Last week, from May 8 to 10, two members of our archival team journeyed to Washington, DC to attend the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress’ (ACSC) annual meeting. The topic for this year was ‘Representative Government and Political Polarization’ which I’m sure we can all agree is very important and seems to become ever more of an issue with each election season.
ACSC’s mission statement is:
The Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) supports a wide range of programs designed to inform and educate students, scholars, policy-makers, and members of the general public on the history of Congress, legislative process, and current issues facing Congress.
The ACSC encourages the preservation of material that documents the work of Congress, including the papers of representatives and senators, and supports programs that make those materials available for educational and research use.
This annual meeting contained a number of presentations and panels dealing with education and outreach, and how congressional collections (such as Senator Stevens’ papers) can be used to educate the public and engage them in civil discourse about politics and the American legislative process.
It is one of the Foundation’s goals to encourage scholarship and engagement with Senator Stevens’ papers upon their complete processing and opening to the public. Sen. Stevens was involved with a large number of issues important to both our state and the nation. Since he served in the US Senate for forty years (1968-2009), Sen. Stevens’ papers contain a great deal of information about the political processes and issues for these decades, such as: the Vietnam War; Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conversation and Management Act; Title IX; and many, many more.
Our archival team was very excited to learn more about education and outreach opportunities, and it was especially interesting to hear about bipartisanship and working across the political divide. Senator Stevens was very keen on bipartisan action as he knew that was one of the most successful ways to get legislation passed, and that compromise was the key to achieving our state’s and the country’s goals. For example, Sen. Stevens and longtime Hawaiian Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye were close friends and worked together to pass numerous bills dealing with important issues, such as Native Alaskan and Hawaiian education support; and reparation for Native Aleutian and Japanese-American internments during the years of World War II.
The trip to Washington, DC also included a tour of the Capitol building by previous Sen. Stevens’ archivist Will Arthur, and a tour of Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan’s office by his Chief of Staff (and previous Stevens’ staffer) Larry Burton. These two were especially helpful and generous with their time and knowledge during our visit to DC, and it was greatly appreciated.
Overall, the ACSC annual meeting was extremely valuable to the archival team as it provided opportunities for networking and communicating about congressional archive issues with fellow congressional paper archivists, as well as creating ideas for future education and outreach programs utilizing Sen. Stevens’ extensive archival collection. We’re proud to be a member of ACSC and look forward to future work with this community.
Post by: Jolene Kennah – Archivist and Outreach Coordinator