No Holding Back The 1980 John B. Anderson Presidential Campaign

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Few would argue that the 1980 John Anderson campaign was a significant moment in the history of presidential campaigns in the United States and, particularly, of those run outside the major party system.  Yet, to this day, there is no repository for documents that relate to this campaign.

When I began the research for No Holding Back, I assumed that papers related to the campaign would be housed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois.  This is where Anderson donated his papers following the conclusion of his congressional career.  When I made the trip there to review them, I found a wonderful collection of Anderson’s congressional papers, but almost nothing that related to his 1980 presidential campaign.  In fact, most of the papers from the campaign have been lost.

Less than half a dozen people who worked in the campaign have donated their papers from this campaign and other parts of their political life to some well-run libraries scattered across the country, but they only tell a small fraction of the story.  In researching the book, I also found about half a dozen people (including Mr. Anderson) who still had modest collections of papers from the campaign gathering dust in their attics or basements.  These people graciously allowed me to copy them and use them for the book.  Cliff Brown was the person with the largest set of papers, as he provided several boxes of helpful documents from 1980.

In the near future, I hope to gather any other papers from the campaign that may still exist.  I plan to organize these papers and donate them to a prominent public library that will house them well and give future scholars access to them.  I think it is important that the Anderson presidential campaign papers are accessible and available for future study.  In addition, I have some taped interviews from my research, as well as collected some videotapes and audiotapes from 1980 that I intend to donate to augment the papers I have collected.

Do you have any papers or other artifacts from the campaign that you might be interested in donating for this project?  Even if it is only a few papers, it would still be worthwhile.  Please help us build an archive of documents to help future scholars study this important political campaign.  If you are interested, please contact me at mason.james.l@gmail.com.

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