Learning about Agriculture at the National Museum of American History

Editor’s note: At SCPC, we’re proud to see our student assistants complete internships (read about Caitlin’s and Katharine’s summers) and take part in other enriching activities (like this and this).  Of course, we then ask them to, “do a blog about it!”  Here, Chris Fite (a second-year graduate student) tells us about his summer at the Smithsonian.
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Did you know that RFID technology can alert farmers when cattle are sick? That many farmers plant crops without plowing the fields? That tractors can drive themselves with the assistance of GPS guidance? If you’re involved in agriculture, this probably sounds familiar. I must admit that it was all news to me. I learned about these things and much more as an intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. I spent my summer working with the curatorial team for American Enterprise, an upcoming exhibition on business and innovation in American history. My supervisor was Katharine Klein, a USC Public History alum and former SCPC graduate assistant.

I began the summer conducting further research on a group of objects from the exhibition. Based on my findings, I wrote 200-500 word labels that will appear in the American Enterprise online collections. These will complement the labels in the exhibition cases, which will be about 35 words each. If visitors want more information or cannot come to D.C., they can use the online collections to learn about particular objects and their historical contexts.

All of my objects were agricultural, including an 1880 windmill patent model, early toy tractor, and electronic cow tag. My assignment was challenging but also captivating. My sources ranged from old trade catalogs to census records. In describing an object’s historical significance, I also had to explain, in some detail, how it worked. In most cases, that meant having to learn for myself first. It was a reminder of how easy it is to take technology for granted, in the past or present.

Midway through the summer, curator Peter Liebhold enlisted my help in collecting new objects for American Enterprise. To highlight the importance of agricultural education, Peter chose to include an FFA jacket, the iconic blue corduroy worn by members since the 1930s. Surprisingly, the museum didn’t have one in its collections. We remedied that problem by collecting five jackets, including one from former President Jimmy Carter. We obtained some with the assistance of the National FFA Organization. For the others, we issued a public call for donation offers and selected from the dozens of submissions. You can read about the donors’ fascinating lives and careers on the museum’s blog, O Say Can You See?.

The agricultural focus of my internship was unexpected, but fortuitous. In the spring, I developed a growing interest in agricultural history. My work this summer not only dovetailed with my research interests, but also gave me an even greater appreciation for the fundamental role of agriculture in human society. After all, the invention of agriculture allowed humans to settle down and create civilizations. In American Enterprise, we hope that visitors will see how agriculture pervades American history, acting as a driving force for technological, economic, and social change.

–Submitted by Chris Fite

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Researching the Democratic Party at SCPC

By Thomas Hydrick

Hydrick

Thomas Hydrick at work in the reading room at the Hollings Library

For most of my life, I have been fascinated by South Carolina politics. Growing up in Columbia, I was raised in the center of political activity of our state and diligently followed developments in South Carolina’s political scene. As an undergraduate at Furman University in Greenville, I continued to pursue this passion, majoring in both political science and history. During my senior year at Furman, I participated in an independent study with the History Department, studying the career of South Carolina Governor and United States Senator Fritz Hollings. While working on this project, I made my first visit to South Carolina Political Collections at the Hollings Library. As an undergraduate, I was deeply impressed by the tremendous archival resources available at SCPC.

Following my graduation from Furman, I continued to pursue my interest in history by attending graduate school at the University of Cambridge, pursuing a Master of Philosophy degree in Historical Studies. I was attracted to Cambridge by the Historical Studies program itself but also by the opportunity to study under Professor Tony Badger. Professor Badger, the Master of Clare College and the Paul Mellon Professor of History, is widely recognized as a leading authority on the political history of the 20th century American South.

