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About the Birch Bayh Senatorial Papers: Overview of the Collection, 1963-1980

An Overview Guide to his Papers in the Modern Political Papers Collections of the Indiana University Libraries

Finding aid prepared by Kate Cruikshank, Political Papers Specialist

Summary Information

Modern Political Papers Collection, Indiana University Libraries
Herman B Wells Library E460
1320 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: 812-856-4601

Bayh, Birch, 1928-

About the Birch Bayh Senatorial Papers: Overview of the Collection, 1963-1980

Collection No.

est. 800 linear feet

Materials are in English

The collection consists of papers generated and received by the office of Senator Birch Bayh during his three terms (1963-1980) in the United States Senate representing the state of Indiana, including extensive papers from his legislative work, his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, his other Judiciary Committee work, his Senate and Presidential campaigns, and his extensive involvement in economic development in Indiana.

Access Restrictions

The collection is currently in the final stages of detailed processing. Materials for which there is not yet an online finding aid can be made available for research by advance arrangement. Contact Kate Cruikshank, Political Papers Specialist, 812-856-4601,

Biographical Note

Birch Evans Bayh was born January 22, 1928 in Terre Haute, Indiana. He attended public schools in Indiana; served in the United States Army, stationed in Germany, from 1946-1948; and after Army service attended Purdue University, graduating with a B.S. in 1951. Following graduation he married Marvella Hern in August 1952, and attended Indiana State University in Terre Haute for two years while also running the family farm. In 1954 he was elected to the Indiana State Assembly, serving there until his election to the United States Senate in 1962. Meanwhile he entered Indiana University Bloomington's School of Law in 1957, receiving his J.D., awarded with distinction, in 1960. While a law student he continued as a state representative and served as Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1959. In 1962 Bayh ran as a Democrat for the office of United States Senator, defeating incumbent Republican Senator Homer Capehart.

His committee service was extensive. During his eighteen years in the Senate, Bayh served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments and as such was a prime mover in the drafting of three amendments to the United States Constitution. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment, concerning presidential succession and disability (documented in his book, One Heartbeat Away ), and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which set the voting age at eighteen rather than the previous twenty-one, were ratified. The third, the Equal Rights Amendment, was defeated. He advocated reform of the Electoral College, then despaired of that in favor of pursuing a constitutional amendment establishing direct election of the President.

Bayh sponsored and co-authored Title IX of the Higher Education Act, the section that pertains to equal opportunity for women in all programs and activities, including sports, in educational institutions that receive federal funding. He was chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1977 through 1980. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee, he was the chief architect of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, which established a separate judicial system for juvenile offenders. He was closely involved in the efforts seeking District of Columbia representation in Congress and played an important role in reforming laws pertaining to patent, antitrust, and alternative energy development, including establishment of and leadership in the National Alternative Fuels Commission which promoted the development of ethanol in the late 1970s. He served on the Senate Public Works Committee for a decade, participating in decisions that led to federal criteria for clean air and clean water regulations. He also provided leadership within Congress in forming programs for the assistance of disabled citizens and the mentally ill. Throughout his professional career he championed causes relating to senior citizens, the handicapped, women, and all minorities. He has worked strenuously to increase cancer research and has served as chairman of AIDS Action Council.

Bayh ran for reelection in 1980 but was unexpectedly defeated by the Republican candidate Dan Quayle. Following this election he formed a law firm in Washington, D.C., served as Chairman of the Institute Against Prejudice and Violence from 1984 through 1994, and was appointed to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board by President Clinton in 1995. He practiced law in Washington with the firm Venable, Inc. until his retirement from fulltime practice in 2008 and continues to encourage civic engagement and public service for college students in the Washington, DC area through affiliations with area colleges.

Scope and Content Note

Contained in the collection are legislative and issue mail; files of legislative and office assistants; Bayh’s roll call votes and voting records; campaign files for all three senatorial elections as well as for his campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 and 1976; press files including copies of Bayhlines (newsletter), press releases and speeches; committee files including the Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments and the Appropriations Committee; and audio visual materials including photographs, audio and video tapes, and films. Also present are two cartons of drafts, research notes and page proofs for One Heartbeat Away, published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1968, and other writing projects; awards; and personal files relating to Marvella Bayh’s death of breast cancer at age 46 in 1979, and condolences received, as well as other family, colleague, and correspondence from friends.


The collection contains the following series, for which finding aids will be available as they are completed:

  • Legislative Activity and Administration
  • Legislative Working Files
  • Legislative Mail
  • Appropriations Committee
  • Judiciary Committee
  • Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments/the Constitution
  • Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency
  • Indiana Administration
  • Indiana Working Files
  • Indiana Department Office Files
  • Office Files
  • Press Department
  • Political Files
  • Speeches
  • Marvella Bayh
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbookse
  • Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information
    Gift, 1980-1981.

    Gift, 2011.

    Usage Restrictions
    Copyright restrictions may apply.

    Constituent correspondence may be used only after signing an agreement to protect correspondent privacy.

    Photocopying and scanning possible with permission.

    Preferred Citation
    [item and date], [folder], [Subseries, if any], [Series], Birch Bayh Senatorial Papers, Modern Political Papers Collection, Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington, Indiana.
    Processing Information
    The collection as received credited certain sequences of files to particular staff members, some of whom remained with Bayh for an extended time and performed multiple functions within his office. While the basic arrangement of the collection is functional, staff members' initials in parentheses after folder titles allow for some degree of reconstruction of individual responsiblities.

    Early processing efforts integrated all mail into single alphabetical sequences by letter-writer for each year, ignoring office notations on carbon copies that indicated legislative mail, general mail, political or press mail, etc. A major emphasis of processing was to restore the original order as indicated by those notations and to integrate mail without notations into that restored scheme.

    Detailed processing was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

    Related Material

    Additional information about Birch Bayh and his senatorial career is available on the Birch Bayh pages of the Modern Political Papers website .

    • Indexing Terms

    • The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in IUCAT, the IU Libraries' online catalog. Materials about related topics, persons or places can be found by searching the catalog using these terms.

      • Names
      • United States --Politics and government --1945-1989
      • Bayh, Birch, 1928- --Archives
      • Bayh, Birch, 1928- --Correspondence
      • Bayh, Marvella
      • Conrad, Larry Allyn, 1935-1990
      • Topics
      • Legislators --Indiana --Archives.