Skip to main content

Strom Thurmond Collection, Legal Series (Restricted)

 Series — Box: 1-21
Identifier: Mss-0100-03

Scope and Content Note

The legal records of J. Strom Thurmond consist of three subseries; those concerning his legal practice, legal correspondence as the Edgefield Town and County Attorney, and correspondence concerning Thurmond's activities when serving as Eleventh Circuit Judge. The dates preceding the start of Thurmond's practice in 1930 are recordings of wills and mortgages.

The Legal Practice subseries (Subseries A; 7.175 cu. ft.) consists of three sub-subseries: Law Cases, the Record Book, and Miscellaneous Legal Correspondence. The Law Cases (1840, 1900-1955) are arranged in alphabetical order by case name (plaintiff's first), then chronological within each case. The material primarily deals with annulments, suits arising from death by accident (automobile, drowning and electrocution), divorces, estates, foreclosures, loans, mortgages and wills. Several lumber companies are represented in the collection, as are the Graniteville Manufacturing Company, Gulf Oil Refining Company, and the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Cases of special interest include F. W. Pickins Estate, J. T. Buzhardt vs. Frigidaire Corporation, Greenwood Cotton Mill vs. J. C. Buzhardt and the Town of Lexington vs. J. Strom Thurmond. Legal correspondence dealing with Thurmond's positions as county and town attorney for Edgefield is also present. There is considerable information about his political career in the correspondence. Major correspondents include Eugene Blease, J. Fred Buzhardt (Strom Thurmond's law partner, 1935-1938), James F. Byrnes, W. K. Charles, Douglas Featherstone, Mildred Huggins, William Clarence Mann, Calhoun Mays, Carroll Johnson Ramage, Horace Sawyer, George Bell Timmerman, and Charles Cecil Wyche.

The Record Book (1930-1937) of cases provides a partial index to the cases and contains the following categories: date and result, county, court, judge, title of case, charge or nature of action, attorneys for plaintiff and defendant, names of jurors, verdict and fee collected. The cases are numbered from 1 to 118. Topics include information on a variety of criminal cases and civil suits, such as murder, libel, personal injury and wrongful death suits. Other lawyers include Buzhardt, Charles, Benjamin West Crouch, T. B. Greneker, J. William Thurmond and F. A. Wise. Judges include G. D. Bellinger, Arthur Lee Gaston, William Heyward Grimball, M. M. Mann, Ramage, and Thomas Sidney Sease.

The Miscellaneous Law Correspondence (1930-1938) is filed in alphabetical order and chronologically thereafter. These records consist of correspondence about general legal matters. There is some reference to the combined Thurmond and Thurmond law practice when they worked on the same case, but the majority of the cases appeared to be handled individually. There is some political correspondence and a considerable amount of correspondence between Thurmond and Buzhardt. Also included are requests for assistance, such as teaching vacancies. Topics include automobile accidents, child support, deeds, disability claims, divorce, estates, mortgages, pardons and paroles, personal injury and wills. A few personal notes between father and son are present. Major correspondents include Ibra Charles Blackwood, Blease, Edgar A. Brown, Buzhardt, Byrnes, Charles, John M. Daniel, Oscar Henry Doyle, Mays and Featherstone, the Pierce Brothers and Wyche.

The Edgefield Attorney subseries (Subseries B; .175 cu. ft.) is divided into two sub-subseries: Edgefield County (1932-1938) and Edgefield Town (1931-1938). The Edgefield County correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by subject or type, includes some to and from county officials and some between James F. Byrnes and Thurmond about closing a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the county and a Works Progress Administration project. Correspondents included in the Edgefield Town correspondence, which is arranged chronologically, are the South Carolina Power Company, the Georgia and Florida Railroad, and the South Carolina Highway Department.

The Circuit Judge subseries (Subseries C; 1.275 cu. ft.) consists of the Circuit Judge Race and the Circuit Judge Correspondence sub-subseries. The Circuit Judge Race (August, 1937-February, 1938) correspondence is filed alphabetically, then chronologically within each letter of the alphabet. It deals mainly with gaining support from state legislators (either directly or through contact with mutual friends) for Thurmond's 1938 bid for the Eleventh Circuit judgeship. There is some mention of Senator Lanneau C. Lide's race for the Twelfth Circuit judgeship. Correspondents include Neville Bennett, Soloman Blatt, Brown, John Bolt Culbertson, L. Marion Gressette, Burnet R. Maybank, Donald Russell, and George Bell Timmerman, who was Thurmond's opponent in the race but withdrew just prior to the election in January 1938.

The Circuit Judge Correspondence (1938-1946, 1954) is arranged chronologically by year, then alphabetically by correspondent or law firm (for example, a letter from Attorney Griffith is filed under the name of his firm, Blease and Griffith). Many are letters of transmittal, enclosing items which Judge Thurmond signed and returned. A considerable number of out-going carbons are missing, possibly because Thurmond traveled so much that he did not retain complete files-only one of the three yearly sessions was held in the judge's "home" circuit; the other two sessions were rotated among the other thirteen circuits in the state. There is also a file containing legal points by subject for jury charges and another containing information on a tablet commemorating Edgefield judges.

Correspondents consist mainly of lawyers, clerks and judges, with some communications from state senators and friends and family of plaintiffs and defendants. Important correspondents include D. Gordon Baker, Bellinger, Blatt, Blease, M. L. Bonham, Brown, Buzhardt, Daniel, Robert M. Figg Jr., Gressette, Lanneau D. Lide, Dorcey K. Lybrand, C. Victor Pyle, Russell, John G. Stabler, Timmerman, C. Granville Wyche and Thomas A. Wofford. The letters of transmittal contain little of subject interest, but other correspondence discusses cases and some political matters such as the Burnet R. Maybank/Neville Bennett gubernatorial race or vote fraud in Charleston in 1938. Occasional mentions of Ku Klux Klan activity and the possibility of lynching are present, as are discussions of State Supreme Court cases and opinions from Thurmond's weeks of service (in May, 1940 and February, 1941) as an Acting Associate Justice. He also replaced an ailing circuit judge in 1954, after he left the governorship.


  • 1840 1900-1955



8.725 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Separated Material

Appeals: South Carolina in the Supreme Court-shelved in the Special Collections book collection under the call number KFS 1845 .A21 1940.

Processing Information

The conversion of this finding aid to Encoded Archival Description format was made possible with a grant from the South Carolina State Historical Records Advisory Board in 2009-2010. The finding aid was prepared for encoding by Kristi Roberts.


Strom Thurmond Collection: Legal Series
2010 July 31
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Clemson University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Repository

230 Kappa St.
Clemson SC 29634 U.S.A. US