Published January 21, 2019 by Special Collections & Archives

Now Available Online: the George J. Mitchell Congressional Records Index

The George J. Mitchell Congressional Records Index, a powerful new tool for searching and understanding the legislative work of Senator Mitchell, is now available online.
The Index compiles, tags, and analyzes Senator Mitchell's remarks and activities on the Senate floor during the period of 1980 to 1987, and is actively being expanded to document his entire legislative record.
Senator George J. Mitchell
Senator George J. Mitchell, March 1991

Mitchell, a 1954 graduate of Bowdoin College, served as a Democratic US Senator from Maine from 1980 to 1994, and spent the last six years of his tenure as Majority Leader. Senator Mitchell was an active and effective legislator, who championed the first major acid rain bill, reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Superfund toxic cleanup legislation, and campaign finance reform to name but a few of his legislative achievements. He was also involved in significant but ultimately unsuccessful efforts, most notably universal health care. His actions around these and other pieces of legislation are documented in some 7,000 entries in the Congressional Record, the official United States government publication of the proceedings and debates of Congress. 

While the contents of the Congressional Record are a treasure trove of information about the inner workings of the legislative branch, meaningful engagement with the resource can be challenging due to its voluminous entries and arcane language. 

The George J. Mitchell Congressional Records Index seeks to overcome these obstacles and to provide an enhanced research experience to Bowdoin students and others interested in exploring Mitchell's legacy. The Index is searchable and sortable, and provides descriptions of each of Senator Mitchell’s entries in the Congressional Record. Particularly helpful are the explanatory notes created by former Senate staff members. Based on their first-hand knowledge of historical events, these legislative experts contextualized the official entries in the Record with notes written for a general, rather than specialized, audience. 

George Mitchell at eventThis project, which has been underway for many years, was inspired by the Online Legislative Record of Senator Edmund S. Muskie at Bates College. Senator Mitchell succeeded Senator Muskie in the U.S. Congress when Muskie was appointed Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter. Given their shared legislative interests, particularly related to the environment, researchers will undoubtedly find both resources valuable. 

George J. Mitchell—who would one day lead the United States Senate—recounts the day in 1950 when he hitchhiked nearly 60 miles to Brunswick, and all the help that made his college education possible.