The Jesse Helms Center was founded in 1988 and named for the former five-term U.S. Senator from North Carolina, Jesse A. Helms. The Jesse Helms Center exists to promote traditional American values and the principles upon which our nation was founded and that Senator Helms advanced throughout his career. This mission is accomplished through the archives of Senator Helms, through educational programs offered at little or no cost and through public policy education. The Jesse Helms Center receives no government funding, instead garnering all support from individuals, foundations and businesses who believe in the future of America.
The founding of the Jesse Helms Center is deeply entwined with the life story of Senator Jesse Helms. Helms, as a young man, received a scholarship to attend Wingate College, a small liberal arts school just miles from his hometown. The generosity expressed to him through that scholarship lingered in his mind and was the impetus for Helms’ decision to donate his senatorial and personal papers to Wingate College. Around the same time, friends and family began urging Helms to consider blessing the creation of a non-profit center which would establish programs and opportunities for young people based on traditional American values. After Helms’ gave the go-ahead with the important directive that the center not be a “dusty old museum,” the Center became the official repository of his papers, an interactive museum where people young and old can learn, and a hub for many engaging programs.