Former Congressman Dingell donates documents to Bentley Library

By Irene Park, Daily Staff Reporter
Published May 6, 2015

Thanks to John Dingell, the former U.S. congressman for Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, the University’s Bentley Historical Library now has access to a collection of materials from his 59 years of service in the House of Representatives.

At a reception Wednesday evening at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Dingell officially announced his donation of the collection to the Bentley.

The collection includes correspondence bills that Dingell introduced in the House as well as photographs taken during his time in office.

In a statement released prior to the event, Dingell said he was honored to contribute documents to the Bentley Library.

"I consider myself the luckiest guy in shoe leather for having the opportunity to serve the good people of Southeast Michigan for as long as I did, and it is a real honor that the work we all did together will be documented here at this fine institution," he said. "I am pleased they were able to find the space for all of it, but mostly I'm just honored and humbled to join the other outstanding individuals whose good work for our state is archived at the Bentley, including my father."

Earlier this year, Dingell was honoredfor his policy work involving the Middle East. Dingell is also an active supporter of J Street Ann Arbor, a national advocacy group that promotes conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians through creating two independent states — one Israeli and one Palestinian — out of what is now Israel.

Dingell was also one of 74 members of Congress to sign a 2012 letter to President Obama asking him to endorse this conflict resolution solution. He later visited campus to speak about the issue.

Terrence McDonald, director of Bentley Historical Library, said the library contains the largest historical archive in the state of Michigan and has a long tradition of attempting to attract the archives of important political figures.

McDonald said Dingell is one of the major political figures in the 20th century and his collection is a valuable addition to the library’s archive.

“Historians and students are going to get such great benefit from an access to his papers,” McDonald said.

McDonald added that Dingell’s donation is one of the largest donations to the library’s historical archive. The donation is approximately 600 linear feet and is expected to fill 600 bankers boxes.

The library’s archive also contains a collection from Dingell's father, John Dingell Sr., who served in the House of Representatives from 1932 to 1955. His father was one of the architects of the New Deal during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency.

Dingell was also recognized for his services in civil rights, public health and conservation during Monday's event. He has supported several civil rights bills and helped to create Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Dingell was also recognized for his future plans to teach and mentor students at the University’s Dearborn campus, where he will discuss his experiences with students and promote the University’s Michigan in Washington program.

The Bentley Library will begin processing the collection to prepare for public use and display, which officials say may take up to one year.