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The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that the records of Governor Lawrence Douglas Wilder have been fully processed and are available for research. L. Douglas Wilder broke barriers throughout his career, including being the first Black member of Virginia’s Senate in the 20th century, the first African American to win statewide office in Virginia as lieutenant governor, and the first mayor of Richmond to be elected rather than appointed by city council, and of course culminating in serving as Virginia’s governor from 1990 to 1994, which made him the first African American elected governor in the United States.

During his time in office, Governor Wilder steered the Commonwealth through a national recession with sound fiscal management; promoted new construction projects and economic development ventures; and supported measures to enhance efficiency in government, energy conservation, enhanced infrastructure and social justice.

The Governor Wilder collection consists of 1,013 boxes totaling 447.8 cubic feet, is described in 27 finding aids, and includes records of the Chief of Staff, Communications Office, Constituent Affairs, Drug Policy Office, Executive Mansion, Policy Office, Scheduling Office, Transition Office, and the Virginia Liaison Office. It chronicles Wilder’s historic gubernatorial administration, documenting the development and implementation of his many significant initiatives and policies. A few highlights of the collection include the establishment of the Drug Policy Office, the Rural Economic Development Corporation, and the Governor’s Commission on Violent Crime. The Wilder administration also enacted Project Streamline, the Virginia Energy Plan, and a Transportation Blueprint, as well as issuing the 1990 executive order to state agencies and universities to divest themselves of any investments in South Africa due to its policy of apartheid.

In addition to gubernatorial records, the Library also houses records from Wilder’s term as lieutenant governor, and from his campaign.

A selection of scanned documents and photos from the Wilder records

The Governor’s Office collection at the Library of Virginia includes records from every governor of Virginia from its establishment as a commonwealth in 1776 to the present. The Wilder papers are an important part of this collective body of material documenting the highest level of government in Virginia. Finding aids with detailed box content listings are available online through our catalog and at the website of Virginia Heritage. Links to those finding aids are provided below.

Finding Aids for the Records of Governor L. Douglas Wilder

Mike Strom

Former State Archivist and Director of Government Records Services

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