A Statistical Surprise, or Blogging on SCPC’s Blog

John Hammond Moore

John Hammond Moore in 2003

We have hard numbers on how many folks visit our website, and I recently reviewed these statistics in preparing SCPC’s annual report.  For the first time, the report will include a brief summary on the use of our web site.  These numbers make it clear that the public benefits from the labor-intensive work we do to provide folder level access to our collections and from our efforts to maintain a rich web site.  I was drawn to write this post because of the remarkable attention paid to one of our blog posts.

Historian John Hammond Moore’s article on the history of the flying of the Confederate Flag over the S.C. State House was accessed 114 times, and these people spent an average of over twenty-seven minutes studying John’s piece.  One hundred fourteen hits is an impressive number but twenty-seven minutes is incredible.

wacko war

Moore’s book, Wacko War

John Moore is a gifted historian.  He is currently in his early nineties and until recently, always was engaged in multiple book and article projects, most involving South Carolina history and requiring detailed study of resources held by USC Libraries.  His gifts are perhaps best showcased by his history of the South Carolina Highway Department.  This very dull topic resulted in a remarkably readable history.  Among my favorite Moore books is The Juhl Letters to the Charleston Courier: A View of the South, 1865-1871, the first book of John’s I read.  The book that best shows John’s quirky humor is Wacko War: Strange Tales from America, 1941-1945.  This 2001 book collects thirteen odd stories, many of which I first heard recounted by John over a dinner or while driving to some little South Carolina hamlet antiquing.

battle flag

The battle flag as it flew atop the dome of the State House

John wrote his piece on the flag thinking that The State or some other newspaper or journal would publish it, but found no takers.  He kindly gave me his manuscript for SCPC’s Vertical File on the flag.  In it, he provides the most thoroughly researched account of the events that resulted in the flag flying over the State House.  Given the great interest in the issue recently, it made sense to publicize the piece on our web site.  None of us are surprised that so many folks found and read the piece.  Over the last eleven months it is our 8th most popular page.  It is the time spent on the page that astounds us.

Among John’s other as-yet-unpublished works is a wonderful modern day mystery involving archivists and a discovery regarding our Civil War.   His first foray into fiction, the story is a terrific read.

So, kudos to John Hammond Moore: World War II Navy veteran, biographer of Errol Flynn and author of over twenty other books as well as countless articles – and my favorite Mainiac!

~ Herb Hartsook

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An Avalanche of Telegrams: Olin D. Johnston Papers

Billy Graham

Evangelist Bill Graham’s message

Among the materials recently received from the family of former South Carolina governor and U.S. senator Olin D. Johnston were scrapbooks containing some 670+ telegrams received during the Senator’s final hospitalization in 1965 and after his passing.

Billy Graham wrote, Please be assured of my prayers for your complete recovery God bless you. 

His good friend, Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey, wrote, Just wanted you to know that our prayers are with you for the successful operation and recovery of our dear friend.

Hubert Humphrey

Telegram from Senator Hubert Humphrey

Condolence notes included, Olin always had the courage of his convictions. He fought for what he believed right but never cherished hatred against those who differed with him. Maude joins me in sympathy to you and the family.  Jimmy Byrnes

You have the sincere sympathy Mrs Truman and myself. Senator Johnston was highly thought of in South Carolina and a lot of other placesHarry Truman


From Harry S Truman

As a warm and close friend over the years please accept my deepest sympathy for you and your family. He always stood for his belief and never wavered.  Financier Bernard Baruch

And, The state and nation has suffered a great loss our deepest sympathy to you and the family. Fritz Hollings



Article from the National Rural Letter Carrier reporting on the return of Senator Johnston to work following his hospitalization

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In Memoriam: Ray Harris

Ray Harris

Ray Harris opening the SC Republican Party HQ for the general election of 1966, Conway, S.C.

