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The Frank Church Papers

Boise State University
Special Collections Department
Albertsons Library

A Web version of The Frank Church Papers:
A Summary Guide
, by Ralph Hansen and
Deborah J. Roberts, published by
Boise State University in 1988.

For more information, contact the Special Collections Department by e-mail or phone (208) 426-3958.

    Portrait 105

Table of Contents


No individual has touched the nation, Idaho or Boise State University quite in the same manner as Frank Church. Church served his native state for 24 years in the U.S. Senate, creating a legacy of unequalled public service.

By testimony and example, he represented Idaho's beauty and its love of freedom. The natural grace and strength of his rhetoric, the unfailing and courageous ability to call us above self-interest, the eloquence of his ideas and the respect for mastery of learning, set him apart as a powerful example of our definition of an educated person.

Over the years Frank and Bethine Church have maintained a long- standing relationship with Boise State University. When the school was a junior college, he was a young attorney who served as a part-time faculty member, teaching speech and commercial law. Bethine attended the junior college, later completing her education at the University of Michigan.

Today, Boise State University is especially honored to serve as the home of the Frank Church Chair and the Frank Church Collection. One of the most extensive senatorial collections ever housed at a university, the Church Collection will provide a wealth of material for research scholars, students and faculty.

Both the Chair and Collection are important to our academic mission. But even more vital, they serve as effective vehicles to preserve and transmit the wisdom and values of Frank Church to future generations.

The living legacy of Frank Church exists in this rich lode of records and materials, and the university is pleased to make them available to scholars and researchers everywhere.

John H. Keiser
Boise State University
March 1988

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In 1980, when Frank Church lost his bid for a fifth term in the United States Senate, he decided to give his extensive collection of papers to Stanford University, his alma mater. The collection was transferred to Stanford in 1980-1981. Early in 1984, Senator Church reassessed the prospect of having his papers outside of Idaho. Church approached Boise State University about our willingness to be the repository of choice and received a confirmation of interest. Church then wrote the president of Stanford University requesting that institution release his papers to Boise State. Stanford graciously acceded.

Before Boise State could house the papers, it was necessary to construct appropriate quarters. To do so, 2,500 square feet of Library space was assigned to the Church Room. In this area, a large workroom and an exhibit/seminar room were constructed with financial assistance from the university and the Idaho State Board of Education. The facility was provided with separate air conditioning and humidity control so that the temperature could be kept at 68 degrees and the humidity at 40 percent, levels best suited for preserving paper.

The papers were received from Stanford in April 1984, and transferred to their new quarters in August 1984. Publicity of the transfer reached all the way to Washington where the Information Security Oversight Office, which receives its policy direction from the National Security Council, invited itself to Boise to examine the Church Papers for classified documents. Mrs. Church and members of the Church staff who were contacted by the University gave assurance that no such papers were in the files. We so notified Washington, and declined their offer of coming to Boise to search through the collection. Now that the processing of the Papers is complete, that decision has proven correct. No classified documents were found.

Athough we had atmospheric controlled housing for the Papers and all of the original transfer boxes were on shelves instead of pallets, we still faced the formidable task of arranging the collection. As the collection sat unprocessed, it grew as if it had a life of its own. From Senator Church's pre-Senate law practice we received seven boxes of documents. From Mrs. Church we received considerable memorabilia, 35 boxes and two trunks of papers from Church's post-Senate career. Later, as the collection was well into the processing stage, Mrs. Church sold the family home in Boise and discovered another cache of memorabilia and some campaign material in the attic. Then Carl Burke, Church's boyhood friend and his campaign manager, donated his Church-related papers, a few of which date back to the 1940s. Finally, Mrs. Church sent us some of her historical records which will be incorporated as a unit of the Frank Church Collection.

