Congressman James V. Hansen Papers at Utah State University
Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013
Jim Hansen (left) and his wife, Ann, at the opening of the James V. Hansen Papers at Utah State University.
Ross Peterson represented the university and shared his insights at the collection opening.
Special Collections and Archives, a division of USU's University Libraries, displayed a variety of items from the Hansen Papers, including photos, legislative resolutions and other items from the collection’s opening.
Hansen was a champion for Hill Field and was often a subject of political cartoons. The collection includes a number of examples.
Ceremonies Sept. 13 marked the opening of the Congressman James V. Hansen Papers at Utah State University, a collection of documents from Hansen’s career representing Utah’s first congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 2003. The collection can be found at Special Collections and Archives, a division of USU’s University Libraries.
Congressman Hansen and members of his family were on hand for the collection’s official opening. A program highlighted the opening and featured speakers that included Ross Peterson, professor of history and special assistant to the president at USU, and United States District Court Judge Ted Stewart. Hansen spoke as well. Activities were coordinated by USU’s Institute of Government and Politics.
“Let me thank Utah State,” Hansen said. “What a great school. I hope you accept me as an adoptive Aggie because my allegiance is up here. I was cheering for you when you played the University of Utah — I thought for sure you were going to win that game.”
Hansen, who taught as a guest professor for USU, called that experience “one of the highlights of my life.”
“It really was and I appreciate Utah State for letting me do that.”
Ross Peterson represented the university, and noted the collection’s importance.
“I think this is a great addition,” he said. “Now it’s up to us to use it.
“We have a congressional collection with material from a very dynamic time in U.S. history. Too often we are just left with what the president is doing and what the newspapers have covered and sometimes you don’t get the down and dirty as to what’s going on in committees and discussions. I think this is a great primary resource for a university to have.”
Peterson encourages students and others to take advantage of the Hansen papers as well as other collections found at Special Collections and Archives.
“We have great collections here that have hardly been used,” he said. “Professors need to draw attention to the collections and encourage students to take advantage of the valuable resources — whether it’s writing a paper or conducting thesis research.”
Hansen joked with the crowd about the size of the collection.
“Let me apologize to you for the limited material — what was it — three pickup loads full?” he said. “There were some things we couldn’t give you and I feel badly about that.”
Some committees on which Hansen served have sealed the content of meetings and that material is not available.
Early in his congressional career Hansen had been approached by Brigham Young University for his papers, but he selected USU in the end, noting his time in congress and the 22-year association with Utah State University.
“I’m just honored that they would take a nobody like me and put this thing together,” he said. “I’m really impressed they would take me. Bless their hearts.”
Hansen’s papers are separated into four series in Special Collections and Archives. The first, Series I, contains subject files, correspondence and reports of major legislation and debates Hansen encountered during his service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hansen’s staff arranged the majority of the files in the series, and items were left in their original order. The files include general correspondence labeled by topic, historical significance and by Hansen’s close associate. Items, for the most part, are arranged alphabetically with media, books, binder and other materials located at the end of the series.
A number of boxes in Series I are sealed and can be viewed with permission by the Special Collections and Archives manuscript curator.
Series II is primarily Hansen’s general correspondence during his time in the House of Representatives, arranged chronologically.
Series III includes books, reports and maps kept by Rep. Hansen’s office. Most of the documents relate to Utah issues that involved the congressman.
Series IV includes newspaper articles collected by Hansen’s office that address legislation, national and Utah issues that involved the congressman.
James Vear Hansen was born in Salt Lake City in 1932. Following graduation from East High School, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1951to 1955, including action in the Korean conflict. When he finished his military service, he enrolled at the University of Utah where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1961. He entered the business world working in insurance and real estate, and in 1960 he entered the political world when he was appointed to the Farmington City Council. He left the council in 1972 when he was elected as a Republican candidate to the Utah House of Representatives, serving there from 1973-1980 — the last two years as Speaker of the House.
In 1981, Hansen was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, eventually serving 11 terms, 1981-2003. During his time in the house he served as chair of both the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and the Committee on Resources. He sat on the Armed Services Committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Natural Resources Committee.
During his time in office he was known as a strong supporter of Utah’s defense industry and advocated multiple-use development of natural resources and public lands. He was deeply involved in the MX Missile systems and is remembered for his involvement in negotiations with the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
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