Harris Wofford papers
Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
As a former United States Senator from Pennsylvania, chair of America's Promise, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy, Harris Wofford dedicated much of his career and personal life to advocating for public service.
Born in New York City on April 9, 1926, Harris Llewellyn Wofford grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee and Scarsdale, New York. From 1944 to 1945 he served in the United States Air Force, and then attended the University of Chicago where he received his A.B. degree in 1948. In 1949 he and his late wife, Clare, traveled to India on a fellowship before moving to Israel in 1950 to work and study for a year. He studied law at both Yale University and Howard University and was awarded an LL.B. degree from each institution. He served as Special Assistant to Chester Bowles from 1953 to 1954. From 1954 to 1958 he practiced law in Washington, D.C. before teaching as an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.
Wofford played a key role in the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and later served as trustee to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violet Social Change. Under President Eisenhower, he was counsel to the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh of the University of Notre Dame on the first United States Commission on Civil Rights. During the John F. Kennedy administration, he was a Special Assistant to the President and chaired the subcabinet group on civil rights. While on the White House staff, Wofford helped Sargent Shriver plan and organize the Peace Corps; in 1962, he became the Peace Corps' Special Representative to Africa and director of its large Ethiopia program. He later earned the role of Peace Corps Associate Director under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Since helping to launch the Peace Corps in 1961, Wofford has been at the forefront of the public service movement in the United States. In the 1970s, he formed and chaired a panel to study the idea of national service, which produced the landmark 1979 report "Youth and the Needs of the Nation." In 1987, as Pennsylvania's Secretary of Labor and Industry, he established and led Governor Robert Casey's Office of Citizen Service, which promoted school-based service-learning and youth corps, as well as managed the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps.
Wofford also served as president at the State College of New York (SUNY) at Old Westbury from 1966 to 1970 as well as at Bryn Mawr College from 1970 to 1978. He practiced law in Philadelphia at the Schnader, Harrison, Segal and Lewis firm from 1980 to 1986 and also re-entered politics by serving as a member of the Democratic National Platform Committee and fundraising for Senator Edward Kennedy in 1980, serving on Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode's finance committee in 1983, helping to draft the Democratic party's arms control platform in 1984, and managing Alan Cranston's 1984 Presidential campaign. Wofford went on the serve as Pennsylvania State Democratic Chairman in 1986 before Governor Robert Casey appointed him as Pennsylvania's Secretary of Labor and Industry from 1987 to 1991.
On April 4, 1991, Pennsylvania's senior U.S. Senator, John Heinz III, died in an aviation accident leaving his seat in the United States Senate open. By law, the Pennsylvania governor was required to appoint a replacement until a special election could be held for the seat. Governor Bob Casey appointed Wofford to the seat on May 9, 1991. In November 1991, Wofford won an upset victory, defeating former Gov. and sitting Attorney General Richard Thornburgh in the special election to fill the remainder of Sen. Heinz's term until 1994. Wofford's campaign helped establish many of the foundational themes incorporated in Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential election victory, such as focus on the economy and health care.
In 1993, Senator Wofford worked with President Clinton's task force on drafting and passing the National and Community Service Trust Act, which created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National Service. During his time in the Senate, Wofford was a leader in the effort to secure universal health insurance. With Congressman John Lewis, he also co-authored the legislation establishing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day for volunteer service. During his 1994 bid for re-election, Wofford narrowly lost to Republican Congressman Rick Santorum and thus completed his Senate term on January 3, 1995.
In 1995, President Clinton appointed Wofford as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service with the specific assignment of rebuilding bipartisan support for AmeriCorps and national service. As part of his work at the Corporation, Wofford was instrumental in organizing the Presidents' Summit for America's Future in Philadelphia, which brought together all of the living Presidents, many governors and mayors, and more than 3,000 delegates across the country. The 1997 summit led to the creation of America's Promise, The Alliance for Youth, with General Colin Powell as its initial chairman, a position Wofford assumed in 2001. Wofford later served as co-chair with Alma Powell until June 2004 and remained active on the board of directors for years afterward.
Wofford was also a prolific writer who authored several publications including Of Kennedys and Kings: Making Sense of the Sixties (1980). In 1950, Senator Wofford and his late wife Clare co-authored the book India Afire, which reported on the first year of independence in India and urged the civil rights movement in America to adopt Gandhi's strategy of non-violent direct action.
