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A Register of the Sam Nunn papers,
1939- (bulk 1972-1996)

Emory University

Robert W. Woodruff Library
Special Collections Department
Atlanta, Georgia 30322-2870
(404)727-6887

This finding aid was encoded as a part of the SAGE Digital Archive Project: A Collaborative Project between the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, 1997-2000.

Funding for the SAGE Digital Archive Project was provided by an Atlanta, Georgia, foundation.


Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Biographical Note

Scope & Content Note

Description of Record Groups

  1. Family and pre-Senate papers
    1. Family and childhood papers
    2. Elizabeth Cannon Nunn scrapbooks and clippings
    3. College and early career papers
    4. Georgia legislative records
  2. U.S. Senate records
  3. Post-Senate papers

Selected Search Terms


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Nunn, Sam, 1939-

Sam Nunn papers

1939- (bulk 1972-1996)

2,000 linear feet


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Administrative Information

Publication Rights
Information on copyright (literary rights) available from repository. All requests for reproduction subject to limitations noted in departmental policy on reproduction. Reproduction will be made only from microfilm copies of scrapbooks that have been microfilmed.

Restrictions
Special restrictions on access apply. Access to some series is restricted. See finding aid for a list of open series. Researchers many use only microfilm copies of scrapbooks that have been microfilmed. Researchers should contact the repository for additional terms governing the use of the collection.

Citation
[after identification of item(s)], Sam Nunn papers, Special Collections Department, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University.

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Biographical Note

Sam Nunn (b. 8 September 1938) grew up in the small, southern town of Perry, Georgia. The son of Samuel Augustus Nunn (1888-17 March 1965) and Mary Elizabeth Cannon (b. 1903), he was the second of two children. His sister, Elizabeth (Betty) Nunn (b. 28 October 1936) married Jean Mori. Nunn attended the Georgia Institute of Technology (1956-1959) and served in the U. S. Coast Guard (1959-1960, reserves 1960-1968). His interest in national politics began early on with the influence of his great-uncle, Congressman Carl Vinson (1888-1981), who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 50 years (1914-1961). After Nunn graduated from Emory Law School (1960-1962), Vinson, then Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, hired him as an aide. In the spring of 1963, his father's failing health called him back to Perry, where he became active in civic affairs and Democratic politics, began his own law firm, and managed the family farm. In 1968 and 1970 Sam Nunn was elected to the Georgia General Assembly to represent Houston County (District 41, Post 1).

In 1971, Senator Richard Russell (D-GA) died in office. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appointed Atlanta lawyer David Gambrell to fill the vacant seat, and although early polls suggested that Sam Nunn had little chance to win, he announced his candidacy on 15 March 1972. Labeling himself a "commonsense conservative" and promising to "get tough in Washington", he defeated Gambrell in a primary runoff and Republican Fletcher Thompson in the general election. He was elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 34. In the three subsequent elections for the U. S. Senate, Nunn faced little opposition. He cast his 10,000th vote in 1996.

During his first term, he was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he would later chair (1972-1996; chair 1986-1994). He also served on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Governmental Affairs Committee (1974-1996; chair 1979-1981 and 1987-1994), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1983-1991), Senate Small Business Committee (1972-1996) and the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (1987).

In 1985, he helped to found the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Fellow DLC members urged Nunn to become a Democratic Party candidate for U. S. President in the 1988 election. After months of deliberation, Nunn finally decided against running.

During his quarter century in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nunn earned high praise for his ability to study controversial issues, to form independent opinions, and to build bipartisan coalitions for significant legislation. His expert knowledge of economic policy, defense, and national security won him respect nationally and internationally. Senator Nunn is also known for his success in strengthening and improving Georgia military bases. Throughout his career he focused on representing the interests of the Georgia farmer, encouraging small business, and preserving the environment.

Nunn married Colleen O'Brien (b. 6 March 1937) on 25 September 1965. They have two children, Mary Michelle (b. 16 November 1966) and Samuel Brian (b. 22 July 1969).

For additional biographical information about Sam Nunn, consult the CD-ROM "The Man from Perry: Sam Nunn", available at Emory University's Special Collections Department.


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Scope and Content Note

The collection documents Sam Nunn's childhood in Perry, Georgia; education at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at Emory University; military service in the U.S. Coast Guard; work on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee; law practice and civic service in Perry, Georgia; service in the Georgia General Assembly; service in the U.S. Senate; and post-Senate activities. The papers include audio and video recordings, microfilm, photographs, political cartoons, scrapbooks, awards, books, memorabilia, computer files, and CD-ROMs documenting both his personal and professional life. The majority of the papers document Nunn's U.S. Senate career.

