August 26, 2009 Library of Congress to Acquire Jack F. Kemp Collection

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

The family of former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Republican congressman, vice presidential candidate and professional football player Jack F. Kemp (1935-2009) has announced its intention to donate his papers to the Library of Congress. The papers are currently on deposit at Pepperdine University.

Born in Los Angeles, Kemp began playing professional football in 1957. He led the Buffalo Bills to American Football League championships in 1964 and 1965. Following his football career, he served nine terms in Congress (1971-1988) as a representative from New York and as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1989-1993).

During his years in Congress, Kemp was a leading advocate of “supply-side” economics, advancing the argument that cutting taxes would boost economic growth and yield more revenue for the federal government. The 1981 tax cuts signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan were cosponsored by Kemp. He was the first lawmaker to popularize “enterprise zones,” the concept of encouraging development in underserved urban neighborhoods by offering entrepreneurs and investors both tax and regulatory relief to start businesses in the area. Kemp supported this approach in order to foster entrepreneurship and job creation and to expand homeownership among public-housing tenants.

In 1988, Kemp mounted an unsuccessful bid for the presidency, losing the Republican primaries to George H.W. Bush. Once in office, Bush appointed Kemp to his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a position he held until 1993. Senator Bob Dole chose Kemp as his 1996 vice-presidential nominee, running against Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

In his later career, Kemp remained active in political and charitable work. He served as director of numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including Oracle, Hawk Corp, Speedway Motorsports, Habitat for Humanity and the Howard University Board of Trustees. He also served on several advisory boards such as Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy and the UCLA School of Public Policy. In 2003, he was selected as chairman of the board of USA Football, a national advocacy group for amateur football, created by the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association.

Kemp died on May 2, 2009, after a battle with cancer. Kemp was awarded posthumously the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Obama on Aug. 12, 2009.

The bulk of the collection covers Kemp’s 18 years in Congress, including records pertaining to Watergate and the Reagan administration’s economic agenda. The records of his bids for the presidency and vice-presidency are also included as are those from his tenure at HUD. Personal records include family photographs, coverage of his retirement from Congress and remembrances of his life and work in the aftermath of his death. His writings and a large personal library are also included, along with photographs and video from his football career.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at

The Manuscript Division was one of several departments established in 1897 when the Library of Congress moved from the U.S. Capitol to a separate building (later named for Thomas Jefferson). From a collection of 25,000 items acquired throughout the 19th century, the division’s holdings have grown to more than 62 million items. Counted among some of the greatest manuscript treasures of American history and culture are Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, James Madison’s notes on the Federal Convention, George Washington's first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg and second inaugural addresses and Alexander Graham Bell’s first drawing of the telephone. The collection also contains the papers of 23 American presidents from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge.


PR 09-159
ISSN 0731-3527