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From the Sub-Series:

Personal Topical Files cover issues and projects in which West was interested or involved as a private citizen. Middle East files, circa 1974 to 2003, consist chiefly of correspondence with businessmen, diplomats, and personal friends, as well as with American and Saudi Arabian government officials. Following his years as ambassador, West‘s continuing interest in the Middle East, its business opportunities, culture, and conflicts, is reflected in his ongoing correspondence with various Saudi citizens and officials, including members of the royal family. From the time of his return to South Carolina in 1981 until his death in 2004, West was frequently called upon as an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, whether for interviews with local or national media or as a special envoy of the State Department. West corresponded with a number of diplomats and State Department colleagues, offering advice to his successors in Foreign Service in the Middle East. The files also include West's response to The American House of Saud: The Secret Petrodollar Connection, a 1985 book by Steven Emerson. West‘s business interests in the Middle East included involvement with the Saudi American Business Roundtable and consulting work. His interest prior to becoming ambassador is depicted in substantial files relating to the 1976 South Carolina Trade Mission to the Middle East led by West. The Mission was designed to promote closer economic ties with the region. The group principally visited Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Other Personal Topical files reflect groups and institutions in which West was involved, such as the Presbyterian Church, the Southern Council on International and Public Affairs, and the Education Commission of the States‘ Task Force on Responsible Decisions about Alcohol, which West chaired. The Democratic Party files demonstrate West's involvement in the party throughout his life. Of particular interest is a confidential analysis of the political situation in South Carolina co-authored by West a few months before the 1960 presidential election. This report was written for the Democratic National Committee. Separate files on Political Candidates include information on West‘s endorsements of and contributions to both Democratic and Republican candidates, particularly in South Carolina races.

One of West‘s longtime endeavors was an effort to improve education in South Carolina, particularly at his alma maters, The Citadel and the University of South Carolina. There are extensive Personal Topical files on West‘s fundraising efforts for and involvement at the two schools. Among these are files on The Citadel‘s close-knit class of 1942, which included numerous well-known South Carolinians; in addition to West, other members of the class were Ernest F. Hollings and future Citadel presidents George M. "Obbe" Seignious and James A. "Alex" Grimsley. Further demonstrating West‘s commitment to education are files on the West Foundation, a non-profit corporation established in 1974 and designed to sponsor educational programs through grants both to institutions and to individual students. As a result of the Foundation‘s efforts, the John C. West Professorship of Government and International Relations was established at The Citadel. The Foundation has also distributed scholarships to undergraduates and sponsored numerous lecture series and seminars on international issues. More recently, the West Foundation helped bring into existence the University of South Carolina‘s John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy, an initiative of the Department of Political Science (formerly the Department of Government and International Studies). West‘s longstanding support of USC and work for the department as a lecturer led to the naming of the Forum in his honor; according to the original proposal included in the West Forum files, the Forum‘s mission is to "promote and promulgate the civic values and political leadership exemplified in the career of Governor West." Also included in the files on USC is material relating to the Forum, as well as correspondence, lecture outlines, and research materials related to West‘s position as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Mid-East Studies at the University of South Carolina.


  • 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