UAA to house Ted Stevens papers

Ted Stevens attends the commissioning of the USS Alaska in 1986. (U.S. Navy)

By the time U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens left office in 2009, he had amassed a huge collection of documents, enough to fill 4,800 boxes. Now that collection has found its final resting place, at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Stevens’ widow, Catherine Stevens, the Ted Stevens Foundation and the university made the announcement this month.

“It was always Sen. Stevens’s desire to have the collection go to the university. He really wanted his papers to be open to the public,” said Karina Waller, executive director of the Ted Stevens Foundation, which has been archiving and organizing the collection for years. “Obviously, as a student of history, he knew that understanding our history was important in informing decisions that we make today and in the future.”

Before Stevens died in a 2010 plane crash, he agreed to deposit his papers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Waller says he always wanted them to be in Anchorage, but when he was preparing to leave the Senate, UAA didn’t have room.

Now, UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell says the plan is to create an Alaska Leaders Archive at the university’s Consortium Library.

Beyond the documents, photos and videos, Waller said the Foundation also has a warehouse full of Stevens’ memorabilia, like awards the senator received and books he kept at home and at the office. The university doesn’t have space for them, Waller said, but she’s hoping the archive will take some of the more historical objects, like a pen President Richard Nixon used to sign the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971.

The university still needs time to prepare a space for the papers. Waller figures the conveyance of the papers is about a year away.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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