Former senator?s legacy finds special spot at SDSU

Ellen Nelson

Ellen NelsonNews Editor

A once in a lifetime look inside thousands of personal e-mails, documents and artifacts from within the White House, is now housed at SDSU’s Hilton M. Briggs Library.

The former U.S. senator and 1969 SDSU alumnus, Tom Daschle donated a collection of materials from his political terms to SDSU in December of 2004. It contains more than 17,000 e-mails, 30,000 papers and several hundred hours of video clips and items from Daschle’s political career.

A research fellowship program was conducted last spring where selected SDSU professors indexed and studied the contents of the collection.

Jennifer Tiernan, a mass communications professor, was granted the fellowship program and began working with the archives in January 2010, two days each week until the end of the semester.

“He’s one of the biggest political figures from SDSU,” Tiernan said, “Daschle is such a high ranking individual and is a really important political figure for South Dakota.”

Staff involved with indexing the various elements of the collection said that the donation of the Daschle Collection symbolizes a significant impact in education and research opportunities for South Dakota and the rest of the world.

“It’s going to draw a lot of people here to our university,” Tiernan said.

“I’ve already had out-of-state requests for some of the files we have in our hands,” said Stephen Van Buren, head of Briggs Special Collection and university archivist.

Van Buren said that requests will be non-stop, specifically from scholars looking for specific materials within the Daschle Collection.

Impeachment papers and e-mails regarding the 1998 Monica Lewinsky trial and scandals regarding former President Bill Clinton are included in the collection.

Although the collection has not created waiting lines in the Library, students view it as something worthwhile to explore.

“It’d be worth a look,” said Junior Ryan Buse, pre-med and Spanish major of Brandon.

“It’s not just paperwork. There’s really some interesting artifacts,” Tiernan said. “[The collection] tells the story of political careers, which is a very neat thing.”

The collection encompasses two-fifths of the university’s overall archive collection. In the lower level of Briggs Library, 4,000 boxes containing documents and artifacts are stored in compact shelving units. During the upcoming winter break, Van Buren said he expects that amount to double with the addition of more compact shelving units.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Van Buren said regarding the amount of the Daschle Collection the library currently houses. The other parts of the collection are in the old library, located in the Lincoln Music Center. As things become more organized, eventually all of the collection will be housed at Briggs Library.

“Educationally, all of this is a gold mine,” he said. The items within the collection go beyond an insight to the daily life inside the white house. This is not just for political science or history purposes, Van Buren said. The collection encompasses learning opportunities for everyone to help understand their government, their representatives, the way their overall daily life in a democracy really works, he said.

Working hard to implement easily-accessible academic research, Van Buren and the archive staff are currently indexing and scanning items into the collection, in order for the it to be available on-line.

A link to access items of the Daschle Collection can be found on Briggs homepage, listed under University Archives.

s things move forward with the collection in the archives, construction of a Congressional Studies Center is planned for the future.

“It’s going to be new to people because there’s not many like it around,” Van Buren said of the Congressional Studies Center. It will have several offices, a classroom, displays and research areas where the public can experience the collection.

The Tom Daschle Collection is currently listed in the Congressional archives and Briggs Library is a member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ASCS). More information of the association is at

#1.1641281:2080679254.jpg:Senator Thomas A. Daschle Congressional Research Study found in the upper level of Briggs Library.:Senator Thomas A. Daschle Congressional Research Study found in the upper level of Briggs Library provides students with the unique opportunity to learn about Sen. Daschle?s work in South Dakota.:Collegian Photo by Ryan Robinson