Farewell, Laura!

Laura working resized

Laura in her cubicle on her last day. Only one box left!

Earlier this week, SCPC said good-bye to Laura Litwer, a wonderful student assistant and coworker of nearly three years.  Laura joined us in the summer of 2010 as a student assistant.  After graduating with her MLIS last December, she joined the SCPC staff.  The last few days have been very strange as I keep expecting her to pop around the corner.  But, she hasn’t.  In fact, she is off to her next adventure — a three-year, full-time project archivist position at Texas A&M Commerce (2nd largest university in the TAMU system, about an hour NE from Dallas).  She will be processing the papers of Congressman Ralph Hall.

We will all miss Laura and her contributions around here quite a lot.  She has had two major projects to call her own.  She reprocessed 43 linear feet of the Democratic Party of South Carolina Records and interfiled a 44 linear foot addition.  No easy task.  The project came with privacy concerns and complex organizational needs.  Laura gained good experience in trouble-shooting and perseverance with this collection.  Researchers should now be able to find material easily within the records.

Laura with group

Laura (3rd from left) at her farewell party with some of the SCPC crew.

Speaking of perseverance, Laura revamped the digital collection of Isaiah DeQuincey Newman, a Methodist pastor, activist, entrepreneur, and a leading figure in the Civil Rights movement in our state.  We digitized this collection back in 2006-2008 but have learned many lessons since as we’ve digitized a lot of other material.  A couple years ago, we set out to fix deficiencies in the descriptive metadata and remove restrictions from a large chunk of documents previously restricted to onsite viewing.  We needed to give the project to someone with great attention to detail and patience who could produce a quality product despite the challenges.  Thankfully, we had Laura.

Laura worked on several other collections over the last three years, including Barbara Moxon, William Jennings Bryan Dorn, John Spratt, and Joe Wilson.  She also greeted visitors at events (always cheerfully), installed exhibits, searched for answers to reference questions, inventoried and sorted newly-arrived material, volunteered for shifts in the reading room…and whatever else needed to be done, really.

Laura with farewell banner

Laura with her farewell banner (filled with pictures of Rep. Ralph Hall, the Texas State Seal and flag, horses, TAMU-Commerce logos and other useful info).

We have been lucky to have a number of excellent student assistants over the years.  Laura joins that group and we wish her the very best.  Luckily, we expect to see her at conferences and to hear from her as she navigates her new position and state!  Thank you, Laura.  We will miss you.

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John West: In His Own Words

John West: In His Own Words is now available online!

When SCPC first started our “In Their Own Words” series, our idea was to digitize selected documents from our (typically very voluminous!) collections—particularly, to showcase the writings, speeches, and other personal expressions of our donors as leading political and public figures.

We now have six editions of “In Their Own Words,” with more planned.  They have turned out to be a great way to give researchers and web visitors a small sampling of our collections, and to illustrate some of the expressiveness, humor, and eloquence of their creators.

From early on, I thought that the writings of former governor and ambassador John C. West would be a natural fit for this format.  I knew the West collection very well, since I did substantial processing of it several years ago.  I had seen firsthand that it contains a real treasure trove of not only historic documents relating to West’s official roles, but also personal insights and observations from a real student of politics, history, and the human experience.  His papers create a colorful portrait of the man, his personality, and his public service.

In selecting documents to be digitized, I tried to include a cross-section covering the various chapters of West’s life and career, different roles and challenges he took on, as well as his own efforts to document his life, including excerpts from the daily diary he kept for some years, and a draft version of a memoir in which he tells of his childhood, school years, war service, and early political career.

We are excited to be bringing just a small portion of this fascinating collection online.  To learn more about John West, read his oral history with SCPC or see the finding aid for his collection.

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More than “Moonlight and Magnolias” — Governor Hollings and the Quest for Industry

quote inside of a cog“You don’t have any skills. You’ll give us moonlight and magnolias, barbecue and a drink of bourbon, may pave a road, but I’ve got to get this operation in the black.” 

So said a northern industry official to South Carolina Governor Fritz Hollings in the early days of Hollings’ industrial development program.  This exhibit is the story of how Gov. Hollings and others fought back against this image, bringing industrial jobs in large numbers to the state.  It is told by Hollings, governor from 1959 to 1963, and Walter Harper, Director of the SC Development Board from 1959 to 1967.

The quotes in the exhibit are from oral history interviews conducted by Herb Hartsook and others from 1989 to 1997.  Accompanying the quotes are photos, objects, and other items from the Hollings Papers here at SC.

The story starts when Hollings was Lt. Gov. Hollings from 1955 to 1959.  He often filled in for the Governor George Bell Timmerman on visits from industrial development officials.  Through these experiences and others, Hollings recognized the dire need to court these officials and resolved to ramp up the industrial program when he became governor in 1959.