In 2016, Wofford married his long-time partner, Matthew Charlton, an interior designer.
Wofford passed away on January 21, 2019.
The Harris Wofford papers contain over 400 linear feet of extensive notes, research files, writings, correspondence, political papers and audio/visual recordings documenting an impressive career of a citizen passionate about activism. While not entirely complete in its scope of Wofford's life due to many key records from the 1960s being lost in a fire early in his career, the collection nonetheless provides an invaluable resource for those interested in politics, human rights, public service, education, and law. Furthermore, the collection is noteworthy in that researchers will be able to examine several themes developed throughout Wofford's career, from his grassroots involvement in academia at Bryn Mawr College and SUNY at Old Westbury to federal politics and civil rights to global involvement in volunteerism. The collection is divided into twelve series based on the trajectory of Wofford's career: "I. Personal," "II. State University of New York at Old Westbury," "III. Bryn Mawr College," "IV. Pennsylvania private legal career," "V. Alan Cranston Campaign for President," "IV. Pennsylvania State Democratic Chairman," "VII. Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry," "VIII. United States Senate," "IX. Public service and professional affiliations," "X. Writings," "XI. Subject files" and "XII. Audio/Visual and other media formats."
The first series, "I. Personal," is a small series that contains sporadic documentation of Harris Wofford's personal life and family, early legal and political career, professional affiliations, and some student organization activity during his education. Materials include topical research files, clippings, correspondence, some photographs, and notes. While the series does not provide a comprehensive presentation of Wofford's life, it does reveal political tendencies and passions that Wofford undoubtedly established at a young age and continued to cultivate throughout his adult life. As such, researchers may be interested in the files related to the Foundation for World Government, a liberal political organization established by historian Stringfellow Barr in which Wofford's involvement began when he was a teenager and continued through his early career. Related world governance organizations also documented in this series include the Student Federalists, Incorporated and the World Federalists. Also included in this series are correspondence with his children, guide books and maps used during business trips and vacations, and a few files related to Wofford's early legal career in the 1950s. The series dates from 1944 to 1994 and is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Series "II. State University of New York at Old Westbury" documents Wofford's time serving as President at the experimental college from 1966 to 1970. The series is comprised of topical files, extensive research notes, clippings, correspondence, and various reports and planning materials. The series would be particularly appealing to researchers interested in student self-governance, experimental college curricula, faculty-student collaboration, and protest movements of the 1960s. The student sit-in protest and occupation of Wofford's presidential office is especially well-represented in this series with correspondence between Wofford and student protestors as well as related clippings, memoranda, meeting minutes, manifesto drafts, and even occasional posted lists of student "demands." The series reveals the particular challenges in establishing an experimental college in the 1960s in the various reports, research notes, and documentation of Wofford's eventual resignation. The series dates from 1966 to 1975 and is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Series "III. Bryn Mawr College" contains records related to Wofford's term as the President of Bryn Mawr College from 1970 to 1978. The series is comprised of topical files, articles and clippings, notes, correspondence, and various reports and planning materials. The series documents several of the initiatives supported by Wofford during his administration, including the development of Bryn Mawr College's international programs, various on-campus curricula and academics (including an inaugural program on the study of law), the celebration of the Bicentennial of the United States in 1976, and major fundraising efforts such as the Campaign for the Tenth Decade. Also of interest in this series are the records detailing Bryn Mawr's partnership with nearby Haverford College and related discussion of corporate responsibility in academic institutions, student admission policies based on gender, and women in higher education. The materials in this series also reveal some of Bryn Mawr's history with the records related to convocation and commencement ceremonies as well as research on previous college president M. Carey Thomas. Numerous miscellaneous materials, including related clippings, correspondence, event pamphlets, and office memoranda, are housed at the end of the series. The materials date from 1970 to 1978 and are arranged alphabetically by subject.
Series "IV. Pennsylvania private legal career" contains numerous newspaper clippings, notes, meeting minutes, case files, and correspondence related to Wofford's career as an attorney, primarily at the Philadelphia law firm Schnader, Harrison, Segal and Lewis. Of particular note are the files related to the 1980 assassination of Democratic politician and Wofford's friend, Allard K. Lowenstein, which include notes, clippings, correspondence, and written statements created during Wofford's research to support his refuting information stated in Richard Cummings' biography, The Pied Piper – Allard Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream that Lowenstein worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. Researchers should note that many materials in this series directly overlap in content with law firm history manuscript materials located in the "Writings" series; as such, researchers may find items such as interviews, notes, and research about the firm's founding lawyers, William A. Schnader and Bernard G. Segal, located in series four as well. The series dates from 1980 to 1986 and is arranged in loose alphabetical order.
