Samuel Lowry Latimer Papers,
1840-1975
(bulk, 1930-1975)

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Samuel Lowry Latimer, Jr. (1891-1975) was an editor, publisher, and editor emeritus of the Statenewspaper, in Columbia, SC. He was also the author of the paper's offical history, The Story of the State.

Extent: ca. 27 linear ft (20 cartons, 3.5 document boxes, 1 flat box)
Location: PU-4

See Calendar of Topics, 1956-1961, discussed in Latimer's column, “From Across the Editor's Desk,” Published in The State Newspaper

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Biographical Sketch

Samuel Lowry Latimer, Jr., and the State newspaper were born in the same year--1891--and he spent fifty-four years as a working newspaperman on its staff. His papers are therefore a mother lode of information about the State.

Latimer was a native of York, South Carolina. Though he espoused the Southern ideology of his Witherspoon and Latimer ancestors, he may have inherited some of his journalistic bent from his great-grandfather George Washington Williams, who published the pro-Union newspaper the Yorkville Patriot.

In March 1907, Latimer's parents moved to Columbia, and he resided in Columbia from the age of fifteen. He never married, and until his death in September 1975 he lived in his parents' home at 2211 Wheat Street.

His association with the State began when he answered a want ad in the 14 March 1907 male help column:

Wanted--A bright boy about 16 or 18 years of age to work in office and do collecting. Address in own handwriting "Office Boy," care The State.
Meanwhile, he pursued his education at the University of South Carolina, editing the yearbook during his senior year, and continuing through law school. He graduated in the law class of 1915 and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced.

When the United States entered World War I, Latimer entered the first reserve officer's training program at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and came out a second lieutenant in the 81st "Wildcat" Division. He served on active duty at Camp Jackson and later in France, where the Armistice intervened before he got into combat.

However, his stint in the military resulted in a prolific file of war letters and started a lifelong interest in veterans affairs and civilian "friends of the army" organizations.

Returning home, he resumed his newspaper career with the State. He had learned his trade under the Gonzales brothers who founded the paper, and he steadily moved up the career ladder. He became editor of the State in 1941 when his predecessor McDavid Horton suddenly died, and two years afterwards he became both editor and publisher when William Elliott died. Latimer was the fifth editor of the State, preceded only by N. G. Gonzales, William E. Gonzales, W. W. Ball, and McDavid Horton.

During his term as editor, the paper relocated from its offices in the 1200 block of Main Street to a new facility on Stadium Road. It also experimented with a locally-edited gravure magazine supplement that was well received but proved too expensive to continue. Between 1956 and 1960, he wrote a weekly Sunday column titled "From Across the Editor's Desk" that contained his entertaining personal reminiscences of Columbia's past.

He retired on 1 January 1961 and as editor emeritus took on the project of writing an official history of the State newspaper, finally published in 1970 as The Story of the State. The book project led him to preserve among his papers many historical manuscripts such as papers of the Gonzales family and papers of his predecessor McDavid Horton.

Many of Latimer's other papers relate to press organizations, civic and charitable organizations, or veterans organizations to which he belonged and in which he nearly always attained a leadership role. He set longevity service records with organizations such as the Columbia Housing Authority, the American Legion, and the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army program. He served on the Pulitzer Prize Committee Board, as an elder of Columbia's First Presbyterian Church, and on the development board of the University of South Carolina. He served on the James F. Byrnes Foundation and carried on a long friendship with Governor Byrnes.

Sometimes, he used the key positions he held on different boards to accomplish significant long-range ends. As a commissioner with the Housing Authority, he made Gonzales Gardens available to the US Army as additional housing space and forestalled a threat to close Fort Jackson. His dual roles as housing commissioner and prominent University of South Carolina alumnus led him to arrange real estate transfers to the university under the federal urban renewal program. By the early 1970s, at least one quarter of the university's land had been acquired through Latimer's influence.

Latimer's journalistic expertise created a demand for his services outside the newspaper office. The American Legion put him on its public relations board, where he helped commission an official history of the Legion written by Raymond Moley. He represented the American Society of Newspaper Editors on the editorial board of the Commission on Chronic Illness and helped edit a study that was published by Harvard University Press. In 1947, the US Army invited him on an editors tour of postwar Europe and he later published his findings in the pamphlet Germany and Austria, 1947: Observations of a South Carolina Newspaper Man Made During a Month's Tour of These War-Torn Countries.

Finally, his interests in the theater and in South Carolina history resulted in manuscript files in those areas. He became stage-struck during the "Opera House" era of South Carolina entertainment and remained active in local theater groups. And he was in demand as an organizer and speaker for historical observances like the 1956 Woodrow Wilson Centennial.


