This past Sunday we were notified of the passing of former Pennsylvania Governor William W. Scranton. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his surviving wife Mary and the Scranton family.
Described as a” Kennedy Republican,” Bill Scranton blended fiscal conservatism with a moderate political and social agenda to forge a successful campaign leading to the governorship of Pennsylvania in 1963. But his moderation conflicted with the growing conservatism of the Republican Party as the 1960s wore on. In 1964 Scranton challenged conservative stalwart Senator Barry Goldwater in the Republican presidential primary and lost. Following one term (1963-1967) as governor, Scranton eschewed politics but embraced the role of statesman. In doing so he provided exemplary service to the commonwealth and nation. He served on key governmental commissions (including the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest in the wake of the Kent State campus shootings), was Ambassador to the United Nations (1976), headed a diplomatic mission to the Middle East, and advised several presidents on intelligence matters, strategic arms control and Soviet-American Relations.
In 1979, Governor Scranton gifted his personal papers to the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. and with his wife established a Libraries endowment fund to support the development of the Scranton Papers--formally opened in 1993 and housed within the Special Collections' Historical Collection and Labor Archives. Subsequent additions by the Scranton Family over several decades have resulted in building a nationally significant research collection of over 175 linear feet of records, correspondence, and photographs documenting Scranton’s life and public service. In 2004 the critically praised WVIA-PBS film documentary, William Warren Scranton: In a Clear Light, premiered and relied heavily upon the Scranton Papers for primary source material during production.
Over the last decade Governor Scranton was still highly engaged with his archives. He was especially interested in gauging how his papers were being used for research and incorporated in class instruction. Bill Scranton embodied the best virtues of a public servant and statesman and will be sorely missed. His was a life well-lived and his legacy and papers provide valuable lessons for aspiring public servants.
Head of Historical Collections and Labor Archives