Republican pioneer Ray Harris of Darlington, S.C., passed away this week.  He served as state Party chairman from 1968 to 1971 and as its Executive Director from 1965 to 1968.  In 2001, he graciously sat for an interview as part of our oral history project documenting the rise of the Republican Party in South Carolina.

Harris became politically active in 1962 when he volunteered in Bill Workman’s campaign against incumbent U.S. Senator Olin Johnston.  Many credit Workman with creating the framework for a statewide Party apparatus, and in his interview Harris recounted his efforts to organize Darlington County: “[M]ost of the time was taken at night or late in the afternoon, knocking on doors.  But that was the only way you were going to build a Party.  That was my grassroots organizational training to become executive director of the Party and then state chairman.”

congressional passes

House and Senate passes for Harris and his wife

As director and then chair, Harris noted, “my mission was to organize this Party at the grassroots level, in every county;” this at a time when South Carolina remained a solidly Democratic state.

I encourage anyone interested to read these fascinating recollections of his life in politics.

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“Dear Fritz – I’ve been meaning to send this to you for more than a year…”

Clinton letter

The letter from former president Bill Clinton

Among materials recently received for our Ernest F. Hollings Collection is a letter from former president Bill Clinton enclosing a copy of Hollings’ June, 1972, newsletter sent to his constituents.

Clinton, writing in August, 2005, notes “I came across it when reviewing my files for my autobiography and thought you might like to have it.  I picked it up when I was in South Carolina working for McGovern in 1972 – what you said about hunger and the importance of early childhood is as fresh and right today as it was then.  Also, I want you to know I saved the interviews you did two years ago with The State which contained all the kind things you said about me and Hillary – that meant more to me than I can say.  I miss seeing you and hope you and yours are well.  Sincerely, Bill”

Hollings article

The beginning of the 1972 newsletter article

The newsletter includes a lengthy feature, The Welfare Mess, in which Hollings lays out his thoughts gained through his immersion over the previous four years studying the issues surrounding hunger and poverty.  Hollings has pounded on this issue for decades and has always looked at the long term benefits that accrue to society if the poor receive proper prenatal care, a healthy diet, and a chance to receive an education.  He points out that with this kind of help, many will become contributing members of society.  Without, they will populate our welfare rolls and prisons.

Hollings concluded: “I don’t believe we ought to tax one man to pay another man who won’t work, and I don’t think government should make welfare more attractive than work.  But this is no reason why we can’t go to the heart of America’s welfare mess – hunger.  After giving 81,000 complete physicals in 20 states, the National Nutrition Survey found there were 15 million hardcore hungry in America.”

As always, Hollings looked for systemic solutions to our problems and was willing to invest in programs that would have major impact years down the road.


Senator Hollings meeting with President Bill Clinton at the White House

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A Senator’s Devotion: Condolence Letters Written to Ernest Hollings on the Loss of his Wife, Peatsy


Peatsy and Fritz Hollings cruising the Amazon in December 2003

This week, we visited Sen. Hollings’ office at MUSC (the Medical University of South Carolina) and picked up more materials for his collection.  Among these were condolence letters he received after the passing in 2012 of his beloved wife, Peatsy.

She was a wonderful partner.  He famously joked that when once asked the secret to their very successful marriage, he replied that it was simple, they “were both in love with the same man.”  But when serious, he noted that she had been a teacher and when they married, she continued to teach and he was her student.  Hollings gave up the life he loved and retired from the Senate so he could better take care of Peatsy as she battled Alzheimer’s.  And in her final years, his dedication to her was inspirational to all who saw them together.

Among the letters of condolence were four we’d like to highlight.


Wedding cake, August 21, 1971

Sen. John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-WV) wrote, “My time in public life was absolutely influenced by your beloved Peatsy.  I adored her and her total love of you and of life.”

Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) wrote, “She was your best friend, your closest advisor, and your greatest source of strength and support.  Whenever there was a problem she was right there by your side, giving you advice and helping you to find your best course of action.  That is why you made for such a great team as you succeeded in so many different things in your lives.”