Dorn

William Jennings Bryan Dorn campaigning
from the bed of a pick-up truck

In deciding on a topic for my dissertation at Cambridge, the choice was therefore fairly obvious. Naturally, I hoped to focus on South Carolina politics, and given my earlier work on Senator Hollings, I hoped to continue to study of the transformation of South Carolina politics through a close examination of the lives of key political figures in the state’s history. While much of the historical research on South Carolina and southern politics has focused on the rise of the Republican Party in the 20th century, historians have paid less attention to the actions of southern Democrats during this time. Given this gap in the historiography, I hoped to study the careers of several South Carolina Democrats in Congress. Furthermore, in selecting congressmen, I sought to study Democratic Representatives whose careers spanned much of the 20th century.  Given these parameters, I chose to examine the careers of Representatives John L. McMillan, L. Mendel Rivers, and William Jennings Bryan Dorn. All three individuals served as United States Representatives from South Carolina from approximately the 1940s until the 1970s; all three held important leadership positions in the United States House of Representatives; most significantly however, all three remained loyal Democrats even as the Republican Party gained numerous converts in the state. In short, I asked myself: How did these figures survive politically as the landscape of southern politics radically shifted in front of their very eyes?

McMillan

John L. McMillan in 1968

In attempting to answer this question, I was naturally drawn to SCPC and the Hollings Library. Returning home to South Carolina for research trips in December and March, I attempted to spend as much time as possible in the archives. SCPC housed an abundance of valuable archival resources for my project, including the papers of John McMillan and Bryan Dorn. By reviewing their letters, papers, and other manuscripts, I was able to patch together a fairly comprehensive picture of the political lives of both McMillan and Dorn. Additionally, the staff of SCPC provided invaluable advice and perspective on my topic.

Reflecting back upon this research, I was struck by the heterogeneous nature of the Democratic Party during this time period. The diverse cast of characters and significant differences of opinion contained within the South Carolina Democratic Party during these years amazed me. During their time in public office, these men shared a party identity with figures as diverse as Olin Johnston, James F. Byrnes, Claude Stephens, Reverend I. DeQuincey Newman, James Clyburn, and Fritz Hollings. Within the span of their careers, the Democratic Party in South Carolina witnessed tremendous discontinuity, as the party’s platform and coalition of voters shifted dramatically. In responding to these changes, McMillan, Rivers, and Dorn sought to employ a wide array of strategies to survive politically. In doing so, they appealed to a diverse array of South Carolina constituents, ranging from unreconstructed white supremacists to progressive African American advocates of civil rights. Ultimately, this research greatly enhanced my own understanding of South Carolina and southern politics.

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The Passing of a Good Man: Johnnie M. Walters, 1919-2014

I first met Johnnie Mac Walters in 2002 when I contacted him soliciting the papers of the man who had stood up to President Richard Nixon.

Walters

Johnnie Mac Walters

Mr. Walters was a life-long public servant who had risen to head the IRS under Nixon and famously refused the President’s desire to punish his enemies through the offices of the IRS.  Our friend and donor Greg Shorey had recommended Mr. Walters to our attention.

As we relate in the finding aid to Mr. Walters’ papers, in 1971, embattled President Richard M. Nixon sought to use the Internal Revenue Service as a weapon to investigate and punish his “enemies.”  Tapes of White House conversations reveal Nixon wanted as Commissioner “a ruthless son-of-a-bitch, that he will do what he is told, that every income tax return I want to see I see, that he will go after our enemies and not go after our friends.”  Attorney General John Mitchell recommended one of his assistants, a specialist in tax law, Johnnie McKeiver Walters for the key post.

Walters was confirmed as Commissioner of Internal Revenue in August of 1971 and served until 1973.  Apparently, neither Nixon nor Mitchell ever spoke with Walters to ensure he would aid them as they desired.  In fact, Walters was “shocked” when Nixon aide John Dean presented him with an “enemies list,” and he refused to politicize the IRS as Nixon wanted.

