Collection Open! Environmentalists, Inc.

We are pleased to announce that the Environmentalists, Inc. Papers are available for research. The task of processing the collection was challenging, yet rewarding, for me. During my involvement, I learned a great deal about and gained appreciation for environmental activism and justice. We arranged and described the collection using a modified More Product, Less Process (MPLP) approach in order to expedite its availability. This means that some parts of the collection have only been processed to the subseries level, instead of the more detailed folder level to which we normally process collections.

Barnwell nuclear plant

Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant

Environmentalists, Inc. (E.I.) is a small, non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the environment. It was founded in South Carolina in February 1972 in response to the planned construction of the Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant. Built to process spent nuclear fuel from commercial power reactors, the plant was never used for this purpose, and instead was used briefly for research and development programs. E.I.’s efforts to prevent the plant’s construction had directed national attention to the hazards of nuclear waste, and eventually led to the decommissioning the plant in 1997-1998.

Ruth Thomas

Ruth Thomas testifying at a hearing on the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station, 1984

Comprised of fewer than 100 members, E.I. has worked for many years to combat the promotion of nuclear power without adequate attention to its risks and weaknesses and to assist individuals and organizations in ensuring a healthy environment in South Carolina. The group has been involved in many appeals and lawsuits to prevent projects that threaten the environment and public health. The driving force behind the organization has been Ruth Sackett Thomas (b. 1920), a former art teacher and draftswoman. Thomas has served in many different roles in E.I., including founding member, legal assistant, researcher, and president.

The papers date from 1946 to 2015 and consist largely of legal and topical materials. Legal materials pertain to the many lawsuits and other legal proceedings in which E.I. was involved or took an interest. Topical materials reflect the extensive research the organization conducted on nuclear and hazardous waste. The collection also includes administrative and financial records, as well as environmental publications produced by various organizations.

Contributed by Mary Clare Johnson, Graduate Assistant

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A Time to Break Silence: Dr. Martin Luther King Speaks in Opposition the Vietnam War


Dr. King speaking at Riverside Church in New York City

Tuesday, April 4, is the 40th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”  The nearly hour long speech was delivered at New York City’s Riverside Church to a crowd of approximately 3,000.  King was assassinated one year to the day after this major speech opposing the nation’s involvement in the war in Vietnam.

He began by saying his conscience required him to stand up and speak against the “madness of Vietnam,” — despite people urging him to stay focused on Civil Rights and amid accusations of communist leanings

Dr. King speaks to the press outside New York’s Riverside Church
(Photo by Gene Kappock/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

King declared that there was a common link being formed between the civil rights and peace movements.  He proposed that the United States stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam; declare a unilateral truce in the hope that it would lead to peace talks; set a date for withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam; and give the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) a role in negotiations. 

I encourage you to listen to King’s speech.  It is available on YouTube.  I had thought to include a few select quotes to show his power and eloquence, but gave up.  There was too much rich material to isolate a few sentences.  Listen and you will be rewarded with a memorable experience.     

Herb Hartsook

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In Memoriam: Charles D. “Pug” Ravenel

Pug Ravenel

Campaign flyer, 1974

Charles D. “Pug” Ravenel (1938-2017) passed away Saturday after battling cancer.  A small memorial exhibit is on display at the entrance to the Hollings Library through the end of April.  SCPC is honored to preserve Ravenel’s papers, five feet of material chiefly documenting his 1974 campaign for governor.  Just last year, his brother Hal recorded an insightful oral history interview focused on that race. 

Pug Ravenel forever changed the nature of political campaigning in South Carolina in his 1974 run for governor.  In the crowded Democratic primary to succeed Governor John West, the charismatic Ravenel surprised pundits by winning over more established public servants.  The Charleston native’s campaign recalled John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential race.  Running as an outsider on a platform of change, and showcasing his young family, Ravenel’s innovative style, charismatic manner, and effective use of television reinvigorated the political system

Pug Ravenel

Campaign flyer, 1974

and excited a new generation of voters. 

As then-U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings noted, “Pug is the best thing that ever happened to our party.  We were dying.  He brought in fresh faces and fresh ideas.” 

Ultimately, Ravenel was ruled ineligible due to a residency issue and Republican James B. Edwards won election over the late Democratic substitute, Bryan Dorn

Political scientist Don Fowler recalled that Ravenel “brought to the South Carolina arena a vigor, perspective, intelligence, and charisma which we have rarely seen.”

Pug Ravenel family

Pug Ravenel, his wife Mollie, and their family, 1974

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Happy 75th Birthday to Lloyd Hendricks

Lloyd Hendricks

Lloyd Hendricks

On Sunday, Lloyd Hendricks celebrates his 75th birthday.  We hope it is a grand and memorable occasion.

