UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Campus to receive papers of the late Congressman Matsui

– The late U.S. Congressman Robert T. Matsui's papers, including documentation of legislative efforts surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement, welfare reform, base closures and Japanese-American reparations, will be donated to the University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library, campus officials announced today (Tuesday, Jan. 2).

Robert Matsui
Robert Matsui

In conjunction with this gift, UC Berkeley is launching an effort to establish the Robert T. Matsui Center on Politics and Public Service at the Institute of Governmental Studies.

"Robert Matsui was one of California's most significant political figures and a distinguished Cal alumnus, and we are most grateful for his archive," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. "This will be the largest collection of papers at The Bancroft Library from a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and it will be highly valued by our students and faculty and by visiting researchers."

The center, Birgeneau added, "will reflect his two great passions - promoting public service and better political understanding - and the Matsui family's continuing commitment to that legacy."

U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-California) who, like her husband, attended UC Berkeley, said the campus is special to her because the couple met here and because "for Bob, it is the place where the ideals of justice and equality he formed in his youth took root to become the foundation for his lifetime of public service. It is my hope that Bob's papers will provide insight to the positive role of public service and serve as an invaluable resource to researchers on the history of Sacramento and the United States Congress."

"Just as Bob was inspired at UC Berkeley by President John F. Kennedy's rousing call to public service," she added, "it is my hope that the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service will inspire future generations to public service."

The center will continue Robert Matsui's long tradition of political involvement and public service. It will sponsor lectures and discussions, fund public internship opportunities for undergraduates, and promote education and research about American politics and policy. It also will facilitate the interaction of distinguished scholars and figures from government, public service and politics. Additionally, through programmatic activities at UC Berkeley and in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., students will gain first-hand experience in the workings of state and federal government.

At The Bancroft Library, Matsui's papers will reflect his nearly three decades of public service and provide insight into critical legislative initiatives. The archive includes:

  • Hundreds of pages from his tenure on the Ways and Means Committee that encompass 1990s trade legislation - the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); the Uruguay Round, which transformed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into the World Trade Organization; and a bill that granted Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) to China - as well as welfare reform and Social Security
  • Files that document his effort to shepherd the 1988 Japanese-American Redress Act through Congress
  • Other legislative files that focus on Sacramento flood protection; appropriations for flood protection, regional transit, the federal courthouse, and downtown redevelopment; base realignment and closure commissions; and the former Mather and McClellan Air Force bases and the former Sacramento Army Depot

"The Matsui papers are especially important as they relate to general state and national politics, as well as Japanese-American reparations, Matsui's work on the North American Free Trade Agreement, United States-China relations and California water issues," said Peter Hanff, deputy director of The Bancroft Library.

Hanff added that The Bancroft Library has the second official archival set of records maintained by the War Relocation Authority, the civilian agency that during World War II coordinated the relocation of all persons of Japanese heritage away from the Pacific Coast. The other set was placed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. UC Berkeley's set has been heavily used since about the 1970s, Hanff said, when interest in the records grew stronger, and it contained the personal data on the internees that was needed to fulfill the terms of the Japanese-American Redress Act. In this legislation, which Matsui helped to guide, the United States formally apologized for the internment policy and provided compensation for the survivors.

Other high-ranking elected officials whose papers are at The Bancroft Library include the late Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, the late U.S. Senator Alan Cranston, and the late Gov. and U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson. The library is one of the most actively visited special collections libraries in the United States, and its collections are available for use free of charge to all researchers without regard to affiliation or status.