Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

About the Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive and Special Collections

The beginning

Shortly after the 1996 presidential election, University of Kansas (KU) Chancellor Robert Hemenway approached Senator Dole with a proposal that he entrust his congressional papers, accrued over 35 years of public service, to KU — the university he attended before military service in WWII interrupted his studies. The University was eager to build upon the research potential of this collection and create an institute that would offer opportunities for the public and for students of all ages and all backgrounds — from KU and across the nation — to discover how they might best serve their communities, their states, and the nation.

The Archives Leads to the Dole Institute

Senator Dole immediately agreed, but insisted that he wanted no personal monument. Rather, he favored creation of a non-partisan forum, dedicated to public service, training for leadership, and promoting the ideal that politics is an honorable profession. It was from these discussions that the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics was conceived. Dole deposited his papers with the University of Kansas in May 2000 and transferred title to the university in 2001. The papers were housed at the Spencer Research Library until the Dole Institute was completed in 2003, at which point they were transferred to the newly constructed building, and the Robert J. Dole Archive and Special Collections was born.

The Robert J. Dole Collection

The Robert J. Dole Papers represent one of the largest collections of political papers outside of the Presidential Library system. As such, they provide an unprecedented view of the legislative process and American politics. However, the significance of the content held within the Dole Papers goes far beyond the value of studying leadership in the Senate. The collection contains in-depth documentation of local and regional issues that can not be found anywhere else. In addition to subject based materials, historians and political scientists can use these materials to study the interactions between the Senate and political parties, the executive branch, the judicial branch, federal agencies, the media, lobbyists and think tanks.

The Elizabeth Dole Collection

In 2017, Senator Elizabeth Dole generously donated her papers to the Dole Institute of Politics, leading to the Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archives and Special Collections. These include records from her long career in public service and are currently undergoing archival processing and digitization.

The Dole Archives is a proud member institution of the following organizations:

Society of American Archivists
American of Alliance Museums
Association of Centers for the Study of Congress



Legacies of '76 includes online resources and interactive features with historical material documenting Bob Dole's 1976 Vice Presidential campaign.

Research Topics
A student researcher reads through archival materials

Research resources in the Dole Archives curated by topic


Digital Collections