DRAKE ARCHIVE: Gov. Ray Shares Papers

Former governor’s papers will be loaned to his alma mater.

Drake University charged with digitizing them.

Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie said it’s a perfect match.  The official papers from Iowa’s former governor, Robert D. Ray, are heading to the institution that he attended and later served as president.  In turn, Drake University will painstakingly digitize those papers and share them with the world.

Cownie, Gov. Terry Branstad, and Drake University President David Maxwell announced the unprecedented partnership Tuesday at the State Historical Museum.  Gov. Ray’s papers will remain under the custodial oversight of the state archives.

“I am pleased that a significant portion of the archived records of my administration will be on display and available to the public at Drake,” Governor Ray said. “This initiative will strengthen the connections between the state and Drake, two entities that that have played such important roles in my life.”

The records include 1,000 boxes worth of citizen and public policy concerns and administrative decisions made by the governor between 1969 and 1983.

There are about forty boxes of personal papers, but former First Lady Billie Ray said don`t expect to find any lost love letters from her husband of 61 years.  “No.  He wasn`t a note writer to me, he used the telephone,” Ray said.

State archivists said there is a demand for more material.  Researchers have made trips to the historical building in to examine pieces of Ray’s legislation such as his famous push to relocate Tai Dam refugees to Iowa in 1975.

Ray is an alumnus of Drake University and Drake Law School, having graduated in 1952 and 1954 respectively.  In May, Senator Tom Harkin announced his papers will also be at Drake University.

President Maxwell also announced Tuesday a lead gift of $1.5 million to the distinctlyDrake campaign from Stine Seed Company and its CEO, Harry Stine.  The gift will fund construction of the Drake University Archives and Library Special Collections Center.  The archives and center will be housed on the second floor of Cowles Library.

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