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Edmund S. Muskie papers

 Collection
Identifier: MC105

Scope and Content

(NOTE TO RESEARCHERS: For links to individual series of records, see Arrangement note under the "Additional description" link below.)

The Edmund S. Muskie papers include personal papers, office files, audiovisual materials, photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia documenting his youth, college years, family life, military service, political service and activities after retirement from the federal government.

This is one of the largest and most complete collections documenting the life and career of a modern U.S. political figure, excepting former presidents.

The bulk of Muskie's papers was created in the course of his work as a U.S. senator from 1959 to 1980. Smaller portions originated in his pre-Senate law practice and public service, his two terms as governor of Maine, his brief tenure as U.S. secretary of state, and his extensive work in public service following his retirement from the federal government in 1981. Additionally, significant portions of the Muskie papers originated with the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission (RCIPC) and the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission (NIFAC), both of which he helped create and lead.

The textual records consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence of all kinds; memoranda from Muskie's staff and consultants; typescripts and handwritten drafts of speeches and other public remarks; press releases; newspaper clippings; handwritten notes; reports, studies and reference materials on topics of interest to Muskie and his staff; and printed matter such as bills and publications. The records cover the entire range of issues that caught the attention of Muskie and those who worked for him, including his gubernatorial and senatorial staffs, legislative committee staff, and those who worked on his political campaigns.

In addition to textual records, the Muskie papers include many audio and visual materials documenting both his public appearances and his private life.

Each series description in the Muskie papers includes a detailed scope and content note.The Edmund S. Muskie papers is one of the largest and most complete collections documenting the life and career of a modern U.S. political figure, except for former presidents.

The papers document Muskie's personal life, the lives of his parents and his wife, his childrens' early lives, and every era of his career.

The bulk of Muskie's papers was created in the course of his work as a U.S. senator from 1959 to 1980. Smaller portions originated in his pre-Senate law practice and public service, his two terms as governor of Maine, his brief tenure as U.S. secretary of state, and his extensive work in public service following his retirement from the federal government in 1981. Additionally, significant portions of the Muskie papers originated with the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission (RCIPC) and the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission (NIFAC), both of which he helped create and lead.

The textual records consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence of all kinds; memoranda from Muskie's staff and consultants; typescripts and handwritten drafts of speeches and other public remarks; press releases; newspaper clippings; handwritten notes; reports, studies and reference materials on topics of interest to Muskie and his staff; and printed matter such as bills and publications. The records cover the entire range of issues that caught the attention of Muskie and those who worked for him, including his gubernatorial and senatorial staffs, legislative committee staff, and those who worked on his political campaigns.

In addition to textual records, the Muskie papers include many audio and visual materials documenting both his public appearances and his private life.

Each series description in the Muskie papers includes a detailed scope and content note.

Dates

  • 1826-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1928-1996

Creator

Access Restrictions

Five categories of materials are restricted in the Muskie papers, all of which are noted in container lists, internal database records and physically on the affected boxes and folders. In many cases, restricted material comprises only a portion of a restricted folder. Researchers may request access to a restricted folder, in which case archives staff may review the folder and provide access to any materials that should not be restricted.

1. Student academic records: Restricted for 75 years from date of creation. Contained in Series I; will be open without restriction in 2011 (box 11) and 2064 (box 13). Information about a particular student may be released to that student.

2. Materials restricted to protect personal privacy: Restricted for 75 years from date of creation. Occurs in Series II, V.A.1, V.A.3-V.A.12, V.B and V.C; will be open without restriction on a rolling basis from 2032-2055. Includes case files, personnel files and items bearing Social Security Numbers. Case files and personnel files may be released to the individuals about whom the files were created, or to others if the individual about whom the file was created is deceased and releasing the file is unlikely to significantly impinge upon the personal privacy of a living individual. Redacted copies of items bearing Social Security Numbers may be released upon request.

3. Confidential Congressional committee reports: Restricted for 50 years from date of creation. Occurs in Series V.C; will be open without restriction around 2018. Reports restricted per consultation with NARA Center for Legislative Archives.

4. Susan Harrigan’s diaries: Restricted per donor agreement; access requires written permission of donor until April 5, 2024 or death of donor. Occurs in Series VI.F and XVII.A.

5. Potentially attorney-client privileged and/or proprietary materials: Closed until further notice. Occurs in Series VII, Boxes 120-141 and several unprocessed boxes of materials received from Jane Muskie’s estate. Includes records from Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside & Wolf that likely contain attorney-client privileged and/or proprietary information intermingled with non-attorney-client-privileged material documenting Muskie’s professional work from 1980-1996.

Copyright Notice

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Biographical Note

Edmund Sixtus Muskie was born March 28, 1914 in Rumford, Maine to Stephen Muskie (1883-1956), a tailor and Polish immigrant, and Josephine Czarnecki Muskie (1891-1973), a Buffalo, N.Y.-born daughter of Polish immigrants. He was the second child and the first son born to the Muskies, who had a total of six children.

