November 12, 2009

A New Look at the Hemphill Papers

Check out the updated finding aid for the Robert W. Hemphill collection. It highlights Hemphill's long judicial career and offers a glimpse into his 8 years in Congress. Some of his personal pursuits are also captured here, such as his involvement in the Civil Air Patrol and the Purity Presbyterian Church of Chester.

Hemphill represented South Carolina’s Fifth District in Congress from 1957 to 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Hemphill to a federal judgeship in April 1964. A distinguished jurist noted for his keen opinions and strong work ethic, Hemphill took senior status in 1980, and continued to hear cases until he suffered a massive heart attack in July 1983. He returned to work shortly before a second attack took his life on Christmas night, 1983.

Hemphill's public papers cover his seven-year tenure in Congress and his seventeen years as a federal judge. His judicial materials include his court schedules from 1964 until 1982, which provide insight into his heavy workload, and eight volumes of judicial opinions, 1969-1974, that showcase the wisdom and fairness he was known for in his courtroom.

His personal papers relate to his long involvement with the Civil Air Patrol, leadership in the Purity Presbyterian Church of Chester, and his life before embarking on a legal career in 1945. The materials from his early life consist of letters to international pen-pals, high school report cards, and invitations to organizations and other events during his collegiate years.

At the time of Hemphill's death, Chief U.S. District Judge Charles E. Simons, Jr. characterized him as “an outstanding judge of great judicial temperament, and he was one of the hardest-working people I have ever known.”

--Contributed by Gabrielle M. Dudley

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