I first met Lloyd and his wife Susan at a library event in 2011.  It wasn’t an SCPC event and I was just mingling.  I started a conversation with this attractive couple and, on hearing what I do, Lloyd modestly mentioned that he had served in the General Assembly.  My note on our meeting, written the next day for my calendar, proved absolutely accurate:

He is the embodiment of the citizen legislator.  He served, accomplished some things, then voluntarily left the legislature to return to the public sector.     

Lloyd Hendricks

SC Representative Hendricks was named Legislator of the Year in 1984 by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and in 1985 by the Greenville News.

Many special collections repositories, like our own South Caroliniana Library, receive numerous collections serendipitously.  You give a public talk and often, afterwards, one or more folks come up and offer you a rich collection, perhaps Civil War letters preserved by their family.  That is not the way SCPC typically works.  We generally identify potential donors and reach out and solicit their papers.  Lloyd Hendricks was that rare example where we received a wonderful collection purely through this chance conversation.

A banker, Hendricks served in the South Carolina House from 1977 to 1987.  His collection documents that service and his long tenure, 1986 to 2012, leading the South Carolina Bankers Association.  The collection is particularly important in documenting a critical industry during a time of great change.

In reflecting on his good friend, Dick Riley recalled,

[H]e had many outstanding characteristics but the one thing that distinguished him from a lot of the other legislators was his credibility. You’ve heard the ad, ‘when EF Hutton speaks everyone listens’; that was Lloyd Hendricks, because when he spoke, people had confidence, one, that he knew what he was talking about, [and two] that he was speaking from a point of integrity and honesty.

Working with Lloyd has been an absolute delight.  He has become a strong supporter of USC Libraries and currently serves as President of the Libraries’ Ex Libris Society

Lloyd – Happy Birthday!  Thank you for the example you set and for all that you do!   

Herb Hartsook  

Lloyd Hendricks cartoon

Join other SCPC supporters!

South Carolina Political Collections Endowment Fund

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Former SCPC Grad Assistant Makes Good! Congratulations, Debbie Davendonis-Todd

grads at SCPC

Debbie (right) inventories a collection with fellow SCPC grad assistants.

SCPC alumna Debbie Davendonis-Todd has just been named the Director of Baylor University’s W.R. Poage Legislative Library.  The Poage is a leading repository of Congressional and political material, well-known for its outreach, its programming, and its collections, including those of Texas political legends Congressman Chet Edwards, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, and Congressman Bob Poage.  Poage served in Congress for over 40 years.

We are proud to say that SCPC played a role in Debbie’s entry into the world of political papers.  While pursuing her Master’s in Library Science at USC, Debbie worked with us as a graduate assistant, from 2008 to 2010.  She worked on a variety of processing projects, from the Ernest F. Hollings papers to the collections of the Republican Party of SC, Flynn Harrell, Environmentalists, Inc., and Jack Bass.  The Bass collection will open for research later this year.

Debbie with SCPC Associate Director Dorothy Walker at the dedication of the Hollings Library in 2010

One of her most significant contributions was William Jennings Bryan Dorn: In His Own Words, an online collection of digital audio highlighting some of the legendary orator’s most compelling public speaking.

Debbie was a natural at processing and outreach, a key member of SCPC’s staff, and a cheerful, capable presence in the workroom.  After graduating from USC in 2010, Debbie worked as a project archivist at the University of Florida before moving on to Baylor in 2012.  We are pleased to see her ascending to her current position—but not surprised, as we always knew she had star potential!  Congratulations, Debbie!

Debbie Todd

In her office, March 2017

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A Towering Legacy: Remembering Bryan Dorn

Bryan Dorn

Bryan Dorn campaigning from the back of a pickup truck

William Jennings Bryan Dorn has been on my mind lately.  In truth, I think of Mr. Dorn often.  I got to know him well, late in his life.  He made a big impression.

Bryan Dorn was born for politics.  He entered the arena as a very young man, served in the state legislature and then for twenty years in Congress.  He ended his public service in a role perfect for his nature and abilities – four years chairing the state Democratic Party.  Champion of veterans and the textile industry, his name is familiar to many today as the namesake of Columbia’s Veterans Administration hospital.

This week we approved a small Dorn Research Award for a young PhD candidate at Cambridge.  USC’s Dorn Endowment supports graduate assistantships with SCPC as well as the awards program.  The latter provides awards of up to $1,000 to scholars drawn to Columbia to study SCPC collections, and these researchers are reimbursed for travel, lodging, copying, etc.  Many of the best repositories offer such awards.  Over the years, each recipient has excited us during their visit — both about their research topic and in the shared excitement as they mine our collections for nuggets of fact and insight.  We are looking forward to the visit of this young woman later this summer.