The Boise State University Library had on its staff two trained archivists, but neither had ever worked with a collection of this magnitude. Other libraries that had processed or were processing large senatorial collections generously shared processing guides and time on the telephone to assist us. We are particularly indebted to the University of Washington Manuscripts Department. After a hesitant start, we gained experience and the work went smoother and faster. Ultimately, with outside financial assistance, we were able to recruit sufficient staff to complete the project in a shorter time than we dared hope at the outset.

Funding for such an effort was a problem, as it must be for all institutions that undertake the processing of a major collection. At first we used unallocated salary funds to hire an archivist. Then a vacancy at the librarian's level was not filled for one year. We received a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, for which the Boise State University Foundation provided the matching component. The latter funding was the catalyst that propelled us to finish the project by the end of 1987.

Processing was divided into two units: the audio-visual unit and the manuscript unit. Leslie Pass was responsible for the processing of the hundreds of audio tapes and the equally large number of motion picture reels and videotapes. Ellen Koger supervised the processing of the manuscript portion. In both areas we used student interns to perform the processing. Most recognized the unique effort they were participating in and assumed a proprietary interest in the Collection. Preservation practices were followed to ensure long life for the Collection: audio tapes were duplicated; motion pictures and videotapes are being copied; paper clips, staples and rubber bands were removed from the paper files; and acidic paper was copied and the originals removed from the Collection. The entire Collection was put in folders again and re-boxed in recep tacles made from non-acidic materials.

While preservation activities were under way, staff read through each folder and listed on the front the prominent and not so prominent names that appeared in that folder. They also listed subjects and Senate bills that were contained in the folder. While processing was under way, information about the folders was entered into a computer using Q & A software. Ancillary operations included accessioning the artifacts and mounting exhibits in the Church seminar/exhibit room. During the grant period, three issues of a newsletter describing the Collection and the steps taken to process it were published and distributed throughout Idaho and to archivists, scholars and other interested parties throughout the country.

All of our efforts brought forth an extensive index of the audio-visual materials, a name index of the Collection, both audio-visual and the papers, as well as a folder listing and a subject index to the Papers. The latter is a massive computer file. The name index and the folder listing will be photocopied and distributed to Idaho libraries. Scholars who have already used the Collection have been complimentary of the order in which they have found the papers, but more to the point, they have lauded the Collection for the quantity and quality of the research material contained in its 776 linear feet.

After this sizable effort one might be expected to long for a return to normalcy, but that is not our desire. We hope that scholarly use of the Collection will continue to make demands upon the library staff. Because of the labor of those who worked on the Collection, access will be simpler and the rewards of advancing knowledge will lighten our labor.

Ralph W Hansen
Boise, March 1988

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Frank Church was born in Boise, Idaho on July 25, 1924, a third generation Idahoan. While in junior high school he wrote a letter to a Boise newspaper in response to an article on foreign relations by Senator William Borah. The letter appeared on the paper's front page and Church took the first step toward his goal of following in the footsteps of Senator Borah of Idaho.

As a junior at Boise High School, Church won the 1941 American Legion National Oratorical Contest with a speech titled "The American Way of Life." The prize was sufficient to provide for four years at the college or university of the winner's choice. Church chose Stanford University, enrolling in 1942. Church never forgot his debt to the American Legion and debating and became the Idaho coordinator for the contest after beginning law practice in Boise. Throughout his career, when corresponding with young debaters, he would mention his experience as a debater and encourage his correspondents to continue this activity.

In 1943, Church enlisted in the United States Army and served as a military intelligence officer in the China-Burma-India theatre. When discharged in 1946, he returned to Stanford to complete his education. In 1947, he married Bethine Clark, daughter of judge and Mrs. Chase A. Clark, a former governor of Idaho. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Stanford, Church was diagnosed as having cancer and was given one year to live. Painful X-ray treatments spared his life and this second chance led him to later reflect that "life itself is such a chancey proposition that the only way to live is by taking great chances." In 1950, Church graduated from Stanford Law School and returned to Boise to practice law.

