Briscoe Center obtains papers from former governor of New Mexico

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Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced on Monday he has donated his political and professional papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies at UT. The donation will help the Briscoe Center continue to expand their political collection.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Monday he has donated his political and professional papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies. 

Richardson’s papers — his letters, and press releases and news clippings from throughout his political career — will help the Briscoe Center expand its political collection, according to Ben Wright, public affairs officer for the Center.

“The Richardson collection fits in with some of the other collections we have, [from] congressmen and even Texas governors,” Wright said. “Adding his collection helps us continue to grow.”

The collection coming to UT consists of 300 boxes of material currently being processed and catalogued at the Collections Deposit Library on campus.

Wright said Center officials began attempting to acquire Richardson’s collection about a year ago, and said they are happy to continue developing the center’s existing collections. 

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico State University began pursuing Richardson’s documents back in 2008. New Mexico State University spokesman Justin Bannister said at the time, Richardson told the university he would respond to their request for the documents, but he never did.

Cinnamon Blair, spokesperson for the University of New Mexico, said University officials did not try to acquire the collection.

“The University of New Mexico has never pursued those particular papers, and Gov. Richardson never contacted UNM to discuss leaving them to the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections,” Blair said.

In accordance with New Mexico state law, papers from Richardson’s days as governor must go the New Mexico State Archives. Wright said he feels the items that should be in the archives according to state law are already there. 

Wright said he believes the Center is a better location for the documents because it has digital collections and allocates Smith Research Travel Awards, so that researchers outside of Austin can come see the collections.

“With these collections here at the Center, we are working to digitize collections, so students and other researchers can access this information across the country,” Wright said.   

During Richardson’s time as governor from 2003–2011, New Mexico improved in clean energy, education, transportation, healthcare and immigration and succeeded $1 billion in tax cuts for the citizens. 

Richardson also served as a U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy for President Bill Clinton.