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Strom Thurmond Collection, Campaigns Series

 Series — Box: 1-87
Identifier: Mss-0100-09

Scope and Contents

The material in this series documents the Senator's campaigns from 1954 to 1978. This excludes the 1956 senatorial and the 1976 Presidential campaigns, for which no material is presently known to exist; some material on the 1960 senatorial campaign may be found in the Administrative Assistant series. These records not only document Thurmond's own campaigns; they also document other campaigns that he was involved in, especially the 1968 Presidential campaign. Items in this series consist primarily of correspondence, financial records, publicity material, and lists. Correspondence includes that relating to campaign planning and administrative matters, campaign activities, contributions, letters of support, letters containing political information concerning opponents, and thank-yous. The financial records contain lists of contributors and disbursements, receipts, employee records, reports of expenditures and check stubs. Publicity material consists primarily of mailings, pamphlets, posters, clippings and speeches, although it may also contain correspondence and financial information. The lists include lists or directories of particular professions for mailings, lists of party officials, and lists of supporters and contributors. Other material that may often be found in this series includes files dealing with grants obtained by Thurmond, patronage, and other requests filled by the Senator; polls/political opinion surveys; congratulatory letters; form letters; and petitions. Since these files were merged from various individual's files after a particular election, it is often necessary to look in several folders in order to ensure that all information concerning a particular topic has been retrieved. The Campaigns series is divided into subseries arranged chronologically, covering the 1954, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1978, 1984, 1990, and 1996 campaigns. Each subseries or sub-subseries within a subseries is arranged alphabetically by folder title; check stub books and index card files are treated as "folders." Material within a folder is usually arranged chronologically, except in the case of county and out-of-state correspondence files, where it may be arranged first by last name of sender, and then chronologically. The 1954 Campaign subseries (4.3875 cubic feet; 1938-1955) is divided into three sub-subseries: General, Counties, and Out-of-State. The General sub-subseries (1938-1955) includes, in its "Miscellaneous file," instructions to county chairmen and managers and minutes of the meeting that organized the campaign organization in Richland County. The "Speech Material" file includes correspondence concerning election law and write-in ballots, drafts of campaign platforms, and speaking points for campaign managers. The Counties sub-subseries (1954-1955), while predominantly composed of letters of support and congratulation, also includes county campaign information covering accusations of vote fraud and lists. Among the more interesting letters are those of individuals heavily involved in campaigning for Thurmond in various counties, such as James H. Sherard (Abbeville), Charles E. Simmons, Jr. (Aiken), H. B. Beam (Anderson), Joab Dowling (Beaufort), Roland F. Wooten (Berkeley), Micah Jenkins (Charleston), Noel Rivers (Chesterfield), J. S. "Jimmy" Edmunds (Fairfield), Richard Y. Dusenbury and M. L. Love (Florence), John Drake (Greenville), Dan F. Laney Jr. (Lee), J. Fred Buzhardt (McCormick), N. Heyward Clarkson Jr. (Richland; also Thurmond's campaign manager), Warren N. Abernathy (Spartanburg), F. E. Sumter, S. T. Strom (Union) and Raymond H. Tyler (York). Other correspondents include Walter Brown, Governor James F. Byrnes, General Mark W. Clark, R. M. Cooper, Walter Cox, George E. Crouch Jr., Horace J. Crouch, Charles E. Daniel, Representative William Jennings Bryan Dorn, C. S. Henerey, R. M. Hitt Jr., P. B. Holtzendorff Jr., Frank Jervey, Bob Jones Jr., the Lowe and Hall advertising agency, Congressman John L. McMillan, J. Carl Kease, Paul Quattlebaum and Thomas Waring (editor of Charleston News and Courier).