When presidential domestic adviser John D. Ehrlichman confronted Walters about his “foot-dragging tactics” in regard to ordered audits, Walters told Secretary of the Treasury George P. Schultz that he could “…have my job anytime he wanted it.”  In an administration largely remembered for its abuse of power, Walters stands apart for his steadfast performance under pressure. . . .

Watergate articleBeyond his role in the Watergate investigations, Walters may be best remembered as a vocal advocate for reform of the voluntary tax system into a more taxpayer friendly system.  He received attention from the media for his efforts to simplify and clarify tax forms, for his reintroduction of the 1040A form, and for his pledge to crack down on corporate tax fraud.

My memory is of a gracious and elegant gentleman.  The world is a lesser place with him gone.

Herb Hartsook

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Remembering Modjeska Simkins

simkins book coverModjeska Simkins was a remarkable human rights activist and a uniquely powerful speaker.  Becci Robbins captures her essence in a new booklet, Modjeska Monteith Simkins: A South Carolina Revolutionary, just published by the South Carolina Progressive Network.  The 38 page booklet is clearly a labor of love by Robbins, the Network’s Communications Director.

Mrs. Simkins’ voice is present throughout the booklet which features lavish quotations.  Robbins places Mrs. Simkins both in time and place with a detailed biographical sketch.  The booklet also includes rich illustrations and statements by people such as SCPC donors Matthew Perry and Candy Waites who knew and were influenced by Mrs. Simkins.    Until a full length biography is produced, this forms the best treatment on the life and important role played by this forceful human rights activist.

A June 26 reception at Mrs. Simkins’ Marion Street home, which houses the Network’s offices, celebrated the new publication.  Brett Bursey, founder and director of the Progressive Network and devoted Simkins mentee, served as master of ceremonies and gave a stirring talk describing plans for the Modjeska Simkins School for Human Rights, a new endeavor by the Network which will train and encourage individuals to follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Simkins and “take on issues of economic and social injustice.”

3,000 copies of the booklet, which was made possible by a grant from the Richland County Conservation Commission, will be distributed to libraries around the state and interested individuals.  An electronic copy is available on the Network’s website.

Mrs. Simkins once noted, “Start each sunrise as a new day.  Start out believing there’s good to be done and people to do it for.”  That spirit still lives.

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The Diplomatic Life…continued

Recently Lori wrote about our latest exhibit, “The Diplomatic Life,” and how it depicts the various functions and facets of diplomatic service as documented by six of our collections.  These include the papers of James P. Richards, Paul Kattenburg, Rita Derrick Hayes, John West, Richard “Dixie” Walker, and David Wilkins.

All of these individuals played slightly different roles in the diplomatic sphere.  The latter three were in a role familiar to the general public, that of ambassador–although they served in widely varied times and places.  The other forms of diplomatic work displayed in the exhibit might be a little less visible or straightforward, but no less important.  This was the case for the other three individuals highlighted: Richards, Kattenburg, and Hayes.

Richards served as a special presidential envoy to the Middle East in the 1950s, and Kattenburg had a lengthy and distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service.  Also documented is the service of Hayes, who represented the United States in the realm of trade policy, via the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.  Here are a few items from the exhibit from their respective collections.

An Arabic news article detailing James P. Richards' arrival in Beirut, Lebanon.  January 17, 1957.

An Arabic news article detailing James P. Richards’ arrival in Beirut, Lebanon, circa January 17, 1957. Richards served as Special Assistant to President Eisenhower for the Middle East from January 1957 to January 1958.

Richards at one of his destinations as an envoy.  These included Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Tripoli and Turkey, among other countries. He also traveled to Formosa (Taiwan) and Malaya.

Richards at one of his destinations as an envoy. These included Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Libya, and Turkey. He also traveled to Formosa (Taiwan) and Malaya. Richards’ years of experience on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee gave him the expertise for his diplomatic assignment.

Paul Kattenburg in one of his diplomatic postings in East Asia.

Paul Kattenburg in one of his diplomatic postings in East Asia.

