Sept. 6, 2023
The Briscoe Center mourns the death of Bill Richardson, a distinguished public servant who was a U.S. Congressman (1982–1996), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997–1998), Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton (1998–2000), and Governor of the State of New Mexico (2003–2011). The Briscoe Center is home to the Bill Richardson Papers, and he served as a member of the center’s Ambassador’s Council.
“I am deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of my good friend, Bill Richardson, who was a strong and enthusiastic supporter of the Briscoe Center,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “Bill contributed his trademark blend of charisma, intellect, good humor, and passion to a wide range of humanitarian causes, including the cause of history. It is our honor to preserve his legacy by making his extensive collection of papers available for research and teaching.”
Richardson was born in 1947 in Pasadena, California. He grew up in Mexico City, Mexico, leaving to attend boarding school in Massachusetts in 1960. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts in 1970 and a master’s degree from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1971. Richardson was married to his high-school sweetheart, Barbara, for over 50 years.
Richardson began his political career as an aide to Massachusetts Rep. Frank Bradford Morse and was a staff member for the US State Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1970s. In 1983, he was elected to the US House of Representatives New Mexico’s Third District. After his tenure as US ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, he was elected governor of New Mexico in 2002. During his two terms as governor, he helped move the state forward in several important areas including education, transportation, health care, immigration and environmental protection. Richardson was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.
After leaving office, he launched the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, a non-profit promoting international peace, in 2011. As a diplomat and special envoy, Richardson received four Nobel Prize nominations and successfully won the release of hostages and American servicemen in North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, and the Sudan. Most recently, he held meetings with Russian leadership to discuss the release of basketball star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan. He also was the author of three books, including How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator (2013).
The Richardson papers include annotated remarks from throughout his career; news clipping files; correspondence, campaign documents and materials related to his 2008 run for president; dossiers on select political issues; memos, negotiation transcripts and travel documents from diplomatic missions; photographs; audio and video recordings; digital files; ephemera; and research materials related to books he has published.
At the time he announced the donation of his papers, Richardson said, “I chose the Briscoe Center as the permanent home for my papers because it is one of the largest and most significant history research centers in the United States.” He continued, “The center has visionary leadership and an ambitious reach in its acquisitions, with ever-growing collections of national significance. I’m honored that my papers will reside in the same repository as those of such historically notable figures as Sam Houston, Walter Cronkite, James Farmer and Henry B. González.”