The Out-of-State sub-subseries (1954-1955) consists mainly of congratulatory letters from such notables as Bernard Baruch, Irwin Belk, Charles Bloch, William F. Buckley, Harry Dent, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Billy Graham, J. Edgar Hoover, Representative Claude Pepper, Governor Herman E. Talmadge, and Senators James O. Eastland, Russell B. Long, John Sparkman, John Stennis and Stuart Symington. Consisting of only two folders, the 1960 Campaign subseries contains an analysis of the Democratic Party's platform, the minority report on the party's civil rights plank, and the positions of the Presidential candidates on ten key roll call votes during the debate on the Civil Rights Bill. The 1964 Campaign subseries (1.4625 cubic feet; 1950-1964) contains information on Thurmond's efforts on the behalf of Barry Goldwater's Presidential and Albert Watson's Congressional campaigns; there is also some material on the 1966 campaign and Thurmond's switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Included in this subseries is Harry Dent's file, which consists mainly of correspondence to Dent concerning the Senator's campaign schedule and appearances and Goldwater's campaign, especially his stand on the 1957 and 1964 Civil Rights Bills. The Publicity - Ads file contains a South Carolina voter opinion poll and the texts of radio spots done by Thurmond and Watson. Correspondents include the Bradley, Graham and Hamby advertising agency (which handled the advertising for the campaign), J. Drake Edens Jr. (chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party), Ronald Reagan, Waring and Watson. The 1964 campaign files also include photocopies of a file of "pinks," an alphabetically arranged file containing copies of Thurmond's replies to correspondence. The original pinks have been placed in the Pinks series. There are duplications between this file and others in the subseries. Material in the 1966 Campaign subseries (4.275 cubic feet; 1961-1967) is divided into four sub-subseries: General, Financial, Counties and Out-of-State. The General (1961-1966; no date) sub-subseries includes campaign organization charts, correspondence with party campaign leaders, and material relating to rallies and speaking engagements. This subseries also includes files on Bradley Morrah, Thurmond's opponent, and Mary Ann Overcash, a zealous campaign worker for both Thurmond and Watson in Greenville; political opinion surveys for 1965 and 1966; correspondence with Lowe and Hall Advertising; and "pinks" for the period 1965 to 1966. Correspondents include J. Fred Buzhardt Jr., Henry G. Chandler, Dent, Representative Everett M. Dirksen, Raymond A. Harris, McMillan and Reagan. There is some overlap with the Financial sub-subseries, especially concerning contributors and the Lowe and Hall advertising campaigns. The Financial (1964-1967) contains information relating to advertising, budgets, contributors and the fund-raising efforts of Thomas G. Robertson and General Albert C. Wedemeyer on Thurmond's behalf. Among the contributors were W. E. Gallant Sr. of Gallant-Belk and Broadus R. Littlejohn of the Community Cash Stores. Besides items concerning contributors, thank-yous, and letters of support, the Counties sub-subseries (1964-1967) includes views on tactics and issues in the campaign, publicity material, offers to help with the campaign and a small amount of constituent case mail. Some of this material was taken from "Political Affairs" or "Political" files, especially the offers to help. The Out-of-State sub-subseries (1964-1966) is similar to the Counties sub-subseries, with the exception of the case mail. Correspondents in this sub-subseries include Dirksen, McMillan, Richard M. Nixon, Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, Adm. Lewis L. Strauss, Wedemeyer and Senators Howard Baker, Cale Boggs, Bourke Hickenlooper, and Spessard Holland. The focus of the 1968 Campaign subseries (1.35 cubic feet; 1967-1968, 1971) is the Presidential campaign of Richard Nixon. It includes the statewide budget for the county organizations in South Carolina, and correspondence from Hugh Fenzel, the campaign director. There is also correspondence concerning the Thurmond Speaks for Nixon-Agnew Committee, from George Wallace supporters (especially in response to a campaign advertisement that Thurmond ran) and from contributors. This contributor correspondence is found under "Correspondence," not "Contributors." The 1972 Campaign subseries (2.925 cubic feet; 1968-1974, no date) is comprised of the General and Financial sub-subseries. Included in the General sub-subseries (1968-1974; no date) are the files of Warren Abernathy, which contains memos from campaign worker Sterling Anderson and memos to Thurmond and others, copies of correspondence, and newsletters; Sterling Anderson, whose file partially duplicates that of Abernathy and is composed of lists and reports of county contacts made by Anderson; and Henry Herlong, Minority staff member of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure, which is comprised of material on federal campaign practices law. Also included in this sub-subseries are opponents files covering John Bolt