 

An official review of Kattenburg's work by the State Department, 1946.  A number of documents on display show the intricate paperwork involved in a long-term diplomatic career such as his.

An official review of Kattenburg’s work by the State Department, 1946. A number of documents on display show the intricate paperwork involved in a long-term diplomatic career such as his.

President Clinton commends Rita Derrick Hayes on her work in his administration.  In 1996, Clinton had awarded her the rank of Ambassador for her service.

President Clinton commends Rita Derrick Hayes on her work in his administration. In 1996, Clinton had awarded her the rank of Ambassador for her service.

 

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South Carolina Political Collections hosts congressional archivists

I want to thank everyone on the University Libraries team who worked so well together to present a highly successful and memorable 11th Annual Meeting of Association of Centers for the Study of Congress from May 14 to May 16.

The conference drew 42 congressional archivists, library administrators and congressional staff to Columbia. As we work in a Hollings-centric universe, we were pleased to see folks responsible for the papers of Hollings’ mentor, Richard Russell of Georgia; his mentee, Joe Biden of Delaware: and close friends, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

SCPC is gaining a reputation as an incubator of future archival leaders and we were proud to see two former SCPC student assistants on the program, Laura Litwer of Texas A&M Commerce and Debbie Todd of Baylor’s Poage Library.

The program opened with a keynote address delivered by former Democratic National Party chair Don Fowler. Seven panels considered the work of congressional chiefs of staff, campaign managers, innovative outreach, recent books and documentaries, the future of congressional archives, and “bridge” collections (non-legislative collections like League of Women Voters & political cartoonists). In addition, two former members of Congress spoke about their experiences having their papers collected. Program participants included our own Lori Schwartz;  former Hollings chiefs of staff Joey Lesesne and David Rudd; Floyd Spence chief of staff Craig Metz, whose dead-on impersonation of Strom Thurmond made him a favorite of the audience; campaign manager Jamal Gunn; Bryan Dorn biographer Jack Roper; and USC Professor of Library and Information Science Jennifer Marshall.

Attendees received a tour of SCPC and we were surprised that the one thing the group seemed most enamored of was our two-case exhibit just outside our processing area illustrating the steps in processing a major collection. We copied the concept from the Dole Institute and it sounds like the exhibit will soon be replicated at a number of our sister institutions. (For photos of the exhibit, please see our earlier blog post at http://library.sc.edu/blogs/scpc/2010/10/12/behind-the-scenes-level-5-exhibits/.)

Special thanks to Christine Nicol-Morris; Rob Smith; Dorothy Walker, who serves as Secretary of ACSC; Lori Schwartz; and Dean of Libraries Tom McNally, who encouraged and made possible our hosting this conference. We began planning for this years ago, when we first learned we would be moving to a new state-of-the-art facility. The meeting was all we expected it to be and certainly solidified our standing as a leading congressional repository.

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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Congressman Jim Clyburn publishes memoir

Allen Anderson, Photographer: Clyburn Book Signing 14050501 &emdash; AA_258

Photo by Allen Anderson

Congressman Jim Clyburn spoke on Monday, May 5 at the Hollings Library about his new memoir entitled “Blessed Experiences:  Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black.”  Clyburn has been working on the book for almost 20 years, and he described the process he went through in naming the book.  The original title was “I, Too Am a Southerner.”  This working title came about after a discussion Clyburn had years ago with Phil Grose, his longtime friend and collaborator on the book.  An unnamed politician had made a racially offensive comment, and when Clyburn confronted him later privately, his explanation, meant to excuse the offensive comment, was that he was “a southerner.”  In a later discussion about this incident Clyburn and Grose both observed that they were proud to consider themselves and their families to be southerners too.

The current title incorporates the pride that Clyburn and his family hold in having grown up in the south; while also commemorating his father’s favorite hymn, “Blessed Assurance,” which he used to frequently hum around the house.  As Clyburn has said of the title, “All of my experiences were not pleasant, but all of them were blessings.”

