Bart Gordon Papers
Title: Bart Gordon Papers
Creator: Bart Gordon
Summary/Abstract: The Bart Gordon Papers consist of documents and other materials produced during his service in the United States House of Representatives representing Tennessee's Sixth Congressional District. Included in these papers are materials from his Washington, D.C. Congressional office, his Congressional office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and his campaign operations, as well as personal items from Gordon's private life and college years at MTSU. In addition to physical documents and objects, the collection contains the data transferred from Gordon's Intranet Quorum (IQ) database that his staff used used to coordinate communications with constituents and to conduct casework involving constituents and federal agencies.
Quantity/Physical Description: Over 650 linear feet
Repository: Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, (615) 898-2632
Restrictions on Access: The Albert Gore Research Center staff is currently processing the papers to provide access for researchers. Once processed, as much of the material as possible will be made available to the public. Some material may be available to researchers on a case-by-case basis, if the archivist can provide it without risking the material or hindering processing. Such access is contingent on staff and resource availability, as well as policies and practices of the research center.
While the Bart Gordon Papers are generally available to researchers without restriction, archival practice and provisions in the deed of gift restrict access to some portions of the papers, mostly casework files, that may be found to hold personally identifiable information, or information otherwise restricted by law, for a period of fifty years from the date of donation. The closed records will be evaluated at appropriate intervals and opened according to the deed of gift only when there is no longer a risk of releasing private information or violation of the law. All documents are subject to the review of the archivist prior to being opened for general research.
Copyright: Congressman Gordon conveyed and assigned all right and interest in the donated materials to Middle Tennessee State University. It is presumed that any corporate and individual copyrights in manuscripts, photographs, and other materials in the donation to which the donor may not have had full copyright, have been retained by the copyright owners. Copyright restrictions apply. Users of materials should seek necessary permissions from the copyright holders to comply with U.S. copyright laws.
Preferred Citation: (Box Number, Folder Number), Bart Gordon Papers, Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Acquisition: Bart Gordon, 2011
Processed By: Initial processing by Rachel Smith, 2013. The bulk of the materials are currently unprocessed
Arrangement: It is the intention of processors to retain these papers in original order as much as possible. Primary appraisal of the material suggests that this order will be series and subseries. Digital records contained in a database will be stored separately from the bulk of the material. Photographic images, moving image, audio materials, objects, and other material that requiring special treatment or processing consideration will either be added to existing series and subseries or maintained separately as deemed appropriate as they are processed.
Biographical Note: Bart Gordon was born on January 24, 1949, in Murfreesboro, to Robert and Margaret Gordon, both alumni of MTSU. His father and grandfathers were farmers, and his mother was a teacher in the Rutherford County schools. Gordon’s grandfather, Robert Sr., met his wife while a student at Middle Tennessee Normal School and later helped to found several local rural organizations aimed at improving the community. It was from his grandfather’s efforts that he learned the value of giving back to and improving one’s community and decided to make it his life’s goal.
After graduating from Central High School in 1967, Gordon worked on John Bragg’s unsuccessful 1968 congressional campaign. It was through this experience that he decided Congress was where he could best serve his community and the greater Middle Tennessee area.
Gordon graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1971 with honors and from the College of Law at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1973. He served in the Army Reserves from 1971-1972. From 1974 to 1983, he practiced law in Murfreesboro and worked for the Tennessee state Democratic Party.
In 1984, the citizens of the sixth district elected Gordon to Congress to help represent and improve the lives of Middle Tennesseans. During his twenty-six-year distinguished congressional career, Gordon developed a reputation as the undisputed bipartisan leader in innovation policy in the U.S. Congress. During his chairmanship of the House Science and Technology Committee, the committee passed 151 bills and resolutions and all were bipartisan. In 2007, he championed the America COMPETES Act, signed into law by President Bush, which promoted federal investments in innovation in order to make the US more competitive. In 2010, he engineered the passage of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. Signed by President Obama, the act renewed the federal commitment to research and development and education, adding new provisions such as support for prize competitions.
Gordon also played a key role in developing and passing the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which encouraged the federal government to promote the transfer of nanotechnology breakthroughs from laboratories to commercial products. He also promoted legislation that would implement a research program focusing on the environmental, health, and safety aspects of nanotechnology.
Throughout his political career, Gordon led the debate on a wide range of technology issues and formulated legislative initiatives on a number of other subjects, including health information technology, nuclear power, rare earth minerals, and synthetic biotechnology. Additionally, he led the effort to enact the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which increased mileage standards, improved vehicle technology, promoted alternative energy research, and improved energy efficiency in a variety of ways. Gordon was also a leading proponent of America's space program, and of improving the nation's performance in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. He is also a Distinguished Fellow on the Council on Competitiveness and appointed by President Obama to the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel.