Culbertson, William Jennings Bryan Dorn, Donald L. Fowler, John C. West and Nick Zeigler; and material from the Re-elect Thurmond Committee. Correspondents include John Hamrick of Hamrick Mills, Herman Hipp of Liberty Life, McMillan, Senators Harry Byrd Jr., Barry Goldwater, Margaret Chase Smith, John Stennis, Herman E. Talmadge and John Tower. The Financial sub-subseries (1971-1974; no date) contains campaign expense and spending reports and legal information regarding campaign spending from the Congressional Research Service, as well as more routine files, such as contributor lists and office supply expenditures. The 1978 Campaign subseries (13.8 cubic feet; 1968-1980) is composed of three sub-subseries; General Correspondence, the General File, and Financial. The General Correspondence sub-subseries (1973-1979) contains a wide variety of material, including contributors and supporter files, both in and out-of-state; endorsements for other Republicans from Thurmond; congratulations; thank-you letters, including a special file for black mayors; and files concerning political action committees (PAC's), including strategies for fund-raising and lists of amounts raised from PAC's. There are special files, such as the "Blue" and "Red" files (concerning mailing lists, contributions, and views on various issues, particularly the Panama Canal treaties) and those concerning Charles "Pug" Ravanel, Thurmond's opponent, which contain correspondence concerning Ravanel and his campaign, campaign literature, some financial information (see Financial, below) and a small amount of correspondence between Ravanel and Thurmond. Also included in this sub-subseries is material related to a direct mail fund-raising campaign that the Senator was involved in - there is also information on this campaign in the General File and Financial as well. Other correspondents include Gene Autry, Senator Howard Baker, Griffin Bell, Buckley, James B. Edwards (who accepted contributions on Thurmond's behalf), James B. Holderman, Jones, Robert E. Kirby (Westinghouse), Paul Laxalt (who also accepted contributions on Thurmond's behalf), Nixon, Lyn Nofziger, Robert Packwood, Robert T. Stevens (of J. P. Stevens Company), John Stringfellow (who also accepted contributions on Thurmond's behalf), Wedemeyer and John C. West. The General File sub-subseries (1968-1980) relates directly to campaign operations. Included in this sub-subseries are the campaigns operations manual, position papers and files concerning projects Thurmond assisted in getting federal funds and patronage. Related to the latter is the "Red Check File," for 1974 to 1976, which lists, by district, the names and addresses of individuals Thurmond aided, and a short note on the problem he assisted them with. The "Youth for Thurmond" files concern support for Thurmond from South Carolina high schools and colleges, and include strategy, lists of supporters, questionnaires and polls. The "Invitations" file has been weeded of declined invitations, which have been listed by name, address, event and date. Material on Thurmond's paid political consultants, Arthur Finklestein and Associates, including the contract between Thurmond and the firm and the costs of surveys, is included in the Financial sub-subseries (1975-1979). Also contained in this file are financial records relating to special events, budgets for the Re-elect Thurmond Committee, a chart of accounts, and copies of reports of receipts and itemized expenditures for both Thurmond's and Ravanel's campaigns. Thurmond's reports for the period January-March 1978 lack the summary report and Schedules C and D. There are check stub books for both the primary and general elections, and card files for contributors. An addition to the 1978 Campaign subseries General File sub-subseries (1955-1972; one cubic foot) includes additional “Red Check Files,” for 1955 to 1970 and 1970 to 1972, which list, by county, the names and addresses of individuals, businesses, and municipalities Thurmond aided, and a short note on the problem he assisted them with. The 1984 Campaign subseries (4.5 cubic feet; 1972-1984; Accession #87-13 & 97-50) is composed of three sub-subseries; Correspondence, the General File, and Financial. The Correspondence sub-subseries (1972-1984; no date) contains a wide variety of material, including contributors and supporter files, both in and out of state; Democrats for Thurmond, County Chairmen; in-state endorsements, by county; Lists, including Barber Shops, the Fortune 500, Major Commanders, and Trust Members; Nancy and the Laurel Crest/Saluda River House; National Republican Senatorial Committee publications; News Releases; Primary Chairman, including District & County Coordinators; and a speech for Ronald Reagan at Clemson University during which Reagan was present. Also included in this sub-subseries are opponents files covering Robert Cunningham, Jesse Jackson, Libertarians, and Melvin Pervis Jr. The General File (1982-1984) consists of files related to Warren Abernathy, Thurmond’s Home State Assistant; Campaign Advertising in Football Magazines; Contributors of $100 and over; John Courson, Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Primary; Employee