Contact: James Carskadon
STARKVILLE, Miss.—The congressional papers of U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper have found their home at Mississippi State University.
Harper formally donated his papers to MSU during a Friday [Oct. 5] ceremony on campus. The congressman’s papers, which help tell the story of American government during Harper’s tenure, will be housed in MSU Libraries’ Congressional and Political Research Center.
During Friday’s ceremony, Harper reflected on his 10 years representing Mississippi’s Third Congressional District and what MSU has meant to his family. He said the top reason MSU stole his family’s heart was the ACCESS program for students with intellectual disabilities, of which his son was one of the first graduates.
“I cannot say enough about what Mississippi State has meant to our family,” Harper said. “We knew long ago that we were going to donate our papers to Mississippi State University.”
“Serving in the House of Representatives is the greatest honor that I have ever had,” he added. “It’s been amazing. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to run for.”
U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave the keynote speech Friday and thanked Harper for his leadership both in the House of Representatives and in Mississippi. McCarthy described Harper as a leader, an advocate for the vulnerable and a Christian gentleman.
“He has made a difference in a short amount of time,” McCarthy said. “I would be lying if I told you the day I heard he was retiring I was not sad. There are people I serve with on both sides that are my colleagues, but only a few are my friends. Gregg Harper and Sidney are two of those. The changes that he has made in the body we serve, you can all be proud of. He himself did not change, he led. The only thing he changed was Washington. He made it a little bit more like Mississippi.”
Harper’s papers now are among 10 congressional collections housed at MSU, along with numerous state and federal officials. First elected to Congress in 2008, Harper announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection. MSU President Mark E. Keenum said Harper’s service in Congress covered a significant period in U.S. history, and his papers will help future students and scholars better understand issues of the time.
“These papers document how our government works from his unique perspective, how decisions are made from his unique perspective, how problems are solved and how elected representatives and their capable, committed staffs should serve their constituents,” Keenum said. “That is why Congressman Harper’s papers are so important and so relevant to all of us at Mississippi State. Students and scholars, those who study the history of our government, will have the opportunity to pore through this unbelievable collection and see from a very distinctive perspective how our nation operated in that decade that he served.”During his time in Congress, Harper has served as chairman of the Committee on House Administration and the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, and he has been a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he serves as chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. A longtime supporter of those with disabilities, Harper founded the Congressional Internship Program for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.
The congressman’s papers are among MSU’s first collections from an official serving in the digital age. The papers include social media content, thousands of digital photographs, videos and more. They also contain constituent correspondence on local and national issues, speeches given from the floor of the House of Representatives, public statements, press releases, news clippings and memorabilia items from Harper’s tenure in Congress.
An alumnus of Mississippi College and the University of Mississippi School of Law, Harper spent 27 years as a practicing attorney before being elected to Congress. He previously served as prosecuting attorney for the cities of Brandon and Richland, and was a member of the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board.
Harper remains active in his community as a member of both the Pearl and Rankin County Chambers of Commerce. He and his wife of 39 years, Sidney, are members of Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon, where he served for many years as a high school and college Sunday school teacher. The Harpers have a son, Livingston, a daughter and son in law, Maggie and Brett Bailey, and a grandson, Lee. Maggie received her bachelor’s degree from MSU, and Livingston is a graduate of MSU’s ACCESS program.
For more on MSU Libraries’ Congressional and Political Research Center, visit lib.msstate.edu/cprc.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.