The picture below is one of my favorites in all of the Hollings Papers.  Some people look at it and instantly comment on the Dixie cups or the hats.  Others think it looks mafia-esque.  It shows Lt. Gov. Hollings, center, on a 1958 legislative visit to the Bowater Pulp Mill, prior to its start-up, in Catawba, S.C., with T.C. Bannister, Jr. and R. Sundberg.

photo of Hollings in 1958To go on the rest of Hollings’ quest, visit the SCPC Gallery in the Hollings Library by August 2nd!  I also plan to put up an online version by the end of its run in our gallery and will announce it here.

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Polarization in America’s Public Discourse

The Great Divide poster

SC Political Collections invites you to join us Tuesday, April 23, for The Great Divide.  As he did for our forums in 2011-2012, SCPC Director Herb Hartsook will lead the discussion of which tradeoffs the public is willing to accept and how far the public is willing to go in addressing The Great Divide.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to 803-777-3061 or schwartz@sc.edu.  You must RSVP as we are limiting seating to 15 participants!

Participants will be sent a short discussion guide to read before the forum. It offers three ways to start thinking about the problem of polarization in America’s public discourse: standing on principle, building common ground, and cultivating individual responsibility.

The guide is a draft developed by the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress in collaboration with The Kettering Foundation.  It includes excerpts from surveys of local citizens conducted by the centers earlier this year (you might have participated in this!). Feedback from our forum will be essential in developing the final discussion guide.

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Who ya gonna call? The Conservation Lab!

We receive additions to collections all the time around here, and sometimes we reach in a box and pull out an absolute gem — a picture, poster, letter, object — that makes us all go “ooh!” And sometimes, that gem needs some serious TLC.  Case in point, a “You can count on Joe!” campaign poster that arrived last fall.

Joe Wilson campaign posterWhy is it a gem? It’s the earliest campaign poster we have from Joe Wilson — by far. It shows a baby-faced Wilson running for the South Carolina Senate, possibly from his successful 1984 campaign, long before his congressional career began in 2001. It also identifies him as Addison Wilson! This is the only piece of campaign memorabilia we have that uses his real name.

Why did it need TLC?  To start, it was curled (not like a poster you might pick up at a concert and put a rubber band around but enough that we couldn’t put it on the display or put it in a folder). It was so stiff that sticking it under a stack of large books would damage it further. We also saw a lot of dirt and numerous tears. It needed professional help.  Shown above is the “after” shot.  It’s now relatively flat. You can still see some discoloring but it doesn’t smell or feel dirty to the touch. It’s also smooth — no tears!

Watson campaign poster

Another poster we sent to the lab — now clean and hole-free.

We sent the poster to the Arthur E. Holman, Jr. Conservation Laboratory, part of USC Libraries. There, professional conservators do magical work conserving books, manuscripts, posters, maps, drawings, etc. They also make enclosures for just about anything, usually for books that are falling apart. We sent to them a little flag banner with numerous objects attached that needed a special box because we couldn’t store it safely otherwise. Pictured below is what they sent back to us and we love it! I made a lot of boxes out at the lab when I volunteered there as a grad student so I can tell you, it’s not easy making a triangle box. And they did it.  And it’s adorable.

Goldwater flag bannerA big “Thank you!” goes out to the Conservation Lab and its wonderful staff! They will see us again, no doubt with more gems in tow.

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International Collaboration: SCPC Participates in Russian Cartoon Exhibit

We never know what sort of opportunity will present itself to us here at SCPC.


Decisions, Decisions: Democratic primary of 1984

One day in January we received an email out of the blue from Ms. Vera Sevastyanova on behalf of the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The Consulate General was developing an exhibition of U.S. political cartoons, and Vera, a former Consulate employee who had arranged such an exhibit previously, was asked to work on another.

The current exhibit is devoted to presidential campaigns from 1980-2012 and will include a variety of drawings by several American cartoonists, including Daryl Cagle and Kevin KAL Kallaugher, as well as older cartoons loaned by the Herb Block Foundation.


The Republican primary line-up of 1996 surrounds Bill “The Incumbent” Clinton

The venue is the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg – the largest library in the country.

SCPC was asked if we’d like to contribute some of our political cartoons from the Walt Lardner and Kate Salley Palmer collections, and we are very pleased to participate.  We sent twelve cartoon image files along with brief descriptions from which the curators in Russia will be able to create text panels.  The cartoons feature Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, and Bill Clinton among other candidates.

The goal of such projects by the U.S. State Department is to “tell America’s story” to the Russian people in order to enhance the image of the U.S. in Russia.  The Consulate has a designated staff member who is in charge of developing relations between American and Russian libraries and librarians.  The exhibit is scheduled to open sometime in March or April.


