Whiskey and Watermelons: Anecdotes from the Johnston Years

Recently, we started a cataloging project for our oral histories. The transcripts have been available on the SCPC website, but we wanted to incorporate them into the university library catalog. Before we can do anything else, we have to read through the oral histories and make a note of potential subject headings. This also gives us an opportunity to better acquaint ourselves with a fascinating part of our collections.

I’ve most enjoyed coming across behind-the-scenes political anecdotes in these interviews. They enliven the historical narrative by adding a personal dimension to the records of public figures. So far, my favorite oral history has been that of Thomas W. Chadwick, a member of Sen. Olin Johnston’s staff from 1955-1965. Chadwick recalled a number of entertaining stories from his years with the senator.

Chadwick remembered Johnston receiving gifts of whiskey from a friend in the liquor distribution business. This posed a dilemma for the senator. Johnston did not drink, but having lived through the Depression, he also did not waste anything. So, he solved the problem by giving away whiskey to staff members. One fine day, the senator called Chadwick into his office. He pulled a bottle of bourbon out of his safe and said, “I want you to take that bottle of whiskey and use it, but I want you to give Betty Rose [Chadwick's wife], you give her what you’d have paid at the liquor store for that bottle. And then I know something good will be coming out of that.”

Speaking of gifts, Johnston regularly brought in watermelon from S.C. and gave it to journalists on the Hill. During one delivery, Johnston was standing by the fruit truck for a photo. Hoping to cash in on the publicity, Sen. Strom Thurmond came running down the steps and crashed the picture. Johnston was livid and said there would be no more watermelon if any paper ran the picture with Thurmond. One reporter protested, saying that Thurmond was there after all. Chadwick retorted, “So you go to him for watermelon, if you want watermelon out of this deal. You go to Strom for them.”

Clearly, Johnston was a man with little tolerance for rude behavior. During the Eisenhower administration, the nominee for the Myrtle Beach postmastership made some unkind public remarks about Johnston. The senator was chair of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. He approached a close friend, Sen. Frank Carlson (R-Kansas), and said, “Frank, this man is personally obnoxious to me, and I want the White House to withdraw the nomination.” As further incentive, Johnston threatened to hold up pending pay raises for executive and judicial positions. Carlson came back and asked, “Who do you want?” Johnston gave him the name and resume of his preferred nominee, and they flew the paperwork to the president in Pennsylvania. Eisenhower signed the nomination while on the golf course and sent it back.

Find these and other stories at http://library.sc.edu/scpc/ohchadwick.pdf. Once you’ve finished reading about Chadwick and Johnston, check out the rest of our oral histories at http://library.sc.edu/scpc/oralhist.html.

Contributed by graduate student assistant Chris Fite

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A Successful Parents’ Weekend

The Hollings Library is normally closed on the weekends although we do open for periodic “Open Gallery” weekends.  On October 5 & 6 we were privileged to welcome students and their families  for Parents’ Weekend.  Exhibits on display spotlighted material from USC’s Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), Moving Images Research Collection (MIRC), and of course SCPC.parweekend

We saw a large number of people come through, probably close to one hundred for both days.  They were able to ask us questions and take a look at our current exhibits: Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity: Integration of Higher Education in South Carolina; Wreaking Havoc: The Art of the Political Cartoonist (which includes the hood of a car that was used as a cartoonists’ canvas!); and our semi-permanent exhibit that serves as a showcase for the variety of our collections.exhibits

The next Open Gallery is this Saturday, October 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  It is free and open to the community.  We invite everyone to come and see our beautiful state-of-the-art building and what we have on display!

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In Memoriam: Jerry Beasley (1934-2013)


Jerry Beasley

John Gerald “Jerry” Beasley, from a photo used in The State newspaper

I was saddened this morning to read of the recent passing of Jerry Beasley.  Jerry was a great friend to this University and played a major role in raising SCPC’s first named endowment. 