A former high school teacher, and proponent of public education, Clyburn said in his speech on Monday that he wanted “every tenth grader to be able to pick [the] book up, understand every word in it, and use it as a primer.”  The event on Monday at the Hollings Library was well-attended with around 130 present, and the crowd was standing room only; many of Clyburn’s family members were present as well.  159 books were sold, exceeding the number of attendees.

Allen Anderson, Photographer: Clyburn Book Signing 14050501 &emdash; AA_009

Mayor Steve Benjamin looks at the Clyburn exhibit. Photo by Allen Anderson.

SCPC donor and longtime political activist Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo introduced Clyburn, and a book-signing followed the speech.  Coinciding with Clyburn’s visit and the book launch is an exhibit about the Congressman which will be on display for the month of May in the Brittain Gallery of the Hollings Library.  Photographs, bumper stickers, newspaper clippings, campaign pamphlets, and buttons document Clyburn’s long and impressive career.

Contributed by Graduate Assistant Mary Kennington Steele

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Butler Carson Derrick, Jr. (1936-2014)

Butler Derrick was a powerful legislator who also provided stellar constituent service, an acute observer of government and politics, and a delightful storyteller.  He won Bryan Dorn’s seat in Congress in 1974 after Mr. Dorn decided to run for Governor rather than seek certain re-election to the House.  Derrick’s service in the House was marked by influence, from his early appointments to the Budget and Rules Committees, to his mid-career service on the Congressional Textile Caucus and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and culminating in his appointment as Chief Deputy Majority Whip.

We approached Derrick immediately on hearing his unexpected February 1994 announcement that he was retiring from the House.   Eventually, I travelled to Washington and met with his staff to determine what should and should not be included in his collection.  I also visited his district offices and, in time, conducted oral history interviews with Mr. Derrick and several long-term staff.  It was my first experience in actually closing a congressional office.  To this day I remain impressed with the people Butler had gathered around him and their loyalty.

Butler Derrick and family and Dr. and Mrs. PalmsI learn something from almost every one of our donors.  Butler taught me about the desire to serve.  Every time I was with him, at some point, he would ask me, “What can I do for you?” or “How can I help you?”  He seemed ill at ease unless I had a favor that he could grant me.

When I think of Butler, I rarely picture him at his office, or in his home, or behind the wheel of a new sports car.  Instead, I think of a painting by his wife Beverly, who is a marvelously talented artist.  It was a hunting scene showing Butler in a field, shotgun in hand and wearing a bright red jacket.  All you saw was Butler’s back, but somehow Beverly’s art allowed her to capture Butler so clearly, that you immediately knew that it was Butler.  He will be sorely missed and my life is so much richer for having known him.

 –Contributed by Herb Hartsook

 

 

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The Diplomatic Life

James P. Richards, 3rd from the left, in Pakistan as special ambassador to the Middle East under President Eisenhower in 1957.

A new exhibit now graces the South Carolina Political Collections gallery.  Experience The Diplomatic Life through September 1st in the Hollings Library.  Here at Political Collections, we have the papers of a lot of congressmen, governors, judges, and so on, but did you know we have the papers of diplomats?  Dorothy and I thought it about time to shine some light on them.

Invitation sent to Rita Derrick Hayes in Geneva.  Ambassador Hayes was Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) from 1997 to 2001.

Invitation sent to Rita Derrick Hayes in Geneva. Ambassador Hayes was Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) from 1997 to 2001.

Diplomacy is influenced by representatives in the legislative and executive branches (boy, do we have some congressional travel files we could show you!) but diplomacy is officially the domain of the diplomatic corps: negotiators and delegates, foreign service officers, and ambassadors, all representing their country in a multitude of ways.  In The Diplomatic Life, we attempt to look at this multitude.