Gordon’s work in Congress extended beyond science and technology. For instance he was a champion of expansion and improvement efforts at Stones River National Battlefield, and he wrote legislation creating the Tennessee Civil War Heritage Area, which authorized $10 million of congressionally appropriated funds to help promote tourism and conserve the state’s Civil War Heritage. He counts the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act, the NET 911 Improvement Act, and the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act among his legislative achievements. The Smith Memorial Act authorized the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to award grants to states and local communities, as well as colleges and universities, to implement youth suicide prevention programs. Gordon coauthored the Family Medical Leave Act compromise in 1990 that was ultimately signed into law in 1993 by President Clinton. Finally, he wrote the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act, which protects amateur athletes from abusive contract practices, and laws regulating 1-800 and 1-900 numbers for the first time by prohibiting charges on calls to 1-800 numbers, giving consumers the right to block 1-900 numbers, and requiring 1-900 operators to disclose rates and give people the chance to hang up before they incur charges.
For twenty years running, before being sidelined by an injury and then his retirement, Gordon was the “fastest member of Congress” by virtue of his victories in an annual three-mile race for charity.
Upon his retirement from Congress in 2011, Gordon joined the law firm K & L Gates as a partner in the Washington, DC, office. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Later in the same year the government of France awarded him the Legion of Honor, with an added promotion by the president of France to the rank of Officier. He is married to Leslie Peyton Gordon, who is a partner with Korn/Ferry International, and the two have one daughter.
Scope and Content: These papers are presently being processed. They were created and collected in the day-to-day operation of the office of Congressman Bart Gordon, as well as in activities and events relating to his political campaigns. They include all manner of content in various different media. Included is a database, maintained in its digital format, of constituent communication. The bulk of the material will have no access restrictions once processing is complete. Exceptions will be material containing personally identifiable information and material restricted by law. Documents and records will be reviewed periodically by archival staff to determine when the records can be made public without violating these conditions. In accordance with the policies of the Albert Gore Research Center, all documents are subject to the review of the archivist prior to being opened for general research. During processing, some material may be available to researchers on a case-by-case basis, if the archivist can provide access to it without risking the material or hindering processing. Such access is contingent on staff and resource availability, as well as policies and practices of the research center.
Processing is being done with the goal of retaining the papers in their original order. Current appraisal suggests the arrangement to be in series and subseries based upon function. Eight series have initially been identified. These are administrative files, cosponsored legislation, legislative issues, committees, constituent concerns, press material, campaigns, and publications. Tentative subseries and further divisions in structure have also been identified. It should be noted that full appraisal of all material has not been completed, so there is a possibility that other elements of arrangement might be identified. Processors feel relatively certain that these basic series represent elements of the organic structure of the records and will remain intact, even if the overall hierarchy should change.
Archival staff have access to notes made by Kent Syler, former district chief of staff to Bart Gordon, written after record acquisition and providing detailed comments on the records and their use. These notes assist in all levels of processing, providing added context to the aggregate materials and a creator's perspective on the papers. These notes will be added to the papers when processing is complete. When the notes provide descriptive information that is not found in the records themselves, it will be noted in the description.
The administrative files series will include such material as personal correspondence, schedules, and public service activities such as tours and requests to fly a special flag from the Capitol. The Cosponsored legislation series contains material pertaining to bills that Gordon actually cosponsored. The legislative issues series contains material on legislation that Gordon did not sponsor, as well as general legislative issues, issues in which Gordon was specifically involved, and special projects and appropriations of interest to the congressman. The committees series has Gordon's copies of records from committees on which he served, including the science committee, commerce committee, rulescommittee, and energy committee. Constituent correspondence and casework will be part of the constituent concerns series. The press material series includes material released by Gordon's office as well as copies of press material collected by the office. The campaigns series covers material related to the congressman's campaigns. The publications series contains published material either issued or retained by the congressman's office.
Researchers may be particularly drawn to material related to science, energy, and technology, as Gordon's interest in these subjects is reflected in these papers. There are also examples of traditions and protocol reflected in items such as Christmas cards from the White House and invitations to inaugurations and other events. Records of how members of Congress voted on different bills and issues were used as resources for statements made by Gordon and members of his campaign during elections, and can be found in the campaign series. The increased use of digital systems to handle correspondence is reflected in the Intarnet Quorum (IQ) database, which is restricted to protect personally identifiable information, but may be used by archival staff to assist in acquiring aggregate information regarding the correspondence handled through use of the database. (Access to the IQ database is based on the availability of qualified staff and technical resources necessary to conduct proper queries to the database and will therefore be granted on a case-by-case basis.)