In 1998, we launched a campaign to establish the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Endowment.  In a 1940 campaign ad, Bryan Dorn stated, “My only promise is to endeavor to keep my feet on the ground and tune my ear to the heart-beat of all the people.”  Dorn did just that, forging a career of public service that few can match.  Bryan Dorn represented South Carolina’s Third District in Congress for thirteen terms between 1947 and 1974.  An eloquent advocate of South Carolina’s interests, Dorn was particularly effective in the areas of agriculture, industrialization, and highway construction.  He helped organize the informal House Textile Committee around 1961 and served as its secretary.  Dorn is perhaps best remembered as a champion of the interests of America’s veterans.  He ended his public service chairing the South Carolina Democratic Party from 1980 to 1984.

In 1998, Mr. Dorn’s collection was among the finest and most complete congressional collections preserved anywhere and among the largest manuscript collections ever accepted by the University.  Perhaps most important, it was our most heavily used collection, documenting his campaigns for office, life and career in public service, and his interests outside of government.  In addition, his papers document, in a very personal way, the lives and concerns of his constituents.

Dorn brochure

Retired Congressman Bryan Dorn robustly gracing a brochure for his gubernatorial campaign in 1974

We sought help from leaders in the state who had worked with Mr. Dorn and two men stepped up, Jerry Beasley and Steve Griffith.  Both were close to Mr. Dorn and were enthusiastic about their task, but it was a difficult one.  Fund raising experts told us that you can’t raise significant money for a politician once they leave office, and Mr. Dorn had been out of public life for over a decade.  However, Jerry and Steve focused on individuals and foundations related to SC’s textile industry and succeeded in raising a very significant endowment.

Today, the principal totals more than $89,000.  Over the years, the endowment has helped support a number of student assistantships, and more recently funded an annual award for the best undergraduate paper written based on research in SCPC and a research awards program supporting visits by distant scholars studying SCPC holdings. 

I will be forever grateful for Jerry’s friendship and his enthusiasm and devotion to this project honoring Mr. Dorn which has benefited SCPC and our patrons so greatly.

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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Desk Musings

McNair desk

Desk used by Robert McNair as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the S.C. House of Representatives

Desks are important. 

When I visit someone’s office, I always note the person’s desk and try to glean some sense of the person from their desk and what they keep on it.  President Calvin Coolidge once said, “We need more of the Office Desk and less of the Show Window in politics.  Let men in office substitute the midnight oil for the limelight.”

When I worked as Curator of Manuscripts at the South Caroliniana Library, I was privileged to use a desk from the U.S. Senate’s Russell Office Building identical to that used by Senator Olin Johnston.  It was a most imposing desk and I loved its history.  At home I have two desks, a roll-top made in Glasgow, Scotland, around 1890, and a Stickley Brothers library table from around 1910. 

Patterson desk

The desk used by Liz Patterson as a member of the S.C. Senate

When we inaugurated SCPC, I imagined that we would acquire members’ desks and that, in time, each of our staff would work at a historic desk.  We acquired our first one with the receipt of former Governor Bob McNair’s papers, when he gave us a beautiful large desk which he had used as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the S.C. House of Representatives.  We used it in our reading room for years, and when we moved into the Hollings Library, it became the desk in our VIP Office.

Recently we received another desk from the Honorable Liz Patterson; the one she used as a member of the S.C. Senate.  This particular desk is smaller than McNair’s because it was the one she occupied among the many on the floor of the Senate.  Immediately we placed it in SCPC’s Seminar Room, where visitors and staff are able see it.

In many ways a desk is a tool.  What does your desk say about you?

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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Is this the same place? — SCPC’s gallery gets a facelift

SCPC’s exhibit gallery in the Hollings Library looks completely different these days, and we’re downright excited about it.  We’ve changed the layout of our gallery in anticipation of mid-2014 that will bring us new design features on the walls and windows and interactive elements (like touchscreens).  We think the new layout makes our gallery more inviting and less confusing.  If you can’t make it to the Hollings Library to see for yourself, check out the before, during and after shots!  Click on any image for a gallery of larger views.

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“Wreaking Havoc: The Art of the Political Cartoonist”

The editorial cartoon at its best can combine trenchant political insight, genial good humor, incisive satire, a certain utopian whimsy, melancholy and a Message with a Moral. 