Frank Church became an active Democrat in Idaho and after an unsuccessful try for the State Legislature in 1952, he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1956. After a closely contested primary election, he handily defeated the Republican incumbent Herman Welker. At the age of 32, Church became the fifth youngest member ever to sit in the U.S. Senate. The newly elected junior Senator from Idaho responded to a Lyndon B. Johnson request for committee assignment preferences by asking for a place on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. It was a post he described as being "of great moment and importance to Idaho."

In 1958, Church was appointed to the McClellan "Rackets" Committee and received national television exposure. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson gave Church's career a significant boost in 1959 by appointing him to the Foreign Relations Committee. In 1960, Church received additional national exposure when he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. In his first term Church played key roles in civil rights legislation, wilderness preservation and statehood for Alaska and Hawaii. In 1962, he became the first Democratic Senator from Idaho to win a second term.

In 1965, Church expressed his concern about the continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam in a speech on the Senate floor.  Church's constituency was to the right of the Senator on this matter and he took a political risk as a vocal opponent of the war. In spite of this position he was re-elected in 1968. In 1969, he joined with Senator John Sherman Cooper (R-Ky.) to sponsor an amendment prohibiting the use of ground troops in Laos and Thailand. In 1970, the second Cooper-Church Amendment limited the power of the president during a war situation. Thereafter Church was actively engaged in efforts to force the end of the Vietnam War.

Another of Senator Church's interests was the elderly. In 1972, Church became the chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, a committee he was appointed to in 1967. To provide for the welfare of retirees, Church sponsored legislation for a cost-of-living adjustment, improved medical care, better housing and other benefits for Social Security recipients. Church's concern for the elderly played a role in winning re-election time after time.

Senator Church served on numerous other committees. From 1973 to 1976, he was co-chair of the Special Committee on National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers. This committee studied the presidential emergency powers that had developed over a 40-year period. In 1973, Church was appointed chairman of the Subcommittee on Multi-National Corporations, charged with the task of exploring the political influence of multi-nationals. Church felt this appointment may have been his single most important assignment. In 1975, Church became the chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. This committee investigated alleged abuses of power by the CIA and FBI.

In the spring of 1976, Church sought the nomination for the Democratic candidacy for president. He won primaries in Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon and Montana, but handicapped by his late start, he decided to withdraw in favor of Jimmy Carter.

Early in his career Senator Church struck a balance between preservation and development of the nation's dwindling wilderness areas. His sponsorship and support of the Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Wilderness Acts helped ensure the preservation of the most beautiful regions in the nation. To honor his efforts, the River of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho was re-named the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.

A balanced stance was one of the ingredients that helped Senator Church achieve re-election three times in an essentially conservative state. By opposing gun control legislation, supporting local agricultural interests and fighting efforts by southwestern states to export Idaho's water, Church's liberal foreign relations stances were not serious impediments - until 1980.

In 1979, Church achieved a lifelong dream when he was appointed chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the late 1970s, and later as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Church guided the ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties through the Senate. This support was used by Church's political foes to defeat his efforts for a fifth term. He was defeated by Congressman Steve Symms by 4,262 votes - less than 1 percent of the voter turnout.

After his defeat, Frank Church practiced international law with the Washington, D.C., firm of Whitman and Ransom, specializing in Asian issues. In 1984, Church was hospitalized for a pancreatic tumor and died at home in Bethesda, Md., on April 7 at the age of 59.

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The Frank Church Chair of Public Affairs

The Frank Church Chair of Public Affairs was established at Boise State University in 1982 to honor the achievements and carry forward the principles of one of America's most distinguished public servants. Through the Chair, Boise State emphasizes those ideals which the Senator held dear - a strong belief in the rule of law, eloquence firmly based on reason, and an unwavering faith in the American political system.

Led by the late Governor Averell Harriman, Pamela Harriman and philanthropist Velma Morrison, more than 2,000 donors have given money in Senator Church's name. Placed in an endowment, the interest from those funds will eventually support a faculty position. Currently the endowment is used to sponsor the Frank Church Conference on Public Affairs, which annually brings internationally known speakers and scholars to Boise to discuss topics of current interest.

