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D. Robert "Bob" Graham Political Papers

Identifier: MS 148

Scope and Content

The collection spans Bob Graham's political career from his days in the Florida Legislature to his retirement from the US Senate. His political campaigns are well documented and an entire series is devoted to his 405 workdays. The collection also documents aspects of his life outside office including his advocacy for Florida's public universities, his writings, and his public service on several federal commissions. In addition to textual documents, both paper and born-digital, such as correspondence, reports, and public statements, the collection contains audio recordings and visual materials in the form of photographs and video recordings.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1966-2004
  • Creation: 1950-2010


Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research. The presence of constituent mai and casework in this collection requires mediated access. Access to constituent mail is restricted for a period of 30 years from creation. Researchers must consult with Special Collections staff before using the collection and must agree in writing to the following conditions: Congressional constituent mail is considered a type of privileged correspondence. Reproduction of constituent mail in any format is prohibited. Further, researchers using constituent mail must agree not to divulge the names or addresses of constituents or provide information that could conceivably identify constituents. Records of executive nominations are unavilable for public inspection for 50 years after creation. CD-Rs and DVD-Rs (Boxes 301, 410, and 449): original discs are restricted fragile. Please consult with staff to access electronic files. Records of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are restricted for 20 years from creation.

Usage Restrictions

Some media formats may only be used pending reformatting. Please consult with the archivist about accessing audiovisual materials.

Biographical Note

Daniel Robert "Bob" Graham was born in Coral Gables, Florida, on November 9, 1936. Graham served as the 38th governor of Florida from 1979 to 1987 and as a United States Senator from 1987 to 2005. Prior to the governorship, Graham also served in the Florida House and Senate. He is married to the former Adele Khoury. He is the son of Ernest "Cap" Graham, a Florida state senator, engineer, and dairy farmer, and Hilda Simmons Graham, a school teacher, and is the youngest of their four children. Graham grew up on the edge of the Everglades at a place called Pennsuco, short for Pennsylvania Sugar Company. His father came to Florida to establish a sugar operation there, but the venture failed. As compensation, Ernest Graham was offered all the Pennsuco lands he could pay taxes on. This became the foundation for several Graham family businesses in south Florida.

Graham graduated from Miami High School in 1955 and attended the University of Florida where he met Adele. The two married in 1959. He continued his education at Harvard where he earned a law degree in 1962. He returned to Florida and served as an executive with the Sengra Corporation, a family-owned construction firm, and with the Graham dairies. The Graham family was also instrumental in developing portions of south Florida, including Miami Lakes.

Graham began his political career in 1966 with his election to the Florida House of Representatives. He served in the House from 1967 to 1971. He won election to the Florida Senate in 1970 and served there until 1978. In 1978, Graham became the first candidate from south Florida to be elected the state's governor. His campaign focused on a series of workdays at various locations throughout the state. Through 1977 and into the election year of 1978, Graham conducted 100 workdays where he connected with the people of Florida and their lives. What was a campaign stratagem (and a very successful one) became a hallmark of Graham's political career.

As governor, Graham championed improvements in the environment and education. He was praised for his ability to bring consensus among liberals and moderates and to harness the power of economic expansion with social needs. Graham worked to mend racial injustices that plagued the South and focused on moving Florida forward in race relations. He was reelected in 1982. After two terms as governor, Graham successfully challenged incumbent US Senator Paula Hawkins in the 1986 elections. The Graham Workdays, which never stopped while he was in office, were once again a feature of his campaign.

In the Senate, Graham's first committee assignments included the Environment and Public Works, Veterans Affairs, and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Graham continued his support for environmental issues. He helped secure approval for a 108,000 acre expansion to the Everglades National Park and fought against oil drilling off the Florida coastline. In 1992, Graham easily won reelection to the Senate. In his second term, he took on a new role as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. This appointment by Democrat leaders signaled Graham's rising role within the party. Graham served a two year term as the party's chief fundraiser in the Senate and was also responsible for recommending candidates to the White House for federal judgeships.

