Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Gubernatorial Papers of David Paterson

Included in Governor Paterson’s papers are materials surrounding his historic efforts to reform immigration law, repeal the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, legalize same sex marriage, and pursue social justice.  Announcements regarding public programs related to the Paterson papers at RBML are forthcoming. 

“I have lived in New York my entire life and my love for this state is unparalleled,” said Paterson.  “As a long-time student of New York history, I hope this collection assists understanding of significant events and policy achievements accomplished by my Administration.  I’m very proud of my time in office and all that we were able to achieve.  I am extremely pleased that these materials will be available to the interested public.  The fact that my papers were acquired by the University where I earned my undergraduate degree and worked as an adjunct professor provides a symmetry for which I am grateful.  I am particularly enthusiastic and appreciative that the University is committed to an oral history project of my administration and the adverse economic time in which it occurred.”

The collection includes correspondence, speeches, budget submissions, press releases, and program files. It includes the full record of the historic appointment of a Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial responses to the infamous Senate Coup in 2009.  Also included are thousands of digital and print photographs taken by Paterson's official staff photographer Judy Sanders, which visually document the day-to-day governmental and political activities of the Governor.

“We are honored to receive the papers of such an influential Columbia alumnus and prominent political leader,” said James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian.  “These archives will strengthen an already rich and diverse collection in Columbia’s RBML related to New York politics and provide valuable research opportunities for students and scholars across many areas of study.”

The collection is comprised of 84 linear feet of David Paterson's papers relating to his time as governor and lieutenant governor, as well as 2.8 million pages of digital files from the same time period. 

David Paterson received a B.A. in History from Columbia College in 1977 and a law degree from Hofstra Law School in 1983.  His papers join the RBML's other collections related to New York politicians, including former New York City mayor David Dinkins, a long-time associate of both Paterson and Paterson’s father, political leader Basil Paterson.

David A. Paterson took office as Lieutenant Governor on January 1, 2007.  Before becoming Lieutenant Governor, he served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA).  Paterson was sworn in as the 55th Governor of New York on March 17, 2008, becoming the first African American governor in New York State’s history and the second legally blind governor of any state in America.  Governor Paterson had his official gubernatorial portrait unveiled on March 2nd in Albany, the state capitol of New York.

Governor Paterson became Governor as the meltdown of the U.S. financial system was beginning.  He governed in the grip of the Great Recession of which New York was the epicenter.  He strengthened the executive and legal power of the Office of the Governor as a response to the financial crisis and left a legacy of sound fiscal management and job creation while protecting the state’s most vulnerable.  The Paterson administration eliminated $42 billion from the budget deficit at a time of unprecedentedly severe revenue crisis.