Former SC Governor John West with King Khalid of Saudi Arabia. West was U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977 to 1981.

Former SC Governor John West with King Khalid of Saudi Arabia. West was U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977 to 1981.

This exhibit examines in brief the careers of six individuals navigating different avenues of American diplomatic service.  We explore the realities and challenges of ambassadorial appointments to Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Canada, and the World Trade Organization, along with a diplomatic career in the U.S. Foreign Service and a unique assignment as a Special Assistant to the President on a Middle East mission in the 1950s.

Every item in this blog post is on display, representing each of the six diplomats.  We want to show you more, though, especially if you can’t visit us in person.  This month and next, we’ll put up posts looking more closely at items in the exhibit and explaining how they represent different facets of a diplomat’s career.

David Wilkins, U.S. Ambassador to Canada from 2005 to 2009, may have been the closest to home of anyone in this exhibit, but as this cover lets on, Canada must have felt like a world away from the beaches of South Carolina.

David Wilkins, U.S. Ambassador to Canada from 2005 to 2009, may have been the closest to home of anyone in this exhibit, but as this cover lets on, Canada must have felt a world away from the beaches back home.

Paul Kattenburg's career in the U.S. Foreign Service began in 1950.  From 1950 to 1962, he and his family lived in Washington, Manila, and Frankfurt.  He eventually became an officer for the State Department’s Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs.  Kattenburg finished his diplomatic career at the Foreign Service Institute’s School of Professional Studies, teaching new Foreign Service workers the trade. Though he performed contract work for the U.S. government for the rest of his life, he officially retired in 1973, taking on a new academic career.

From 1950 to 1962, Paul Kattenburg’s career in the U.S. Foreign Service took him and his family from Washington to Manila to Frankfurt. He eventually became an officer for the State Department’s Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. He finished his diplomatic career at the Foreign Service Institute’s School of Professional Studies, teaching new Foreign Service workers the trade.

Invitation sent to Richard "Dixie" Walker, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1981 to 1986.

Invitation sent to Richard “Dixie” Walker, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1981 to 1986.  Walker joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1957 and founded the Institute for International Studies in 1961 (renamed for him in 1994).

 

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In the Family Tradition

On April 2, we were delighted to welcome family members of the late Senator Olin Johnston and of Congresswoman Liz Patterson for a tour of our exhibit, “In the Family Tradition: Olin D. Johnston and Elizabeth J. Patterson.”

FamilyIncluded in the party were Senator Johnston’s daughter Sallie and her granddaughter, and Mrs. Patterson’s children Pat and Catherine, as well as Catherine’s children.  After enjoying the exhibit, we walked over to the South Caroliniana Library to see Senator Johnston’s historic desk, which is installed in the Manuscripts Division reading room—the Olin D. Johnston Memorial Room.  Coincidentally, it was exactly forty-five years to the day since the University dedicated this room.

The dedication honored the former governor and U.S. Senator, who died in 1965, and whose papers formed the first major congressional collection ever received by the University.  It also honored friends of Sen. Johnston for their success in endowing a professorship in political science at USC.  The fundraising campaign, chaired by Congressman Robert Hemphill, raised nearly $100,000, a huge sum in the 1960s.

U.S. Senator Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, fresh from winning his first full Senate term, attended the dedication, and Governor Robert E. McNair delivered the address.  McNair praised Johnston “as a friend and a great teacher in the art of serving our fellow man.”  He noted that Johnston was “a man who championed difficult causes,” and was devoted to the working class on the farm and in the mills.

Senator Olin Johnston and his daughter, Liz.

Senator Olin Johnston and his daughter, Liz.

The papers of Johnston, Hemphill, Hollings, and McNair form core holdings of SCPC.

Mrs. Patterson also visited us last week with husband Dwight and a friend and toured the exhibit.  She is an inspirational figure and all of our staff and students enjoyed this opportunity to visit and hear stories of her life and public service.

 

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

 

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