~ Professor Robert Darden, Journalism Department, Baylor University

Latent cartoonists are not the team players or company cheerleaders destined to be rewarded by schools and corporations.  We tend to be difficult, annoying, and seditious….  Official disapproval is something you have to go through to be a cartoonist….  You have to butt heads with Authority.

~ Kate Salley Palmer, Growing Up Cartoonist


Caricature of John West, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1977-1981) (Kate Salley Palmer)

Editorial cartoons have historically graced the pages of most American daily newspapers and have been widely popular.  Their subject matter ranges from local to international matters and often provides biting commentary.  We have come to realize that our collections of political cartoons are one of SCPC’s most popular and accessible assets.

Unfortunately, the numbers of artists employed as editorial cartoonists is shrinking.  According to the Herb Block Foundation, in 1900 there were approximately 2,000 editorial cartoonists employed by American newspapers.  In 2010, perhaps forty.

Derrick/Hollings campaigns

Congressman Butler Derrick and Senator Fritz Hollings (Walt Lardner)

We currently have on exhibit a selection of cartoons by SCPC donors Walt Lardner and Kate Salley Palmer, and USC alumnus Robert Ariail, perhaps South Carolina’s best known cartoonist.  The exhibit, “Wreaking Havoc: The Art of the Political Cartoonist,” also includes our favorite piece of ephemera, the hood of Jim and Kate Salley Palmer’s old Oldsmobile station wagon, the last vestige of an automobile once decorated bumper to bumper by cartoonists attending an annual meeting.

RIP Keyserling

Wildlife mourning the passing of S.C. Representative Harriet Keyserling in 2010 (Robert Ariail)

Last week, SCPC presented a wonderful program titled “The Art of Political Cartooning,” featuring presentations by Palmer and Ariail and moderated by Charles Bierbauer, the visionary dean of USC’s College of Communications and Information Studies.

Thanks to Library Media Developer Jason Steelman, the video of that panel is now available on our website and YoutubeThree particularly charming moments occurred when Kate, who enjoys creating cartoons including song parodies, sang her cartoons.  She has a lovely singing voice.  Please visit one of these pages and enjoy the program, which enthralled the audience at the Hollings Library.

Palmer car hood

Kate & Jim Palmer donating the decorated car hood to SCPC in March of 2007

~ contributed by Herb Hartsook

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An Epic Summer: 2013

Another summer is coming to a close, and, once again, SCPC has had the benefit of a variety of summer interns and student employees hard at work.

Among these was the recipient of our annual Moore Internship, which goes to a student from an out-of-state archival education program. This internship, generously provided for by the Yvonne L. and Schuyler Moore Internship Endowment, has been of great benefit to SCPC. Each year, we select an intern and lead them through one or more projects—usually a main project involving processing or digitization, but at times helping with inventories of new material or setting up exhibits. This year, Karli Mair, of Syracuse University, worked on the papers of Columbia City Councilman Luther Battiste, as well as on other small projects during her time with us.

students working in the summer of 2013

Karli (foreground), Danielle and Ana, and Cody working on a variety of projects one day this summer

Although the goal of the internship is to provide a learning experience for a potential future archivist, we profit just as much from the internship. The most obvious benefit is the quality archival work accomplished by the intern. However, we also enjoy the opportunity to see ourselves, and the rest of University Libraries, through the eyes of a newcomer. We set up various tours, and the other divisions of the Libraries have always kindly welcomed us. We like to go along, too, because we always learn something new! Among our favorite spots have been the Library Annex and the South Caroliniana Library. Karli’s archival interests included old visual formats like daguerreotypes, and SCL’s Visual Materials archivist Beth Bilderback graciously gave her an up-close look at some of the formats in SCL’s holdings. Annex assistant manager Jamie Heiting also provided an informative and fun tour, which included a ride to the top of “The Box” for a bird’s eye view of all the items housed there.

