DA 3




66.0 linear feet (66 records center boxes) moving image materials, electronic records, photographs


The Personal Papers are composed of materials Daschle separated from the rest of the collection which were of personal interest to him. Included are pre-congressional materials, campaign records, legislative records, correspondence, political records, media files, and files saved for their intrinsic value.

Historical Note

After college, Daschle worked for three years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. He worked part-time for George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign during the time that he was stationed at Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. After he was discharged from the service, Daschle worked as a staff assistant to South Dakota Senator James Abourezk from 1972-1977.

Senator Daschle was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. He was reelected twice to the Senate before being defeated in 2004. Senator Daschle quickly rose to leadership roles within Congress, becoming the Senate Democratic leader in 1994 and serving in that position until his defeat in 2004, thus becoming the second longest serving Senate leader in party history. He was a member of many committees during his tenure in the U.S. Congress, including the Senate Finance Committee, the Democratic Policy Committee, the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, the Veterans and Indian Affairs Committees, and the Finance and Ethics Committee. The Political Party files consists mainly of information concerning political-related records, such as congressional travel, events, recognition, memoranda, speeches, and writings.

In 1978, Tom Daschle ran against Republican Leo Thorsness for the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by Congressman Larry Pressler. Daschle's door-to-door campaign resulted in a narrow win of 14 votes over Thorsness, although a recount nudged up his margin of victory to 139 votes. In November of 1980, Daschle won a resounding re-election victory with a 66%-34% margin. South Dakota lost one of its two House seats after the 1980 census, which meant that Tom Daschle and Republican Congressman Clint Roberts would run against each other for the lone House seat in the 1982 election. Daschle won narrowly with 52 percent of the vote. He easily won a fourth term in Congress in the 1984 election. In the 1986 election, Daschle became South Dakota's junior senator by winning 52 percent of the vote in a tight race with Republican Senator James Abdnor. Tom Daschle lost the 2004 election to John Thune by 4,534 votes, a 49%-51% margin.

In 1988, Tom Daschle became the first South Dakotan ever to hold a Senate Leadership position when he was named the first ever co-chair of the Democratic Policy Committee by then Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell.

When Senator Mitchell retired in 1994, Daschle ran for the post of Democratic Minority Leader and won, 24-23, over Senator Christopher Dodd. Only Lyndon B. Johnson had served fewer years in the Senate before being elected to the Leader position.

Senator Daschle served as Minority Leader from 1994 to 2001, when the Senate became deadlocked with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans for the first time in the Senate's history. Daschle became Majority Leader for 17 days, from January 3 to January 20, because the new congress took office before a new presidential administration. Vice-President Al Gore acted as ex officio President of the Senate to give the Democrats a majority.

Daschle and Trent Lott, the Republican Leader, negotiated for five weeks to invent new rules to share power in an evenly-divided Congress and finally came up with an agreement that was passed unanimously by the Senate. In May of 2001, Republican Senator Jim Jeffords became an Independent, which gave the Democrats a majority in the chamber to make Senator Daschle Majority Leader once again, from June 6, 2001-January 3, 2003. After the 2002 election, Daschle again became Minority Leader for the 108th Congress until his defeat in the 2004 election.

Senator Daschle is one of the longest serving Senate Democratic Leaders in history, and the only one to serve twice as both Majority and Minority Leader. As the Democratic Party Leader, he co-managed the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton, only the second impeachment trial in United States history. Daschle also led the Senate in response to the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the anthrax attack on his office on October 15, 2001.

During his legislative career, Tom Daschle was a strong advocate for veterans, leading a lengthy fight to win compensation for veterans who were victims of cancer related to Agent Orange exposure. He also was instrumental in passage of the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 1994, which authorized payment of disability compensation to Gulf War veterans suffering from undiagnosed war-related illnesses.

Daschle's agricultural legislative accomplishments include writing the 1985 Emergency Farm Credit Act to aid farmers during the farm crisis, and also writing major provisions of the Disaster Relief Acts of 1988, 1989 and 1993 to help farmers recover from devastating natural disasters. He also authored key provisions of the Omnibus Trade Act to increase overseas markets for agricultural products.

In addition to acting as coordinator of the failed effort to pass President Clinton's comprehensive health-care bill in 1994, Senator Daschle authored and passed legislation to expand rural health services and regulate of the sale and marketing of Medigap insurance plans to prevent fraud. He also helped lead the fight against fetal alcohol syndrome.

Senator Daschle's other major legislative accomplishments include being the principal author of the reformulated gasoline provision of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and writing successful legislation to authorize housing and expand education and health facilities on American Indian reservations.

Daschle was known for his "prairie populist" ideals as a legislator, exemplified by his annual unscheduled driving tour when he traveled across his home state of South Dakota with no staff and no schedule. He made a point of visiting every one of South Dakota's counties, visiting local establishments like cattle auctions, schools and cafes to talk to people about their concerns. He was also one of the first members of Congress to establish a toll-free telephone line connecting his South Dakota constituents with his Washington, D.C. office.

Content Notes

The Personal Papers are composed of materials Daschle separated from the rest of the collection which were of personal interest to him. Included are pre-congressional materials, campaign records, legislative records, correspondence, political records, media files, and files saved for their intrinsic value.

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South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.