Journalist Cokie Roberts wrote, “you have taken such care of her for so long, there must be a huge hole in your life. . . . what a great lady she was.  And what fun!”

And finally, Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson and wife of Senator Charles Robb (D-VA), recalled Peatsy’s role as a Senate wife: “Peatsy was our Senate den mother.  When you retired and she left all the fun and good works disappeared from our Tuesday meetings.  No wonder no families wanted to move to Washington – no Peatsy here to welcome them. . . .  The loving care you have given Peatsy gives you a star in your crown.”


A shoulder to nap on

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In Memoriam: Judge Sol Blatt, Jr.

Sol Blatt Jr SRS

Sol Blatt, Jr, surveys an Atomic Energy Commission housing compound at the Savannah River Nuclear Site, Barnwell County, early 1950s. (photo from the W.D. Workman papers)

We mourn the passing of our good friend, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sol Blatt, Jr., on Wednesday, April 20th. The Barnwell, S.C., native was the longest-serving judge in the 4th circuit, having been nominated for the court by President Richard Nixon in 1971.  He served as chief judge from 1986 to 1990 and senior judge from 1990 to 2016.

Judge Blatt was the son of a South Carolina powerhouse – long-time Speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, Solomon Blatt.

Blatt Jr on ship

Blatt aboard ship during World War II (photo from the Solomon Blatt papers)

While Judge Blatt gently turned away our many approaches proposing SCPC as the repository for his personal papers, over the years he became a good friend to us, primarily through our work with the papers of his father, and with the collections of his close friends Fritz Hollings and John West.

Among his father’s papers we received some early papers of the son, chiefly letters written home while Sol, Jr., served in the U.S. Navy during World War II (with both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets).

Our condolences go out to Judge Blatt’s family.

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The Story Behind a Photograph

jb edwards and j clyde shirley with william d workman

James B. Edwards (front) and J. Clyde Shirley with William D. Workman.
(photo by Doug Alverson)

This wonderful photo shows Dr. James B. Edwards with J. Clyde Shirley, signing Shirley’s 1978 book Uncommon Victory for journalist William D. WorkmanUncommon Victory remains the only book-length study of Edwards’ remarkable 1974 campaign for Governor.  Edwards defeated his highly-favored opponent, General William Westmoreland, in South Carolina’s first statewide Republican primary.  Edwards then went on to win the general election, becoming South Carolina’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

That wild election is one of the most intriguing campaigns in South Carolina history, featuring a large Democratic field and terrific intrigue when leading candidate Charles “Pug” Ravenel was eventually declared ineligible, and longtime congressman Bryan Dorn was made the Democratic nominee at the last minute.  Shirley worked on Edwards’ behalf in the 1974 race and, while not a professional scholar or author, provides rich details of the Edwards campaign as only an insider could.

The Republican pioneer Workman challenged incumbent Olin Johnston for the U.S. Senate in 1962.  His historic campaign is considered a transformative milestone in the development of the modern Republican Party, as Workman’s effort built a truly statewide Republican organization.

walt lardner cartoon

Cartoon by Walt Lardner commenting on the crowded 1974 gubernatorial primary field

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SCPC’s future and the changing nature of congressional collections

To celebrate Congress Week, April 1-7, 2016, South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) is posting daily blogs reflecting on our history and celebrating our 25th anniversary.

Work with legislative and particularly congressional collections has evolved markedly over the 25 years in which SCPC has existed.  Over that time, congressional archivists have gained recognition as a significant element of the archival community.  This has come about through the growth of the Congressional Papers Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists (CPR) and the rise to prominence of many CPR leaders within the profession itself.  The formation of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress in 2003 was a significant milestone.

SAA is publishing more and more material aimed at digital preservation and access.

SAA is publishing more and more material aimed at digital preservation and access.

