Sanford Sterling Munro papers, 1959-1989  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Munro, Sanford Sterling, 1932-
Sanford Sterling Munro papers
1959-1989 (inclusive)
1960 (bulk)
39.36 cubic feet (40 boxes and 1 folder)
Collection Number
Papers of Sanford Sterling, a public official, who served as a staffer for Henry "Scoop" Jackson.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Consult the access restrictions information for each of the accessions listed below.

Some material stored offsite; advance notice required for use.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Sanford Sterling Munro was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1932. Use of the first name was discontinued early and he was known as Sterling Munro throughout his adult life. He moved with his family to Bellingham, Washington in 1944, where he attended junior and senior high schools. A dinner meeting with then Washington State Congressman Henry "Scoop" Jackson in 1948 substantially encouraged Munro's ambitions to seek a career in public service. Consequently after his graduation from high school in 1949, he went to Washington, D. C. There he attended George Washington University evenings, while working days in a variety of Capitol Hill jobs, including one on Congressman Jackson's staff.

Munro's career was interrupted in 1951 when he was drafted into the Army for service during the Korean War. Discharged in Oklahoma in 1953, he headed immediately for Washington, D. C. and a position on the legislative staff of Henry Jackson, who had become a Senator in 1952. Munro completed George Washington University in 1956 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism. In 1961 he was appointed Administrative Assistant to Senator Jackson, becoming the youngest A. A. in the Senate at the time.

Munro served Senator Jackson as his chief aide until 1975, and as his campaign director until 1976. During this period he managed the Senator's three successful re-election campaigns in 1964, 1970 and 1976. He also directed Jackson's two unsuccessful efforts to secure the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1972 and 1976. Dubbed "Washington's Silent Senator," Munro also expertly facilitated the Senator's legislative agenda, particularly those interests in natural resources, conservation, and the power industry of the northwest. He was also deeply involved in the Democratic politics of the State of Washington. Munro maintained an attentive and often supportive interest in numerous local, state legislative, gubernatorial and national races both during his employment with Senator Jackson, and later as a private citizen.

Sterling Munro retired from Senator Jackson’s staff in 1976 and moved to Wenatchee to work as a consultant. In September 1977 Munro was chosen by Chelan County Public Utility District as its arbitrator in a dispute with Puget Sound Power and Light over the size of its controversial Rock Island Dam Recreational Exhibit R. An Exhibit R is a recreational exhibit required by the Federal Power Commission in licensing a hydroelectric project. This was not required when Rock Island was initially constructed. However, when the Chelan PUD applied for a license amendment in the early 1970s to build a second powerhouse at Rock Island, the Federal Power Commission required one. The plan submitted by the PUD in 1975 was valued in excess of $16 million. Puget Sound Power and Light, which purchased power from Chelan County PUD, opposed the project. Munro had been active in the Citizens for Riverfront Development Committee which supported a full scale riverfront development. Munro was one of three arbitrators.

Late in 1977 Sterling Munro was named to head the Bonneville Power Administration, the agency which constructs, operates and markets power from federal hydroelectric projects in the Pacific Northwest. One of the first major problems Munro had to deal with as B.P.A. Administrator was the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act, which had been introduced in Congress by the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee. The bill was a response to the energy shortfall predicted in coming years and the stalled hydro-thermal program under which the state’s new nuclear plants were being built. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Henry M. Jackson, created a Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Council made up of two representatives from each of the four northwest states. The Council was charged with developing a comprehensive regional energy plan. The measure also enabled B.P.A. to purchase the output of thermoelectrical power plants. During the legislative campaign, B.P.A.’s role in promoting the bill was controversial and was criticized by some BPA critics. The Regional Power Bill passed in late 1980. Sterling Munro resigned his BPA post February 3, 1981, after a dispute over the Reagan administration’s hiring freeze.

From 1981 until his death, he was Vice President and National Director of the Public Power Group of John Nuveen & Co., a municipal bonds firm. He died of a heart attack in Seattle on March 9, 1992.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The records document his civil service and consultant careers through 1981, and his political activities as a private citizen through 1990. Approximately two-thirds of the accession contains material generated during Munro's tenure on Senator Jackson's staff and primarily chronicles the various Jackson campaigns and successful legislative efforts. Included in the accession are the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Jackson, Munro and other members of the Jackson legislative and campaign staffs. The Papers also contain financial records for the 1972 and 1976 Jackson campaigns; campaign materials, legislation, news releases, reports, speeches and writings, subject series, clippings and ephemera.

It is characteristic of Munro's style of operation as the man-behind-the-scenes that the Papers describe more about Henry Jackson and other members of his staff than they do about Munro. He worked tirelessly on behalf of Washington state, but did not seem to care who got the credit because he believed that the initials A. A. stood for "Absolutely Anonymous." His correspondence files, however, give strong clues about the power and scope of his activities.

The accession is divided into four subgroups: Aide to Henry M. Jackson; Personal Papers; Consultant/Arbitrator; and Administrator, U.S. Bonneville Power Administration. The first subgroup is divided into two parts: Campaign Papers and all other papers created as Jackson’s aide. The Campaign Papers span the period 1960 to 1976 and are arranged chronologically, according to Senator Jackson's campaigns for various political offices. The series contains documents relating to all of Senator Jackson's political campaigns during this period, including his abortive effort to become the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee in 1960. Munro's intelligence files on other state, Congressional and Presidential election candidates are also included in this series. Jackson's Presidential campaigns-in 1972 and 1976, which Munro managed, generated the bulk of the papers in this series.

The rest of the Aide to Henry M. Jackson subgroup primarily spans the period 1965-1971 and contains materials Munro accumulated about several legislative projects. Among these are the development of the North Cascades and Redwood national parks, the National Environmental Protection Act, Colorado River Basin legislation and the hydro-thermal power program in the northwest. Although there is little original material other than correspondence, the photograph, report, speeches and writings, subject, clippings and ephemera files in this series suggest his involvement and strong interest.

"Personal Papers" is the smallest subgroup and reflects Munro's role as party elder statesman during the years 1978-1990. The series primarily contains subject files, clippings and ephemera. It documents his continuing close association with Senator Jackson's interests well after the Senator's death, and his involvement with other campaigns at both the state and national level.

The Consultant/Arbitrator subgroup primarily consists of records concerning the Rock Island Dam Recreational Exhibit R.

The Bonneville Power Administration subgroup largely consists of copies of memos, legislation, writings, testimony and other material. Much is material written by others and sent to Munro. The largest portion documents the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Consult the restrictions governing reproduction and use for each of the accessions listed below.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 4531-001: Sanford Sterling Munro papers, 1959-1989Return to Top

39.33 cubic feet (40 boxes)

Scope and Content: Campaign files, memorabilia, correspondence, reports, speeches and writings, legislation, publications, subject series, proceeding, memoranda, ephemera, audio tapes, 1959-1989. Chiefly concerns election campaigns of Henry M. Jackson and Democratic politics. Also includes Munro's papers as Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, 1978-1981 and records of his activities as a governmental affairs consultant.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users, but access to portions of the papers restricted. Contact repository for details.

Some material stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Gene Munro., 9/1/1995.

Sanford Sterling Munro papers

Accession No. 4531-002: Sanford Sterling Munro papers, circa 1981Return to Top

1 vertical file

Scope and Content: Biographical feature and photograph produced at the time that Munro became Vice President and National Director of Nuveen's Public Power Group.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Gene Munro, 8/15/1997.

Sanford Sterling Munro papers

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Personal Names :
  • Munro, Sanford Sterling, 1932- --Archives
  • Corporate Names :
  • Democratic National Committee (U.S.)
  • Democratic Party (Wash.). Central Committee
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Jackson, Henry M. (Henry Martin), 1912-1983 (creator)
    • Kline, Richard (creator)
    • Skallerup, Walter T (creator)
    • Corporate Names :
    • United States. Bonneville Power Administration (creator)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)