Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, announced the donation of two decades of her congressional papers to UC Berkeley — including the largest digital collection Bancroft Library has ever received — on Thursday morning.
The senator said at the library that she hoped with her past work to inspire future women leaders after having the honor of serving California during her time in public office. She was accompanied by UC President Janet Napolitano and Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ.
“Now here I am after 40 years in office, leaving my papers for the greatest university in the world,” Boxer said.
The archives will contain material from Boxer’s previous campaigns, speech transcripts from throughout her career — including those outlining her dissent against the Iraq War — as well as photos and original song lyrics from her years in office.
“Believe me, I didn’t think when I got elected, ‘Who’s gonna take my archives?’ ” Boxer said.
At the special event, Boxer also introduced the Barbara Boxer lecture series — an annual series beginning next spring that will bring women leaders to campus — in which she will be the first speaker. Boxer said the speakers will be encouraged to comment on the world as they see it and thus will not be limited in their topics of discussion.
Boxer added that she hopes the people who come will see a role model, even if they don’t agree on everything the speaker has to say.
“You’re going to see somebody who I hope will speak to you,” Boxer said.
Theresa Salazar, the curator of the Bancroft Collection of Western Americana, said that archivists are still preparing the collection before it is accessible to students but some documents will be made public ahead of the lecture series.
Boxer said she chose to make the donation to UC Berkeley because of her support for the Bay Area and public universities, having attended public school for most of her education.
She added that she saw firsthand the great education that the campus provides through her son, who has been working closely with faculty on the two projects. Douglas Boxer graduated from UC Berkeley in 1988 and approached Barbara Boxer about collaborating with the campus.
“This university changed my life,” Douglas Boxer said. “I live everyday as a product of this university.”
At the announcement, Christ said Barbara Boxer’s donation marks the beginning of an exciting collaboration between the campus and senator. She hoped that these words and records will encourage young women to become leaders.
When asked for advice by a member of the audience for future women politicians, Barbara Boxer encouraged young women to get involved in a campaign with someone who they believe in and to learn from them. She also said it is important to aspire to make a difference in a certain area and not focus just on earning a title.
“If you want to be in politics, you have to want to do something, not be something,” she said.
Christ said the archives will bring a wonderful resource to the campus. She explained that Barbara Boxer’s partnership with the campus through the archives and lecture series is fitting.
“She’s one of the most liberal members of the Senate, and I suppose Berkeley is one of the most liberal cities in the U.S.,” Christ said. “There seems to be some rightness in that.”