Monday, February 21, 2011

Outside the Box - February

On June 18, 1972 the Washington Post reported that a team of burglars had been arrested inside the office of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The chain of events that followed unraveled the Nixon administration, forever changing the way Americans viewed their elected officials and creating a new synonym for scandal – Watergate.

Below: Senate Watergate Committee, examining the testimony of John Dean, Washington, D.C., 1973 June 26.

The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, chaired by Sam Ervin of North Carolina, was convened in 1973 with orders to investigate the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover up. The committee’s televised hearings allowed the public to watch the scandal unfold day by day. By the end of its year and a half existence, the committee had produced thirteen volumes of testimony and exhibits and a 2,217-page final report. Their findings, in addition to those of two special prosecutors, led to the resignation of the President and Vice President of the United States, as well as the conviction of three cabinet members on felony charges.

Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia likely achieved his greatest national prominence through his role as one of the seven members of the Ervin Committee. Speaking in an interview years later, he recalled that he received nearly 3,500 letters a day during the Watergate hearings from people across the country. “And wherever I’d go in an airport,” he said, “people would rush up to me wanting my autograph.” More than just a part of the immense spectacle, Talmadge and others on the committee were holding the guilty accountable at a critical moment in American history.

Seventy-three boxes of material in the Herman E. Talmadge Collection document the Senator’s service on the Ervin Committee. They include committee and subject files, witness information, and proceeding reports, as well as correspondence, legal documents, lists, memorandums, and reports relating to committee business, political espionage, and the Bellino subcommittee. Perhaps the most unique artifact from the collection is a Watergate-inspired cross stitch created by Ms. Avis Gallagher, Ms. Patricia Gallagher, and Ms. Ruth Henry of Greensboro, North Carolina on May 14, 1974. Given to Talmadge in gratitude for his contribution to the work of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, the cross stitch design depicts a rural southern home with castle turrets and a moat, mounted on a mat covered with pages from the official transcript of the Watergate hearings with emphasis on Senator Talmadge’s interrogations. The inscription on the back side of the object explains the design as follows:

During Senator Talmadge’s interrogation of John Ehrlichman, he posed an enormously important question about the extent of the inherent power of the President of the United States, and quoted a principle of law to the effect that ‘no matter how humble a man’s cottage is, even the King of England cannot enter without his consent.’ He responded to Mr. Ehrlichman’s reply by saying, ‘Down in my country we still think it is a pretty legitimate principle of law.’ That prompted the design of a typical rural Southern house with castle turrets and a moat.

Talmadge felt that the Watergate investigation was one of the most important events in U.S. history. Not because of the scandal itself, but because the investigation that followed demonstrated that a republican form of government had a way of correcting the conduct of public officials. This artifact demonstrates the importance of the committee’s work in restoring public faith in government.

Post by Jan Levinson, Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Informal Forum (2/25/2011): Economic Security

Economic Security: How Should We Take Charge of Our Future?
A Friday Informal Community Forum

When: Friday, February 25, 2011, 3:30-5 p.m.
Where: Russell Library Auditorium, West Entrance, UGA Main Library

The Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (, a civic engagement program of the Russell Library hosts community deliberative forums on a monthly basis to explore challenging public issues in a deliberative, civil way.

The focus for this month’s forum is rebuilding economic security. The forum asks participants to mull a vital question -- How we can best take charge of the future so our families can feel reasonably secure, so parents can help their children prosper, and everyone can move toward a financially stable retirement?

About the Economic Security Issue Guide…
This forum will use the deliberative issue guide developed by the National Issues Forums Institute in association with the Kettering Foundation. If you are interested in reading more about the issue before the forum, you can download the issue guide in brief in advance for free at

For more information about this forum, please contact Jill Severn at 706-542-5766 or For more information about Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, visit

Monday, February 14, 2011

Politicians Have Hearts Too

As we celebrate one of the most cherished (and sometimes dreaded) holidays of the year, I thought some vintage valentines from our collections might set the mood for February 14, 2011. Here's some good lovin' from the Russell Library to you!

Left & Below:
Shake Your Tail Feather, courtesy of the Ina Dillard Russell Collection.

Mrs. Russell (wife of Judge Richard B. Russell, Sr. and mother of Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr.) got all sorts of love on Valentine's Day -- she was the mother of fourteen children!

Lamartine Hardman was a man of many talents -- farmer, entrepreneur, physician, and politician! We found these gems in several scrapbooks kept by Mrs. Hardman.

"Heart Hunting: I've Room Enough for Two" courtesy of the Lamartine G. Hardman Papers

Below: "The World will be ours if you'll agree..."
courtesy of the Lamartine G. Hardman Papers

Last but not least comes a valentine from the Stovall, McKay, and Mathis Family. While this collection is not yet fully processed and open for research, members of our staff found this card while scanning a series of letters written between family members during World War II.

"A Valentine for Pop" courtesy of the Stovall, McKay, and Mathis Family Papers

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Congratulations are in Order!

Today was a momentous day at the Russell Library for one of our devoted student workers, Ross Keong. Since the fall of 2009 Ross has been working diligently to identify photographs in the Zell Miller Papers -- 1,700 folders worth to be exact (to be less exact: many thousands of images). On February 2, 2011 he finished his project!

In celebration, a generous Russell staff member (aka Renna Tuten) brought in a celebratory bottle of sparkling apple juice - which Ross cracked open and distributed to one and all. We toasted to Ross -- who has completed a HUGE project, and whose work will make the images in the Miller collection accessible to researchers. Here's to you Ross!

To see the end results of this project, visit our online database HERE. For more information on the Zell Miller Papers visit the Russell Library website, or email The Richard B. Russell Library is open for research Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm, except on University Holidays.