Skip to main content

Donald H. Holland Papers

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-DHH

Consisting of 17 linear feet, the Donald H. Holland papers encompass Holland's political career from 1942 until 2003, with some material dating 1923. Documents relate to Holland's campaigns, legislative work, constituent service in Kershaw County, and work as District Highway Commissioner. The collection has been organized in five main series: Public Papers; Personal Papers; Clippings; Audiovisual; and Vertical File Materials.

Public Papers consist of documents and correspondence generated as a result of Holland's public duties. Organized chronologically into series for House of Representatives, 1950 to 1964, Highway Commission, 1964 to 1968, and Senate, 1968 to 2003, the papers are arranged topically thereunder. Some topics, such as roads, education, and local government, appear in more than one series and reflect Holland's long-time interest in these issues. General files at the beginning of each subseries contain correspondence and other items of a general nature. The House of Representatives general files include letters from Speaker Solomon Blatt regarding House elections and committee appointments. A copy of a 1951 speech by Blatt is also present.

Topical files relating to statewide issues, such as insurance, the judiciary, law enforcement, and election law provide evidence of Holland's efforts to improve the security and governance of all South Carolinians. Judicial files include documents relating to the creation and organization of appeals, family, and juvenile courts in South Carolina, to legal practices in the state, and to uniform rules for court procedure. Holland was instrumental in establishing the appeals court system. In 1983, the clerk of the Senate, James P. Fields, Jr., wrote to the editor of the Greenville News to nominate Holland as the legislator of the year: “It was Senator Holland's diligent and persistent work as Chairman of the Joint Judiciary Subcommittee on the Court of Appeals that finally led to a legislative solution to a problem that has been facing the General Assembly since 1979. Had it not been for his quiet and unassuming efforts in reaching a compromise, I do not believe the matter would have been settled during the 1983 session.”

Files on education, health care, rural development, local government, and road construction particularly reflect Holland's efforts to improve the quality of life in his district. Files relating to natural resources encompass the use, conservation, and management of resources such as land, forests, and wildlife in South Carolina. Many of the documents included relate specifically to Chesterfield and Kershaw Counties, and provide information about the growth and change of the area. Also of interest are papers relating the recommendations of a Government Study Committee for changes in Kershaw County government and education.

Roads files are divided topically into construction files, maintenance files, and paving files. Numerous petitions and requests for the development and paving of roads are present in construction and paving files, reflecting the expansion of Chesterfield and Kershaw Counties. Documents relating to roads in Darlington, Lee, and Richland counties, and to the improvement and expansion of the highway and interstate systems through South Carolina, are also included. Papers related to the contested route selected for Interstate 95, and Holland's comments about a proposed extension for Interstate 77, reflect the often contentious process of plotting the course of new roads. Also available are maps of roadway improvements and extensions in Kershaw County and South Carolina during Holland‟s service on the Highway Commission.

Other topical files concern issues important to Holland's constituents, such as abortion, the Confederate battle flag‟s presence on the State House dome, gun control, and the Motorcycle Helmet Bill. Petitions, correspondence, and copies of bills included in the Gambling files shed light on the intense debate surrounding the issue, particularly video poker in the early 1990s.

Amongst Holland's public papers are files including outgoing letters circa 1979 from Senator Allen R. Carter of Charleston, who served in the Senate from 1968 to 1980, and circa 1984 from Senator Ryan Shealy of Lexington, who served in the Senate from 1980 to 1992. These senators apparently shared a secretary with Holland.

Personal Papers include correspondence and documents created by or sent to Holland outside of his role as legislator. General files consist of personal correspondence and materials and reflect his involvement in community and service groups in the Camden area. Materials from Holland's earliest campaigns document the beginning of his political career and the creation of a network of support for the future. Documents and correspondence from campaigns of the 1950s through 2000 are present, and the 1996 and 2000 elections are very well represented, including advertising materials, strategic planning information, polling and statistical information, and fundraising lists. Papers relating to the Democratic Party highlight Holland‟s work with the Party and other Democratic campaign efforts. Correspondence with figures such as Ernest F. Hollings and John F. Kennedy is present.

Topical files reveal additional insights into Holland's personal life. Included among the Camden materials is a copy of “The Terrible Cleveland Fire,” an account of the school fire that occurred near Camden in 1923. The fire affected almost everyone in Camden and the surrounding area and was a pivotal event in the town's history. The Donald Holland Appreciation Night folder contains flyers, programs, and other material documenting the recurring event dedicated to Holland and his public service to Kershaw County residents. The Travel files document trips taken by Holland and his family, including one in 1973 when the Hollands accompanied several other families on a tour of India, a trip organized by former governor John West and his wife Lois.

