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Christopher Shays Papers

Identifier: 2008-0126

Scope and Contents

The collection contains Christopher Shays' political notes, correspondence, and office files from his time as a United States Congressman from 1987-2008. Its inventory includes documents on Campaign Finance Reform, National Security Subcommittee Hearings Records from 1999-2006, schedules, calendars, UN books, trip documentation, robo form letters, VHS and audio tapes, and photographs.


  • Creation: undated

Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.


Christopher Hunter Shays was born in Stamford, Connecticut on October 18, 1945 and grew up in the town of Darien, Connecticut. A Christian Scientist, Shays attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois following his graduation from Darien High School. After receiving his Bachelor's degree Shays moved back east to continue his education at New York University, where he would receive both a Master of Business Administration degree, and Master of Public Administration degree.

Shays entered politics at the age of 29 when he was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1975. While serving in the Connecticut House Shays was a member of the Judiciary Committee as well as the ranking member of both the Appropriations Committee and the Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding. In 1987, while still a member of the Connecticut House, Shays won a special election to fill the vacant seat of United States Congressman Steward McKinney who had passed away in office. A Republican, Shays represented Connecticut's 4th Congressional district from 1987 until he was defeated by Democrat Jim Himes in 2008.

During his twenty-one years in Congress Shays served as a member on a number of committees to include the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Financial Services Committee, and the Homeland Security Committee. He has also been Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, Co-Chair of the Nonproliferation Task Force, and a Co-founder of both the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus and the Congressional National Service Caucus. He has likewise served as a member of numerous subcommittees. Shays has been widely known for being an original co-sponser to the landmark Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the "Shays-Meehan" bill, which helped eliminate soft money contributions by corporations during federal elections.

Shays has also been a staunch defender of America's involvement in Iraq. He supported the use of force in Iraq in 2003 and was the first Congressman to visit Iraq following the invasion. Shays supported the American occupation of Iraq throughout his tenure in Congress, and voted in favor of sending more troops to the country in 2007. Shays has often been criticized for his stance on Iraq, notably for comments that America should have withdrawn troops from the country by the end of 2008.

During his Congressional career Shays also helped to establish the COPS program, a measure intended to reduce serious crime brought about under the Clinton administration. He was also influential in the passage of the 1993 Brady Act and establish the AmeriCorps National Service program. A lifelong Republican Shays has often voted against his party on many issues, and is considered a moderate by his peers.

Following his defeat in 2008 Shays was appointed co-chair of the independent bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since leaving office Shays has continued to seek public office, most recently entering the 2012 race for outgoing Senator Joseph Lieberman's seat.


93.6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays' congressional papers are contained in this collection. Shays was a Republican who represented Connecticut's fourth Congressional district from 1987 until 2008. He was the original co-sposor of the landmark Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also know as "Shays-Meehan" and "McCain-Feingold," which banned federal elections soft money from corporartions, labor unions, and wealthy indiviuals and barred issue advocacy ads within 60 days of election unless hard money had paid for them. The records consist of his political notes, correspondence, and office files from his time as a United States Congressman.

Provenance and Acquisition

The papers were donated to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center by Christopher Shays in 2008.

Christopher Shays Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US