Since the first conference in 1983, speakers have included former President Gerald Ford, former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, Mayor Andrew Young, and former ambassadors Joseph Sisco and David Newsom. Conference topics have included the Middle East, political repression, Americanism, revolution and American foreign policy.

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The Papers


After 24 years and countless file clerks, the Church Collection presented a distinct processing challenge. Many of the older files had been in storage in a Federal Record Center in Maryland. Others had been stored in the "attic" of the Senate Office Building. Much, of course, was in the active file in the Senator's office. When these were all sent to Stanford, six boxes were lost in transit, never to be found.

How to organize all this paper was the question when processing began at Boise State. Since the Church office files were subject-oriented, it was decided to follow this arrangement and use a chronological sequence within each subject. One major problem was that over the years the file clerks gave differing interpretations to the same subject. Little effort was expended to reorganize misfiled information. The BSU processing staff determined to make the computer index the instrument of cohesion. The computer index will be accessible via the Web in the near future.

Most of the federal documents and ephemeral publications in the Church Papers are unique to the Boise State University Library and were left in their original files and included in the index. Monographic works were separated from the files.

Because index information was entered into the computer while processing was under way, it was not possible to number the boxes consecutively as is the general practice. By breaking the collection into series numbers the processing staff was able to enter the names, subjects and folder titles as each unit was processed.

The "General" section, which precedes more specific files in some parts of the Collection, seems to have been used by Church's staff to file miscellaneous material that did not fit into a more specific location. Letters coded "General" can include more than one issue, or can be on a single topic which never generated sufficient volume to need its own location. Because "General" includes such a wide variety of topics, researchers who wish an overview can consult these files first, then pur sue more specific interests in the subject index and the subject areas of the files.

The completed collection consists of 776 linear feet and covers the years 1941-1984.

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Series 1: Legislation Files, 1956-80

Senator Church's legislative files are arranged alphabetically by subject. Many issues will be found in more than one place in the Legislation files, depending on the aspect being treated or the volume of correspondence or the whim of the filing staff that day. Thus, the computerized subject index to the collection will be essential for exhaustive retrieval of information. For example, the Basques appear in the Legislation files as sheepherders with immigration problems and as wool raisers who want protection from foreign wool. Because of the Basques's ties to Spain, a significant amount of material is found in the Foreign Relations Committee files, and immigration problems surface in the Immigration and Naturalization Service files of the Federal Government series. In the same way, the issues of natural resources, forests and forestry, timber and lumber are so interrelated that information about wood can be found under each heading.

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1.1, Legislation by Subject

Boxes 1-9.

Boxes 10-22.

Boxes 23-25.

Boxes 26-29.

Boxes 30-32.

Boxes 33-36.

Boxes 37-40.

Boxes 40-47.

Boxes 48-56.

Boxes 57-58.

Boxes 59-63.

Boxes 63-67.

Boxes 68-69.

Boxes 69-71.

Boxes 72-74.

Box 75.

Boxes 76-83.

Boxes 84-93.

Boxes 94-109.

Boxes 110-114.

Boxes 115-117.

Boxes 118-123.

Boxes 124-128.

Boxes 129-134.

Boxes 135-136.

Boxes 137-143.

Boxes 143-146.

Boxes 146-150.

Boxes 151-158.

1.2 Notebooks 1-13.

1.3 Boxes 1-3 / 6 Notebooks.

1.4 Box 1 / 1 Notebook.

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Series 2: Senate Committees

Senator Church served on numerous committees and subcommittees during his four term tenure in the U.S. Congress but not all of his committee activities were filed by his staff under the committee name. Researchers are advised to use the computer-produced index to the collection in order to locate desired files. Church was appointed to the Foreign Relations Committee in 1959 by Lyndon B. Johnson. He served on this committee from 1959-1980, and became chairman of it in 1979. There are extensive files coded "Foreign Relations" and includes related committee work such as the Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations. Another assignment to which Church devoted considerable attention was the Special Committee on Aging, 1967-1980, of which he became chairman in 1972.

