Crowdsourcing a time machine
Sen. Carl Levin, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 2015, has donated the collected materials from his 36 years in office to the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library.
Levin is the longest-serving senator in Michigan’s history. He chaired the Senate Committee on Armed Services for 18 years and was a member of that committee and the Government Affairs Committee for 36 years.
The Levin collection covers more than 1,450 linear feet and spans from 1952 to 2015. It includes photos, letters, legislation, memorabilia, publications, memos and more from his time in the U.S. Senate.
Levin’s materials will join many other collections of important Michigan political leaders at the Bentley, comprising the papers of 31 Michigan governors—from Lewis Cass, the third governor of the Michigan Territory, to two-term Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm—as well as 15 U.S. senators and 17 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I am delighted to be part of a top-notch historical collection and to join such great company,” said Levin, who attended the Nov. 4 celebration of the arrival of his collection at the Bentley Historical Library.
Born in Detroit, Levin’s political career started long before his 1979 U.S. Senate race win. He worked as general counsel of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1964-67 and as a special assistant attorney general for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. In 1968, he was elected to the Detroit City Council, serving from 1969-77, and was its president from 1973-77.
“The arc of Senator Levin’s political career and the political levels at which he has served literally form a kind of map of Michigan history in the late 20th century,” said Terrence McDonald, director of the Bentley Historical Library. “His career has touched every major event in a crucially important period of American history and, therefore, his papers will be consulted for decades to come.”
The Bentley has officially received the materials and will begin processing the collection to prepare for public use, which may take up to one year.