Government Agency Referral Files Now Open in the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files

By Christina Fitzpatrick, Processing Archivist

We are pleased to announce the opening of Series 16 in the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files. This collection contains records that are principally connected with Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy’s career in government service, specifically material that was generated by his official duties as Senator from Massachusetts (1962-2009). The newly available series is titled Series 016. Government Agency Referral Files (F-14), 1963-1975. It consists of 106 archival boxes of records.

Because the Library is currently migrating to a new digital archives system, the main Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files finding aid cannot be updated at this time to include the new information. However, researchers may consult and download a temporary PDF document containing an overview and container list for Series 16 here.

Series 16 contains constituent correspondence and other material pertaining to federal and Massachusetts state government agencies. These files were created and maintained by the staff of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office in Washington, D.C., and were assigned the central filing code F-14. As a group, they provide evidence of how Senator Kennedy acted as a liaison between the federal government and the citizens of Massachusetts. The correspondence in this series involves issues that were outside of Senator Kennedy’s purview and therefore the letters were referred to the appropriate government agency for a response. Constituents contacted the Senator for assistance with a wide variety of government services and benefits as well as questions about policies, regulations, and legislation. As nearly every federal agency is represented in these files, the topics covered are very broad; to locate material on a certain subject, consult the files for the agency with jurisdiction in that area. With some topics such as intellectual disabilities (formerly called mental retardation), Senator Kennedy received inquiries from individuals outside of Massachusetts and even internationally due to public knowledge of his family’s interest in those topics. Each inquiry packet usually includes the original letter, a routing slip addressed to a certain agency, the agency’s response to Senator Kennedy, and a letter from the Senator’s office forwarding the response to the constituent. Some inquiries include background material such as forms, reports, publications, photographs, or notes by Senator Kennedy’s staff. Some agency files also include printed material such as press releases and grant reports. Please note that voluminous grant reports issued by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) were weeded during processing because they are available elsewhere; only the portions related to Massachusetts were retained. 

Additional series from the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Files will be made available as they are processed.

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