NUNN, SAM.
Sam Nunn papers, 1939-1997 (bulk 1972-1996)

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/f3wtn


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Nunn, Sam.
Title: Sam Nunn papers, 1939-1997 (bulk 1972-1996)
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 800
Extent: approx. 1600 linear ft.
Abstract:Personal and professional papers of Georgia Congressman Sam Nunn, the majority of which document his U.S. Senate career.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: The majority of the collection is stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Access to most series is restricted by the donor, researchers may use Subseries 9.8, Scrapbooks, Subseries 9.10, Political cartoons, and most of Series 12, Photographs.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Special restrictions apply: Subseries 9.8, Scrapbooks, researchers may use only microfilm copies of scrapbooks that have been microfilmed.

Additional Physical Form

Scrapbooks also available on microfilm.

Related Materials in This Repository

Sam Nunn oral history collection

Source

Gift, with subsequent additions.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Sam Nunn papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Unprocessed collection


Collection Description

Biographical Note

Sam Nunn (b. September 8, 1938) grew up in the small, southern town of Perry, Georgia. The son of Samuel Augustus Nunn (1888-March 17, 1965) and Mary Elizabeth Cannon (b. 1903), he was the second of two children. His sister, Elizabeth (Betty) Nunn (b. October 28, 1936) married Jean Mori. Nunn attended the Georgia Institute of Technology (1956-1959) and served in the U. S. Coast Guard (1959-1960, reserves 1960-1968). His interest in national politics began early on with the influence of his great-uncle, Congressman Carl Vinson (1888-1981), who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 50 years (1914-1961). After Nunn graduated from Emory Law School (1960-1962), Vinson, then Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, hired him as an aide. In the spring of 1963, his father's failing health called him back to Perry, where he became active in civic affairs and Democratic politics, began his own law firm, and managed the family farm. In 1968 and 1970 Sam Nunn was elected to the Georgia General Assembly to represent Houston County (District 41, Post 1).

In 1971, Senator Richard Russell (D-GA) died in office. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appointed Atlanta lawyer David Gambrell to fill the vacant seat, and although early polls suggested that Sam Nunn had little chance to win, he announced his candidacy on March 15, 1972. Labeling himself a "commonsense conservative" and promising to "get tough in Washington," he defeated Gambrell in a primary runoff and Republican Fletcher Thompson in the general election. He was elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 34. In the three subsequent elections for the U. S. Senate, Nunn faced little opposition. He cast his 10,000th vote in 1996.

During his first term, he was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he would later chair (1972-1996; chair 1986-1994). He also served on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Governmental Affairs Committee (1974-1996; chair 1979-1981 and 1987-1994), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1983-1991), Senate Small Business Committee (1972-1996) and the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (1987).

In 1985, he helped to found the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Fellow DLC members urged Nunn to become a Democratic Party candidate for U. S. President in the 1988 election. After months of deliberation, Nunn finally decided against running. During his quarter century in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nunn earned high praise for his ability to study controversial issues, to form independent opinions, and to build bipartisan coalitions for significant legislation. His expert knowledge of economic policy, defense, and national security won him respect nationally and internationally. Senator Nunn is also known for his success in strengthening and improving Georgia military bases. Throughout his career he focused on representing the interests of the Georgia farmer, encouraging small business, and preserving the environment.

Nunn married Colleen O'Brien (b. March 6, 1937) on 25 September 1965. They have two children, Mary Michelle (b. November 16, 1966) and Samuel Brian (b. July 22, 1969).

Sam Nunn (b. September 8, 1938) grew up in the small, southern town of Perry, Georgia. The son of Samuel Augustus Nunn (1888-March 17, 1965) and Mary Elizabeth Cannon (b. 1903), he was the second of two children. His sister, Elizabeth (Betty) Nunn (b. October 28, 1936) married Jean Mori. Nunn attended the Georgia Institute of Technology (1956-1959) and served in the U. S. Coast Guard (1959-1960, reserves 1960-1968). His interest in national politics began early on with the influence of his great-uncle, Congressman Carl Vinson (1888-1981), who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 50 years (1914-1961). After Nunn graduated from Emory Law School (1960-1962), Vinson, then Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, hired him as an aide. In the spring of 1963, his father's failing health called him back to Perry, where he became active in civic affairs and Democratic politics, began his own law firm, and managed the family farm. In 1968 and 1970 Sam Nunn was elected to the Georgia General Assembly to represent Houston County (District 41, Post 1).

In 1971, Senator Richard Russell (D-GA) died in office. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appointed Atlanta lawyer David Gambrell to fill the vacant seat, and although early polls suggested that Sam Nunn had little chance to win, he announced his candidacy on March 15, 1972. Labeling himself a "commonsense conservative" and promising to "get tough in Washington," he defeated Gambrell in a primary runoff and Republican Fletcher Thompson in the general election. He was elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 34. In the three subsequent elections for the U. S. Senate, Nunn faced little opposition. He cast his 10,000th vote in 1996.

During his first term, he was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he would later chair (1972-1996; chair 1986-1994). He also served on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Governmental Affairs Committee (1974-1996; chair 1979-1981 and 1987-1994), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1983-1991), Senate Small Business Committee (1972-1996) and the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (1987).

In 1985, he helped to found the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Fellow DLC members urged Nunn to become a Democratic Party candidate for U. S. President in the 1988 election. After months of deliberation, Nunn finally decided against running. During his quarter century in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nunn earned high praise for his ability to study controversial issues, to form independent opinions, and to build bipartisan coalitions for significant legislation. His expert knowledge of economic policy, defense, and national security won him respect nationally and internationally. Senator Nunn is also known for his success in strengthening and improving Georgia military bases. Throughout his career he focused on representing the interests of the Georgia farmer, encouraging small business, and preserving the environment.

Nunn married Colleen O'Brien (b. March 6, 1937) on 25 September 1965. They have two children, Mary Michelle (b. November 16, 1966) and Samuel Brian (b. July 22, 1969).

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents Sam Nunn's childhood in Perry, Georgia; education at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at Emory University; military service in the U.S. Coast Guard; work on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee; law practice and civic service in Perry, Georgia; service in the Georgia General Assembly; service in the U.S. Senate; and post-Senate activities. The papers include audio and video recordings, photographs, political cartoons, scrapbooks, awards, books, memorabilia, computer files, and CD-ROMs documenting both his personal and professional life. The majority of the papers document Nunn's U.S. Senate career.

Arrangement Note

Organized into twelve series: (1) Family and childhood papers, (2) Elizabeth Cannon Nunn scrapbooks and clippings, (3) College and early career papers, (4) Georgia legislative records, (5) U.S. Senate constituent services files, (6) U.S. Senate legislative records, (7) U.S. Senate administrative records, (8) U.S. Senate personal/political files, (9) U.S. Senate press relations/media activity files, (10) U.S. Senate subject files, (11) U.S. Senate committee files, and (12) Photographs.


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Description of Series

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