Dorn at VA hospital

Congressman Dorn visiting patients at a Veterans hospital; he was a staunch supporter of American veterans.

Our experience in raising the endowment proved some fund raising principles, but disproved another.  It is often said that once a politician retires from office, their fund raising potential dies.  Mr. Dorn proved an exception to that rule.  When we set out to raise the endowment we looked for volunteers to help us.  Volunteers are crucial to much of what we do and nowhere more needed than in our efforts to raise money.  Dorn relative Steve Griffith and textile association leader Jerry Beasley became the primary drivers of our effort.  They appreciated that the old textile families would remember Mr. Dorn’s heroic efforts on behalf of their industry.  Within about a year, the endowment stood at over $75,000.

1974 primaries in SC

Cartoon depicting the crowded field in the 1974 primaries
(Walt Lardner)

But that wasn’t the only thing that has made me think of Mr. Dorn.  In 1974, Dorn decided to seek the office of Governor, foregoing certain reelection to Congress.  He became a key player in one of the most memorable gubernatorial elections in South Carolina history.  1974 saw a large Democratic primary field and our first statewide Republican primary.  USC holds the papers of six of those candidates – Democrats Dorn, “Pug” Ravenel, John Bolt Culbertson, and Nick Zeigler, and Republicans Jim Edwards and retired Vietnam War commander William Westmoreland, the latter’s papers at the Caroliniana.


Oral history narrator Hal Ravenel (right) with his brother Pug and President Jimmy Carter

Earlier this week we mounted the transcript of my oral history interview with Pug’s brother.  Hal Ravenel was a key campaign aide and wanted his reflections on record.  He proved a superb narrator and I found the interview inspiring.  Also, Associate Director Dorothy Walker is finishing her long project arranging and describing the papers of former governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley.  And in reviewing her excellent work, I have been thinking of Mr. Dorn’s strong selfless support of Riley in the 1978 campaign that elected Riley governor.

One of the great perks of this job is that I get to meet many of the movers and shakers in South Carolina government.  I become close to some of these men and women and those relationships are richly rewarding on a variety of levels.  I find many to be inspirational.

I was lucky to get to know Bryan Dorn, and hope readers might like to learn a bit more about him through his collection description and the four hours of his speeches that are available in our digitized selection, Dorn: In His Own Words.

Herb Hartsook

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Revitalizing Wikipedia Pages

wiki campbell

Original Campbell page

For the past month, SCPC has been continuing our work to improve the Wikipedia pages of our donors, as detailed in our earlier blog post.  For the first phase of the project, we have been uploading photos of our donors that have Wikipedia pages and adding them in where appropriate.  Sometimes, the effect has been to replace a low-resolution photo with a high-res color one.  Other times, we have been adding images to pages where one did not exist before.

wiki campbell

New primary photo on Campbell page

One example is former Governor Carroll Campbell’s page.  Campbell was Governor from 1987-1995, and there should naturally be a number of color photographs from this time.  Instead, the page only had a single, black and white photograph for the lead image.  We uploaded our own color portrait as well as a few other images to add to the page itself.  In the text of the page, where it talks about Gov. Campbell’s response to Hurricane Hugo in 1989, we decided to add a photo of Campbell touring the wreckage caused by the storm.  While changes like these are small, they improve the overall quality of the articles and hopefully will be more engaging to the readers.

wiki Campbell

Post-Hugo photo now in the body of the text

We’ve learned a few lessons as well.  For one thing, it is not enough to simply upload some photos you have copyright to.  Using Wikipedia’s submissions ticket system (OTRS) you have to tag the photos with the {{OTRS pending}} marker, then send an email to the OTRS team with your copyright information; else, you risk the photos being deleted while waiting for a site volunteer to approve them (as I learned the hard way…). 

Another thing we learned is that once the photos are uploaded, you cannot delete or edit the name easily.  Forever will the photo for William Jennings Bryan Dorn be titled “W.B. Bryan Dorn” on the uploads page.

The full list of people whose lead pictures have been added or changed using photos from our collection is below:

By Zach Johnson

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Picture Perfect: Congressman Joe Wilson gets a New Office

Joe Wilson’s DC office is filled with memorabilia of a life in politics.  His recent move to the Longworth House Office Building is documented in this very fun video available on YouTube. 

Kudos to his staff for making this move!

Welcome to 1436 Longworth House Office Building!

And read about the move in this article from The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC).