files; GOP Precincts; House File ‘Analysis’ and ‘Talking Points,’ summary sheets covering the major issues; Thurmond’s Issue Book, covering all the issues of the campaign; and Strom Thurmond Night at Greenwood High School. The Financial File (1980-1984) contains information on Campaign expenses; Direct mail costs; Federal Election Commission Publications; Fund-raising receipts & expenses; the New York & Reagan Dinners and Washington Reception; Theron Peace, Thurmond’s campaign accountant; check stub books; tax records; and various campaign business management records. The 1990 Campaign subseries (5 cubic feet; 1982-1991; Accession # 97-50 & 01-70) is composed of three sub-subseries; Correspondence, the General File, and Financial. The Correspondence sub-subseries (1989-1991) contains a wide variety of material, including George Bush & Dan Quayle letters for Thurmond; contributor and supporter letters; mailing lists for Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Political Action Committees; an updated Press Kit; copy of the Republican Senatorial Inner-Circle/Common Cause Complaint ‘MUR 3131 & 3135’; and State Senator John Courson, State Campaign Treasurer & Co-Chairman. The General File sub-subseries (1989-1991) consists of a 1990 Issues booklet; a List Exchange Agreement; Lists, including contributors, certificates, constituency service, friends & patrons, and volunteers; Mayor endorsements; Pledges; Republican Policy Committee ‘Talking Points’; Statewide statistics; a Statewide Study; the Strom Thurmond Steering Committee; and a copy of the Carter Report. There is no file on Robert Cunningham, Thurmond’s opponent duirng the 1990 Campaign, in the 1990 Campaign subseries because one already exists for Mr. Cunningham in the Correspondence sub-subseries of the 1984 Campaign subseries. The Financial File (1982-1990) contains information on the Aiken Event; donations, including those from the Chicago Dinner, the Howard Baker List, the New York Dinner, Out of State, Political Action Committees, Fund-raisers; Master file receipts; receipts for expenditures; Regular Re-elect supporters, and the Washington Reception; Reports of the Federal Election Commission; Reports of the Finance Committee; $1,000 and over donor lists; the Thurmond Reception & Washington Event; cash journal statements from the Washington Intelligence Bureau. The 1996 Campaign subseries (4.5 cubic feet; 1977-1996; Accession # 00-202, 01-70 & 01-104) is composed of three subseries; Correspondence, the General File, and Financial. The Correspondence sub-subseries (1990-1995) primary consists of contributor letters; general letters & memoranda; and specific letters or information concerning campaign support for the following individuals, including David Beasley, William Bell, Bill Brock, John Chafee, Tom Hendrix, Michael Herson, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the Maine Republican Party, Mark Sanford for Congress, Craig Thomas, James Tuten, and Christie Whitman. The General File sub-subseries (1989-1994) contains four folders pertaining to the consulting services of Quinn & Associates; the Republican Campaign meeting in Barnwell County; the Strom Thurmond High School Football Program; and a parking study for the Strom Thurmond Federal Building in Columbia. The Financial sub-subseries (1977-1995) is larger than previous financial sub-subseries because it contains material from previous campaigns in support of the 1996 Campaign. This sub-subseries consists of information on David Beasley’s luncheon at Converse College; a cash receipt journal; Direct Mail fund-raising; Donations, by county, by date, and out of state, from 1977-1979; Lindsey Graham fund-raisers; a copy of the List of Projects Instrumental in Securing Federal Funds; Master File Donations, by date, from 1978; the Primary County Files from 1977-1978; check book stubs; datebook of expenditures; tax reports; and Les Tindal fund-raiser. Other series in the Thurmond Collection that contain material on various campaigns are Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, Legislative Assistant, Press Assistant, Speeches and Subject Correspondence.

Summary of Strom Thurmond’s United States Senate Campaign Opponents: 1954: Edgar Allen Brown (This was Thurmond’s write-in campaign; he offered for re-election in 1956 as per his write-in campaign promise) 1960: R.B. Herbert (South Carolina is a one party state – Democratic) 1966: Bradley Morrah (Thurmond switched to the Republican Party in 1964) 1972: Nick Zeigler (John B. Culbertson, William Jennings Bryan Dorn, Donald Fowler, and John C. West lost in the Primary runoff) 1978: Charles ‘Pug’ Ravanel (This was Thurmond’s closest & hardest fought campaign) 1984: Melvin Pervis Jr. (Robert Cunningham & Jesse Jackson lost in the Primary runoff) 1990: Robert Cunningham (Thurmond won this campaign by a landslide) 1996: Elliot Close (Thurmond’s age was a major campaign issue)


  • 1938 - 1996



43.5 Cubic Feet

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Repository Details

Part of the Clemson University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Repository

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