Graham continued to parlay his success in the Senate into a third term in 1998 over challenger Charlie Crist. In the Senate, he developed a close working relationship with the junior senator from Florida, Connie Mack. Graham continued his advocacy for the environment, increased his interests in foreign affairs, and was active on veteran's issues and finance. He also spent 10 years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and served as its chair from 2001 to 2003. Like so many others, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks transformed Graham's life. He became an expert on the intelligence failures that led to the terrorist attacks and demanded reform in the intelligence community in the face of new threats. He was an outspoken critic of the Iraq war and President George W. Bush. On September 14, 2002, the Senate and House Intelligence Committees announced a joint inquiry into the September 11th terrorist attacks. Graham co-chaired the Inquiry alongside House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Representative Porter Goss. In 2004, he authored Intelligence Matters, a harsh critique of the intelligence failures in the Bush administration.

In 2003, Graham initiated a campaign to be the 2004 Democratic nominee for president. However, he underwent open-heart surgery just prior to announcing his candidacy which delayed his national launch. The campaign never did find its base and Graham dropped out before the first primary. After 38 years of public service, Graham decided to retire and prepared to leave the Senate in 2004.

Following his tenure in the Senate, Graham turned to a variety of activities that touched upon his interests. From 2005 to 2006, Graham returned to Harvard as a senior fellow at the Kennedy School of Government. He also went to work on establishing a public leadership center at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Florida. In 2008, The Graham Center for Public Service was dedicated with the mission to increase the awareness of civic culture and engagement. Graham also parlayed his passion for civic engagement in the publication of a 2009 book, America, The Owner's Manual: Making Government Work for You. The Owner's Manual set out to dispel the notion that politics is a spectator sport and instead, provide a "step by step guide to becoming an active participant in the process." In 2011, Graham authored a novel, Keys to the Kingdom, which borrowed from his experiences with the intelligence community.

Graham continued to be active in politics from 2007 to 2011 through appointments as chairs of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and as co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Graham's background in investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks, his long-standing interest and knowledge of environmental issues, and his work with the Senate Finance Committee all informed his post-Senate activities. Bob Graham died on April 16, 2024.


423.3 Linear feet (456 boxes, 8 framed items, 6 Volumes)

15.7 GB (13,968 files, 372 folders)

Language of Materials



Records from the political career of D. Robert "Bob" Graham documenting his tenure as a Florida legislator, 1966-1978, and a United States Senator, 1987-2005. The collection also contains Graham's private papers and records from several commissions that Graham served on and also chronicles Graham's Workday experiences. Among the many record types, the collection contains correspondence, memoranda, press releases, speeches, articles, schedules and calendars, trip files, campaign materials, photographs and audiovisual materials. Major topics include education, environmental conservation, Florida economics, the savings and loan crisis, Everglades restoration, Hurricane Andrew, foreign affairs, and health care.


The collection is organized into eight series.

Detailed descriptions of the series can be found preceding the contents listing of each section in the finding aid.

Physical Location

Parts of this collection are stored in the Auxiliary Library Facility off campus and will require advance notice for timely retrieval. Please contact the Special and Area Studies Collections department prior to your visit.

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items in the D. Robert "Bob" Graham Political Papers are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Archival Materials note

Ernest R. Graham Papers, 1908-1957, also at the University of Florida.

Records relating to Graham's administration as Governor of Florida reside in the state archives:

Processing Information note

This collection was processed in several stages. Materials relating to Graham's service in the Florida Legislature and Campaign files up to 1982 were originally processed as one collection, MS 148. Senate Papers, Personal Papers, Workdays materials, Audiovisual Material and additional Campaign Files were processed separately between 2010 and 2012. In 2014 the collection was merged and slightly reorganized. In 2022 an addition to the collection including speeches, scrapbooks, Financial Crisis Commission, and legislative materials.

Due to the size and complexity of the collection, some box numbers may appear out of order within the finding aid. This finding aid was revised in August 2022. Recognizing that historical terms do not always completely or directly map to contemporary terms, that historical terms can be offensive or inaccurately describe a person or group, and that the presence of both historical and contemporary terms may be useful for researcher discovery, the archivist has attempted to employ historical terms as they originally appear in the context of the collection, in the description, along with contemporary terms in brackets. In the case of direct quotes and published works, the archivist has retained the language as it originally appeared.

A Guide to the D. Robert "Bob" Graham Political Papers
Finding aid prepared by Debra Davendonis-Todd, Carl Van Ness and Andrea Benefiel
June 2014 (Updated August 2022)
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America