2017-12-20 / Features

Former Rep. Ackerman Donates His Papers To Queens College


“As a child of immigrants, I benefited enormously from the opportunity to attend and graduate from Queens College. I can never fully repay the debt of gratitude to the college for equipping me for the challenges that were and still are to come. I am delighted to contribute my personal and professional papers to my alma mater with the hope that this at least satisfies the requirement of the papers that were overdue,” said Ackerman. “As a child of immigrants, I benefited enormously from the opportunity to attend and graduate from Queens College. I can never fully repay the debt of gratitude to the college for equipping me for the challenges that were and still are to come. I am delighted to contribute my personal and professional papers to my alma mater with the hope that this at least satisfies the requirement of the papers that were overdue,” said Ackerman. Former U.S. Congress Member and Queens College alumnus Gary Ackerman announced the donation of his personal papers to the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library at Queens College at a December 1 alumni reception in Washington, D.C. The papers and material will be arranged and described by Queens College archivists and made available to researchers as one of the school’s growing number of Special Collections.

The Ackerman Collection includes 12 boxes of material containing personal and professional papers that tell the story of his political career: photographs, albums, and scrapbooks; original audio and video material in various formats; and other objects and artifacts, such as campaign memorabilia. Eventually the material will be digitized and made available online. (Some exceptions will be made based on privacy concerns.)

“Congressman Ackerman has mightily contributed to the best interests of our city, this borough and the college throughout a long and distinguished career in the roles of school teacher, businessman, newspaper publisher and media executive, elected official and alumnus. We are honored that he has chosen Queens College as the home for his personal and public papers so that this rich history of service and the city, state, and national political record will benefit future generations of students and researchers,” said Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

By placing his papers in the Rosenthal Library, Ackerman hopes to ensure that they will be studied by generations of researchers in the context of his political career in the borough. He will also do an oral history with the college to be included as part of Queens Memory, a joint Queens College/Queens Library project designed to collect stories, images and artifacts documenting life in the borough.

“As a child of immigrants, I benefited enormously from the opportunity to attend and graduate from Queens College. I can never fully repay the debt of gratitude to the college for equipping me for the challenges that were and still are to come. I am delighted to contribute my personal and professional papers to my alma mater with the hope that this at least satisfies the requirement of the papers that were overdue,” said Ackerman.

Congress Member Ackerman’s materials will join an already noteworthy Personal Papers archive that preserves the history of the borough of Queens and the New York City region, with contributions from New York State Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, Congress Member Benjamin S. Rosenthal, and Queens College founder Judge Charles S. Colden. Among the other archives in the library’s Special Collections are the Civil Rights archive, which documents the civil rights work of Queens College students during the early 1960s; and Seamen’s Church Institute archive, which focuses on maritime ministry, waterfront labor and New York City history, specifically the transformation of Lower Manhattan from shipping hub to financial center. The college also houses and maintains a Louis Armstrong collection, which is owned and managed by the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

“These papers have a tremendous public research value, as well as pedagogical value to the Queen College faculty and students. We are thrilled with this gift and can’t wait to make the materials available to our community,” said Queens College Chief Librarian Kristin Hart.

Gary Ackerman, a representative of the country’s most diverse constituencies in Queens and Long Island’s North Shore, was reelected to the United States Congress 15 times before retiring from public service in January 2013. Prior to his career in politics, he was a New York City schoolteacher and the founder, publisher, and editor in-chief of a chain of community newspapers in Queens. Ackerman has served as a senior member or chair on several major committees, including the Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, the House Committee on International Relations, and the Panel on Asia and the Pacific.

Ackerman has also played pivotal roles in passing the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Energy Agreement and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, and in negotiations with North Korea. He was also responsible for spearheading an unprecedented relief effort by New York’s schoolchildren for children affected by the Ethiopian famine. Congress Member Ackerman was elected to the New York State Senate in 1978 and to Congress in a special election in 1983, where he served for 30 years. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Tech High School and Queens College.

The Queens College Special Collections and Archives, part of the Benjamin Rosenthal College Library, comprises 4,500 cubic feet of primarily college records from 1937 to the present. Collecting began formally in the late 1960s.

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