The University of Arkansas on March 19 officially made available to the public the papers of former Arkansas Gov. and U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers.
The archive, which was donated to the university’s special collections department by Bumpers in 2000, is comprised of 1,200 boxes of material, including tokens of his personal life and legislative career, personal and office records, campaign materials, correspondence and photographs.
It took years to sort through the “treasure trove of information” Bumpers amass ed over several decades, said UA provost Sharon Gaber, during a ceremony marking the opening. “This collection will help confirm his legacy and ensure the historical record is accurate.”
Before entering politics, Bumpers was influential in his hometown, urging the Charleston School District to become the first public school district in the South to integrate, according to a news release from the UA.
He ran for governor in 1970, defeating Orval Faubus in the Democratic primary and incumbent Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller and was a member of the U.S. Senate for 24 years. During this time, he served as chair of the Small Business Committee and on the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In the Senate, he was known for taking steps to cut government spending and was recognized for his efforts to protect Arkansas wildlife, and the UA Board of Trustees named the College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences in Bumpers’ honor in 1995, according to the news release.
He retired from the Senate in 1999.
Former Gov. and U.S. Sen. David Pryor spoke of his years serving with Bumpers on the Senate, referring to him as “both the best orator and the conscience of the Senate.”
Archie Schaffer, nephew of Bumpers, represented the family during the ceremony.
Bumpers, 88, a UA alumnus, resides with wife Betty in Little Rock.