Caitlin at her desk

Caitlin in her cubicle surrounded by the papers of Rita Derrick Hayes

This month, we said goodbye to graduate student assistants Caitlin Mans and Cody Willis. Caitlin spent two years with us and recently graduated with her MA in Public History with a focus on museums. Among her major projects, she curated an SCPC Gallery exhibit earlier this year and an online exhibit (not yet live) on political biographies, focusing on the research and writings of Phil Grose and Jack Bass; helped us with our exhibit gallery redesign that will be carried out in 2014 and assisted with other gallery tasks such as installing and refreshing exhibits; and processed part or all of the papers of Phil Grose, Alex Harvin, and Rita Derrick Hayes, and the SC Democratic Party Records.

Cody in the stacks

Cody expertly working our compact shelving in the stacks.

Cody spent a little over a year with us and recently graduated with his MLIS. We returned from lunch today to find him waiting with good news (we hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks). He is the new Audio-visual Archivist and Reference Librarian at Winthrop University’s Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections!! For a supervisor, it doesn’t get any better than hearing a former student has a full-time job in his chosen field! Cody’s major projects included adding finding aids to Archivists’ Toolkit (a software program that allows Encoded Archival Description), pre-processing the Sanford Papers and organization of Sanford AV, and processing the Kate Salley Palmer Papers, the Wanda Forbes Papers, and the administrative series of the Spratt Papers.

Finally, summer 2013 at SCPC was also enlivened by student assistants Ana Garcia and Danielle Long and intern Drew Hamilton. Ana and Danielle, undergraduate students from Agnes Scott College and Spelman College, respectively, cheerfully handled any tasks we threw at them. They refoldered collections, looked for items for an exhibit, processed two small series of the John Spratt and Mark Sanford collections, sorted clippings, cleaned exhibit cases, and even learned to use a fire extinguisher! Drew, an undergrad in a Public History internship course here at USC, navigated the complexities of the Catawba Land Claim Files of the Spratt Papers. He sorted materials and drafted descriptive language that will become part of the Spratt finding aid when the collection opens. Drew managed to escape us before we could snap a picture, but trust us, he was always hard at work.

It’s fun to see our students learn and to help them gain experience in archival work. It’s also fun to attend professional conferences, such as we did last week, and to see former student employees who are now valued colleagues in the field.

Laura, Dorothy, Debbie and Lori reunite at SAA 2013 in New Orleans

L-R: Laura (2010-2013, now at TAMU-Commerce), Dorothy, Debbie (2008-2010, now at Baylor) and Lori reunited in the exhibit hall last week at the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting in New Orleans

To all the student employees of SCPC, past and present, we owe a resounding thank you.  We couldn’t do what we do without you!

–contributed by Dorothy Walker and Lori Schwartz

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A Moore Intern’s Summer Reflections

What am I going to do with all this? My first day I sat in a cubicle with four boxes of disorganized mess and wondered what it was I had gotten myself into. My main project at SCPC was to process Councilman Luther J. Battiste’s papers. As much as I loved my archives management course, I felt ill prepared to process the ‘collection’ in front of me. It seemed like such a jumble. Where does one even start? To be honest, before this internship I didn’t really understand why archives bother keeping most of what they do.  A few days into inventorying the collection, though, not only did Luther Battiste start to take shape but so did Columbia. I learned more about Columbia and local government through processing Battiste’s papers than I probably would have if I had taken a class on it and so could anyone else who looks through his papers in the future. This is worth keeping. By themselves, each individual item is pretty worthless, but keeping them together allows the materials to lend each other context.

My supervisors are internship masterminds. When I finished the Battiste collection early, they gave me a small portion of a larger collection to work on. The Battiste papers were only 3.75 linear feet processed. The Sanford campaigns that I worked on were 4 or so boxes in a collection of 180. I processed about the same volume of materials for this collection in ¼ of the time it took to process the Battiste papers. Now, I’ll give some of that time to the experience I gained with the previous collection, but it is also the nature of a much larger collection. I was much less detailed in my processing.

There is tension to being an archivist; there is a push to process efficiently due to backlog, and yet, there is pull to remain as detailed as possible so that researchers and archivists alike know what is in a collection. And then there is the cost of processing to consider. I imagine that if archiving were like a commercial where the price tag for materials, staff time, and storage hovered over each part of the collection that our decisions during processing would look much different. It took me 2 full work days to sort Sanford’s campaign correspondence into general, congratulatory, and contributions. Is it worth the price tag to sort the correspondence? For Sanford, I think it is worth the time, for another collection maybe not. What I have learned is that archival management really comes down to one thing…context. There is no one answer for how a collection should be processed, stored, or described. A ‘good’ archivist is one who is able to make the best decisions about management for their archive at that particular time.

