Christmas on the Potomac

Eisenhower card

Christmas card sent to Congressman Dorn by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

When I looked into the over eight hundred cartons of papers donated by former congressman William Jennings Bryan Dorn, shortly after coming to the South Caroliniana Library in 1983, I discovered three cartons of Christmas cards which he and Miss Millie had received over the years. At first, I assumed that these had little value in documenting Mr. Dorn’s illustrious career. But in looking through them, I was fascinated by lovely cards from President Eisenhower and Nixon, financier Bernard Baruch, governors from George Bell Timmerman to Dick Riley, foreign dignitaries, and many others.

This collection of cards gave us the material for a terrific exhibit. And, early in the 1990s, we decided to share these cards with the community. We’ve mounted a holiday exhibit almost every year since, and have made a habit of requesting the cards being sent out by our donors, other members of the delegation, and USC presidents We love the images sent by members of Congress. They typically consist either of a view of the Capitol in winter or a photo of their extended family.

Sanchez card

One of Representative Loretta Sanchez’ creative cards featuring her beloved cat Gretzky

We learned some cards were to be eagerly awaited –chiefly those of the U.S. president, USC president, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Rep. Sanchez sent wonderfully humorous cards in which she posed with her Persian cat, Gretzky (1991-2010). All on our staff mourned Gretzky’s passing. I also looked forward to the cards Fritz and Peatsy Hollings sent out as a Thanksgiving tradition. Each reproduced an original cheery and colorful painting by their nephew.

A few years ago, we devised a PowerPoint exhibit of our holiday cards and have presented that on and off campus. We always enjoy selecting the cards for the exhibit and it typically garners some nice publicity for the Library.

For 2013, we are featuring cards received last year by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. A special thanks to Kate Moore for her vision and skill in mounting these exhibits, and to Debbie Durkin of Team Graham. Debbie is the Senator’s office manager and she makes sure that we receive all of the Senator’s historically valuable materials and receive them in wonderful order. Debbie, like each of Senator Graham’s staff with whom we have had contact, has been an absolute delight!

First Dog Bo

From this year’s exhibit: “First Dog” Bo cavorts in the snow on the grounds of the White House
on this card from President Obama

This year’s exhibit is currently on display at the front of Thomas Cooper Library.

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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