Portions of three different series have been processed to the stage that they are generally accessible to researchers. These include legislative issues, cosponsored legislation, and committees. It is possible that processors will find additional materials that belong in these groups as the papers are further processed. Researchers should take heed that references to box or folder numbers, as well as the series/subseries arrangement, may change. We advise researchers to copy as much information as possible about documents they use to assist in locating them in the future should there be a change in organization or location in the aggregated material.
No document inventory is posted here because processing is still in progress and any inventory will constantly change. There is a list below of the three series in which materials have been processed to the level that general access may be made available to researchers. Included are the specific subseries, if applicable, that contain these documents. Each brief description includes a link to a folder-level inventory of the documents. While these series, as well as those not listed below, are not fully processed, the archivist may be able to assist researchers in finding documents from unprocessed material relating to specific research topics.
Cosponsored Legislation series: These documents are arranged by Congress. Within each session, the records are in their original order, roughly by year with some variation when related resolutions are grouped together. Some of this series has been processed to a point that it is available for access to researchers. A list of these materials can be found here. This list may be altered or updated at any time.
Legislative Issues series: This series contains material on topics related to legislation that may not have been sponsored by Gordon. The topics cover a wide range, some connected with specific bills and some that provide information that may be related to legislation other than specific bills. The series is tentatively divided into three subseries: general issues, Gordon-involved issues, and projects and appropriations.
General Issues subseries: These documents cover a wide range of topics and are generally grouped together by subject. While the bulk of these papers are not fully processed, the archivist may be able to assist researchers in finding documents among the unprocessed material relating to specific research topics.
An exception to this arrangement is a portion of the records that were maintained in a different filing system, with numerals corresponding to specific topics arranged within two year date ranges. For instance, subjects corresponding to numerals 1–32 are part of date range 1998–2000, then the same numbers can be found in the date range 2001–2002. This original order was retained, so the arrangement of the subseries varies based upon what entity was maintaining the specific records at what time. This portion of the series and subseries has been processed to a point that it may be listed as available for access. A list of these materials can be found here. This list may be altered or updated at any time.
Gordon-involved Issues subseries: This subseries contains material related to legislative issues in which Gordon was actively involved, either through work with specific legislation or some other activity. While these papers are not fully processed, the archivist may be able to assist researchers in finding documents among the unprocessed material relating to specific research topics.
Projects and Appropriations subseries: These documents pertain to specific projects on which Gordon worked or in which he took interest, and appropriations he attempted to obtain to fund such projects. Some of this subseries has been processed to a point that it may be listed as available for research. A list of these materials can be found here. This list may be altered or updated at any time.
Committees series: Gordon served on several committees while in Congress. The material in this series include his copies of records or other documents relating to his work on these committees. Processing staff has identified documents from three committees and one subcommittee to date, each represented by its own subseries. These are the commerce committee, science committee, and rules committees, and the energy subcommittee. Material from the commerce committee and energy subcommittee are not fully processed, although the archivist may be able to assist researchers in finding documents among the unprocessed material relating to specific research topics. Some materials from the science and rules committees have been processed to the point that they have been made available for research. Official records of the Congressional committees are retained at the National Archives and Records Adminsitartion (NARA).
Science Committee subseries: The science committee, the generic name used for the group known variously as the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Science and Technology, has jurisdiction over numerous areas of science and technology related fields. The papers in this subseries are Gordon's copies of material generated by the committee or collected by Gordon during his tenure on the committee. Some of this subseries has been processed to a point that it may be listed as available for research. A list of these materials can be found here. This list may be altered or updated at any time.
Rules Committee subseries: The papers in this subseries are Gordon's copies of material generated by the rules committee or collected by Gordon during his tenure on the committee. Some of this subseries has been processed to a point that it may be listed as available for research. A list of these materials can be found here. This list may be altered or updated at any time.
Associated Materials: There are no known associated collections. Some materials are housed with the Albert Gore Research Center's museum materials. A digital storage drive containing a database used by Gordon's office is housed separately from the rest of the materials.
Related Collections: There are no known related collections.
Rutherford County, Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State University
United States House of Representatives
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
House Committee on Science and Technology
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
House Committee on Financial Service
House Committee on Rules
Legislative bills and supporting documents
Campaign materials and objects
Collection Inventory: There is no full inventory of the Bart Gordon Papers at this time.