The 1980 Republican Veepstakes

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The Lighter Side

The life of a public official has its ups and downs.  Power.  Recognition.  Lack of personal time.  Conflict.  Stress.  Our lives have some of these same ups and downs, and in most ways, public officials are a lot like us.  They are nice.  They smile.  They have fun.  They try new things.  They look a little silly sometimes.  Right now in our gallery, we show you some of these moments in All in a Day’s Work: The Lighter Side of Representative Democracy.  The exhibit looks at some of the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of elected officials, including the delicate dance of pleasing constituents, the donning of many hats, and meeting with some real characters.

Inglis disco poster and shoesTo retain their elective offices, it is important for representatives to keep in step with their constituents. Among the dancing officials is Congressman Bob Inglis.  In 2008, Inglis held a campaign event on a college campus, stepping into disco shoes and a powder blue suit to promote the occasion with a poster and in a highly entertaining video, “Get Down with Bob.”

Congressman Butler Derrick, is shown doing a jig to live banjo music with a constituent in rural South Carolina.  The Derrick photo is a delight; it shows him in an absolutely candid moment, dancing his heart out, a hat perched precariously on his head.  Until an archivist here happened upon it in the Derrick Papers, quite unexpectedly, we’d forgotten it existed.  Such is the life of an archivist!  There are surprises waiting for us in every collection.

Senator Graham and Cocky with a donkey and elephantThe complex nature of a representative’s
work requires balancing a variety of roles
and responsibilities.  One is required to
wear many hats.  Among the hats on display are a fire hat presented to Senator Hollings, a Mark Sanford hard hat, and more.  Look closely at the photographs and you’ll see officials strapping on hats and instantly transforming into chefs, race car drivers, fighter pilots, cowboys, and more.

Meetings with constituents and industry representatives are an important part of a public official’s job.  Sometimes these constituents and industry reps happen to come in the form of big furry creatures.  In our exhibit you’ll find Congressman John Spratt with the Clemson Tiger, Senator Lindsey Graham with Cocky (don’t worry-Cocky and the Tiger are in separate pictures), Governor Dick Riley with several superheroes, Senator Fritz Hollings with Big Bird on Capitol Hill (Big Bird dressed up for the occasion–he’s wearing a giant tie), and the list goes on.

Governor McNair with kidsOne case of photos shows officials in lighthearted moments with their constituents.  In one photo, Governor Robert McNair meets with some very important constituents in his office — five young kids, all dressed up, sitting on the Governor’s couch, and paying attention as best they can.

Stop by the SCPC Gallery in the Hollings Library from 8:30-5pm, M-F, to see All in a Day’s Work, which runs through April 27.  Or, visit during our Saturday gallery hours, 10am-2pm, March 23 (this Saturday!) and April 27.

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Meeting the Senator: NOAA Hollings Scholars Socialize with their Benefactor

Last week, I had the great pleasure of having dinner with Senator Fritz Hollings and the 2011 and 2012 NOAA Hollings Scholars at the University of South Carolina’s Hollings Library.

E.F. Hollings and C. Benitez-Nelson

Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings with the author, Claudia Benitez-Nelson

The Senator has done a number of great works, but perhaps some of you don’t realize what an incredible supporter he is of our ocean environment.  In 1969, Hollings led the way in the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Created to guide the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, this agency now includes not only the national weather service and hurricane center, but is leading the way in preserving our oceans through the establishment of NOAA marine sanctuaries.  Hollings did not stop there, in 1971-1972, Senator Hollings wrote the Coastal Zone Management Act in an effort to manage the coastal zone.  During that same period, he strongly supported the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which would establish a 15-year moratorium on the taking and importation of marine mammals and created programs to minimize damage during fishing.

In 2005, the last year of Senator Hollings’ final term in office, he helped to establish the NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program, with the main goal of increasing undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, improving environmental literacy, and promoting stewardship of the ocean and atmosphere.  Since that time, the Marine Science Program within the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Carolina has had 17 students receive this prestigious scholarship, which not only includes tuition support of up to $8000 for two years, but includes a summer internship at one of the many NOAA facilities across the country.  Over the past three years, 12 University of South Carolina students have been named Hollings Scholars, making us the 4thin the country for the number of recipients.

Hollings and NOAA scholars

During the event, the Senator happily posed with Benitez-Nelson and the NOAA Hollings scholars.

Nine Marine Science Hollings Scholars had the pleasure of meeting the Senator over dinner.  They listened to his colorful stories regarding the creation of NOAA and his ardent support of our oceans over the past several decades as a Senator from South Carolina.  Students discussed their NOAA research, their plans for the upcoming summer, and their goals upon graduation.  They asked and received advice from the Senator about their future careers and how to preserve the oceans for the future.