Series "V. Alan Cranston campaign for president" consists of 15 boxes of materials documenting Wofford's involvement as co-chairman of long-time friend and colleague Alan Cranston's unsuccessful campaign in the 1984 presidential election. Cranston's campaign was based heavily on his "Peace Platform" with support for ending the nuclear arms race; as such, the materials in this series include anti-nuclear campaign messages, arms control reports and research, and related press kits and clippings, as well as various planning materials, notes, correspondence, and financial records. Wofford's interest in arms control can also be found documented in series "VII. Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry" and series "VIII. United States Senate." The series dates from 1982 to 1984 and is arranged alphabetically by subject and record type, with general files housed at the beginning of the series. Series "VI. Pennsylvania State Democratic Chairman" documents Wofford's one year term as Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Party in 1986, during which Robert Casey successfully campaigned for Pennsylvania Governor. As such, many clippings, reports, and correspondence directly relate to Casey's campaign. Additionally, Casey partnered with United States Senate candidate Bob Edgar in order to gain mutual support within the Democratic party; many of the Democratic State Committee files also document this partnership and support through various reports, research files, clippings, notes, and correspondence. The records in this series directly relate to many of the materials located in series "VII. Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry" because of the successful election of Bob Casey and his subsequent appointing Wofford as Secretary of Labor and Industry. The records in this series date from 1986 to 1987 and are arranged alphabetically according to subject, with miscellaneous files housed at the end of the series.
Series "VII. Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry" details Wofford's appointment as Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry under Governor Bob Casey from 1987 until 1991. Wofford's term focused on issues such as education, public service, unemployment and job training, as well as arms control, all of which are documented in this series with correspondence, financial records, topical research files and clippings. The records relating to Job Corps and unemployment, especially, directly relate to the "Americorps and Job Corps" and "unemployment" files found in the "VIII. United States Senate" series, further revealing Wofford's consistent dedication to these issues throughout his career. The series dates from 1987 to 1991 and is arranged alphabetically by subject, with general files housed at the beginning of the series.
Series "VIII. United States Senate" is the largest series in this collection and contains five subseries: "a. 1991," "b. 1992," "c. 1993," "d. 1994," and "e. Subject files." The materials in this series date from 1991 to 1995 and are arranged and described at the subseries or box level in accordance with minimal processing; researchers are encouraged to examine all boxes thoroughly for relevant and related records.
Subseries "a. 1991" consists primarily of records relating to Wofford's campaign against Dick Thornburg and thus is one of the more robust subseries in the "VIII. United States Senate" series. The 56 boxes of this subseries' materials include various polling results, press packets, fundraising information, notes, reports, research files (especially on health care and Wofford's opposition), and extensive clippings detailing the often daily progress of Wofford's campaign and eventual election. Much of the fundraising activities documented here reveal Governor Bob Casey's staunch support of Wofford during his campaign. Researchers should note that some related material, including about opposition candidate Dick Thornburg, can be found in the subseries "e. Subject files."
Subseries "b. 1992" contains eight cartons of press packets, clippings, and some reports about Senate speeches and floor actions involving Wofford. Of note in this subseries are materials related to the 1992 presidential election, during which Wofford was a finalist for the vice-presidential nomination. As such, the materials in this series may overlap with the "Clinton" files located in the "e. Subject files" subseries.
Subseries "c. 1993" consists entirely of press packets, press releases, and clippings related to Wofford's second full year as Senator. Many of these materials relate to Wofford's involvement with the drafting and creation of the National and Community Service Trust Act under President Bill Clinton. Other types of records from this year can be found in the various materials located in the "e. Subject files" subseries.
