Former U.S. Representative Jerry Costello is donating his congressional papers to SIU.
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.
“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 served in Congress from 1988 to 2013, when he stepped down from the seat now held by Bill Enyart.
Walter Ray is the curator of Morris Library’s special collections, and he says from the papers he’s seen, he’s intrigued by the personal messages sent between lawmakers during the legislative process.
“It’s not emails, it's personal notes," Ray says. "They congratulate each other on reelections, they send birthday greetings, get well messages, sympathy messages and thank you's 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.”
Costello says he also considered a university in the St. Louis area, but the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute impressed him. He also says he thought of the late senator Paul Simon as a mentor.
Simon’s papers are currently in the collection, along with papers from former U.S. Representative Ken Gray and current SIU President Glenn Poshard. He served in Congress from 1989 to 1999.
Costello also concluded a series of lectures at SIU last night where he talked about what he would do if he was President. Below, you can hear the full press conference with Costello, where he shares his thoughts on infrastructure, the makeup of the President’s cabinet, Obamacare and the differences between the last government shutdown and the ones that happened in 1990 and 1995 while Costello was in office.