After several years of preparation, the Special Collections Research Center of Morris Library on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale has opened Senator Paul Simon’s archives.
David Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said “All of us here at the institute congratulate the library’s staff, particularly Prof. Walter Ray who led the archiving effort, for the fine work. “
Over 1,200 linear feet of material is available. It includes everything from manuscripts and photographs to recordings, his books and personal memorabilia. The institute is pleased to have offered financial support to the development of the archive, which will provide students and historians with the raw material they need to explore the life, times and values of Paul Simon.
Yepsen said “I am especially pleased about the timing of this opening because I am reminded of that old political slogan Richard Nixon once used in one of his campaigns: “Now, more than ever.” I think the people of Illinois need Paul Simon’s values now, more than ever and this archive will help us find them.”
“These archives will tell the story of a man of courage and principle who fought for little people. That was often tough. As a journalist, he stood up to threats. As a politician, he stood for principles that were unpopular at the time. For example, during the 1988 campaign he supported a balanced budget to the constitution and was vilified by a lot of other Democratic candidates for that.
“Four years later, Bill Clinton and the Democrats in Congress started balancing the budget and the nation enjoyed record prosperity for the latter half of the 1990s.
“Paul Simon’s values of courage, openness, ethical behavior and frugal government seem lost in Illinois today. These archives – and our work at the institute – will hopefully help us get them back,” Yepsen said.
Nancy Chen, former Director of Senator Paul Simon's Chicago Office, also spoke at the event.