25 Years of South Carolina Political Collections

exhibit signTo celebrate the 25th anniversary of SCPC’s founding, we have mounted an exhibit tracing the development of congressional collecting in general and our department in particular.

The University of South Carolina received its first congressional collection in 1965 and acquired papers from other political figures and organizations in the decades that followed, but the announcement of Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings’ donation in 1989 to the library proved to be a milestone. Realizing the potential this collection and others had, the University created Modern Political Collections (MPC) – now called South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) – as a department of the South Caroliniana Library in 1991. The department immediately set about securing more collections from political figures all over the state. Of our donors, Senator Hollings has been instrumental in the growth of SCPC. Since giving his collection, he has visited the library for numerous events and convinced many other political figures to donate their papers as well.

Senator Hollings and his wife Peatsy viewed a political exhibit at U of SC's McKissick Museum in 1996

Senator Hollings and his wife Peatsy viewed a political exhibit at U of SC’s McKissick Museum in 1996

Though SCPC’s collections and development were thriving in this time, the department’s physical space was not. The Pearle building (“The Warehouse”) where SCPC was located had terrible climate control, limited office and exhibit space, and generally poor conditions for archival materials. It was clear a new building was necessary, and Senator Hollings wanted to make sure that happened. He successfully got $14 million in funding for the Hollings library, which has proved to be a magnificent space for SCPC and the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. His work on behalf of the library will have a huge impact for decades to come.

The Pearle building, aka "The Warehouse"

The Pearle building, aka “The Warehouse”

The department has changed over the years. In 2005, Modern Political Collections was renamed South Carolina Political Collections and became an autonomous department of the Library. A year later, groundbreaking for the new building began, and four years later, in May of 2010, SCPC moved into the new space.

The size of the department has increased and now includes five staff members and numerous student assistants. In its 25 year history, SCPC has gained a national reputation for the quality of its collections and staff. With over 125 discrete collections, SCPC is one of the largest repositories for political papers in the United States.

The Hollings Library

The Hollings Library

As congressional offices move more and more to electronic records, it is our job to make sure historians and other researchers always have access to our materials, no matter the form they take. To that end, we always keep an eye towards the future when processing papers, developing institutional standards, and maintaining our collections.

By Zach Johnson

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Anita Hill Party 2016

Anita Hill

The SCPC exhibit at the venue

Last night, SCPC attended the 25th Annual “I Believe Anita Hill” Party and presented a parallel exhibit.

The Anita Hill Party is an annual reminder of the outrage resulting from Anita Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The event also serves to highlight “the effect of the different perspectives of men and women, of the need for more women in politics and other policy-making positions, and of the need to get involved, to stay involved, and to stay in contact with other strong women of all ages and backgrounds.”

Moxon vote dress

The “Vote” dress from the Barbara Moxon collection

SCPC is the repository of the Anita Hill Party Collection, documenting the history of the organization and its annual events.

For the event last night, SCPC brought items from the collection and some from related collections to display for attendees, and to highlight our role in documenting the organization. One of the most popular items on display last night was the “Vote” dress worn by former League of Women Voters President Barbara Moxon on Election Days and other important events. Also on display were images and memorabilia from previous Anita Hill Parties through the years.

Contributed by Zach Johnson

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In Memoriam: John Drummond (1919-2016)

John Drummond

State Senator John Drummond

Former state senator John Drummond of Ninety Six, S.C., passed away on September 3rd.

A World War II Air Force fighter pilot and successful businessman, Drummond represented Greenwood County in the Senate for over forty years and led the Senate as President Pro Tempore from 1996 to 2001.  During his tenure, he witnessed the transformation of South Carolina from a solidly Democratic legislature to one dominated by Republicans.

A true maverick, Drummond enjoyed a good filibuster over issues on which he was passionate.  In later years, he stood out among his Democratic peers for his willingness and ability to work across party lines for the good of the people of South Carolina.

John Drummond

Senator Drummond

Former governor Jim Hodges noted, “I wish we had more people like John Drummond in service across our country.  He believed that once elections were over, you still work together to accomplish things and not work for your political party.”

