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U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives

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

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Visit Criss Library Archives & Special Collections to learn more about our collections and how to use them. 

Overview of the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives

On October 8, 2008, at UNO's centennial celebration kick-off, Chancellor John Christensen announced that U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel would donate his papers and artifacts to his alma mater. 1700 boxes of paper and photos, hundreds of videos and artifacts, and 400+ books arrived from his D.C. and Nebraska offices in December. The work of arrangement and description (processing) began.

The records are arranged by type—personal and political, legislative, press and media, constituent services,  administrative, artifacts, and audiovisual. Schedules, Photographs, Grant Files, and Artifacts opened for research in January 2016. The rest of the Hagel Archives remains closed as it is processed. Newspaper articles, government documents, 400+ books (available in Archives & Special Collections), and other related material may be found in the Criss Library catalog

The records reflect the complex relationship between state and federal governments and individuals. Issues of regional and national importance play out in the interactions among branches of government, within and across party lines in the Senate, and in the Senator’s representation of constituents. Hagel served on several committees addressing domestic and international issues, and his papers cover almost every issue that arose in legislation or in Nebraska during his service. Significant events from that time include impeachment proceedings, a contested presidential election, 9-11, U.S. involvement in two wars, and economic challenges.

Find Material

Browse and search inventories for the following material in our Archives & Special Collections' database:

  • Artifacts include hundreds of framed photographs and cartoons; items from Hagel's offices and family life; and awards, gifts, and other memorabilia from his years as U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense.
  • Grant Files show how Hagel's office assisted Nebraskans in locating, obtaining, and celebrating grant work.
  • Photographs contains framed and unframed photographs, negatives, scrapbooks, and images on CDs from Hagel's childhood to his last days as Secretary of Defense. 
  • A rich set of Schedules brings us into Hagel's busy days on and off Capitol Hill for twelve years in the U.S. Senate with entries on meetings, events, Nebraska trips, international travel, and his personal life.

Photographs and Documents Digitized:
Life of a Senator: Schedules in the Hagel Archives
Charles Timothy Hagel: A Life in Photographs 
Parading Around: Chuck Hagel Campaign Parades and Events

Chuck Hagel Biography

Chuck Hagel was born 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 and attaining 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. President Reagan nominated Hagel in 1981 as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration where he pushed for increased benefits for veterans suffering from Agent Orange. Hagel left that post in 1982. Hagel co-founded Vanguard Celluar Systems and served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Service Organization, 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).

Hagel represented Nebraskans for two terms in the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2009. He was a member of the committees on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs; Foreign Relations; Labor & Human Resources; and Rules and Administration, along with the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Special Committee on Aging (not all concurrently). He chaired the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export, & Trade Promotion (Foreign Relations) and the subcommittees on International Trade & Finance and Securities & Investment (Banking). He also served as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Climate Change Observer Group.

Post-Senate, Hagel was Co-Chairman of President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board, on the Secretary of Defense Policy Board and the Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, and Distinguished Professor in the Practice of National Governance at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. President Obama nominated Hagel to succeed Leon Panetta as U.S. Secretary of Defense on January 7, 2013. He was sworn in on February 27, 2013 as the 24th Secretary of Defense. Hagel returned to private life in February, 2015.

Hagel Exhibits

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

Past Exhibits:

  • Charles Timothy Hagel: A Life in Photographs, January 15-April 22, 2016: Traverse the public and private lives of U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel through photos from his first campaign and early work in Washington, D.C., to his rise from U.S. Senator to U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Obama. Discover his Nebraska roots and his family's commitment to serviceFinally, glimpse him in his roles of son, brother, husband, father, and leader. See it online at:
  • In Service to his Country: Chuck Hagel and Vietnam, October 16, 2015-January 7, 2016: This exhibit of photographs, memorabilia, and other material from the Hagel Archives focuses on Hagel's military service in Vietnam and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., from its dedication in 1982 to more recent ceremonies.
  • 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. He reached out to communities across the state and took part in local parades, events, and other activities. Photos on display show 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 “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 counterparts in other nations 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 two terms before stepping down in 2008. The display included campaign signs and other memorabilia. 
  • Campaign 1996: Hagel for Senate (2012) In 1996, Chuck Hagel ran a successful campaign with victories over Attorney General Don Stenberg and Governor Ben Nelson. Hagel was the first Republican to win a Nebraska Senate seat in 24 years. The exhibit featured photos and artifacts from this historic 1996 campaign.
  • 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, D.C., Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, and Scottsbluff. Items included photos, 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

Support the Hagel Archive

You may support access to and preservation of the legacy of Secretary Chuck Hagel through the Hagel Archive by the Criss Library Archives & Special Collections with a designated gift to the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives Fund of the University of Nebraska Foundation. To learn more or discuss your gift, contact Amy Schindler, Director of Archives & Special Collections (, 402-554-6046). Thank you for your support.