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Professor’s 5 decades of research on Congress now available online

December 23, 2014

A lifetime of scholarly work by one of the University’s most preeminent political science professors is now available to researchers across the world. For the first time, the papers of Richard Fenno, Jr., Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science, are easily accessible through a new web portal:

Fenno is most recognized for his pioneering work on the U.S. Congress and its members. His research focuses on the lives of political figures when they are outside of Washington and back at home. Fenno joined the University of Rochester’s Department of Political Science in 1957. In 2007, he marked his fiftieth year of teaching at the University of Rochester by donating his faculty papers to the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation in Rush Rhees Library. The nearly 80 boxes of scholarly materials now available in digital form include 16 books, interviews and oral history transcripts with members of Congress, and memorabilia from decades of travel and award-winning research. Forty-five previously unpublished talks and lectures have also been made public.

“Professor Fenno’s contributions to the University community and the field of political science have been exceptional,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the River Campus Libraries. “We are honored to preserve and share the work of his illustrious career.”

Fenno, who celebrated his 88th birthday on December 12, viewed the website and a related exhibition of his work during a reception in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation on December 15.

“It amazes me in a way I simply cannot imagine,” he said. “When I walked in, I was flabbergasted. I’ve known that they’ve been going through my materials for some years, and I had no idea what they were doing. I think this is so well done.”

The project is a collaboration between the River Campus Libraries;, a Massachusetts-based web design firm founded by Steve Bennett ’73; and Robert Sachs ’70. Sachs was one of the first University of Rochester undergraduates to participate in the Washington Semester Program created by Fenno in 1968.

“I cannot say that I fully appreciated the breadth or depth of Professor Fenno’s research and scholarship until I got involved in this project several months ago,” Sachs said.

Fenno was named Distinguished University Professor in 1985. He has served as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as chairman of the Selection Committee and Advisory Committee for the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Program, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976. The Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Seminar Room in Harkness Hall was dedicated in 2005 in honor of his service to the University.

The Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Papers are maintained and made accessible by the River Campus Libraries Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation at Rush Rhees Library.

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Category: Society & Culture