Pete Cenarrusa Donates Papers to Boise State University

Former Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa has gifted his extensive collection of papers to Boise State University’s Albertsons Library.

Cenarrusa, a leading figure in the Basque community in the United States, was secretary of state from 1967 to 2002. Prior to that, he served in the Idaho Legislature for 17 years.

Cenarrusa was honored Thursday Oct. 19 at a reception at Boise State.

Pete Cenarrusa at the Boise State reception. Photo: Carrie Quinney, Boise State University.
Pete Cenarrusa at the Boise State reception. Photo: Carrie Quinney, Boise State University.

“Pete Cenarrusa has long been an asset to the citizens of Idaho and to the Basque community here and abroad,” Boise State President Bob Kustra said.

Cenarrusa and wife, Freda, have a long tradition of promoting Basque culture. In 2003, they organized the Boise-based Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture, which helps promote Basque traditions and history.

The couple also has collaborated previously with Boise State. Cenarrusa and his wife helped establish the university’s Basque Studies Program, a multi-disciplinary course of advanced study dealing with all aspects of the language, culture and history of the Basque people.

Cenarrusa’s collection includes 100 boxes of letters, clippings, photos, reports and memorabilia that is connected to his 52-year career in Idaho politics.

The tens of thousands of items will take more than a year to catalog, university officials said. The collection was donated in pieces, beginning in 2004, with papers related to Cenarrusa’s support of the Basque community in Idaho. Most of the political materials were received in September. Much of the content of the Basque collection can be found online on the Boise State library web page. (Put Cenarrusa in the search.)

Cenarrusa and his wife, along with Roy and Miren Eiguren, made a gift of $5,000 each to help the library process the papers.

Thursday’s reception was attended by Boise State President Kustra, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, state Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould, as well as other state and university officials and several Cenarrusa family friends and supporters.

“Scholars across campus and throughout the nation will benefit from this invaluable gift that represents his life’s work,” Kustra said of Cenarrusa’s papers.

The ceremony ended with an unveiling of the galley copy of Cenarrusa’s forthcoming memoirs, written with Quayne Kenyon.

Pete Cenarrusa's political career in Idaho dates back to 1950.Photo: Boise State University
Pete Cenarrusa's political career in Idaho dates back to 1950. Photo: Boise State University