Edmund Muskie attended public schools in Rumford and was the Stephens High School Valedictorian in 1932. Muskie attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he was president of his class, vice president and secretary-treasurer of the Student Council, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and the nationally acclaimed Debating Council led by Prof. Brooks Quimby. To earn money during his summers while attending Bates, Muskie worked in the kitchen and on the service staff at a beach resort in Kennebunk, Maine. He also worked as a waiter and a dormitory assistant at Bates during the school year. In 1936 he graduated cum laude with a major in history and government.

After receiving his law degree from Cornell University, Muskie was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1939 and the Maine bar in 1940. He began practicing law in Waterville, Maine, but his career was interrupted in 1942, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II, and was an active member of AMVETS throughout his life. Muskie married Jane Gray, a Waterville shopgirl whom he met at an AMVETS event, in 1948. They had five children together, Stephen (1949- ), Ellen (1950- ), Melinda (1956- ), Martha (1958-2006) and Edmund S., Jr. (1961- ).

Muskie began his political career in the Maine House of Representatives, to which he was elected in 1946, 1948 and 1950. A Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican state, he was able to rise to the position of minority floor leader during his second term. Shortly after he began his third term, he resigned from the House to become state director of the federal Office of Price Stabilization, a position he held until July 1952. He also represented Maine on the Democratic National Committee from 1952 to 1956, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Waterville in 1947, was a member and secretary of the Waterville Board of Zoning Adjustment from 1948 to 1955, and served as Waterville's city solicitor in 1954.

During this period Muskie and other activists led a drive to build the Maine Democratic party into a force that would challenge the Republican party, which had dominated state politics since the Civil War. Their breakthrough came in 1954, when Muskie was elected governor of Maine, defeating an incumbent for the first time in state history. Although the Republican opposition controlled the legislature, Muskie used his considerable negotiating skills and his growing popularity to secure enactment of a number of sweeping measures during his governorship, including a major reorganization of state government.

After two successful terms as governor, Muskie challenged incumbent U.S. senator Frederick Payne in 1958 and again was victorious. He served in the U.S. Senate for 21 years, winning overwhelming reelection in 1964, 1970 and 1976. During his tenure he served on the Banking and Currency, Foreign Relations, Government Operations (later Governmental Affairs), and Environment and Public Works Committees, the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Affairs and the Special Committee on Aging. In the 1970s he was the founder and first chair of the Senate Committee on the Budget, co-chaired the National Study Commission on Water Pollution, chaired the Legislative Review Committee of the Democratic Policy Committee, and was a member of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In these positions, he sponsored landmark federal environmental protection laws, including the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, oversaw efforts to strengthen cooperation between federal, state and local government agencies, and worked to provide stricter congressional oversight of the federal budget-writing process.

In the late 1960s Muskie emerged as a national political figure. The 1968 Democratic president nominee, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, selected Muskie as his vice presidential running mate. Although the ticket was defeated, his work that fall was credited with overcoming the deep divisions in the party over the Vietnam War and closing a wide gap with Republican candidates Richard M. Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew. Four years later he made a strong bid for the 1972 Democratic Party nomination for the presidency.

Muskie resigned from the U.S. Senate May 7, 1980, to become the 58th U.S. secretary of state, a position he held until January 20, 1981. During that brief tenure, he supervised the sensitive negotiations that eventually led to the release of 52 U.S. embassy personnel who were taken hostage in Iran on November 4, 1979.

After leaving federal employment, Muskie joined a law firm in Washington, D.C., and remained active in a number of organizations that dealt with foreign relations and the environment. He was president of the Center for National Policy, set up after the presidential election of 1980 to discuss and develop foreign policy alternatives for Democratic party leaders. He chaired the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission, which was established to review complaints that Nestle Corporation had violated World Health Organization guidelines on the marketing of breast-milk substitutes in undeveloped countries. He was a member of the President's Special Review Board (Tower Commission), which had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan to investigate secret U.S. arms sales to Iran and the diversion of proceeds from those sales to rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government. In 1989, he was made chair of the Maine Commission on Legal Needs, which the Maine Bar Foundation set up to recommend ways to provide low-income Maine citizens with equal access to legal assistance.

For over 30 years, Muskie was a member of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission, which oversees the site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's island summer estate on the border between Maine and New Brunswick. Founded at Muskie's urging in 1964, the park is dedicated to preserving and promoting Roosevelt's legacy. The commission chair is held by representatives of the U.S. and Canada in alternate terms. Until his death in 1996, Muskie presided over the commission whenever the United States had the chair.

Muskie was the author of the autobiographical Journeys, published in 1972, received over thirty honorary degrees from college and universities throughout the country, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981. From 1957 to 1966 and again from 1970 to 1988, he served on the Bates College Board of Trustees.

