Athens, Ga. – After serving more than three decades in state and local government including two terms as Georgia’s governor, Sonny Perdue has committed his political papers and memorabilia to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia. By a special arrangement with the Georgia Archives, the Russell Library will house both the former governor’s personal and official state papers. This collection joins the papers of 13 other Georgia governors.
“The addition of Sonny Perdue’s papers means that Russell Library now holds more than half the personal papers of modern Georgia’s governors,” said Sheryl Vogt, director of the library. “We are happy that the legal agreement with the state archives allows us to house these records.”
Perdue’s official papers include executive files, which consist of subject files generated by his administration including those of his assistants and others pertaining to legislators, agencies and organizations, and counties. These records also contain proclamations, scheduling files, Legal Division records, Public Officials Commission records, and External Affairs files. Perdue’s personal political files include those pertaining to his campaigns, his work in the State Senate, clippings, the Commission for a New Georgia, and those of the First Lady. Photographs, artifacts, and audio-visual material are a part of both the official and personal papers.
“Governor Perdue’s papers continue the cornerstone documentation provided by the state’s past leaders, which reveal the rich and complex nature of Georgia’s modern history, said Vogt.”Researchers will have great interest in Governor Perdue’s collection not only because he was the first Republican governor since 1871 but also he served during a period challenged by significant population growth, environmental challenges and economic decline.”
Perdue was born in 1946 in Perry, to Ervin and Ophie Perdue, a farmer and teacher, respectively. After graduating from Warner Robins High School, Perdue attended UGA where he played football and earned a bachelor of science degree and a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Perdue entered the Air Force following graduation and left in 1974 holding the rank of captain.
After settling back in Georgia in 1974, Perdue became a small business owner in Houston County concentrating in agribusiness and transportation. He became active in public service, including sitting on the Houston County Planning and Zoning Board, during the 1980s. Perdue was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 1990 representing his Middle Georgia district in the General Assembly for the next 11 years. While in office, he chaired the Senate Higher Education Committee and also served as president pro tempore and majority leader. His other committee assignments during his tenure included Ethics, Finance and Public Utilities, Health and Human Services, Reapportionment, Economic Development, Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
In 2002, Perdue launched a gubernatorial campaign against incumbent Roy Barnes. He campaigned for governor on a platform of restoring public trust in state government and defeated Barnes with 52 percent of the vote. From 2003 through 2010, Perdue concentrated his efforts on improving transportation, safety, education and ethics in government. He established the Commission for a New Georgia, which studied management issues within state government and focused on improving customer service in state agencies. His work on conservation culminated in the introduction and subsequent passing of the Georgia Land Conversation Act, which was signed into law in 2005. Together as governor and first lady, Sonny and Mary Perdue pursued initiatives involving the needs of children in the state, particularly those in foster care. Perdue won re-election in Nov. 2006 against former Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.
For more information on the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, see http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/.