The Dick Thornburgh Papers

The Collection

The collection is arranged in the following twenty-one chronological sections, representing Thornburgh's life and career, each with introductory information about the point in time, the position held, and items of importance.

Youth and Education, 1932–1957

Early diary entries, college term papers, and law school class notes help set the stage for what would become a remarkable career in law and public service. More Youth and Education

Early Legal Career, 1950s–1970s

After graduating from Pitt’s law school in 1957, Thornburgh worked to ensure the poor had legal representation and began what became a lifelong interest in judicial reform. More Early Legal Career

Pittsburgh Civic Activity, 1950s–1970s

While pursuing his career in law, Thornburgh also became a recognized civic leader by involving himself in public service. More Pittsburgh Civic Activity

Politics, 1960s–1970s

Thornburgh’s interest in politics became more pronounced following the 1964 presidential election. Soon he became active in campaigns and the Republican party in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. More Politics

Campaign for United States Congress, 1966

Though not successful, his first campaign taught Thornburgh many valuable lessons about the campaign process and the potential for "making a difference." More Campaign for United States Congress

Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, 1967–1968

As a delegate to the commonwealth’s Constitutional Convention, Thornburgh helped reshape Pennsylvania’s government and destiny. More Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention

United States Attorney for Western Pennsylvania, 1969–1975

From civil law, Thornburgh moved into prosecuting criminal cases, where his efforts to root out public corruption earned him wide praise. More United States Attorney for Western Pennsylvania

Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Justice, 1975–1977

While reluctant to leave Pittsburgh, Thornburgh saw this as an opportunity to tackle rising national drug and fraud problems and to step up efforts against public corruption in the post Watergate era. More Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Justice

Campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania, 1978

Thornburgh began his campaign for governor running well behind a popular Democrat, but his quiet competence and hard work gave him and William Scranton III a surprisingly easy victory. More Campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania

Re-election Campaign for Governor, 1982

With still more to achieve, Thornburgh began his re-election campaign amidst a national recession that made the political climate difficult for Republicans. More Re-election Campaign for Governor

Governor of Pennsylvania, 1979–1987

By both successfully managing crises and making real progress on long-term goals, Thornburgh’s eight years as governor were momentous for both him and Pennsylvania. More Governor of Pennsylvania

Director, Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1987–1988

A position at Harvard gave Thornburgh the chance to bring his experience as one of the most successful large-state governors to the next generation of public servants. More Director, Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Attorney General of the United States, 1988–1991

After 11 years away, Thornburgh returned to Washington and the Justice Department, where prosecuting white-collar and international crime quickly became a top priority, and where he was point person for enactment of ADA. More Attorney General of the United States

Campaign for United States Senate, 1991

The tragic death of United States Senator John Heinz in an airplane crash drew Thornburgh home to Pennsylvania, where he mounted a valiant effort to fill the vacant seat. More Campaign for United States Senate

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1992–1993

Thornburgh’s reputation for cutting through bureaucracy and reforming stagnant organizations led the United Nations to seek his help in 1992. More Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Articles and Op-Eds

Nearly 300 articles and editorials written by Thornburgh between 1956 and 2004 span his entire professional life, from law school to the present. More Articles and Op-Eds

Ongoing Career (1993-)

Thornburgh's legacy continues today as an attorney, an advocate for legal reform, and a government and corporate troubleshooter. More Ongoing Career


Some 6,000 photographs, ranging from candid snapshots to official portraits, provide a candid and revealing look at the life of Thornburgh and his family. More Photographs


News footage, campaign commercials, and other video records of his career in public service and politics offer a picture of Thornburgh as the public saw him. More Video


An extensive and varied collection of more than 500 audiotapes capture Thornburgh at informal events, official ceremonies, and interviews with the press. More Audio


Scrapbooks by Thornburgh’s wife, Ginny, and other family members offer an intimate, often charming look at his private and public life. More Scrapbooks


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