Written by Rachel Smith, Project Archivist
As my introduction in last week’s blog mentioned, I am currently serving as the Project Archivist working on the Bart Gordon Papers. Gordon graduated from MTSU in 1971 and was the Associated Student Body president his senior year. He went on to serve the Sixth Tennessee Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 1985-2011.
Gordon graciously donated his papers to the Albert Gore Research Center at the end of his term in 2011. At about 680 linear feet, this extensive collection includes materials from Gordon’s offices in both Washington, D.C. and Murfreesboro. Kent Syler, who served as Gordon’s chief of staff, works here part-time as our Special Projects Coordinator. He made some initial notes about the content of the collections, providing his insider knowledge of the offices’ operations and offering context for the files. I am now beginning to process the collection by creating inventories, arrangements, and descriptions.
With Syler’s notes, I started by making categories for the files that will possibly become the series and subseries of the papers. Archivists strive to keep documents in their “original order,” meaning in the order that the person who used the records organized them. Our current working arrangement respects original order as much as possible while organizing materials functionally. As of right now, these are the potential groupings: Legislative Issues, Committee Work, Co-sponsored Legislation, Press, Publications, Campaign, Administrative, and Constituent Concerns. As I continue to move forward in the project, these arrangements will more than likely change as I learn more about these congressional papers.
Recently I have been focusing on the Projects and Appropriations subseries, which fits within the Legislative Issues series. So far, I have included materials from the D.C. office, but I am fairly certain files from the Murfreesboro office will be added as the project continues. This subseries includes information about the various local concerns and projects Gordon supported through legislation and appropriations. The Smyrna airport, extension of Stones River National Battlefield, the Murfreesboro greenway, the Nashville commuter rail, Black Fox waterways, and community policing grants are only a few examples of these projects.
To read more about Gordon’s congressional career and the materials in this collection, see our finding aid for the papers here. I am still working on inventories for this project, but keep checking for updates. We hope to have more information posted soon and some items open to researchers.