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Bradley reverses decision, electing to keep Mudd Library papers private

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley '65 has decided not to make public some personal papers that are located in the Seeley Mudd Library, despite a promise to the contrary earlier this week, University officials said yesterday.

Bradley said Sunday he would make public the personal papers from his 18-year tenure in the Senate to prove that he had never used his office to plead financial contributors' cases.

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Monday, however, Bradley campaign officials said, rather than making the papers open to the public, they would instead file a request through the Freedom of Information Act to have federal agencies release any correspondence they have had with Bradley.

Bradley deposited the papers in Mudd Library two years ago so archivists could prepare them for future public access. Officials in Mudd said the documents are currently not open to the public, but Bradley retains control of the collection and can choose to make it available at any time, University spokesman Justin Harmon '78 said.

"As is generally the case with deposits that aren't gifts, the University meets the depositor's wishes as to if they should be opened to the public," Harmon said. "We are holding them as a public trust."

Bradley's promise to release the papers came after Republican presidential candidate John McCain released some of his letters in response to claims that he had intervened on the behalf of a campaign donor.

Logistical concerns

Even if Bradley had followed through with his decision to make the papers in Mudd Library public, they would not have been made available for immediate release, according to Harmon.

"It would be a bit of a logistic undertaking for us," Harmon said. He explained that archivists are in the process of sorting the papers – which take up 2,100 linear feet of bookshelves – into containers and removing the ones that "were not germane to public scrutiny."

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As a result, the papers are not in a presentable form, according to Harmon. "There would be papers [Bradley] may not want to be completely accessible, like those containing private information of individuals," he said.

Kristen Turner, project archivist for the Bill Bradley Papers Processing Project, said the library was still busy refiling and integrating the papers and making a database for the collection. She characterized the project as "still being completed" and said the papers would probably not be fully archived until this summer.

Even when the archiving processes are complete, Bradley still may choose not to make the papers public, Harmon noted.

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