April 8, 2010

Another look at Olin D. Johnston

Have you ever seen one of these?

Do you know what they're called?

Maybe you played with one growing up while sniffing around your mom, dad, or grandparent's desk?

We like to call them "pop-up" directories or something similar.

Turns out, they are Bates List Finders. Olin D. Johnston had them on his desk as a U.S. Senator, and they are easy and surprisingly fun to use. You just move the arrow to a desired letter, press the tab at the bottom, and "whoosh!", up goes the cover to reveal the people you seek.

Of course, his collection here at SCPC has a whole lot more to offer. If you have a research topic focusing on the 1940s through early 1960s, you might find the Johnston finding aid worth a look. Johnston was a Senator from 1945 until his death in 1965. He was also Governor of SC from 1935-1939 and 1943-1945.

In the Senate, he was a member and chair of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and a member of the Judiciary Committee, and his papers reflect his leadership in those areas. Johnston was also known as a friend to the farmer and laborer. From his finding aid: "In the Senate, Johnston was a staunch advocate of public power, parity programs for farmers, a broad strong social security program, and the provision of lunches to needy school children."

Most of the documents in his collection (like speeches, legislative files, and press releases) focus on his Senatorial service but we also have one box of Gubernatorial material, as well as campaign files and personal correspondence, such as several folders of sweet letters between Johnston and his wife Gladys in the early years of their marriage.

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