Meeting Senator Hollings was an incredible experience and one that my undergraduates and I will cherish for years to come.  I hope I can convince the Senator to make this an annual event, so that he can see the incredible legacy he is building for our future.

Contributed by Claudia Benitez-Nelson

(The Ernest F. Hollings papers are open for research at SCPC)

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I.S. Leevy Johnson: Inspiration and Achievement

One of the great joys of our work is getting to know our collection donors.  During 2013, we will begin to receive the papers of I.S. Leevy Johnson, and we are looking forward to getting to know him better.

It’s hard to pigeonhole Mr. Johnson.  He is a mortician, a former member of the General Assembly, a highly accomplished attorney, and a community leader.  His papers will form a welcome addition to our holdings.  In 1996, I was privileged to interview him for the South Carolina Bar Foundation.  The interview can be viewed at the Bar’s web site.   I recommend it to anyone reading this blog.

The Home Team

I.S. Leevy Johnson surrounded by other Democrat leaders, from a Democratic Party flyer
titled “The Home Team.”

Mr. Johnson is an inspirational figure.  When asked about his life, he noted, “My ambition was just simply live a good life so you won’t embarrass your family.  And that’s what has motivated me throughout my life. . . .  I had some innate talent, sort of a driving force to want to achieve things.  I had a gift of having ideas.  If you study leaders, they’re idea people.  And the other thing is that they make good decisions.  You’ve got to have good judgment in order to be a leader.”

Attorneys who enjoy success in the courtroom are generally highly competitive.  Johnson, a noted criminal attorney, said, “I love the drama of a courtroom.  I love the competition.  I love the combat.  I realize that God gave me a gift for that type of work, and through the years, I have studied hard and practiced hard to try to improve my skills.”

And he shared a thought about his career in the legislature that had never occurred to me when he said, “during the course of my career, I was constantly in the business of trying to block bad legislation.”   Before that moment, I’d never fully appreciated the benefit we all derive from the work done to block bad legislation and repeal bad law.

We look forward to continuing to follow Mr. Johnson’s career in years to come and, eventually, to making his papers available for study here at SCPC.

~ Contributed by Herbert J. Hartsook

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SCPC Materials on Loan to MUSC for Jim Edwards Exhibit

On February 27, 2010, MUSC dedicated its new, state of the art James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine building.  To further honor Dr. Edwards and educate the public about his many contributions and accomplishments, the staff of MUSC’s Waring Historical Library curated an exhibit for the lobby of the new building and its student lounge.

MUSC - JBE Dental

The James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine

The Waring Historical Library is MUSC’s rare books and special collections library, and includes the MUSC University Archives, Macaulay Museum of Dental History, and the MEDICA Digital Archives and Institutional Repository.

The MUSC University Archives is the repository for Dr. Edwards’ official papers related to his term as MUSC’s President.  MUSC’s growth and expansion under Dr. Edwards is well documented in this collection. However, Waring staff quickly realized that this mostly administrative collection did not provide enough material about Dr. Edwards’ many other roles to present a full picture of his life and accomplishments.

campaign flyer

Campaign flyer from SCPC

Waring staff turned to Dr. Edwards himself, as well as SCPC, for assistance in showing Dr. Edwards in his other capacities as South Carolina Governor, Secretary of Energy under President Ronald Reagan, oral surgeon, Merchant Marine, and Navy Officer.

Dr. and Mrs. Edwards graciously granted access to personal photos and memorabilia, including Dr. Edwards’ first medical bag and U.S. Department of Energy cufflinks from his term as Secretary of Energy under President Reagan.

SCPC loaned a number of items for display in the exhibit. Dr. Edwards’ Department of Energy hardhat, a lapel pin shaped like a tooth, and campaign memorabilia from the SCPC collection are included in the exhibit.  Waring Digital Archivist Jennifer Welch says, “Thanks to the generosity and support of SCPC, we are able to show Dr. Edwards’ diverse career in greater detail.  We are especially grateful to SCPC Director Herb Hartsook and Associate Director Dorothy Walker for their collegiality in providing access to these items. The materials loaned for the exhibit help us provide a rich and visually interesting glimpse into Dr. Edwards’ life and accomplishments.”


The first part of the exhibit, in the lobby of the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, MUSC


“Dr. James B. Edwards: Sailor, Surgeon, Servant” is on display in the lobby and on the sixth floor of the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, 29 Bee Street, Charleston, SC, 29425.

Please direct questions about the exhibit to Jennifer Welch at welchje@musc.edu. 


~ Contributed by Jennifer Welch

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