USC unveils the political papers of longtime Sen. Fritz Hollings

Senators Fritz Hollings, left, and John Rockefeller leave caucus meetings in the Capitol in 2001.
Senators Fritz Hollings, left, and John Rockefeller leave caucus meetings in the Capitol in 2001.

The University of South Carolina opened the political papers of Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings to the public Monday the largest open collection of the record of a South Carolina political figure.

Hollings' career spanned more than 50 years from service in the General Assembly in the 1950s, through a four-year term as governor, and finishing 38 years in the U.S. Senate in 2003.

The opening coincided with the publication of Hollings' political manifesto, "Making Government Work," published by the USC Press.

The Hollings papers are the largest collection of about 50 such collections of individuals, organizations and institutions in the South Carolina Political Collections of the Thomas Cooper Library.

Herbert Hartsook, director of South Carolina Political Collections, said the papers came to his department in 2,400 boxes. After processing by the library staff, it will occupy 900-1,000 linear feet of shelf space.

Processing the collection involves sorting the documents, putting them in acid-free folders and boxes and creating a computerized, searchable index of the papers.

"That encourages research," Hartsook said, "because you are not looking for a needle in a haystack."

He was involved in many key events of the 20th century from the nomination of John F. Kennedy to be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, to the creation of the federal government's agencies to monitor, study and regulate the environment.

Some of the highlights of his personal archive, which he gave to USC's libraries, will be on display through July 31 in the East Gallery on the ground floor of the Thomas Cooper Library.

"Making Government Work- The Career of Ernest F. 'Fritz' Hollings" features a series of large text/photo panels and two large cases. Displayed inside:

• A copy of Hollings' final address to the General Assembly in January 1963, in which he urged lawmakers and the public to accept the court-ordered integration of the public schools and the admission of Harvey Gantt as the first black student at Clemson University

• Notable letters written by and to Hollings

• Photos and texts of other speeches

• Campaign memorabilia and license plates

• Nameplates

• Hollings' 1970 book, "The Case Against Hunger"

• A gavel given to him for chairing a budget conference