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Gary Hart papers

Identifier: COU:744

Scope and Contents

Senator Hart maintained offices in Washington, D.C. and in Colorado. With sizeable staffs in separate offices many files overlap. This is to be expected in large collections of Congressional papers and the object in organizing and arranging Senator Hart's Papers has been to facilitate access without trying to combine every file of like information which would have been long and costly. When doing research in these papers ALWAYS CONSULT EACH SECTION FOR WHATEVER INFORMATION YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR. Please note also that dates (i.e. 1982 84) are assigned to most folders. Many folders contain upwards of one hundred papers and the dates are intended only as a broad marker of the time period.


  • Creation: 1970 - 1987

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries do not own the copyright to this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Biographical Note

Gary Warren Hart was born November 28, 1936 in Ottawa, Kansas where his father sold farm equipment. In 1958 he graduated from Bethany Nazarene College in Oklahoma after financing his education by working on railroad construction crews during the summers. After his graduation he married Oletha (Lee) Ludwig whom he had met at Bethany and later the Hart's had two children Andrea, born in 1964, and John, born in 1966. From Bethany the Hart's moved to Connecticut where he earned degrees from the Yale Divinity School in 1961 and the Yale Law School in 1964.

Gary Hart first came to Colorado in 1943 to visit relatives and he had returned often after that. In the summers from 1954 1962 he worked on the Santa Fe and Colorado & Southern Railroads. He began his move to Colorado in 1965 when he took the Colorado bar exam and he came to live and practice law in Denver in 1967, focusing on natural resource and environmental law.

Gary Hart's public service began when he volunteered in the campaign of President John F. Kennedy. He spent 1964 1966 in Washington, D.C. as an attorney in the Justice Department and as Special Assistant to Secretary Stewart Udall at the Interior Department. In 1968 he worked as a volunteer for Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign in Colorado.

As a Denver resident Hart served on the Board of Commissioners of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, he lectured on natural resources law at the University of Colorado School of Law at Boulder and he was a member of the Park Hill Action Committee, the area where the Hart's lived.

In 1970, as a young lawyer, Hart advanced a dinner for Senator George McGovern in Denver, a minor function as political work assignments go. Despite limited job credentials in this area and having been raised in a non political family, a few months later Gary Hart had mastered the political details necessary for a political campaign and ran Senator McGovern's national presidential bid in the two years preceding the 1972 election.

Hart entered politics in his own right in 1974 and, aided by the awakening of environmental ethics and the changing demographics of the Colorado electorate, he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Colorado. In 1980 he was narrowly re elected and was only one of ten Senate Democrats to survive Ronald Reagan's sweep which put the Republicans in the Senate Majority.

In the Senate Hart was member of the Armed Services Committee Subcommittes on Military Construction, Strategic & Theatre Nuclear Forces, and Sea Power & Force Projection. He was a member of the Budget Committee and a member of the Environment & Public Works Committee Subcommittees on Environmental Pollution, Nuclear Regulation, Toxic Substances & Environmental Oversight, and National Commission on Air Quality. He was also a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. He was the Congressional advisor to the SALT II negotiations and he chaired the Senate investigation into the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident of 1979.

Among many interests and legislative activities Senator Hart participated in the passage of the Superfund legislation and the Clean Air Act. He consistently opposed Reaganomics and was one of the leading Congressional supporters of SALT II. He was a leader in the debates concerning nuclear non proliferation, comprehensive nuclear test bans and the need for a strong and more effective U.S. military. In Colorado, among many issues, he was particularly interested in the development of Colorado's oil shale resources and the designation of and uses of federal land within the State.

Early in 1983 Senator Hart announced his candidacy for President of the United States. He won twenty seven primaries and caucuses while refusing all PAC contributions, but his bid did not succeed at the Democratic National Convention. After the convention he toured the country in support of the Democratic candidates. Following the Democratic defeat in the 1984 presidential election Gary Hart became the leading Democratic contender for the 1988 presidential nomination.

He decided to retire from the Senate at the end of the 99th Congress and made this announcement on January 4, 1986. For the next year Hart stood as the leading, though as yet unannounced, candidate until he officially entered the race in Denver on April 13, 1987. His campaign, however, ended unexpectedly and prematurely amidst allegations of sexual improprieties and a media feeding frenzy. He withdrew his candidacy on May 15, 1987. He re announced his candidacy on December 15, 1987, but the results were not successful and he finally withdrew from the 1988 presidential campaign.


393 linear feet (252 Containers)

Language of Materials



Gary Hart (b.1937), a graduate of Yale University's schools of Divinity and Law, first gained national visibility while directing George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign. Colorado voters elected Hart to the U.S. Senate in 1974 and narrowly reelected him in 1980. He soon began a "dark horse" try for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, placing second to Walter Mondale in 1984. Hart retired from the Senate in 1986 to unsuccessfully pursue the 1988 nomination, disbanding the campaign organization by mid-1987. The collection includes Senate papers and records from Hart's Washington and Colorado offices, plus diverse materials generated for the Senator's Colorado and national election efforts.


This collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Biographical Sketches/Tributes in the Senate, 1986 Series 2: Legislative Profile, 1975-1986 Series 3: Campaigns, 1974-1988 Series 4: Colorado Offices, 1975-1986 Series 5: Personal Office, 1976-1986 Series 6: Washington Office Administration, 1975-1985 Series 7: Press Office, 1972-1987 Series 8: Schedules/Trip Books/Speaking Engagements, 1975-1987 Series 9: Speeches, Articles/Columns, Interview Transcripts, 1974-1987 Series 10: Cassettes, Videos, Tapes and Photos, n.d. Series 11: Oversize, n.d.

Physical Location

A73 A1-G7; A74 A1-G7; A75 A1-E1

Gary Hart Newspaper clippings, 1987 A6 K1

Processed by: Harvey N. Gardiner, December 22, 1988 Reformatted by: Stephanie E. Hodges, May 2010 Edited by: Jeffrey Wermer, July 2014 Edited by: Katelyn Morken, July 2018
December 22, 1988
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States