Elizabeth Dole’s Scholarly Papers

Everyone knows where a former president’s papers go:  to his

Presidential Library. That’s simple. But what about the significant collection of papers of a spouse of a candidate who has been a political powerhouse in her own right?  Where will her papers go?  To her alma mater?  As I walked around Duke University this past weekend, my thoughts turned to Elizabeth Dole, an alumna of Duke and North Carolinian,  since she was the subject of my 1999 dissertation, a co-authored book, a number of scholarly articles and chapters.  Her significant contribution to American life has shaped my academic career.  And yet, when I ask my students “who is Elizabeth Dole?” very few, if any, can answer me. That is just plain wrong!  I hope some of the work I have done and continue to do, about significant women in American politics helps improve the notoriety of Dole and other women who have made significant contributions.

Elizabeth Dole is a former presidential candidate and spouse of former Kansas Senator Bob Dole.  Bob Dole was the 1996 Republican nominee for president, and Elizabeth brought the house down at the 1996 GOP Convention with her speech about “the man I love.”  No spouse of a candidate since then has come close to “nailing” the spouse speech, although Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech and Bill Clinton’s 2016 speech come to mind as hitting the mark.

Elizabeth Dole is a former senator from North Carolina, former secretary of labor and secretary of transportation and former president of the American Red Cross.  So her papers could go many places, however, she has gifted them to The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.  They will become part of the Dole Institute Archive and Special Collections. I had the great pleasure of visiting the Dole Institute a few years back and it is a treasure trove.

The Dole Institute will also feature the Elizabeth Dole Women in Leadership Lecture in her honor. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Elizabeth Dole  in spring, and the signature series will take place in the fall semester beginning in 2018 and will feature women who break barriers, make significant contributions to their fields and reach positions of leadership. Guest speakers will be leaders who exemplify perseverance, motivation, innovative thinking and the ability to overcome challenges.

I can’t wait to visit the archive and continue to read and write about Elizabeth Dole, who has had a groundbreaking career in American politics and who, in 2012, founded the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to increase services and support for America’s 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers – the spouses, mothers, dads and other loved ones providing voluntary care for wounded warriors at home.

The gift of Dole’s papers represents a new chapter in the life of the Dole Archive and Special collections, which already houses the career papers of former U.S. Sen. Robert J. Dole. By combining the papers of both public servants, the Dole Archives will offer a robust selection of information and knowledge for visiting researchers.

I will always be indebted to Elizabeth Dole for her gracious generosity and significant contributions to American life.  Onward!



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