Edmund S. Muskie died March 26, 1996 of heart failure following surgery to correct a blocked artery in his leg. Jane Gray Muskie died December 25, 2004 following a bout with Alzheimer's disease. Both they and their daughter Martha, who died of lupus January 2, 2006, are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Extent

2346 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Edmund S. Muskie Papers include his personal papers, office files, audiovisual materials, photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia. The collection documents his youth in Rumford, Maine; his years as a student at Bates College; his personal and family life; his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II; his law practice and other professional, public service and political activities in Waterville, Maine; his terms as a member of the Maine House of Representatives (1947-1951), director of the Maine District of the U.S. Office of Price Stabilization (1951-1952), governor of Maine (1955-1959), U.S. Senator (1959-1980), and U.S. Secretary of State (May 1980 to January 1981); his election campaigns including his 1968 vice presidential race and his bid for the 1972 Democratic nomination for the presidency; and his activities after retiring from the federal government.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into 17 series. The first ten are function- or topic-based, and are arranged in approximately chronological order, while the last seven are format-based, and arranged in alphabetical order.

Due to a major restructuring of the collection's series in 2007, citations prior to this date may refer to series or boxes which have been renumbered or subsumed under other series within the current collection structure. Archives staff are able to assist in such cases by searching a non-public database to determine the current location of previously-cited material.

The series list is as follows:

Series I: Personal and family records

Series II: Waterville law

Series III: Early public service

Series IV: Governor

Series V: U.S. Senate

Series VI: Political campaigns

Series VII: U.S. Secretary of State

Series VIII: Post-Secretary of State

Series IX: Roosvelt Campobello International Park Commission

Series X: Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission (NIFAC)

Series XI: Albums and Scrapbooks

Series XII: Appointment Books and Visitors' Books

Series XIII: Artifacts

Series XIV: Clippings

Series XV: Moving images

Series XVI: Photographs

Series XVII: Sound recordings

Acquisition

The Edmund S. Muskie Papers were deposited at Bates College in June 1980, when Muskie was named U.S. secretary of state. In 1985, several of Muskie's friends and former staff members, with assistance from the College, raised sufficient funds to support the renovation of the former women's gymnasium into the Edmund S. Muskie Archives building, which was dedicated in September of that year. Muskie's papers were formally donated to Bates College on April 23, 1986. Intellectual property rights in the unpublished writings of Edmund S. Muskie were given to the College in an addendum to the deed of gift signed December 8, 1989. The right to dispose of items from the collection was granted to the College by the Muskie heirs in 2007.

Accretions

In 1994 and in 1996, Bates College received two shipments of records documenting Muskie's life since leaving public office which were maintained in his Washington, D.C. law office. A third accretion was received from the estate of Jane G. Muskie in 2005 and accessioned in 2006. Relatively small groups of files donated at various times by former Muskie staffers and others have also been integrated into the collection. Accession No.: 001-80-01, 001-86-01.

Existence and Location of Copies

Portions of Series XIV: Clippings; and Series XII: Scrapbooks have been microfilmed. Researchers who wish to consult these items are asked to use the copies on microfilm in the Micromedia Section of Ladd Library (ground floor).

Photographic prints and negatives have been digitized for access and reference purposes on an as-needed basis.

Obsolete or obsolescing media in Series XV: Moving Images; and Series XVII: Audio Recordings have been reformatted for access and preservation purposes. Current access formats in the collection include VHS cassette tapes, DVD-R discs and CD-R discs. All may be used in the archives reading room, and most can be duplicated for research purposes.

Separated Materials

Some files have been removed from the collection due to classification under national security regulations of the U.S. government. All material so identified has either been returned to the Department of State or been referred to the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives and Records Administration for classification review, which is ongoing. Such files were found in Series V: U.S. Senate; Series VI: Political Campaigns; Series VII. Secretary of State; and Series VIII: Post-Secretary of State. Separation sheets have been inserted whenever documents were removed from files pursuant to this process.

Books from Muskie's personal library have been cataloged separately as the Edmund S. Muskie Book Collection, and can be browsed by searching for "Muskie" as an Alternate Call Number in the Ladd Library catalog.

Processing Information

Initial processing was begun by several student assistants in the spring of 1985 under the direction of James Garner Ross, a Bates College student who was writing an honors thesis on Muskie's early life, with guidance from Robert W. Allison of the Department of Religion. In Fall 1985, Lois M. Griffiths, a library employee, was appointed to supervise the processing. She continued as technical coordinator until her retirement in 1995. Ralph R. Perkins, Jr., served as technical assistant from 1987 to 2001 and prepared folder-level descriptive data.

From 1988 to 2005, Christopher M. Beam directed the processing of the papers and wrote the finding aid. Between 2006 and 2007, Christie S. Peterson completed the processing and description of the papers, including a significant reworking of the series structure and organization, as Project Archivist under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Administration. Peterson continued as Processing Archivist for the Muskie papers through September 2010, during which time significant portions of the collection were deaccessioned, re-processed, reformatted or rehoused, and standardized restrictions were applied to the entire collection, among other activities.

Between 2007 and 2010, significant quantities of material determined to be of limited research or historical value were deaccessioned from the following series: Series I: Personal and Family Records; Series II: Waterville Law Practice; Series V.A: U.S. Senate, Washington Office; Series XII: Artifacts; and Series XIV: Clippings. Generic and, in some cases, specific information about folders and items removed from the collection as part of this process is available upon request.

Processing was funded in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, NAR06GRANT-077.
Title
Guide to the Edmund S. Muskie papers, 1826-2005
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

Contact:
70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America
207-786-6354
207-755-5911 (Fax)