The records of a Congressional career have found a home at Hope.
The Guy A. Vander Jagt Congressional Papers have opened in the Joint Archives of Holland. Vander Jagt, who is a 1953 Hope graduate, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, serving the Ninth District of Michigan until 1992.
"During his quarter century in the House of Representatives, a period of time that covered six presidencies, Congressman Vander Jagt played a significant role locally as well as nationally," said Larry Wagenaar '87, who is director of the Joint Archives of Holland. "The records in the collection provide a thorough look at both the major events during his time in office and the day-to-day activity experienced by a Congressman, and will be an important resource for developing our understanding of area history as well as national history."
The materials cover not only Vander Jagt's service in Congress, but the decade before as well. His activities from 1957 until his election to the House included serving as news director of WWTV in Cadillac, practicing law at Warner, Norcross & Judd in Grand Rapids, and serving in Michigan's state senate during 1965-66.
During a luncheon held on Thursday, Nov. 16, in conjunction with the opening, Vander Jagt joked that during his days as a Hope student concerned with writing papers, he never could have imagined that nearly 50 years later he'd see a collection totalling hundreds of boxes return to campus for historical reference. According to Vander Jagt, his formative experience at Hope made the college-based Joint Archives the right choice to house the materials.
"Hope College is very, very special to me, for four of the greatest years of my life were on the Hope campus," he said. "I was impacted spiritually and intellectually in ways that shaped all the rest of my life, and so I thought it appropriate that the harvest of an entire career go back to where it all began."
While a student at Hope, Vander Jagt was debate champion for the state of Michigan for three consecutive years, and captured the National Oratorical Championship during his senior year. He was also student body president during his senior year. He served as a disc jockey at WHTC radio in Holland while working his way through school.
In addition to his degree from Hope, he holds a B.D. from Yale Divinity School, completed in 1957, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, completed in 1960.
Hope presented him with an honorary degree in October of 1983, and the Student Congress named him the organization's lifetime chair in November of 1983. The Guy Vander Jagt Endowed Professorship at Hope, designed for a professor whose interests include oratory or the interface between politics and communication, is named in his honor.
During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Vander Jagt rose to the second-ranking Republican seat on the House Ways and Means Committee and to the ranking Republican seats on the Trade Subcommittee, the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, and the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee. He was also a member of the Joint Taxation Committee, among other committee appointments.
As chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), he was a member of the Republican leadership, consulting on a regular basis with Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush and their Cabinets. He was the keynote speaker of the Republican National Convention in 1980.
Since 1992, he has practiced in the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm of Baker & Hostetler. With offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orlando and Washington, the firm is one of the 25 largest law firms in the United States. He concentrates his practice in the areas of tax and legislative law.
Vander Jagt wrote the congressional resolution to establish Dutch-American Heritage Day, recognizing the Netherlands' status as the first nation to recognize the young United States of America as a nation some 200 years before. He was inducted as a grand officer into the Order of Orange Nassau in April of 1982, and was named the Outstanding Dutch-American of the Year by the Netherlands Amity Trust Association in 1991.
In addition to the luncheon, a reception at the Joint Archives was also held in conjunction with the opening. Later in the day, Vander Jagt was the keynote speaker for the area Dutch-American Heritage Day event, held at the college's Haworth Inn and Conference Center.