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Public Papers


Public Papers are arranged according to the office held by West.

The Highway Commissioner file contains the certification of West‘s election, signed by the Secretary of State on June 1, 1948.

South Carolina Senate papers, chiefly 1962 to 1965, consist mainly of correspondence and topical files on a variety of issues, including technical education, teacher salaries, nursing school facilities at USC, atomic energy, and local government. West's "Legislative Column," 1957 to 1964, appeared in the Camden Chronicle and provided weekly updates of the issues before and actions of the legislature. Also of interest is material on West‘s efforts to foster industrial development in South Carolina, particularly in Kershaw County.

Lieutenant Governor records, 1967 to 1971, are divided into General Papers, Press Releases, Schedules, and Topical Files. Lieutenant Governor Press Releases consist of releases, statements, and newsletters from West. Many summarize West's speeches to local groups or organizations. Schedules consist of West's pocket calendar from 1970 as well as typed memos of his activities for various weeks from May to December 1970. Press releases and schedules from West‘s 1970 campaign for governor can be found in Personal Papers, Campaigns.

The bulk of the correspondence, which was originally arranged by the addresses of the correspondents by county, has been incorporated into topical files. Lieutenant Governor Topical Files cover a variety of issues and endeavors undertaken by West. Issues include the regulation of alcohol, school desegregation, the gasoline tax, Communism, auto liability insurance, reapportionment, industrial growth, and pollution. South Carolina State College files provide a detailed look at an incident, generally known as the "Orangeburg Massacre," which resulted in the deaths of three black students on February 8, 1968. Included is correspondence between West and students at S.C. State. Of particular interest is a letter of April 8, 1968, from West to Congressman Bryan Dorn describing the presentation to the General Assembly of a student petition requesting an open hearing on the incident. West commented, "The racial pressures and tensions have certainly created problems which seem literally to try men's souls, as well as their wisdom. If we can resist the temptation to make mass denunciations of the many for the actions of a few and unite as citizens of good will, working together, the problems of race can be solved in our time by this generation."

The Human Rights Commission file reflects West's concern about the state of race relations in South Carolina. In his final year as Lieutenant Governor, he researched the need for a state human rights commission in South Carolina and studied as a model Kentucky‘s Human Rights Commission. He concluded that such a commission was an "essential step in the maintenance and improvement of race relations in S.C." and announced his intention to create one as governor.

Other topical files concern economic growth and development, technical education, industry, medicine, pollution, a proposed BASF plant in Beaufort, highway safety, automobile liability laws, teachers‘ pay raises, and retention of adequate tariff protection for textiles (including correspondence with Hubert Humphrey). The "Moody Report" file pertains to the 1968 report, commissioned by Governor McNair, assessing South Carolina‘s greatest areas of need, including the need to upgrade health care, improve transportation systems, and provide better educational facilities in order to attract higher quality industry.

Gubernatorial papers, 1971 to 1975, are divided into General, Press Releases, Schedules, Topical Files, and papers of Mrs. Lois West as First Lady. Gubernatorial Press Releases consist of news releases, statements, and newsletters. The bulk of the releases, 1971, report on West's speeches, future engagements, thoughts on popular issues, and appointments to commissions or offices. Schedules detail West‘s meetings, travel plans, and prearranged events and functions during 1971, the final months of 1972, and 1973.

Gubernatorial Topical Files relate to issues such as the energy crisis, highways, health care, tourism, and West‘s efforts to encourage Kuwaiti and other investment in South Carolina. West's commitment to improving state government is reflected in the extensive files of the Management Review Commission (MRC), which he established. This commission recruited members of the business community to devise a plan for streamlining state government and making it more efficient. The MRC unveiled its report of over 170 pages in January 1972. West formed an Implementation Task Force to carry out the MRC‘s suggestions. Many of the Task Force memos and meeting minutes are present. Other issues of interest on the state and local level include the labor situation at the State Ports Authority, conditions at Charles Towne Landing, drug abuse at the Central Correctional Institution, investment in new industry, pollution control, and the energy crisis. Files regarding Charles D. ("Pug") Ravenel chiefly consist of correspondence from citizens concerning the September 1974 State Supreme Court ruling that Ravenel, Democratic nominee for governor in 1974, was ineligible for the office. Many Ravenel supporters called for West to reconvene the General Assembly for a special session to consider amending the state constitution‘s residency requirements. West ultimately declined to call the session, feeling that there was not sufficient support for the amendment among the legislators.

Mrs. Lois West‘s papers from her time as First Lady of South Carolina include correspondence and schedules. Among Mrs. West‘s activities as First Lady was an active involvement with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, including working at an annual summer camp for children with the disease. Mrs. West also established a horticulture program for the mentally disabled, which provided flower arrangements to decorate the State House and Governor‘s Mansion. She also oversaw the completion of the renovation of the Lace House on the Mansion grounds.

Ambassador to Saudi Arabia files, 1977 to 1981, are divided among General, Schedules, and Topical Files. Files on West‘s appointment and resignation are also present. General papers comprise the bulk of the ambassadorial papers and consist chiefly of correspondence, memos, reports, and cables. Subjects include West‘s efforts on behalf of American business, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and OPEC and oil production. Included is extensive correspondence with President Jimmy Carter, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and officials in the Saudi Arabian government, including King Khalid and Crown Prince (later King) Fahd. West reported regularly to President Carter with his assessments of people and events in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, often in handwritten letters, many of which are present in the papers. Ambassadorial Topical Files include a Lois West File which contains congratulatory letters, correspondence with Rosalynn Carter, and one visitor's impressions of economic relations with Saudi Arabia. "Death of a Princess" was a PBS docudrama, aired in May 1980, which dramatized the story of a Saudi Arabian princess recently executed for adultery. Many who were knowledgeable about Saudi Arabian politics and culture, including West, criticized the film as inaccurate. The ambassadorial papers were reviewed by the State Department in 1989-1991 and again in 2005-2006, and some documents and portions of documents have been withheld for security reasons.


  • c. 1840s, c. 1857, 1905, 1924, 1938-2004


Library Use Only


From the Collection: 52.5 Linear Feet


Repository Details

Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA