SCRC is pleased to announce that retired U. S. Representative Jerry F. Costello of Illinois (D-Belleville) has chosen us as the repository for his congressional papers. At the end of December 2012 SCRC received 705 boxes of materials from Representative Costello’s offices in Washington, D. C., Belleville and Carbondale.
Representative Costello was St. Clair County Board chairman when he was elected to Congress on August 9, 1988 to fill the vacant seat of the late Rep. Melvin Price. He was elected to his first full term that fall. His more than 24 years of service in the U. S. House of Representatives made him the longest serving member of the Illinois delegation at the time of his retirement.
Costello’s tenure in Congress covered a very import period in history of southern Illinois and the nation, from the end of the Cold War through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. His work on behalf of his southern Illinois constituents stretched from the floods of 1993 through the May 2009 derecho to the tornados that severely damaged Harrisburg and other parts of southern Illinois in February 2012.
Costello served on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, rising to the rank of chair of the aviation subcommittee. Through his committee work Costello accomplished much to improve the infrastructure of southern Illinois. Notable achievements include work on Mississippi River bridges, bringing the Metro Link from St. Louis to the Metro East, and finding new roles for Scott Air Force Base to preserve Illinois jobs.
“The donation of these papers is a great boon to researchers at SIUC,” said political papers archivist Walter Ray. “All of Costello’s work on national issues and on behalf of his constituents is well documented. From his work on the aviation subcommittee alone there are some 42 cubic feet of material, perhaps 100,000 pages of documents.”
Costello’s papers join those of U. S. Senators Paul Simon and Roland Burris, U. S. Representatives Ken Gray and Glenn Poshard, St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon, Illinois State Senator Kenneth Buzbee, Illinois State Representative Jeanne Hurley Simon, and the records of a number of community groups, grassroots organizations and labor unions, which make up SCRC’s political papers unit. “SCRC is rapidly becoming an important center for the study of local, regional, and national political history,” said Ray. “Representative Costello’s papers will be an important addition because of his length of service and the significance of his accomplishments.”
Representative Costello’s papers are currently being inventoried. According to the terms of the transfer, parts of the collection will become available to researchers by the end of next year.