Description of Series
  1. Personal Papers, 1908-1975 (bulk, 1930-1975)
  2. Records of The State Newspaper
    1. Administrative Files
    2. Gonzales-Elliot-McMaster Family Papers, 1861-1964 and undated
    3. Editorial Correspondence, 1917-1975 and undated
    4. Topical Files from The State
      1. Editorial Content
      2. Business and Public Relations
      3. Special Projects, ca. 1926-1955
      4. Information and Research Files
      5. People
      6. Politics, National and Local, 1952-1954
      7. Education
    5. Civil Rights, 1930-1966 and undated
    6. Features and Supplements
      1. Features [ca. 1920s-1960s?]
      2. Correspondents
      3. Magazine [Sunday Insert] Sections, ca. 1930s-19uu
      4. Services and Syndicates, ca. 1921-1972
    7. Story of the State, ca. 1961-1970
      1. Working Files
      2. Manuscripts [!! this section compares draft with “as published” versions]
      3. Galleys and Proofs
  3. Professional Organizations
    1. American Society of Newspaper Editors
      General, 1941-1966 and n.d.
      Freedom of Information Committee, 1948-1954
    2. Banshees (ANPA Convention - New York), 1943-1967 and n.d.
    3. General Correspondence, 1931-1966
    4. Gridiron Club, 1941-1953
    5. Locally-Edited Magazine Group, 1948-1955
    6. Pulitzer Prize Jury. 1949-1959 and n.d
    7. Speeches.
    8. South Carolina Press Association. 1929-1970 and n.d.
    9. Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. 1951-1975 and n.d.
    10. Trade Literature
    11. White House Correspondents Association, 1943
  4. Civic and Charitable Organizations
    1. Columbia Chamber of Commerce, ca. 1925-1976
    2. Columbia Housing Authority, 1934-1975 and n.d.
    3. Columbia Municipal Stadium, 1932-1937 and n.d.
    4. Columbia Township Auditorium Board, ca. 1938-1939
    5. Commission on Chronic Illness, ca. 1950-1957
    6. Community Chest, ca. 1926-1943 and n.d
    7. Crippled Children Society of South Carolina. Ca. 1957-1961
    8. Elks Club, 1941-1966
    9. Focus Club, 1923-19uu
    10. Kiwanis Club, 1940-1972
    11. Miscellaneous Organizations and Causes, 1938-1976 and n.d.
    12. Newcomen Society in North America, 1959-1967
    13. Outstanding Community Service Award, 1969 Sept.
    14. Rotary Club, 1942 and 1972.
    15. Salvation Army, 1938-1975.
    16. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, 1928-1965
    17. South Carolina Highway Safety Committee, 1952-1968 and n.d.
    18. University of South Carolina Alumni Affairs, 1913-1972 and n.d.
    19. War Work (USC, etc.), 1942-1946.
  5. Presbyterian Church
    1. General files, 1906-1975, and n.d.,
    2. First Presbyterian Church (Columbia, S.C.)
      1. Birthday Party for Sam Latimer, 14 Nov 1974.
      2. Pulpit Committee Records, 1958-1966.
    3. Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina, Committee on the Centennial of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1960-1961.
    4. Presbyterian Home of South Carolina, 1963-1975.
    5. Presbyterian College, 1960-1975 and n.d.
    6. Erskine College, 1962-1972
  6. Military and Veterans Affairs
    1. World War I, ca. 1917-1919
    2. Historical Papers and Autographed Manuscripts, ca. 19uu-1968
    3. Fort Jackson (Columbia, S.C.), 1940-1973
    4. Secretary of the Army Civilian Aide, 1942-1964 and n.d
    5. Association of the United States Army, 1959-1973 and n.d.
    6. The Citadel, 1961, 1965, and n.d
    7. European Tour by U.S. Publishers/Editors, 1946-1947, and n.d.
    8. General Military Papers, 1932-1971 and n.d.
    9. American Legion
      1. National Organization, 1920-1976 and n.d
      2. Press and Public Relations, 1919-1976 and n.d.
      3. South Carolina Department, ca. 1919-1962
      4. Personal Correspondence, 1939-1975
      5. Offices, Activities, Honors, and Speeches, 1941-1975 and n.d
      6. Far East Papers, 1957-1965
      7. Forty and Eight [La Societe des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux, of the American Legion], 1929-1975 and n.d.
      8. Other Veterans Groups, 1942-1974
      9. Published Histories of American Legion, 1961-1966 and n.d
  7. James F. Byrnes Papers, 1933-1973 and n.d.
  8. Historical papers
    1. Columbia
    2. Civil War
    3. South Carolina, ca. 1890s-1970s
    4. Wright Brothers, ca. 1903-1967
    5. World Wars
    6. Miscellaneous
    7. Manuscripts of York County, S.C., ca. 1819-1913
      1. Witherspoon Family Papers, 1840-1913 and n.d.
      2. Williams Family Papers, 1819-1908 and n.d
      3. Jacob A. Deal Papers, 1863-1880 [S. C. Representative]
      4. Readers Contributions, ca. 1864-19uu
  9. Theater, 1908-1975 and n.d.
  10. Writings and Speeches
  11. Photographs
    1. Persons
    2. Places
    3. Institutional and Organizational
    4. Subjects
    5. Related Manuscripts
    6. Oversized Photographs
  12. Oversized folders

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Administrative Notes

Location: PU-4
Accession Number: 13075
Processed: Terry W. Lipscomb, Project Archivist (June 1999)
Notes: Information concerning copyright must be secured in writing from the Director of the South Caroliniana Library.

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