Organization Note

Organized into three record groups:
(1) Family and pre-Senate papers, 1935-1972; (2) U.S. Senate records, 1971-1996; and (3) Post-Senate papers, 1997- .


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Description of Record Groups

Record Group I
Family and pre-Senate papers
1935-1978
14 linear feet and memorabilia

Organization Note

This record group consists of four series: (1) Family and childhood papers, 1939-1960; (2) Elizabeth Cannon Nunn scrapbooks and clippings, 1954-56, 1972-1996; (3) College and early career papers, 1960-1967; and (4) Georgia legislative records, 1968-1971.

Related Materials

Additional photographs from the pre-Senate years are located in the Photograph series (Press relations/media activity subgroup, Senate record group.) Additional scrapbooks from the pre-Senate years are located in Scrapbook and clippings series (Press relations/media activity subgroup, Senate record group). Materials related to Nunn's great-uncle, Carl Vinson, are located in the Vinson series (Personal/Political subgroup, Senate record group) and in the Photograph series (Press relations/media activity subgroup, Senate record group).

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Series 1. Family and childhood papers
1939-1960

Access Restrictions

All materials not on exhibit are RESTRICTED.

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of memorabilia, documents, correspondence, photographs, clothing, awards, scrapbooks and other items donated by Senator Nunn for exhibits. The materials on exhibit, primarily memorabilia and photographs, document Sam Nunn's family, childhood, education, and participation in sports and the Boy Scouts.

The majority of these items remain on long-term loan and are available for viewing at the Houston County Board of Education building in Perry, Georgia, and at the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia.

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Series 2. Elizabeth Cannon Nunn scrapbooks and clippings
1954-56, 1972-1996
6 linear feet

Access Restrictions

All of this series is RESTRICTED.

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of scrapbooks assembled by and clippings collected by Nunn's mother, Elizabeth Cannon Nunn, documenting his activities in high school, the 1972 Senate campaign, and his career in the U.S. Senate.

Related Materials

Scrapbooks and clippings collected by Senator Nunn's press staff and by the staff of Special Collections are located in the Scrapbook and clippings series (Press relations/media activity subgroup, Senate record group).

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Series 3. College and early career papers
1960-1967
4 linear feet

Access Restrictions

All materials not on exhibit are RESTRICTED.

Scope and Content Note

The third series consists of class notes, correspondence, memos, bound reports, photographs, speeches, and certificates. These materials document Nunn's education at Emory Law School (1960-1962); his work in the House Armed Services Committee (1962-1963); his service in the U.S. Coast Guard (1959-1960, reserves 1960-1968); his law practice in Perry, Georgia; the Nunn farm in Perry, Georgia; and his work with the Perry Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Planning Commission, and the Middle Georgia Area Planning Commission. Copies of his father's speeches can be found in his law practice files.

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Series 4. Georgia legislative records
1968-1974
4 linear feet

Access Restrictions

All materials not on exhibit are RESTRICTED.

Scope and Content Note

The fourth series includes correspondence, memos, reports, photographs, newsletters, speeches, legislative records, case files and certificates documenting Nunn's service representing Houston County (District 41, Post 1) in the Georgia Assembly (1968-1971) and his work on the "Goals for Georgia" report (1971).

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Record Group II
U.S. Senate records
1972-1996
ca. 1,950 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

This record group consists of records created by Senator Nunn's campaign and Senate staffs. They document his campaigns for the Senate, legislative work, Senate committee work, political activities, communication with constituents, and his decision not to run for president in 1988. The series includes pages of text, audio and video recordings, microfilm, photographs, political cartoons, scrapbooks, awards, memorabilia, computer files, and CD-ROMs.

Organization Note

Organized into six subgroups: (1) Constituent services (RESTRICTED), (2) Legislative records (RESTRICTED), (3) Office administration (RESTRICTED), (4) Personal/political files (RESTRICTED), (5) Press relations/media activity, and (6) Subject files (RESTRICTED).

See separate finding aids for descriptions of the subgroups containing records open for research.

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Record Group III
Post-Senate papers
1997-
ca. 5 linear feet

Access Restrictions

All of this record group is RESTRICTED.

Scope and Content Note

This record group consists of records documenting Senator Nunn's career and activities after he retired from the Senate in 1996. It includes awards, speeches, and monographs. Additions are made yearly.


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Selected Search Terms

Personal Names
Nunn, Sam

Corporate Names
Democratic Party (Ga.)
United States. Congress. Senate--Members' papers--Georgia

Subjects
Legislators--United States--Archives

Geographic Names
Perry (Ga.)
Houston County (Ga.)
Georgia--Politics and government--20th century

Form/Genre Terms
Correspondence
Motion pictures
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Sound recordings
Speeches
Subject files

Occupations
Lawyer
Legislator

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