A rich literature has developed, including a handbook for legislative archivists and records manuals for members of Congress.  I like to think the two-day workshop Cynthia Miller and I developed, The Acquisition, Processing, and Reference of Legislative Collections, also contributed to the development of our profession and of best practices for legislative collections.

But, clearly, I am becoming a dinosaur as the profession is at a crossroad.  Congressional offices have transitioned to an almost paperless environment.  Many of the skills I’ve developed over the past 38 years are becoming obsolete.  I have always enjoyed performing preliminary inventories of new collections or major accessions.  I could often tell within a moment of opening a carton what types of records I was seeing and what informational value those records would hold.  Weeding material having no historic value from a collection is both a science and an art, and I am good at that.  But, as I often remark, I am a 19th-century kind of guy.  Those skills have ever diminishing value in today’s electronic world.

Members of South Carolina's congressional delegation stand with Governor Nikki Haley at a press conference

Members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation stand with Governor Nikki Haley at a press conference

South Carolina’s congressional delegation totals nine individuals.  SCPC is currently receiving papers from Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressmen Jim Clyburn, Mick Mulvaney, Tom Rice, Mark Sanford and Joe Wilson.  We expect to soon have agreements with all but one member of the delegation.  We know of no other repository currently serving both its state’s U.S. senators and none serving this proportion of its state’s delegation.  Most of these offices are 95-98% born-digital.  It is a different world and presents widely different challenges.

Records are going digital in a big way.

Records are going digital in a big way.

The paper-based congressional collection is a thing of the past.  Rather than measuring major collections in thousands of cartons of records each containing 1-2,000 pages of material, we speak of gigabytes.  The best practices I helped develop cannot address many of the new challenges we face.  How do you ensure the immediate and long term preservation of electronic media?  How do you make electronic media available to your public?  How do you weed irrelevant material from these often vast electronic files?

I would like to say I am on top of this situation, but I am not and the profession is not.  But an ever-growing number of younger archivists, such as our own Dorothy Walker and Laura Litwer, are working to come up with answers to these “problems.” I hope my experience allows me to play a valuable role in overseeing and directing their work.

Kenneth Stampp

Historian Kenneth Stampp

But I often think of famed historian Kenneth Stampp (1912-2009), author of the landmark history, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery and the Ante-Bellum South.

Years ago I met Stampp when he visited the South Caroliniana Library to look at its rich ante-bellum plantation holdings, being considered for inclusion in a microfilm publication being produced over his name.  As he sat in our reading room, he told me that he was so glad that he came of age during the era when scholars worked with the actual paper records created by flesh and blood men and women.  He reflected that he would hate to have to spend hours reading microfilm or microfiche in completing his necessary research.  I have thought of Stampp so often since that conversation, but never more than now, when the very nature of archival work is changing so dramatically.

–Herb Hartsook


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SCPC’s Endowment Allows Us to Thrive

To celebrate Congress Week, April 1-7, 2016, South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) is posting daily blogs reflecting on our history and celebrating our 25th anniversary.

Congressman Bryan Dorn in front of the U.S. Capitol

Congressman Bryan Dorn in front of the U.S. Capitol

Our early years were dedicated to developing procedures for archival work with legislative collections; with arranging and describing the major collections we had “inherited” from the Caroliniana’s Manuscripts Division; and with taking in over 1,400 ft. of Sen. Hollings’ non-current records.  We completed the processing of the Olin Johnston collection, a project I had begun years earlier while supervising the Manuscripts Division.  After Johnston, we tackled the papers of Bryan Dorn.  Johnston and Dorn alone accounted for some 1,400 feet of material before processing.  One major thing we learned during these years was how much time was required for a large complex processing project.  Remember, there were no established “best practices.”  By the time we had finished the Dorn collection, we knew an estimate of ten hours per foot of material was a reasonable bench mark.  That mark guides our planning to this day and is generally accepted across the profession.

