Personal Papers document Dorn’s life outside of Congress and are split into general papers, campaign files, and topical files. The general papers consist primarily of correspondence about family matters, the running of the Dorn farm, and his life after leaving public office. Topical files include a file on Dorn’s namesake, William Jennings Bryan, including Bryan autograph items. Most of the topical files are from his post-Congress life and document his association with the American Legion, Former Members of Congress, Furman University, Lander College, Leadership South Carolina, Piedmont Technical Education Center, South Carolina Farm Bureau, South Carolina Forestry Association, and the University of South Carolina. Also present are genealogical data and material relating to the Russell Dam and veterans’ affairs.
Campaign Files, 1938-1994, are particularly rich and contain valuable information on Dorn’s races and other local, statewide, and national campaigns. A half a box of material covers Dorn’s 1948 Senate campaign and document his attacks upon Judge Waties Waring and his belief that Maybank’s financial assets were a prime factor in his loss. The 1954 material includes voluminous mailings from the Democratic National Committee. Dorn considered initiating a write-in campaign challenging Brown for the U.S. Senate. A folder of correspondence documents his decision to forego such a campaign because it would further confuse that race and serve to weaken the Democratic Party in South Carolina.
Dorn’s great popularity is attested to by the fact that he was unopposed for reelection to Congress in 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1962. Campaign records for 1956 chiefly document the presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson, for whom Dorn stumped in Florida. Files for 1960 include correspondence regarding Dorn’s interest in nominating South Carolina’s young and popular governor, Ernest F. Hollings, for the presidency. Dorn felt it essential that a candidate be nominated who would represent the South’s ideals. Hollings refused Dorn’s entreaties. Also included is a transcript of the famous television debate between Kennedy and Nixon, broadcast September 9, 1960. The 1962 files include correspondence resulting from press speculation that Dorn might challenge Olin Johnston for the United States Senate, possibly as a Republican.
Extensive files document Dorn’s gubernatorial campaigns of 1974 and 1978. Among the material documenting the 1974 campaign is regular correspondence with Sol Blatt, H.P. Stephenson, and Julius Wolfe. Dorn also polled his supporters before announcing for governor and the responses to his query signal the ambiguity those people felt, wishing to endorse Dorn’s bid yet reluctant to lose his voice in the House and the seniority he had achieved. Throughout the Campaign Files are records reflecting Dorn’s involvement with the Democratic Party. An additional 2.5 feet of records reflect Dorn’s continued work with the Democratic Party in his post-congressional years when he was Chair of the state party and active in national party affairs through the Democratic National Committee and presidential primaries and campaigns.
- 1912 - 2006
Library use only
From the Collection: 151 Linear Feet
- From the Collection: Dorn, William Jennings Bryan, 1916-2005 (Person)
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