Oh, and they need to be able to fight fires with the appropriate sweeping motion.


Editor’s Note: Karli Mair, a graduate student at Syracuse University, was our 2013 Schuyler L. and Yvonne Moore Intern. She processed the Luther J. Battiste Papers and the Mark Sanford Campaign Records. We asked her to reflect on her internship and what she learned this summer. Here’s what she had to say:

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Personal Letters added to the Nick Zeigler Collection

Earlier this summer, Anne Zeigler added thirty-four letters to the collection of her husband, Nick Zeigler.  Almost all of these were letters written to Anne by Nick between 1950 and 1959.  This addition helped fill a gap in the record.  The charming notes share news of family, friends, and the wide variety of interests which they shared.  Following are three examples taken from the new material: 

It was a very interesting week of cases. The two best- one patrolman accused of embezzlement who was acquitted and, of course, the Atkins case. He got 14 yrs for manslaughter.  Had I been on the jury I think I would been inclined to send him packing to the electric chair.  I firmly believe he meant to kill his wife and sat there with a shot gun and killed her while she was fixing his supper.   June 25, 1951

Tomorrow I am making a speech on Southeastern Archaeology to the Lions Club.  Sort of hate to get into that subject because it is one which does not seem to hold an audience too well, but hope I can get some humour (corney or otherwise) into it.    June 22, 1952

the Zeiglers

Nick and Anne Zeigler

I would have telephoned to you of my sudden elevation to local fame had it not been for the fact that I have put myself so clearly on record as viewing such honors as meaningless.  I was flattered, of course, but having people say good things about me to my face always makes me feel uncomfortable.  I think I am really much happier when everyone is critical of me and what I am doing.    February 1, 1953

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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Homegoings: The Role of the Funeral Director in the African American Community

Last week I attended a wonderful program sponsored by the S.C. African American Heritage Commission at the SC Department of Archives and History.  Titled Homegoings, the program consisted of a panel and the premiere of a documentary by the same name which will be broadcast on public television on POV, the evening of June 24th.


SC native and NYC funeral director Isaiah Owens

The documentary focuses on SC native and NYC funeral director Isaiah Owens, who attended with his wife.  Panelists included funeral directors Herbert Fielding of Charleston, Chris Leevy Johnson of Columbia, James Flemming of Chesterfield, Samuetta Marshall of Holly Hill, and Marshall Parks of Greenwood.  I particularly wanted to hear Mr. Fielding, a prominent former state legislator, and Chris Johnson, who I had met years before when he was researching his dissertation.  The event was well attended, and the details of the funeral industry shared by the panelists were fascinating.  I attended a funeral conducted by Johnson several years ago and it was remarkable for its grace, solemnity and beauty.

While everyone on the panel contributed to the evening, Johnson and Marshall were particularly interesting.  The next morning, I requested Johnson’s 2004 dissertation from the USC annex.  It was done here at USC under the direction of Prof. Lacy Ford and is titled Undertakings: The Politics of African-American Funeral Directing.   In it, Johnson focuses on the history of three families, including his own, to showcase the role of the funeral director as a leading force in the African American community, particularly in the realm of politics.

white hearse

This majestic hearse, owned by the Hines Funeral Home of Hartsville, was parked immediately in front of the Archives entrance. The unique vehicle was built by the Minnesota based Dakotah Prinzing Motor Coach Co.

In the chapter on the Leevys, Johnson presents a definitive treatise on the history of the Republican Party during that odd time from the 1940s to the late-1950s when the South Carolina Republican Party was chiefly a patronage organization, and Johnson’s grandfather, I.S. Leevy, one of its leaders.

Johnson’s father, I.S. Leevy Johnson, is entrusting his papers to SCPC.  The collection will document his education and his leadership in the Bar Association, the community, and state government.

~ Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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