The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy will host a special exhibit of the late senator’s career and a commemorative lecture with former U.S. Ambassador Ira Shapiro this week to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Wednesday marks a decade since the construction of the center and the establishment of the Modern Political Archives, which houses the papers of a number of Tennessee’s prominent 20th-century political leaders, including US Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr.
Baker, a UT alum, was highly regarded for his civility and dedication to public service, and the center’s building, as well as the Political Archives, are a tribute to his life and legacy. Exhibits on display throughout the building this week highlights of Baker’s senatorial career and his tenure as President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff.
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Shapiro will give a commemorative lecture on the leadership lessons that can be gleaned from Baker’s career and legacy, particularly as they relate to Shapiro’s most recent book, Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?, in the Toyota Auditorium at the Baker Center. The event is free and is open to the public.
“We are honored to host Ira Shapiro as part of the Baker Center’s 10th anniversary ceremonies,” said Matt Murray, director of the Baker Center. “His discussion of his book The Senate in Crisis is very timely and will help remind us all of the days when both political parties worked together to solve the problems confronting America.”
The Modern Political Archives and the Libraries’ Digital Projects team spent the last year digitizing transcripts of a selection of speeches Baker gave throughout his career and making them accessible to the public in a fully-searchable collection. The new collection complements other digital collections gathered from the political archives, such as “Photographs from the Life and Career of Howard Baker.”
“The Modern Political Archives receives many inquiries about Senator Baker’s papers, especially his speeches and remarks given before the Senate,” said Kris Bronstad, the MPA archivist.
Established alongside the Baker Center in 2008, the Modern Political Archives are housed in a state-of-the-art archival storage area inside the public policy center and cared for by the UT Libraries. Along with Baker, former Tennessee senators Estes Kefauver and Fred Thompson deposited hundreds of boxes of political records with the UT Libraries to ensure that the annals of public service would be available to posterity.
The archives are central to the Baker Center’s mission of promoting research, education, and discourse on government and public policy issues. The collections housed in the Baker Center are curated by an archivist and made available to students and scholars in a special facility on the second floor.