crisis of the 1970s, women's issues, abortion, environmental concerns, the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration, labor, defense, deregulation in the 1980s - the papers are a microcosm of the era from a national and a Texas perspective and occasionally from an international point of view.
The collection, which is now approximately 800 linear feet, consists primarily of materials that Senator Tower accumulated during his 24 years in the Senate, although there are some files that pre-date and post-date his Senate career. The majority of the files are from Washington D.C., but there are also files, mostly casework, from his state offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and Lubbock. The collection contains papers and manuscripts, printed materials, videotapes, audiocassettes, films, photographs, memorabilia and artifacts, microfilm, and a few electronic records. The 21 series in which the papers are arranged document Senator Tower's activities and accomplishments: legislation he sponsored or co-sponsored, his voting record, correspondence, casework, campaigns, trips, political activities, committee work, speeches, floor statements, newsletters, radio and television broadcasts and more. During his time in office, Senator Tower served many years on the Armed Services Committee, the Joint Committee on Defense Production, and the Banking and Currency Committee (later called the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee).
Although committee records remain in Washington, D.C., as part of the permanent record of Congress, Senator Tower retained copies of some material related to these committees, particularly the Banking, Armed Services and Senate Republican Policy committees. The papers also reveal the work of the Senator's staff. In addition to a series, Aides, and a sub-series, Legislation: Aides, almost all series contain evidence of the work of Tower's staff as they wrote speeches, planned campaigns, handled constituent correspondence and case work, and assembled information that the senator needed to make informed decisions.
After Senator Tower's untimely death in 1991, his family donated the remainder of his papers, most of which concern his life before and after his years in the Senate. The university also holds collections from John Knaggs, a writer and political columnist and consultant, and J. French Hill, one of Senator Tower's aides. In addition, there are several small accessions of scrapbooks, campaign memorabilia, and miscellaneous items donated by friends, relatives and supporters.
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