Former Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello is donating his congressional papers to Southern Illinois University. Costello says he chose to donate his papers to the university because he has several family members who either go to SIU or have graduated from there. He says the papers will be used for student research.
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“You always have to look at the past to figure out how you got to where you are today,” Costello says. “(I hope) they learned what the debate was about, the role that I played and some of the important issues of the last quarter-century.” Costello, a Democrat from Belleville, served in Congress from 1988-2013. Walter Ray, curator of Morris Library’s special collections, says from the papers he has seen, he’s intrigued by the personal messages sent between lawmakers during the legislative process.
“It’s not e-mails, it’s personal notes,” Ray says. “They congratulate each other on re-elections, they send birthday greetings, get well messages, sympathy messages and thank yous for voting on certain pieces of legislation.” Anna Moore, dean of library affairs at SIU, says the issues that were important to Costello during his 25 years in office are also important to the campus. “Infrastructure, transportation, aviation is very big at SIU as far as the education of students,” Moore says. “So now the ability to come and study the history of the laws evolving is going to be a tremendous synergy.”
SIU maintains the papers of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and U.S. Reps. Ken Gray and Glenn Poshard.