SAA guide

Cynthia Pease Miller’s guide, published by the Society of American Archivists

One major step in the national recognition of USC as a leader among congressional repositories occurred in 1994 when the Society of American Archivists first hosted the workshop I devised with Cynthia Pease Miller, then the archivist of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Over the next ten years, we presented this two-day workshop, “The Acquisition, Processing, and Reference of Legislative Collections,” all over the country, sharing our expertise with a wide variety of archivists and administrators intent on developing congressional collections.  Cynthia eventually wrote the SAA handbook, Managing Congressional Collections, published in 2008.

As SCPC matured, we could begin to seriously consider our future.  With two major collections now open and described to the folder level, which greatly facilitated their study, we began to attract more scholars.  1996 proved a transformative year for SCPC.  It was a time to rethink our staffing and budget.  We hired a full time staff assistant to help with processing and the supervision of our reading room and we decided to work towards endowed support of our programming.

Hartsook & Benfield

Herb Hartsook with Carol Benfield, 2014

Under the urging of Dean of Libraries George Terry and with able mentoring from accomplished development officer Carol Benfield, SCPC set out to raise endowed funds.  Our donors of collections and their friends have been most generous, and we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

About half of our donors of collections also contribute to our endowments.  Some are not able to make a gift commensurate with the expenses we incur in our work on those collections, but others give far more.  In seeking a collection, we never tie the solicitation for the papers to the request for help in funding our work.  By the time we reach out to a potential donor of a collection, we know we want their papers regardless of any financial support.  As I note in a fundraising workshop, congressional donors are almost all skilled fundraisers.  And often, they value what we do and want to help us.

We currently benefit from twelve endowments totaling over $1,500,000.  In addition, we have received private contributions for specific projects and also several grants.  And those numbers could change dramatically at almost any time as SCPC currently has several major proposals under consideration by potential contributors.

SCPC grads

SCPC has great graduate student help, thanks to our endowments!

Our endowments do wonderful things.  Originally, we hoped to underwrite our graduate assistantships.  Our students help with all of the various work here, and typically, if they are looking at an archival career, the experience they gain with us make them attractive commodities on the archival job market.  Our Bryan Dorn and John West endowments both support assistantships.  Another endowment covers half of one of our faculty salaries.  Next we added an endowment underwriting staff development such as travel to conferences.  SCPC staff regularly attend the annual meetings of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress and the Society of American Archivists, allowing us to keep on the forefront of the profession.  Next we added an endowment providing a stipend for a summer graduate assistant drawn from outside of South Carolina.  We have benefited terrifically from these summer assistants.  Then, we took some of the income from our Dorn Endowment to fund a research awards program for scholars planning significant study of our holdings.  The Class of 1956 funded an endowment to underwrite an annual lecture named for former USC president Donald Russell.  And, right now, we have an exciting proposal out to fund additional programming and outreach.

Our fundraising success provides benefits usually unnoticed by our visitors but it has had a tremendous impact on our service to the public.  I often recall the words of Samuel Pepys, who on March 21, 1667, noted in his diary, “It is pretty to see what money will do.”

–Herb Hartsook

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SCPC Today: 121 Collections and Growing (Part 2)

To celebrate Congress Week, April 1-7, 2016, South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) will post daily blogs reflecting on our history and celebrating our 25th anniversary.  Today’s post concludes my reflection on how we have developed our holdings.


William D. Workman holds a copy of the U.S. Constitution and the S.C. budget for 1963.

We were very conscious in the early 1990s that the vast majority of our holdings were papers of Democrats.  This made sense.  During most of the 20th Century, the Democratic Party dominated South Carolina politics.  But by 1991, the Republican Party was on its way to dominance.  Clemson’s Strom Thurmond Institute held not only the papers of Sen. Thurmond, but those of Thurmond associates, Republicans Fred Buzhardt, Carroll Campbell, Harry Dent, John Napier and Ed Young.  We had inherited from the Caroliniana the papers of Republican pioneer William D. Workman and the archives of the Republican Party itself.  But I worried that SCPC might have difficulty.  I worried that we would be seen as the Democratic repository while Clemson received the majority of collections from South Carolina Republicans.


