John D. Dingell Jr., who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from December 1955 to January 2015 — the longest congressional tenure in U.S. history — has donated the collected materials from his 59 years in office to the Bentley Historical Library.
Four days after being awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at U-M’s Spring Commencement ceremony, Dingell was at the university Wednesday to celebrate the arrival of his collection.
“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,” Dingell 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. It means so much to me, and I am truly grateful.”
The collection, which covers more than 550 linear feet and spans from 1955 to the present, includes correspondence, bills that Dingell introduced in the House, photographs, and more.
The material will join many other collections of important Michigan political leaders at the Bentley, comprising the papers of 31 Michigan governors — from the third governor of the Michigan Territory, Lewis Cass, to two-term Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm — as well as 15 U.S. senators and 16 members of the U.S. House.
“We are honored to have received for processing the papers of John Dingell Jr., one of the great members of Congress in Michigan history,” said Bentley Director Terrence McDonald.
“Given the breadth of issues with which he was involved and the historic length of his service, anyone wishing to write the history of national politics in the 20th century will need to consult them.”
The library’s archive also contains the papers of his father, John Dingell, who was a Michigan congressman from 1932 until his death in 1955, and who played a major role in New Deal legislation.
The Bentley has officially received the materials and will begin processing the collection to prepare for public use, which may take up to one year.