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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Oral Histories and Civil Rights Leaders

Folks interested in the civil rights movement in South Carolina should know of an Honors Thesis from 1990 available at the South Caroliniana Library.  Kristie Porter’s thesis is titled The Legal


Modjeska Simkins

Committee of the South Carolina NAACP and the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s.  It includes a CD-R loaded with Kristie’s interviews with leading activists Fred James, Matthew Perry, and Modjeska Simkins.  The interviews, respectively 18, 66 and 74 minutes long, add to the excellent documentation of the civil rights movement here at USC’s special collections libraries.

SCPC is very proud to hold the papers of Mrs. Simkins as well as the papers of NAACP leader I. DeQuincey Newman.  The South Caroliniana Library’s important civil rights holdings include the papers of Arthur Clement, the Christian Action Council, John McCray, and the SC Council on Human Relations.  I processed the McCray and Council on Human Rights collections years ago, and they are fascinating records, providing great insights into what happened here in South Carolina and around the country.  Due to the great importance of and interest in our Newman and Simkins collections, we are digitizing them and will be making them universally available.


The Rev. I. DeQuincey Newman

We habitually ask our donors to suggest people whom we might approach for papers.  Both Fritz Hollings and John West independently and forcefully suggested we needed to collect the papers of the Reverend Newman.  I regret that I never met or saw the Rev. Newman, but I did see Mrs. Simkins on numerous occasions at various history-oriented events.  She always spoke powerfully and substantively.  And I did get to know Mrs. Newman and have enjoyed a number of fascinating conversations with their daughter Emily.

I also spoke with Judge Perry on several occasions, hoping to convince him that SCPC would provide the most suitable home for his papers.  Judge Perry could not have been kinder or more gracious, and I may have convinced Mrs. Perry, but I never was able to convince the Judge to declare us his repository.  But we do hold the exhaustive oral history interview conducted with Judge Perry by Columbia College historian Bob Moore.  Judge Perry and Moore donated the original recordings and our staff transcribed the interview, over 180 pages.  That transcript is availablefor all to read on our website.


Judge Matthew Perry

Thanks to SCL’s oral historian Andrea L’Hommedieu for bringing Kristie’s thesis to our attention and for her work reformatting the interviews from their original cassettes into mp3 files.  Since her arrival at the Caroliniana in June of 2011, Andrea has been a welcome and energetic presence, completing over 105 interviews, including thirty sessions with 94 year old Chuck Witten, a World War II navy veteran who served USC as Dean of Students during the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.

~ Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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2013 William Jennings Bryan Dorn Undergraduate Prize Awarded to Bonnie Werlinich

Over 20 years ago, I heard distinguished historian Robert Caro, the biographer of President Lyndon B. Johnson, talking about a key moment in his research.  Caro was baffled by how Johnson, an awkward and not particularly well-liked junior member of Congress, achieved a wide popularity, seemingly overnight. 

Caro was working through financial records from Johnson’s early House years when he had his epiphany.  He was studying a rather obscure ledger containing only names and numbers when it dawned on Caro that the ledger documented contributions to congressional candidates.  Johnson was distributing money coming from newly rich Texas oil barons to Democratic candidates across the country.  This was occurring during the Depression when a few hundred dollars could turn the tide of an election.  In telling his story, Caro praised the archivists who processed Johnson’s papers for preserving these obscure financial records whose significance surely was not apparent at that time.    

Governor Robert McNair in 1967

Today, the 2013 William Jennings Bryan Dorn Undergraduate Prize of $350 was awarded to Bonnie Jeanne Werlinich of USC Upstate for her paper, Building Relationships and Institutions: The Founding of a University Center at Spartanburg

In tracing the details of the founding of the branch USC campus, Werlinich studied Governor Robert McNair’s appointment books to determine when he met with the “boosters” encouraging the creation of the new campus.  Like Caro, Werlinich found gold in the mundane.  We applaud Bonnie for her scholarship and clever use of SCPC’s holdings in her study for Andrew Myers of USC Upstate’s American Studies 500 course.

Contributed by Herb Hartsook
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Jim Covington: Documentarian Extraordinaire

Most of our success is the product of interaction with our donors and friends.  I first met Jim and Nola Covington 22 years ago at a celebration of Senator Fritz Hollings’ decision to donate his papers to the University.  At that event, Nola mentioned that Jim had a great deal of memorabilia relating to Fritz’s career.  Little did I realize what a major role Jim would play over the coming years in helping us document major events in the history of South Carolina Political Collections, often bringing his personal equipment and filming these events for us, nor did I realize the importance of Jim’s vast collection of newsfilm and photographs amassed over a long career in television.

On May 23rd, we hosted a small group to view a film Jim made on October 10, 1960 as part of a team working for WBTV covering Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in a campaign appearance with then governor Fritz Hollings on the steps of the South Carolina State House.   Jim recently reminded me that he had sent Hollings a copy of the film back in 1960, and hoped it might be retained as part of our Hollings Collection.  The film was easily found from the finding aid.  Greg Wilsbacher, of the Moving Image Research Collections, reformatted the original film and added WIS news coverage to better represent the activities of the day.  Hollings’ introduction took approximately five minutes and is typical Fritz–eloquent and forceful.  Kennedy spoke for almost sixteen minutes and began by recognizing supporters including SCPC donors U.S. Senator Olin Johnston, state Democratic Party Chair Ted Riley, and Columbia Mayor Lester Bates, seated prominently behind him.  He went on to applaud the genius of John C. Calhoun, then got into the meat of his speech–the importance of an active government empowering the populace.  Everyone enjoyed seeing the video on the big Program Room screens and reflected on the day, Hollings, and Kennedy.  And Jim brought and gave to the University photographs taken, and the microphones used, that day.  We also showed off a photograph given us by Bud Ferillo, who at age 14 attended the speech.  Special events like this are rewarding in many ways and remind me that archival work is really about people and relationships, not just documents.                                                                              –Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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