The committee assignment that gave Senator Church national exposure was his 1975 appointment as chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, more commonly referred to as the Intelligence Activities Committee. There is little in the Church Papers on this subject. According to Senate rules, the files of committee chairmen are considered official Senate records, and as such, remain with the committees until transferred to the National Archives.

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2.1 Boxes 1-7

2.2 Foreign Relations Committee, 1959-1980

Boxes 1-3.

Boxes 3-6.

Boxes 6-7.

Boxes 8-12.

Boxes 12-13.

Boxes 13-14.

Boxes 14-16.

Boxes 17-20.

Boxes 20-22.

Foreign Relations by Geographical Area

Box 23.

Boxes 24-25.

Boxes 25-41.

Box 42.

Boxes 42-43.

Box 44.

Box 44-52.

Boxes 53-54.

2.3 Boxes 1-5.

2.4 Box 1.

2.5 Box 1.

2.6 Box 1.

2.7 Box 1.

2.8 Box 1.

2.9 Box 1.

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Series 3: Federal Government, 1958-1980

The Federal Government files consist of correspondence, memoranda, studies pertaining to Idaho projects and/or proposed legislation or regulations, annual reports of agencies and some clippings. They are organized alphabetically by agency name. A large part of the Senator's work was interceding with government agencies to cut through red tape and help constituents solve problems. Much of the correspondence in the Federal Government series deals with such problems.

3.1 Boxes 1-3.


INDEPENDENT AGENCIES:   The Independent Agencies of the Federal Government regulate the activities of specific segments of society. These files contain correspondence from Senator Church's constituents generated when they came into conflict with a particular agency and asked the senator's staff to intervene on their behalf.

Boxes 1-9.

Boxes 10-18.

Boxes 19-31.

Boxes 31-42.

Boxes 43-54.

3.3 EXECUTIVE BRANCH:   The Executive Branch subseries contains those departments which are headed by a Cabinet secretary. Each department within the series has been divided into sections according to the organizational plan of that department.

Boxes 1-28.

Boxes 29-33.

Boxes 34-73.

Boxes 73-74.

Boxes 75-105.

Boxes 106-109.

Boxes 110-135.

Boxes 136-148.

Boxes 149-160.

Boxes 160-167.



1 Box.



1 Box

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Series 4: Idaho

4.1 Boxes 1-23.

4.2 Boxes 1-6.

4.3 Boxes 1-3.

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Series 5: Campaigns

This series contains campaign files of Senator Church and his staff. It includes material on advertising, volunteers, fund raising and donors, issues, clippings, speech material and speeches, files on opponents, polls, press releases and financial disclosures. See also Campaign Manager Carl Burke's collection and the Audio Visual materials for campaign media.

5.1 Boxes 1-2. 1956 Senatorial Election.
5.2 Boxes 1-3. 1962 Senatorial Election.
5.3 Boxes 1-6. 1968 Senatorial Election.
5.4 Boxes 1-5. 1974 Senatorial Election.
5.5 Boxes 1-8. 1976 Presidential Nomination Campaign.
5.6 Boxes 1-7. 1980 Senatorial Election.
5.7 Box 1. 1968-1980 Polls.

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Series 6: Political Affairs

Political affairs are primarily files on party politics on both the local and national level, including material on the various elections and delegate selection for the various Democratic National Conventions. Most are dated 1957-1969, with some exceptions such as Watergate, which dates from 1973-1974. Also included are files on prominent Idaho Democrats and Church's political opponents. The Political Affairs series complements the Issue Books in the Public Relations series, the Special Files in the Personal series and the Campaign series.

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Series 7: Public Relations

7.1-7.2 Boxes 1-5.

7.3 Boxes 1-2.

7.4 Boxes 1-8.

7.5 Boxes 1-4.

7.6 Box 1

7.7 Boxes 1-2.

7.8 Box 1

7.9 Boxes 1-19.



Boxes 1-22.