Ready to pack — Congressman Joe Wilson’s accumulations!
(photo: Post & Courier)

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“It Is So Ordered”: New Exhibit highlights Judges and the Law in South Carolina

Robe belonging to Judge Bruce Littlejohn

The phrase “It is so ordered” is the traditional ending to opinions and orders of the court. The American Bar Association writes, “It is meant to remind the reader that the opinion is issued impersonally from ‘the Court,’ not individual justices.” It is through this lens of the dignified, impartial court that we created our exhibit, It Is So Ordered: Judges and the Law in South Carolina, highlighting SCPC’s robust, wide ranging collections of federal and South Carolina Supreme Court judges.

Two cases examine the trial process, from jury selection, to the appeals process, to the drafting of opinions. One item, a 1949 letter from an inmate to one of our judges, asks for a reduced sentence on account of good behavior and remorse for his crimes. The man had been sentenced to 3 years in jail for stealing a car, but the judge agrees to reduce his sentence by half. Also highlighted are drafts of judicial opinions. We often only see the final opinion published by the court, but judges go through weeks and months of writing and revising opinions all while reading, lobbying, and deliberating with their colleagues on the bench.

U.S. Fourth Circuit, District of South Carolina — Robert Hemphill is at right

We highlight eight judges who have placed their papers with SCPC. Some interesting items include the robe of Bruce Littlejohn who served on the South Carolina Supreme Court from 1967 to 1985 (and as Chief Justice from 1984-1985); a 1906 letter by Justice Cecil Wyche of the U.S. District Court from his school years at The Citadel; and the USC School of Law report card for Judge Robert Hemphill of the U.S. District Court (he received all B’s!). These collections complement each other well and provide a valuable resource to researchers.

Judge Cecil Wyche at work

Finally, we examine some of the more important cases of the past 100 years. Briggs v. Elliot (1952) challenged segregation as unconstitutional. It was rolled into Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas along with 3 other cases (the U.S. Supreme Court often combines cases from multiple lower courts that deal with the same fundamental issues) and would become a landmark decision overturning segregation. Gantt v. Clemson (1963) dealt with the desegregation of Clemson, Reynolds v. Sims (1964) concerned state redistricting and the “one person, one vote” idea, and Ravenel v. Dekle (1974) ousted “Pug” Ravenel, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, due to residency requirements on Sept. 24, 1974, just weeks before the election.

Seventh Circuit Court Judges — Bruce Littlejohn is at right

We hope you come see the exhibit!

By Zach Johnson

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Wikipedia and the Case of the McNair Imposter

For many of us, Wikipedia is the first stop when researching any topic or person that we’re unacquainted with.  I forgot who was Lieutenant Governor in 1957?  Check Wikipedia.  There’s a government agency I know nothing about?  Check Wikipedia.  Naturally then, such an ubiquitous source should have the best, most complete information we can provide.  Using our wealth of collections here at SCPC, we’re starting a project to improve and even create entries on our donors on Wikipedia.

Robert McNair

Portrait of S.C. Governor Robert McNair, now on his Wikipedia page

The most eye catching part of each page is the lead photo.  We found that many of the photographs of our donors simply aren’t of a high enough quality, or the pages are missing one altogether!  Luckily, we have a wealth of photographs in our collections.  For the first part of the project, we will be periodically uploading and adding some of our photographs to the pages.

In one case, as we surveyed existing pages for our collection donors, we discovered that the photograph for Gov. Robert E. McNair (1965-1971) wasn’t even McNair at all!  The photograph came from a misidentified photo in the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library’s online photo archive (misidentification can occur in any archive).  We emailed the LBJ Library and were greatly assisted by archivists Margaret Harman and Jennifer Cuddeback.  Ms. Harman replied with a detailed message correcting the information and filling us in on where the error may have come from.

It turns out that Gov. McNair had visited President Johnson at the President’s ranch along with a cadre of other Democratic governors to discuss their grievances, past political help, and new education guidelines.  McNair arrived with the first group of governors, while the unidentified man mistaken for Gov. McNair had actually arrived with Gov. Hearnes of Missouri as part of the second group.  To confirm all this info, Ms. Harman tracked down the photographic contact sheets of the visit as well as the President’s diary entry for the day.  Governor McNair does appear in several of the photos on the contact sheet.

LBJ Library photo

The man to the right of Lady Bird Johnson was identified as Robert McNair, and his photo – cropped from this one – was being used on the McNair Wikipedia page.
(LBJ Library photo c4170-27)

Hats off to the great archivists at the LBJ Library for their diligence and knowledge.  It’s simply amazing to know what resources are held in our presidential libraries!  You can find more great stuff at their digital archive and main website.

We’ll be posting updates on the blog as our Wikipedia project progresses.

Zach Johnson

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