Campus: Dominguez Hills -- September 6, 2007

Late Congresswoman’s Papers Donated To CSU Dominguez Hills Library

The California State University, Dominguez Hills Department of Archives and Special Collections, within the Leo F. Cain Library, has acquired the congressional papers and memorabilia of the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald.

For 11 years, Millender-McDonald represented the 37th Congressional District, which includes all of Carson, Compton, Signal Hill, the Watt-Willowbrook area and most of Long Beach. On April 22, 2007, she died unexpectedly only days after announcing she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Her family approached the university earlier this summer about becoming the repository of her history in public service.

“Because Cal State Dominguez Hills meant so much to her, I think she would be honored and pleased that the students here could look over the work that was very important to her, and that would impart some wisdom or some knowledge to them,” said daughter Valerie McDonald. “I think that would make her very happy.”

Archives Director Greg Williams said he and his staff have only begun to skim the surface of the late congresswoman’s files. However, he said he can already see their importance with respect to existing archives in the library’s collection, which includes the congressional papers of Congressman Glenn M. Anderson, who represented the area for more than 20 years prior to Millender-McDonald.

“The papers continue the congressional history of this area,” he said. “People can compare the times when he was in office and when she was in office. That will allow students a perspective on any number of issues.”

As university archivists go through the boxes that arrived on campus last Friday, Aug. 24, they are likely to find letters, reports, minutes, legislation correspondences and speeches, among other things, concerning many of the issues Millender-McDonald focused on during her seven terms in office. She was a strong advocate for causes such as women’s issues, HIV and AIDS awareness, election reform, small business, and equity in the workplace. She also worked tirelessly to bring federal dollars to her district, including to the Port of Long Beach, the Long Beach Boeing C-17 project, and closer to home, to the Dominguez Hills campus, securing $444,000 in federal aid for the Institution of Entrepreneurship, Small Business Development and Global Logistics and $575,000 for the Orthotics and Prosthetic program.

The files are also expected to provide insight into congressional committee work. Millender-McDonald served on numerous committees during her tenure in Congress, including the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on House Administration, which she became the first African American woman to chair.

“Congresswoman Millender-McDonald served the 37th Congressional District with great integrity and strength,” said Cal State Dominguez Hills President Mildred García in making the announcement about the recent acquisition during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new university library addition last Monday, Aug. 27. “She was a strong advocate for Dominguez Hills and we are fortunate to have been selected to acquire this collection. She is one of our life’s role models, a strong woman who committed her life to public service. This university will be a centerpiece of her history, and her history will live through our library.”

The congressional papers of Millender-McDonald will not be immediately available to researchers, Williams said. Staff will need to properly organize and document them, which could take several months or more than a year, depending on resources. Williams said he hopes to get students involved in the process.

“We hope to get a decent amount of students working on it. It will be a win-win situation if we do,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for students—at the same time helping us, they can get to understand the inner workings of a congressional office.”

The Department of Archives and Special Collections houses the university’s archives, a collection of rare book, and a number of special collections, including on Rancho San Pedro, local municipalities, the Domiguez family businesses, Asian Pacific American experiences in World War II, the papers of Congressman Glenn Anderson and materials related to the historic 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet. The department also maintains a web site of digitized photographs and documents from its collections and serves as the home of the archives of the California State University system. For more information, visit http://archives.csudh.edu.

Media contact: Amy Bentley-Smith, (310) 243-2455, abentleysmith@csudh.edu


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