42 Volumes.

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Series 8: Speeches, Articles, Trips and Meetings, 1941-1980

8.1 Boxes 1-12.

8.2 Boxes 1-20.

8.3 Boxes 1-4.

8.4 Boxes 1-5.

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Series 9: Administration

9.1-9.7 Boxes 1-8.

9.8 Boxes 1-66.

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Series 10: Personal

10.1 Box 1.

10.2 Boxes 1-6.

10.3 Box 1.

10.4 Box 1.

10.5 Boxes 1-2.

10.6 SPECIAL FILES. 8 Boxes.

Box 1.

Box 2.

Box 3.

Box 4.

Box 5.

Box 6.

Box 7.

Box 8.

10.7 Boxes 1-7.

10.8 Boxes 1-4.

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Series 11: The Frank Church Audio-Visual Collection The Frank Church audio-visual collection includes more than 750 audio recordings, more than 400 separate films and video recordings with a viewing time of 45 hours and about 1,500 photographs.




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Bethine C. Church Papers:

As processing of the Church Papers proceeded, it became evident that some of the files were related to Mrs. Church's social and charitable activities rather than the Senator's affairs. These were set aside for later processing. Late in 1987, Mrs. Church forwarded additional records for the collection, some of which represented her activities as well as those of Senator Church. The Bethine Church collection contains general correspondence, trip files, speaking engagement files and designated files for her charitable and political endeavors. Among the latter are files pertaining to the Democratic Congressional Wives Forum and the Women's National Democratic Club. Mrs. Church's charitable activities are centered around handicapped children and named files are United Cerebral Palsy and Children's Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

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Carl Burke Papers, 1949-80

Carl Burke and Frank Church were boyhood friends. While the two were in high school, Burke engineered a successful campaign to elect underdog Frank Church to the office of student body president. Later both studied law at Stanford University and established law practices in Boise. While Church turned to politics as a career, Burke remained with law except when he was again called upon to manage Church's campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the unsuccessful 1976 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Most of this collection pertains to the elections of 1962, 1968, 1974, 1976 and 1980. The later elections are the most complete. The election files comprise materials relating to fundraising, receipts and expenditures, travel itineraries, staff memos, and voter surveys. There is also some Burke correspondence with other Idaho and national political figures 1952-1971.

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The Boise State University Albertsons Library

Wishes to Thank
All Those Who Helped Process


Timothy A. Brown, University Librarian
Ralph W. Hansen, Project Director
Ellen Koger, Processing Supervisor
R. Gwenn Stearn, Archival Assistant
Dr. Ellis L. Knox, Microcomputer Manager




Linda Kay Allen Nick Casner Lillian Hansen
Sylvia Burr Sherri Cox Martha Kuhn
Mary Carter Ben P. Everson Mary Strickland
Terry Chadwick Dorothea Huff
Piotr Czartolomny Byron Keely
Janene M. Berry David Kennedy
Don P. Haacke Lisa Krepel
Suzanne McCorkle J. Andrew Moes
Brett Murrell Arlene Murrell
Julie A. Stubbers Chuck Nissen
Russell Tremayne Todd Reed
Deborah J. Roberts
JoAnne Russell
Ross Smith
Paul R. Taber III
Julia Timphony
Janet Woolum

Frank Church Audio-Visual Materials

Leslie Pass, Processing Supervisor
Chuck Scheer, University Photographer




Mary Carter Mike Crosby Laura Monagle
Karin Eyler Stephen King
Tomas Hopkins
Ellen Jones
Jane Sailor

Special thanks to:
Bethine Church for her support.
Boise Cascade Corporation for transporting the papers from California.
Linda Kay Allen, who typed the manuscript for this publication and in other ways contributed to the success of the Church Papers Processing Project

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Special Collections • 1910 University Drive • Boise, ID 83725-1430 • Phone: 208-426-1204 • Email: Archives