Collection ASM0063 - Senator Mel Martinez papers

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Senator Mel Martinez papers


  • 1998-2009 (Creation)
  • 2004-2009 (Creation)


91 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Mel (Melquiades Rafael) Martinez was the first Cuban-American to be elected to the United States Senate, serving as the representative for Florida from 2005-2009. Born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba on October 23, 1946, Martinez immigrated to the United States in 1962 at the age of fifteen, through what was later known as Operation Pedro Pan. This initiative, sponsored by the Catholic Welfare Bureau and the U.S. government, coordinated the exodus of over 14,000 children from Fidel Castro’s Communist government in Cuba between 1960 and 1962. For four years, Martinez lived with two different foster families in Orlando, Florida, as he struggled to learn English and adjust to a life away from his family and homeland. His parents and younger sister remained in Cuba, and his younger brother lived with relatives in Miami. Martinez was reunited with his family in Orlando, Florida in 1966.

Martinez worked his way through college and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State University in 1969. Encouraged by one of his undergraduate professors to pursue law, he proceeded to earn a Juris Doctorate degree from Florida State University in 1973. Martinez practiced law in Orlando for twenty-five years until 1998, when he won the election to serve as Mayor of Orange County, Florida. After two years in this position, Martinez was tapped by President George W. Bush to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), becoming the first Cuban-American to serve in the Cabinet of a President. As HUD Secretary during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Martinez was responsible for overseeing funds appropriated by Congress for the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan. He served as HUD Secretary from 2001-2003. Martinez also served as a key advisor to the President on Cuban policy, and was named co-chair of the Commission for the Assistance to a Free Cuba alongside Secretary of State Colin Powell.

During his service as United States Senator (R-Florida) from January 4, 2005 until his resignation on September 9, 2009, Martinez focused on issues including U.S. policy toward Cuba, immigration reform, housing and the protection of home buyers from bad loans and predatory lending practices, the protection of Florida’s environment, and the modernization of the United States military through increased shipbuilding. He developed a reputation for bipartisanship by partnering with fellow U.S. Senator for Florida Bill Nelson (D) on restricting offshore drilling in Florida’s waters and with U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois) on immigration reform. Martinez was the ranking member of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging and served on the Armed Services Committee, the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. During his tenure, his office assisted more than 36,000 Florida families through casework, written correspondence, and other efforts.

Martinez is the author of "A Sense of Belonging: From Castro’s Cuba to the U.S. Senate, One Man’s Pursuit of the American Dream" (Crown Forum, 2008). In his inaugural address as a U.S. Senator, he said, “I came to America from Communist Cuba so I might have a better way of life. I wanted to live the American Dream where if you worked hard and put your mind to task, anything was possible.”

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Scope and content

The Senator Mel Martinez Papers, donated to the University of Miami in 2010, consist primarily of records created during Martinez’s service as a United States Senator for Florida from 2005 to 2009.  Comprised of 89 boxes, the collection includes legislative and committee files, schedules and appointments, correspondence with constituents and colleagues, speeches and floor statements, media coverage, casework files, campaign files, and administrative office records.  The collection also includes photographs, audiovisual materials, and electronic records that date primarily from 1998 to 2009, but also includes scans of photographs and memorabilia relating to Martinez’s childhood in Cuba and immigration to the United States.  Topics of research include American legislative history, Mel Martinez’s committee assignments, Florida projects, immigration, United States relations with Cuba, services for the elderly, and Florida’s environment, including issues relating to offshore oil drilling.

System of arrangement

Series Descriptions

Series I: Personal/Political/Official Records (arranged chronologically)

Sub-series A: Scheduling Files and Invitations

Sub-series B: Senator’s Correspondence

Sub-series C: Campaign Files

Series II: Legislative (arranged chronologically by Congress and then alphabetically by issue)

Sub-series A: 109th Congress

Sub-series B: 110th Congress

Sub-series C: 111th Congress

Sub-series D: Co-Sponsorship Sheets and Decision Memos

Sub-series E: Committee Files

Series III: Constituent Services

Sub-series A: Constituent Mail (arranged alphabetically by issue, then chronologically)

Sub-series B: Mel Martinez Letter Library (arranged alphabetically by issue, then chronologically)

Sub-series C: Thank You and Congratulations Letters (arranged chronologically)

Sub-series D: Casework Files (arranged alphabetically)

Sub-series E: Records and Reports

Series IV: Press/Media Relations (arranged chronologically)

Sub-series A: Print Media

Sub-series B: Speeches and Statements (transcripts)

Series V: Office Administration (arranged chronologically)

Sub-series A: Office/Administrative Records

Sub-series B: Weekly Office Reports

Series VI: Photographs (arranged chronologically)

Series VII: Audiovisual and Electronic Materials (arranged chronologically)

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Languages of the material

  • English
  • Spanish

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Immediate source of acquisition

Gift of Senator Mel Martinez.

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Related archival materials

Congressional Timeline : 73rd Congress (March 9, 1933 - 111th Congress (March 10, 2009)

For each Congress beginning with the 73rd (1933-35), this timeline features session dates, partisan composition, the presidential administration, a list of congressional leaders, and notable legislation passed. This first version only addresses legislative output, not non-legislative events such as the impeachment of President Clinton or internal congressional processes or congressional politics.

Information about related materials is available at

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