Tom Harkin Papers FAQ

How many boxes are there?

There are approximately 800 boxes in the collection. They came from Senator Harkin’s Washington, D.C. office as well as his state offices in Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Sioux City.

Where are the boxes stored?

The boxes are stored in a state-of-the-art archival vault with temperature and humidity controls in Cowles Library on the Drake University campus.

What is included in the collection?

The collection includes legislative records, personal and political files, press and media activity, administrative files, constituent service files, audiovisual materials, photographs, and awards and memorabilia. It also includes a significant volume of electronic records.

What are the strengths of the collection?

The collection strongly documents Senator Harkin’s sponsorship of the Americans with Disabilities Act as his work on federal farm policy and labor issues. He was also an active voice for improved nutrition in public school lunches and in combatting child labor.

Is the collection open to researchers?

The majority of the collection is currently closed for processing. The Speeches Series, Photographs, Audiovisual Materials, and the Agriculture, Disability, Health, and Labor subseries of the Legislative Working Files Series are available. More materials will continue to be made available to researchers at the discretion of the Senator.

How do archivists process the collection?

First, the boxes are accessioned into the University Archives and Special Collections database by recording a preliminary description of each box. Next, the boxes will be arranged, or organized with the ultimate goal of making the records available to researchers. They are arranged into categories, or what archivists call series and subseries. After the boxes are arranged, the contents will be placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Paperclips and rubber bands will be removed and preservation issues will be addressed. Then a finding aid will be created and made available online to researchers. Essentially a large index, the finding aid will include a list of every folder in the collection.

Who will be able to use the Harkin Collection?

The Harkin Collection will be available to all researchers on an equal basis. Researchers will be required to complete a registration form. All materials must be examined in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. It is recommended that researchers call ahead to schedule an appointment.