The Thompson Collection consists of personal papers, photographs, memorabilia, and audiovisual materials donated to Marquette University by the former Wisconsin Governor (1987-2001) and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) (2001-2005).
Marquette acquired the bulk of the collection in three accessions. In 2001 Secretary Thompson donated materials documenting his career in Wisconsin government, both as State Assemblyman (1967-1986) and State Governor (1987-2001). In 2005 Thompson donated materials from his four years of public service as HHS Secretary. In 2011 Thompson donated additional photographs to the collection as well as his schedules as governor, documentation about his gubernatorial trade missions, and briefing binders from his tenure as HHS Secretary.
Also included in the Thompson Collection are three groups of records that did not originate with the former governor. The first consists of office files, received in 2005, from the Hudson Institute Welfare Policy Center, a think tank that helped devise and evaluate the governor's significant Wisconsin Works (W2) welfare reform program. The second group is comprised of political campaign records donated in 2006 by James R. Klauser, a close friend and advisor to Governor Thompson. The third group of records consists of campaign finance records donated in 2007 from Philip Prange who served as Thompson's campaign finance director and chief fundraiser. The records from the Hudson Institute and Klauser each form their own series within the collection. The Prange materials constitute a sub-series within the campaign papers.
The Thompson Collection is divided into ten (10) series:
Series 1: Pre-Gubernatorial Papers, 1957-1986, undated, contains records from Thompson's 20-year career in the Wisconsin State Assembly. The series also documents Thompson's military service, law practice, farm work, business ventures, and personal investments from the period before he became governor. Some family papers are also included; in particular, material concerning Thompson's parents, Allen and Julia, of Elroy, Wisconsin.
Series 2: Gubernatorial Papers, 1987-2001, undated, contains records from Thompson's tenure as Wisconsin's longest serving governor. Materials include personal correspondence and prepared speeches as well as documentation of the contentious budget process in Wisconsin. The series contains copies of over 4,000 speeches prepared for the Governor by his staff. First Lady Sue Ann Thompson’s speeches are also in the collection. The series also contains schedules -- arranged by date and county -- listing Thompson's events and appearances as governor. Two binders of documents that describe his gubernatorial trade missions are also in the series.
Series 3: Campaign Papers, 1966-2001, documents Thompson's political campaigns, including his ten consecutive elections to the State Assembly and four successful bids for the governorship. Also included are materials from his unsuccessful 1979 campaign for U.S. Congress. Additionally, the series contains information about Thompson's efforts to assist other Republican candidates, both in Wisconsin and nationwide. This series also includes Governor's Club fundraising files donated by Philip Prange, Thompson's campaign finance director.
Series 4: Photographs, 1961-2003, undated, depicts Thompson's public career, from his years in the Wisconsin State Assembly through his tenure as HHS Secretary in the first administration of President George W. Bush. The series contains over 15,000 photographs taken at hundreds of events throughout Thompson's political career in Wisconsin. An additional 2,000+ images portray his service in Washington, D.C. None of Thompson's international trips as HHS Secretary are depicted in the series, except for visits to Afghanistan in 2002 and Rwanda in 2003.
Series 5: Audiovisual, 1985-2005, undated, contains approximately 300 analog audiocassettes and 150 videocassettes and DVDs capturing events from Thompson's gubernatorial career. They include public addresses, press conferences, interviews, and television news coverage. An additional 200 videocassettes and DVDs depict his tenure as HHS Secretary. All sound recordings are also available in digital format (.wav).
Series 6: Memorabilia, 1969-2005, undated, contains hundreds of awards, gifts, and souvenirs that came into Thompson's possession throughout his public career, both in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. These include plaques and certificates, prints and framed works, three-dimensional objects, and textile items. Memorabilia has been arranged chronologically into three sub-series that correspond to three stages in Thompson's political career: Pre-Gubernatorial, Gubernatorial, and Health and Human Services (HHS).
Series 7: State Agency Collections, 1985-2001, contains copies of state public records that Governor Thompson requested before leaving office. The records describe significant achievements of his administration. Twelve Executive departments have their own sub-series: Health & Family Services, Workforce Development, Corrections, Agriculture, Commerce, Administration, Tourism, Employment Relations, Natural Resources, Revenue, Transportation, and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. The original public records reside with state government as required by Wisconsin law.
Series 8: Hudson Institute Welfare Policy Center. Madison Office, 1994-2002, contains paper files from the Madison, Wisconsin office of the Indianapolis-based think tank that helped devise and evaluate Governor Thompson's Wisconsin Works (W2) welfare reform initiative.
Series 9: Health and Human Services Papers, 2001-2005, contains materials from Thompson's four years as HHS Secretary in the Bush Administration. The series consists of correspondence, speeches, congressional testimony, press releases, and briefing papers.
Series 10: James R. Klauser Gubernatorial Campaign Records, 1970-2002, contains political campaign records acquired by James R. Klauser, a close advisor to Governor Thompson, who served on the Thompson For Wisconsin Committee from 1985-2000. A majority of the records pertain to Thompson's four gubernatorial election bids; however, the series also contains records about other political contests in Wisconsin, particularly during the 1970s.