Congressman Floyd Spence as chairman of the House National Security Committee, 1995

We decided to address this by actively seeking the papers of prominent Republicans and inaugurate a major oral history program interviewing Republican pioneers.  Early on, we reached out to each member of South Carolina’s congressional delegation.  Floyd Spence, the popular Second District representative and the first prominent South Carolinian to switch to the Republican Party, immediately called in response to our letter.  I will never forget our conversation.  Spence asked what he could do to help us.  I requested that he pledge his papers.  His response: “Done.  What else can I do?”  And that willingness to help defined our relationship.  For the rest of his life, Mr. Spence was a devoted friend to SCPC.

young floyd spence

Young Floyd Spence as “Big Man on the USC Campus”

That gave us credibility, but since Mr. Spence was so clearly identified as a staunch USC alumnus, I worried it might not be enough.  I hoped to build on Mr. Spence’s commitment by seeking the papers of Dr. James B. Edwards.  Edwards was an oral surgeon, among the first to practice that challenging specialty in South Carolina.  He became a Republican pioneer and was elected to the state Senate in 1972.  In 1974, the Republican Party had recruited Vietnam War commander, General William Westmoreland, to run for governor.  The Party decided to hold its first statewide primary as a party-building measure and recruited Edwards as an opponent for the hugely popular general.  As Edwards later told me, if he was going to run, he would run to win.  And he did win, both the Republican primary and an eventful general election, becoming the first Republican elected governor since Reconstruction.

jim edwards

Governor Jim Edwards

Edwards was a popular and unexpectedly successful governor, despite having to work with a Democratic state legislature.  He was selected by President Ronald Reagan as Secretary of Energy, then went on to lead the Medical University of South Carolina where he served as president for seventeen eventful years.  I always marvel that Edwards became a huge success in three such disparate fields — dentistry, politics, and higher education.

I reached out to Dr. Edwards in 1995 and received polite but firm responses that he wasn’t interested in us.  But he never said he was committing his papers elsewhere.  So I continued to seek him out at a Party Silver Elephant dinner and wrote him whenever I could report a development that might interest him.  The first hint that we might be successful came after I had sent Dr. Edwards the description of the papers of Arthur Clement, a recent acquisition by the South Caroliniana Library.  Clement was an important African American businessman and a friend of Edwards’.  I received a full page letter from Edwards in which he reminisced about his good friend.  I also often ask our donors to speak to prospects and compliment our stewardship.  Such testimony carries a lot more influence than a promise by an unknown archivist.  So I asked Sen. Hollings to speak with Dr. Edwards on our behalf.  Soon thereafter, Hollings called to tell me that he and his wife Peatsy had spoken with Dr. and Mrs. Edwards, and he thought Dr. Edwards was ready to speak with us.

jim edwards

Dr. Edwards at home in Mt. Pleasant, 2009

During the drive to Charleston for our meeting with Dr. Edwards, the Library Development Director Carol Benfield and I strategized on exactly what we would say.  We assumed we would have a very limited time to make our case and wanted to be as convincing as possible.  We were escorted into Edwards’ office at the Medical University, and I started our spiel.  Dr. Edwards almost immediately held up his hands and said he didn’t need to hear more, that Hollings had persuaded him to donate his papers.

This was a major milestone in the development of SCPC.  It assured that we would never be considered merely the repository for Democratic collections.  Equally important, Dr. Edwards valued what we did, invited me to conduct a life history over a series of visits to his lovely Mt. Pleasant home, and he and his wife Ann became important champions of SCPC as well as dear personal friends.

I hope these anecdotes share some of the story of SCPC’s evolution over the past twenty-five years from its conception to our prominence as a leading congressional repository.  We’d be nothing without the active help we have received from so many of our donors and their families and associates.

–Herb Hartsook

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