Archives and Museum

The Jesse Helms Center contains both the Archives of the late Senator Jesse Helms and an interactive museum. A valuable resource for anyone interested in 20th century politics, modern American history and the history of North Carolina, the Archives contains correspondence, speeches, committee files and much more. The interactive museum is a great resource for school groups and those interested in learning more about the life and times of Senator Helms.

Archives and Museum

THE JESSE HELMS ARCHIVES:

Established with the gift of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms’ personal, senatorial and political papers, the Jesse Helms Center Archives contains a wealth of information related to the life and times of Senator Helms. As joint custodians with Wingate University, we are dedicated to providing access to our collection by adhering to current archival standards and best practices.

Our collection is divided into three record groups:

Currently, the Archives is open to researchers by appointment only. Please contact the Archives Director to make an appointment. Also, you can access some of our records through our Digital Collections.

MISSION:

The Jesse Helms Center Archives serves as the repository for the historical records and legislative papers of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, the Helms family and his administrative staff. The primary purpose of the Archives is to collect, appraise, organize, describe, preserve, interpret and provide access to the archival material that reflects the history of Senator Helms and his time in office. With a wealth of personal and professional correspondence, press files, speeches, voting records, photographs and audio/visual materials these records are essential for understanding the life and times of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, the United States Congress and modern United States history.

VISION:

Our vision is to be recognized as a repository of primary source materials with a special commitment to documenting the life of Senator Helms. In order to provide outstanding service and accomplish this, we will:

  • Provide access to our records in variety of formats
  • Utilize technology and innovation to enhance our services
  • Maintain a space that encourages free thinking where people can explore the past

COLLECTION POLICY:

The Jesse Helms Center Archives is the designated repository for all of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms’ personal and political records of historical value, the Helms family and his administrative staff. The following types of records are maintained in the Jesse Helms Center Archives:

  • Personal Papers (1924 – 1972, 2008, bulk 1960-1972) consists of WRAL correspondence and administrative files, scrapbooks, photographs, original “Viewpoint” editorials and transcripts and radio commentary transcripts.
  • Senatorial Papers (1953 – 2004, bulk 1973-2002) consists mostly of material on Helms’ political career as well as files of Senate staff members. Included in the subgroup are Helms’ personal correspondence, work on Senate committees, issue files, speeches, voting records, photographs, audio and video material. Major topics of interest include the Panama Canal, communism, abortion, school busing, national defense, the budget and the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Political Papers and Campaign Files (1940 – 2004, bulk 1972-1996) contain files from Helms’ tenure as an administrative assistant to U.S. Senators Willis Smith and Alton Lennon, Raleigh City Council files, election series files and press files.
  • The administrative records of the Jesse Helms Center Foundation.

Collection Criteria:

  • Relevance: All materials collected must be relevant to the JHC Archives mission and objectives.
  • Condition: The condition of all materials will be considered prior to accepting materials into collection.

Acquisition Guidelines:

  • The JHC Archives reserves the right to refuse gifts and donations of materials that are not related to the life and political career of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms or fit into the scope of the JHC Archives. All gifts and donations are subject to review by the Archives Director.
  • Additionally, the JHC Archives will not accept:
    • Materials that are irreparably damaged or infected with insects or mold.
    • Photocopies of materials donated to another repository.
    • Materials in which the donor’s ownership is in question or disputed.
    • Partial collections.
    • Any materials or collections that the Archives cannot provide sufficient care and support.
    • Any materials or collections that the Archives cannot provide suitable space or provide access to.
  • The JHC Archives Collections Deed of Gift form must be filled out in duplicate. One copy will go to the donor and the other copy will go in our files.
  • All materials and objects refused will be returned to owner.
  • All materials and objects received will be accessioned into our collection.

INTERACTIVE MUSEUM:

Senator Helms’ number one directive upon the creation of the Jesse Helms Center was that it not be considered a “dusty old museum.” Opening in 2001, and with that directive in mind, the Helms Center features a replica of Senator Helms’ Senate office, an interactive model United Nations and an exhibit dedicated to the Presidents Helms served with during his 30 years in office.

Also, the Charles A. Cannon Free Enterprise Hall of Fame honors free enterprise heroes for their contributions to business, the economy and society and has recently been updated. You can also visit our Free Enterprise Heroes website to learn more.

The Jesse Helms Center’s interactive museum is open for free, self-guided tours, Monday – Friday (9 am-5 pm). For more information contact Ladonna Snodgrass, Facility Coordinator, at (704) 233-1776, ext. 1.

The award-winning “Courage of His Convictions,” a seventeen-minute look at Senator Jesse Helms’ life, is available for screening and is appropriate for all ages.