Montana State University

Former Montana Congressman Marlenee's papers at MSU

February 1, 2006 -- by Tracy Ellig


Ron Marlenee, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1992, donated his congressional papers to Montana State University. (MSU photo by Jay Thane.)   High-Res Available

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One of Montana's longest serving congressmen now has the record of his public service in the archives of Montana State University's main library in Bozeman.

Republican Ron Marlenee served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993. His congressional papers from that time have recently been organized and made available for research by historians and the general public. The collection is housed in MSU's Renne Library.

"This is the most complete collection of congressional papers we have," said MSU professor and archivist Kim Allen Scott. "It forms a snapshot of Montana concerns of the late 20th century."

A farmer and rancher from Scobey, Marlenee served on the House Agriculture; and Interior and Insular Affairs committees. He was an ardent conservative, and the library's collection reflects Marlenee's desires for a balanced budget and shrinking the federal government. He was also focused on promoting timber, mining and energy interests; assisting family farms; and expanding the markets and export opportunities available to them. He was also a staunch defender of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The collection doesn't provide any surprises, Scott said.

"His record reflects his image and his service," he said.

Marlenee served during an unusual time in Montana's history: In 1990, the U.S. Census revealed that the state had 12,189 too few people for two congressional seats.

Marlenee and the state's other congressman, Democrat Pat Williams, were forced to run against each other for control of the largest congressional seat in the nation. Williams won and Marlenee retired from politics.

In his departure, Marlenee carried with him the legacy of being the longest serving Republican member of the U.S. House in Montana's history, a record he still holds. After Congress, Marlenee, now 70, worked as a lobbyist, most notably for Safari Club International, which promotes wildlife conservation and hunter rights worldwide.

Archivist Scott and assistant Pat Engbretson spent a year and a half organizing Marlenee's papers into 120 linear feet of neatly boxed files, of which 80 are purely constituent mail dealing mainly with public policy issues.

Marlenee attended MSU for one quarter in the fall of 1960 in architecture.

A web page for Marlenee's papers can be found at: www.lib.montana.edu/collect/spcoll/findaid/2317.html

Contact: Kim Allen Scott, (406) 994-5297 or kascott@montana.edu