Senator Drummond’s papers, some five linear feet of material, are available for research at SCPC.

A memorial exhibit has been mounted in the Brittain Gallery of the Hollings Library (the main lobby).  Please stop by and learn more about this great South Carolinian.

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The New Voter: 74-page Booklet has been Digitized!

League of Women Voters 1921

The New Voter, 1921

Last month Herb blogged about a remarkable League of Women Voters find, a 1921 booklet entitled The New Voter.

Since then, our colleagues in UofSC’s Digital Collections department have completed scanning the entire publication and have made it publicly available online with searchable text!

It is perfect timing, because on this date, August 18, in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote in this country.  In honor of those ‘trails blazed,’ why not take a look at The New Voter?

Thanks to all in Digital Collections who worked on this project for us!

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New Frontiers: The South Carolina League of Women Voters in 1921

League of Women Voters 1921

The New Voter, 1921

The papers of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina is a keystone collection here at SCPC.  We often note that the League’s interests, so well reflected in its archives, touch on every issue of consequence impacting government and politics.  The collection description notes that the state League was formed in 1951 from three local leagues then existing in Charleston, Columbia, and Spartanburg.

This is not exactly true.  The work of its predecessor, the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League, helped see the passage in August 1920 of the 19th Amendment allowing women the vote.  Shortly thereafter, the Equal Suffrage League was renamed the South Carolina League of Women Voters.  In 1921, it published a seventy-four page booklet titled The New Voter.  We learned of this booklet just last week when we found a copy in an addition to the League collection donated by Laurel Suggs.


Barbara Moxon models her “vote” dress, 1970s

Laurel and her mother, Barbara Moxon, both served as state League president and have been League mainstays.  A patriotic dress made by Mrs. Moxon, and worn by her on countless election days, can be seen in our exhibit gallery.  Based on comments overheard by our staff, it is probably the most popular item on display.

The New Voter begins by laying out the new organization’s purpose – “to safeguard and advance the legal, industrial and educational rights of women and to raise the standard of American citizenship by working for a more intelligent electorate.”  It then lists nine resolutions the League intends to advocate to improve government.  These particularly aim to improve the status of women.  Among the measures addressed are equal pay and better support of child welfare and public schools.

The New Voter goes on to provide a tutorial on government and elections, describing in detail the primary and general election process, the laws affecting women, and the overall system of government at the federal, state and local levels.

League of Women Voters

A page of The New Voter spelling out “What Women May Accomplish”

This primer for our newly-enfranchised voters is remarkable both for its content and quality.  Much of it could have been written yesterday.  Parts, though, purely reflect the era in which it was written.

I had never before seen this booklet but assumed that a check of the Libraries’ catalog would show multiple copies, as it is rare to find a South Carolina imprint not already held by the South Caroliniana Library.  A careful search assisted by the Caroliniana staff resulted in no hits, anywhere in or outside of South Carolina.  The Suggs/Moxon copy may be the only extant copy of this fascinating booklet.

Given its importance in documenting the history of the suffrage movement in South Carolina, the Libraries will digitize the booklet and make it universally available through the South Carolina Digital Library.  Once digitized, the actual booklet will be added to the League’s collection.

League of Women Voters

A page of The New Voter describing the “Party Machinery”

This exciting find helps explain the great attraction of archival work.  Donors often possess an inspiring sense of history.  And they gladly share their treasures.  And on any given day, we might receive a gift that makes our minds race and our hearts sing.  The New Voter is just that type of gift.

A favorite section will give you a sense of the booklet:

The Machine – The Boss – The Ring 

The man who often, through force of will, superior skill, courage and personality controls the “MACHINE” is called the “BOSS,” and the small group of men in every party who manage the affairs of the party, often through selfish motives, is call the “RING.”  A striking illustration of the power exercised by a RING is given by the famous TWEED RING, which controlled the government of New York City for several years, during which time more than $100,000,000 was wasted or stolen from the City Treasury.

By Herb Hartsook

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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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