University of Arizona

I'm for Stew

The Life and Times of Stewart Lee Udall

Campaign poster for Stewart Udall

Titled after Udall’s congressional campaign slogan, “I’m for Stew” offers a glimpse into the many causes championed by Stewart Lee Udall. A congressional representative of Arizona, Stewart Udall was also Secretary of the Interior from 1961-1969 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, a champion of civil rights, an avid conservationist, a lawyer, a B24 gunner during WWII and a University of Arizona alumnus. Among notable Arizona politicians, Stewart Lee Udall enjoys a unique and enduring legacy. 

Born in St. Johns, Arizona in 1920, Udall is often referred to as Arizona’s native son. Following the Udall family tradition of public service, Stewart was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1954 from Arizona’s 2nd district. Shortly after being re-elected to a fourth term in 1960, President-elect Kennedy appointed Stewart Udall as Secretary of the Interior – the first Arizonan to hold a cabinet level position.

A strong advocate for conservation, during his tenure Udall oversaw numerous environmental initiatives including the founding of 4 national parks, 56 wildlife refuges, 8 national sea and lake shores, and the enactment of environmental legislation including the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, and the National Trail System Act of 1968. Udall continued to fight for conservation following his retirement from politics in 1969, and he is considered a leading voice in American environmentalism.

“I’m for Stew” features a wide variety of materials ranging from the 1920s-2010, all selected from the Stewart L. Udall, Morris K. Udall and Levi Udall collections held in Special Collections at the University Libraries. Among the items on display are WWII memorabilia and correspondence; campaign scrapbooks; letters, legislation, and reflections from Udall’s political career; correspondence with Rachel Carson, Ansel Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and others; materials relating to the integration of the Washington Redskins NFL team; two of Udall’s books, The Quiet Crisis and To the Inland Empire: Coronado and our Spanish Legacy; and Udall’s University of Arizona diploma.

Photographs from the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus Program – a program which takes young people into national and state parks to inspire appreciation for the beauty of national parks through photography – are also displayed in the exhibit. For his commitment to conservation and national parks, the Parks in Focus Program was renamed for Stewart Udall in 2009. The photographs are on loan from the Udall Foundation.

Stewart Lee Udall died on March 20, 2010 at the age of 90.

The exhibit and corresponding lecture series are sponsored by the Friends of the University Libraries and the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation.