Charles E. Grassley Papers

This guide provides general information about Charles E. Grassley, United States Senator and UNI alumnus, and about the papers that he donated to Rod Library Special Collections.

[ Biographical Sketch | General Description of the Papers | Classification Schedule Outline | Terms of Use | Service | Strengths of the Papers ]

Biographical Sketch

Charles Ernest Grassley was born in New Hartford, Iowa, on September 17, 1933. He was one of five children of Louis A. and Ruth C. Grassley. He graduated from New Hartford Community High School in 1951. He received a bachelor's degree in 1955 and a master's degree in 1956 from Iowa State Teachers College (later UNI) in Cedar Falls. Grassley farmed near New Hartford and worked for the Rath Packing Company in Waterloo. He was elected to the House of the Iowa General Assembly from Butler County in 1958. He served in the Iowa House until 1974 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the Iowa Third district. He was re-elected in 1976 and 1978. In 1980 he was elected to the United States Senate; he was re-elected in 1986 and 1992. Grassley married Barbara Ann Speicher in 1954. They have five children.

General Description of the Grassley Papers

In the early 1980s, Senator Charles E. Grassley decided to give papers documenting his public life to the UNI Library . After he and Director of Library Services Donald O. Rod signed a formal deed of gift in 1986, Senator Grassley sent three shipments of papers to the library: one small shipment of material that had been stored in Iowa and two large shipments from the Washington, D. C., area. The small shipment, consisting of just a few boxes, and the first of the larger shipments, comprised of about 190 cartons, have been completely processed, sorted, arranged, and described. The second shipment of about 100 boxes has also been processed, sorted, and arranged, but still needs fuller description and finding aids. All of this material, with the exception of documents in the restricted access categories outlined below, are available for research in Special Collections.

Nearly all of the papers in this collection relate to Senator Grassley's public life. Documentation is fullest for his years of service in the United States House and Senate; the Iowa General Assembly years are less fully documented. Documentation consists of constituent correspondence, case files, subject files, committee files, agency reports, congressional documents of all sorts, clippings and other secondary publications, and newsletters.

Senator Grassley's office filing system divides material into broad categories such as political, agency, legislative, and general. Within these broad categories material tends to be arranged chronologically within subject divisions. Correspondence, clippings, documents, and other material related to a particular issue or subject are frequently found within the same folder. Senator Grassley and his staff have occasionally added handwritten notes or draft responses to this material. Because the overall filing system of the papers was apparent when they arrived in the Library, the files as they are currently arranged should closely resemble the way they appeared when they were in active use.

Grassley Papers Classification Schedule Outline

This outline gives a broad picture of the collection and notes the volume of material in each general category. In addition, the Special Collections staff has prepared a 50 page inventory which details processed holdings to the folder level.

A--Congressional Subject File, 1948-1974

A1--H. R. Gross material relating to public works in the Third District (3 boxes)

B--Iowa General Assembly Correspondence and Subject Files, 1958-1974

B1--Correspondence, 1966-1974 (2 boxes)

B2--Subject Files, 1958-1974 (3 boxes)

C--US House of Representatives Correspondence, 1975-1980

C1--Correspondence Filed by Name and Address, (13 boxes)

C2--1975 General, Legislative, Agency, and Political Correspondence (12 boxes)

C3--1976 General, Legislative, and Agency Correspondence (10 boxes)

C4--1977 General, Legislative, and Agency Correspondence (10 boxes)

C5--1978 General, Legislative, and Agency Correspondence (8 boxes)

C6--1979 General, Legislative, and Agency Correspondence (8 boxes)

D--District of Columbia Office Files

D1--Case Files (5 boxes)

D3--Service Academy Files, 1971-1980 (2 boxes)

E--Third District Office Files

E1--Marshalltown District Office Files, 1975-1980

E2--Mason City District Office Files, 1975-1980 (1 box)

F--Constituent Correspondence and Returned Questionnaires, 1975-1980

F1--Constituent Correspondence, 1976-1980 (12 boxes)

F2--Returned Questionnaires, 1975-1978 (13 boxes)

G--Legislation and Committee Files, 1975-1980

G1--94th Congress, 1975-1976 (15 boxes)

G2--95th Congress, 1977-1978 (19 boxes)

G3--96th Congress, 1979-1980 (15 boxes

Terms of Use

Senator Grassley intends that his papers be made available to researchers as soon as possible. However, in his deed of gift he also recognizes that access to some material must be restricted because of its sensitive or confidential nature. This material includes:

  1. Material specifically authorized and properly classified by the United States government to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.
  2. Material whose revelation might prejudice the conduct of foreign relations of the United States or which could adversely affect the security of the United States.
  3. Material of a personal or sensitive nature. Specifically:
    • Material whose disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
    • Material whose disclosure would constitute libel;
    • Material relating to the personal, family, and confidential business affairs of Mr. Grassley and other persons referred to in the papers;
    • Material containing statements made by or to Mr. Grassley in confidence;
    • Material which relates to law enforcement investigations, appointment to office, or other personnel matters and which also directly affects individual privacy.

These restrictions affect many parts of the collection. On a practical basis, however, these provisions have their greatest effect on access to casefiles and constituent correspondence. Consequently, case files and both sides of most constituent correspondence are currently closed to research. From time to time, Special Collections staff will review restricted material to see if it can be opened to research.

Most unrestricted material may be photocopied. However, Senator Grassley retains copyright to his material for his lifetime and the lifetime of his wife. Copyright then will pass to UNI.


The Special Collections staff of the Rod Library provides service on the Grassley papers. Service is available by telephone (319-273-6307), fax (319-273-2913), or electronic mail ( Or address surface mail to: Special Collections / Rod Library / University of Northern Iowa / Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613.

Strengths of the Grassley Papers

  • Throughout his career, Senator Grassley has shown a strong interest in nearly all kinds of education from the primary level through professional schools. Consequently, nearly all sections of his papers relating to education are especially rich in detail and coverage. Of special note is the material relating to education from his years in the Iowa General Assembly.
  • Senator Grassley has also shown a consistent interest in agriculture. Consequently, material relating to farm chemical application, soil conservation, tax issues as they relate to farmers, livestock production, and commodity exports are worth special attention.
  • Issues relating to senior citizens have been a special interest of Senator Grassley since he has been in the United States Congress. These issues include social security, pensions, medical care, and housing.
  • On several occasions, Senator Grassley attracted national attention with his criticism of congressional pay raises and military procurement procedures. Researchers may find files relating to these topics of interest
  • Local historians may find valuable information about Iowa towns and counties especially as it relates to public works and federal involvement in local issues.
  • Included in the Grassley papers are several boxes of material which were apparently passed on to Grassley by his Iowa Third Congressional District predecessor, H. R. Gross. This material details public works measures which were considered and, in some cases, actually planned and developed in the Third District. Of special interest are reports, correspondence, clippings, photographs, maps, and other documentation relating to floods and flood control measures in the Waterloo metropolitan area.

Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913