A Home for Jo Ann’s Congressional Papers

The distinguished congressional career of former NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson will soon be on display at a university in the Missouri district that sent her to Capitol Hill 10 times.

Former NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson

Former NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson

On Sept. 9, Southeast Missouri State University will hold a special event to celebrate the donation of Emerson's congressional papers to the Cape Girardeau-based school's Special Collections and Archives in Kent Library.

Librarian Roxanne Dunn said the papers will be a resource for congressional scholars and others interested in Emerson's tenure in the House from 1996 to 2013, when she resigned to head NRECA.

"The Jo Ann Emerson Congressional Papers are an incredible resource for Special Collections and Archives to acquire," Dunn said. "This will be the first set of congressional papers in the archives, and we're thrilled that Rep. Emerson decided to entrust them with us here at Southeast Missouri State University."

The voluminous collection includes more than 100 boxes of material, including press releases, hearing booklets, correspondence, speeches, videotapes and some 11,000 photographs that library staffers have been digitizing.

"The strength in the collection really lies in the incredible number of photographs documenting her time in Congress and the materials documenting her work on the Appropriations subcommittees," Dunn said.

Emerson succeeded her late husband Bill in the House of Representatives in November 1996, becoming the first woman to represent to Missouri in Congress. She rose to become a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and maintained close ties with electric cooperatives throughout her time in office.

In 2013, Emerson succeeded Glenn English as CEO of NRECA. Known for her openness and accessibility, Emerson was an active, forceful advocate for co-op priorities until she suffered a medical emergency in August 2015 that caused her to retire in 2016.

Earlier this year, Emerson, who resides in the Washington, D.C., area received the Clyde T. Ellis Award, the highest honor NRECA can bestow.

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