Subseries "e. Subject files" contains extensive topical research files on pertinent political issues examined by Wofford during his entire Senate career, most notably "abortion," "health care," "labor issues," "[Martin Luther] King Holiday and Service Act," "Pennsylvania state and county issues," and "tax reform," and "unemployment." Also included in this subseries are various records related to campaigns against Dick Thornburg (in 1991) and Rick Santorum (in 1994). Researchers may also be interested in the records concerning the economic impact of naval shipyard closures and conversions, especially the Philadelphia Navy Yard and Wofford's campaigning for federal aid for its conversion in order to sustain jobs for local employees and civilians. Materials that were not clearly labeled or grouped under topical headings were placed in miscellaneous files housed at the end of the subseries. These miscellaneous files are grouped loosely according to record type and include "articles, clippings and press releases," "research files," and "senate papers and congressional files." The research files contain topical materials, pamphlets, notes, articles, and some correspondence about issues such as agriculture, the arts, commerce and banking, defense and foreign affairs. Researchers also may be interested especially in the hearing and task force files, floor statements, Senate schedules, committee records and notes, some financial records, field lists and maps, and various reports house in the "senate papers and congressional files" records group.
Series "IX. Public service and professional affiliations" most prominently documents Wofford's passion for public service and human rights throughout his career. While the materials in this series date from circa 1960s to 1990s, the bulk of the records are from the 1980s to early 1990s. The records are arranged alphabetically by subject or organization name and contain extensive notes, research files, pamphlets, clippings, essays and articles, reports, and correspondence documenting Wofford's direct participation or continued interest in the Peace Corps and various national service-related organizations. His involvement with and travel for the United States - South Africa Leadership Development Program [USSALEP] and the United States Information Agency-Africa (USIA-Africa) echo his initial work with Africa and the Peace Corps in the 1960s. Other related materials can be found in the "VIII. United States Senate" series and the "XI. Subject files" series.
Series "X. Writings" contains numerous examples of Wofford's prolific writing talent in the form of extensive notes, drafts, research, and typescripts for his various speeches, articles, essays, and monographs prepared throughout his career. Most notably in this series are the many notes and drafts created during various stages of the writing process for his published book, Of Kennedys and Kings: Making Sense of the Sixties. A manuscript draft for the published Embers of the World: Conversations with Scott Buchanan as well as preparatory drafts and research for the unpublished history of the law firm Schnader, Harrison, Segal and Lewis can be found in this series. Also of interest are speeches given during his time as president of both Bryn Mawr College and the State University of New York at Old Westbury as well as various speeches and essays written earlier in his career, all of which demonstrate a sustained passion for and deep commitment to economics, civil and human rights, and volunteerism throughout his lifetime. Researchers are advised that the content of many of this series consistently overlaps with other series in this collection, including "I. Personal," "II. State University of New York at Old Westbury," "III. Bryn Mawr College," "IV. Pennsylvania private legal career," and "XI. Subject files." However, writings and speeches associated with Wofford's career in the Senate are housed in the "VIII. United States Senate" series.
Series "XI. Subject files" contains many topical and research files on subjects related to and in addition to topics already documented throughout the collection, especially the materials in series"VIII. United States Senate," series "IX. Public service and professional affiliations" and series "X. Writings." Issues related to health care are particularly well represented in the series, with materials collected throughout several stages in Wofford's political career. While some of the topics in this series have been identified and arranged alphabetically, many of the topics in the "miscellaneous" files located at the end of the series were too numerous to be examined thoroughly in the course of minimally processing this collection. Therefore, researchers interested in any of the topics found throughout the rest of the collection should inspect these miscellaneous files as well for potential overlap in content. The series dates from circa 1960s to 1990s.
The final series, "XII. Audio/visual and other media formats," presents a rather substantial resource of political videos, advertisements, interviews, and speeches from Wofford's later political career, particularly from the 1980s to the early 1990s. While the archivist was unable to review the video and audio tapes due to the nature of minimal processing, these materials undoubtedly will complement richly the rest of the collection, especially the research files and papers related to Wofford's 1991 and 1994 Senate races. Also included in this series are a few computer disks and photographs from Wofford's term as a senator, as well as some plaques and awards presented to him throughout his career.
This collection has been minimally processed to the folder level and to the box level.
- Thornburgh, Dick
- Clinton, Bill
- Cranston, Alan, 1914-2000
- Lowenstein, Allard K
- Casey, Robert P. (Robert Patrick)
- Bryn Mawr College
- State University of New York
- AmeriCorps (U.S.)
- Job Corps (U.S.)
- United States. Congress. Senate
- Bryn Mawr College
- Finding Aid Author
- Christiana Dobrzynski
- Finding Aid Date
- 2012 February 1
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
The Harris Wofford papers are the physical property of Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Literary Rights, including copyright, belong to the author.