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U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives: Home

The U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives include his legislative papers, artifacts, campaign records, and other materials.


Archives & Special Collections at UNO Criss Library is open to the public Monday-Friday 8am-5pm and by appointment.

Archives & Special Collections is closed whenever Criss Library is closed

Archives & Special Collections will be closed Monday, May 30, 2016.

Archives & Special Collections will be closed Monday, July 4, 2016. 

Prepare for Your Visit

We encourage all researchers to review online information about finding material in and using material from Archives & Special Collections in advance of your visit to Criss Library. Archives & Special Collections includes the Afghanistan Collection, the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel ArchivesUniversity Archives, and Special Collections and Rare Books

Research appointments are not required, but can ensure your research visit is as productive as possible. If you wish,  contact us in advance of your visit to make an appointment. 

Have a question about Archives & Special Collections not answered on our pages for visitors? Contact us

Find Us

Archives & Special Collections is located on the lower level (first floor) of Criss Library. Directions to the library and information about campus parking is also available. A number of hotels are located near campus and in the greater Omaha area.

History and Status of the Collection

Parts of Hagel Archives Open for Research
‚ÄčThe Hagel Archives contains records from Chuck Hagel's career as U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense and includes his legislative papers, artifacts, photographs, campaign records, and other material. Artifacts, Grant Files, Photographs, and Senate Schedules are now open for research. Visit our Find Material page for finding aids and more information. 

History of the Hagel Archives
On October 8, 2008, at the kick-off of UNO's centennial celebration, Chancellor John Christensen announced that U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel would donate his U.S. Senate papers and artifacts to his alma mater. The materials from the office in Washington, D.C. and his state offices arrived in December 2008 and the work of archival processing (i.e. arrangement and description) began. The first set of materials opened for research in January, 2016. The rest of the collection remains closed as it is arranged and described. 

Chuck Hagel Biography

Chuck Hagel was born on October 4, 1946 in North Platte, NE. The oldest of four brothers, he graduated from St. Bonaventure High School in Columbus, NE. He joined the U.S. Army and volunteered to go to Vietnam, serving from 1967-1968 in the 9th Infantry Division. He attained the rank of Sergeant. Chuck and his brother Tom were in the same infantry squad and saved each other's lives on separate occasions. He earned numerous military honors and decorations including two Purple Hearts.

Hagel graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1971. He worked for Nebraska Congressman John Y. McCollister in Washington, D.C. and Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. In 1981, President Reagan nominated Hagel to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration where he pushed for increased benefits for Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange. Hagel left that post in 1982.

Hagel co-founded Vanguard Celluar Systems and went on to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Service Organization (USO), Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit), Deputy Commissioner General of the U.S. for the 1982 World's Fair, President of the Private Sector Council, and President of McCarthy & Company (an Omaha-based investment bank).

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Hagel represented Nebraskans for two terms (1997-2009). He was a member of three standing committees (not all concurrently): Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs; and Intelligence. He chaired both the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export, & Trade Promotion and the Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs subcommittees on International Trade & Finance and Securities & Investment. Hagel also served as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Climate Change Observer Group.

Following his retirement from the Senate, Hagel served as a Co-Chairman of President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board and as a member of the Secretary of Defense Policy Board and the Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. He was Chairman of the Atlantic Council and a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of National Governance at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel to succeed Leon Panetta as the U.S. Secretary of Defense on January 7, 2013. He was sworn in on February 27, 2013 as the 24th Secretary of Defense. Hagel left that position in February, 2015, and returned to private life.

Hagel Exhibits

Current Exhibit:  

Life of a Senator, May 2-August 26, 2016: How does a U.S. Senator fill up a day? A month? Easily. Through schedules, photos, and other documents from the career of U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (1997-2009), visitors will learn about the varied work of a U.S. Senator one month at a time. Some months kick off a new president. Others bring tragedy or controversy. Still others show the normal rhythm of politicians at work. For a more in-depth version of the exhibit, please visit: 

Past Exhibits:

  • Charles Timothy Hagel: A Life in Photographs, January 15-April 22, 2016: In this newest exhibit of material from the Hagel Archives, visitors will be able to traverse the public and private life of U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel through photographs. They will discover his roots in Nebraska, his family's commitment to serving their country, and Hagel's own take on how to practice this service. They will find images of his first campaign for U.S. Senator, his work in Washington, D.C., and his ascension from U.S. Senator to Intelligence Advisory Board co-chairman and eventually Secretary of Defense under President Barack Obama. Finally, they will catch a glimpse into his private life in which he has played the role of son, brother, husband, father, and leader. A more in-depth version of the exhibit with some different photographs can be viewed online at
  • In Service to his Country: Chuck Hagel and Vietnam, October 16, 2015-January 7, 2016: The exhibit of material from the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archive focuses on his military service in Vietnam and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. from its dedication in 1982 to more recent ceremonies through photographs, memorabilia, and other material.
  • Parading Around: Chuck Hagel Campaign Parades and Events, July 13-October 6, 2015: When Hagel decided to run for U.S. Senate in 1996 he was unknown to most Nebraskans. To gain supporters, he reached out to communities across the state and took part in local parades, events, and other activities. The photos on display give visitors a glimpse into the efforts of Hagel, his family, his campaign staff, and his volunteers while on the campaign trail in 1996 and 2002.  
  • Chuck Hagel: Gifts to the Secretary of Defense, April 2, 2015-July 3, 2015. Charles Timothy “Chuck” Hagel left the Department of Defense in February after two years as U.S. Secretary of Defense in the Obama Administration. On display are the colorful and often unique gifts Hagel received in 2013 and 2014, mostly from his counterparts in other countries while on official travel. 
  • Chuck T. Hagel: The 1996 Campaign, January 16, 2015-March 20, 2015: Nebraskans elected Chuck Hagel to represent them in the United States Senate in 1996. His opponent in that race was sitting Governor Ben Nelson. Sworn into office in 1997, Hagel served 2 terms before stepping down in 2008. The display includes campaign signs and other memorabilia. 
  • Campaign 1996: Hagel for Senate (2012) In 1996, Chuck Hagel ran a successful campaign the resulted in victories over then Attorney General Don Stenberg and Governor Ben Nelson. Hagel was the first Republican to win a Nebraska Senate seat in twenty-four years. The exhibit featured photographs and artifacts from this historic 1996 campaign and election.
  • A Senator’s Walls: A Selection of Photographs and Artifacts from the Offices of Senator Chuck Hagel (2010) featured more than 300 items from Hagel’s offices in Washington DC, Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, and Scottsbluff. The items on display included photographs, awards, gifts, cartoons, newspapers and magazines, presenting a visual history of the activities of Senator Hagel during his two terms in the United States Senate.

Contact me

Lori Schwartz
Archives & Special Collections
Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library
University of Nebraska Omaha
6001 Dodge St.
Omaha, NE 68182-0237

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