The James J. Duderstadt papers (19 linear feet and 160.5 megabytes in 2,144 computer files) span the years
from 1963 to 1997, although the bulk of the material covers 1970 to 1996. The collection, consisting mainly of Speeches, Position Papers, and Presentations, effectively documents Duderstadt's vision, agenda, and planning process. There are two subgroups in the collection: Paper Documents and Digital Documents.
The Paper Documents subgroup is comprised of ten series: Biographical / Background Material, Speeches and Accompanying Material, Computer Printouts of Speeches, Position Papers, Publications, Presentations, Correspondence, Research, Topical Files (Pre-Presidency), and Teaching. It includes a few papers from his years as engineering dean and his term as provost, along with a substantial amount of material from his years as professor of nuclear engineering and as president of the university.
A second subgroup, Digital Documents, is comprised of material created and maintained in electronic form (utilizing a number of software programs), and is particularly strong for representing Duderstadt's entire term as president of the university. The subgroup includes eight series: Speeches, Idea Files, Strategy, Position Papers, Presentations, Write Files and Legacy Files. The digital files of speeches and position papers frequently contain various and well-organized iterations of key documents. Of particular note are the Strategy Files, which hold substantial planning documents, many designed to encourage and promote vigorous response to change at many levels within the university. The subgroup also contains a series of Digital Images, most of which appeared in the 1996 publication Rebuilding the University: 1986-1996.