He’s equally proud of his hometown and the Italian-American upbringing that shaped the values he stuck to during his time in office.

The Romano L. Mazzoli Project at the University of Louisville showcases both the public and private sides of the man who spent more than two decades representing Louisville and Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

The project opened Nov. 8 in the University Archives and Records Center in Ekstrom Library on Belknap Campus with a special ceremony. More than 150 of Mazzoli’s friends and colleagues attended.

Materials in the project documents Mazzoli’s personal life and political career, including his congressional service from 1971 to 1995. Among them are his personal papers and an oral history project that covers his life and career. The University Archives also has refurbished and named its reading room in his honor.

“I am both personally and professionally pleased,” Mazzoli said. “To know that the issues upon which I worked as a member of Congress, and earlier as a Kentucky state senator, are deemed of sufficient importance by UofL and its archives and records center experts to be arranged and preserved for the future use of students, researchers and scholars is professionally gratifying.

“And from a personal standpoint, to have the Mazzoli name connected forever and for all time with something as important and enduring as an archive and with an institution as important to our community, state and nation as the University of Louisville gives me personal pleasure and pride beyond words.”

The collection includes 632 boxes of material from Mazzoli’s Washington and Louisville offices and from his home. Materials date from the early 20th century through 2004 and cover a broad range of subjects. Among them are correspondence and case work with constituents; legislative research; work and background information on highly charged issues such as base closures and abortion; speeches; calendars; records from his congressional campaigns; and other papers that document his congressional work. Collection material also focuses attention on his authorship of the landmark Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Personal information related to Mazzoli’s childhood, his family and his Italian heritage, as well as such political memorabilia as bumper stickers, campaign buttons, newspaper clippings, photos and video recordings, also are in the collection. It also contains more than 65 hours of interviews with the congressman and 30 of his colleagues, staff members, campaign workers and family members which University Archives conducted with support from the Kentucky Oral History Commission. 

“Ron Mazzoli is a statesman in the truest sense of the word, a man of great skill who has made important contributions to our society while maintaining and exhibiting the values that he learned in his beloved hometown,” said UofL President James R. Ramsey. “We are honored to steward his collection so that future generations can learn from his experiences and his wisdom.”

Current 3rd District Congressman John Yarmuth echoed the collection’s importance.

“These records will help inform future generations of Ron Mazzoli’s exceptional legacy as a legislator and leader who helped improve the lives of thousands of Louisvillians,” he said.

Mazzoli said he is pleased that the collection also will include personal materials from his life growing up in Louisville. That upbringing, he says, led to his success in public life.

“My childhood was spent in a household which was living out the American dream,” Mazzoli said. “My parents started with almost nothing but intelligence, a capacity for hard work, an innate honesty and strong character. But putting these traits together, they fashioned a life for themselves and for their children as owners of a small tile and marble shop operated for many years from our garage and our basement. 

“As Italian-Americans, my father by naturalization and my mother by birth, they knew discrimination and bias,” he added. “But they moved right through it to the other side and made the name Mazzoli synonymous with integrity, quality and dedication. In many ways, my political campaigns stood upon their shoulders.”