Clippings are arranged topically. The Audiovisual series includes a number of photographs. A videocassette contains two thirty-second campaign spots. Four compact discs contain radio advertisements used in the 2000 election. An audiocassette features a speech delivered to the Midway School District in 1977.

Vertical File Materials contain information gathered by SCPC relating to Holland and may duplicate information already present in the collection.


  • 1923, 1942 - 2004



Library Use Only


17 Linear Feet


Almost continuously in public office from 1950 until his death, Donald Holland served in both the South Carolina House of Representatives (Kershaw County), 1950-1954, 1956-1964, and Senate, 1969-2003. He was District Highway Commissioner from 1964-1968.

Biographical Note

Speaking after state Senator Donald Holland's death in 2003, former governor and Kershaw County native John C. West described his friend and colleague to the Camden Chronicle-Independent: “I knew and was associated with Don for over 50 years. I have never seen a man as honest, with more integrity, with more dedication, than Donald Holland. He was dedicated to his constituency, often termed the "little people." He shunned the limelight. He seldom took credit for things that he did and never put his own interests ahead of his constituency. I think he will go down as one of the great leaders of Kershaw County....he had that dedication to the people which characterized his life. He was just a model public servant.”

The Donald H. Holland papers document his career dedicated to public service for Kershaw County and the state of South Carolina. Serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1951-1954, 1957-1964), as a South Carolina District Highway Commissioner (1964-1968), and in the South Carolina Senate for over thirty years (1968-2003), Holland, at different times, represented constituents in Kershaw, Chesterfield, Darlington, Lancaster, Lee, Marlboro, and York counties.

Almost continuously in public office from 1950 until his death, Holland worked with many prominent political figures. Beginning in his early years as a representative from Kershaw County, Holland established political and personal relationships with such individuals as Solomon Blatt, Edgar Brown, Rembert Dennis, Marion Gressette, and every South Carolina governor from James Byrnes to Jim Hodges. As an active member of the Democratic Party, Holland campaigned locally and nationally, lending his support to campaigns ranging from local city council races to John West's 1970 campaign for governor to John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign. Holland's efforts both in the State House and on the campaign trail illustrate his determination to provide strong and efficient representation for the people he served.

Born on August 19, 1928 to Eugene and Alberta (Branham) Holland in the small community of Cassatt, Donald Harry Holland grew up on a farm in Depression-era South Carolina. Holland‟s rural background later inspired him to push for rural development and expansion of utility services (such as water, electricity, and telephone) in farming communities like Cassatt. Holland attended Midway School for his primary and secondary education, graduating in 1945. The following year, he joined the Army. He spent eighteen months in occupied Japan, working as a Criminal Investigation Division translator. Returning to South Carolina in 1948, Holland enrolled in the University of South Carolina Law School, earning an L.L.D. in 1951. In August of that year, Holland married Betty Bell, a home economics teacher from Kershaw County. The couple had one daughter, Elizabeth, known as Lisa. In 1951, Holland established a legal practice in Camden. Maintaining and expanding his practice throughout his political career, Holland's legal focus was criminal defense and personal injury, but extended to encompass civil and family law as well as pro bono work in the Kershaw County courts. Outside of court, Holland was actively involved in community service through membership in the Lyttleton Street Methodist Church, as well as in groups such as the Shriners, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Optimist‟s Club, Woodmen of the World, and the American Legion.

While still a student at the University of South Carolina, Holland became active in politics. In 1950, he was elected on the first ballot to the House of Representatives. Holland served six terms in the House, from 1951 until 1954, and then from 1957 until 1964. While in the House, he worked on legislation relating to issues such as education, child welfare, and problems in his native Kershaw County. Holland was assigned to the Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee (1951-1954), the Judiciary Committee (1957-1964), and the Committee to Study House Rules (1960), and was involved in the appointment process for the Public Service and Employment Security commissions.

In 1964, Holland resigned from the House of Representatives after being appointed to the South Carolina Highway Commission. Previously concerned with the improvement and expansion of roads in Kershaw County, Holland was now directly involved in the process of constructing, improving, and maintaining roads in Kershaw, Lee, and Richland counties. Holland took part in guiding the expansion of the interstate system through South Carolina by suggesting locations and improvements for I-20 and the I-77 extension. He also helped the Highway Commission navigate through controversial lawsuits contesting the path of I-95.

In 1968, Holland was elected to the Senate for District 18, comprised of Kershaw, Lancaster, and Lee counties. Serving continuously in the Senate until his death in 2003, Holland‟s district boundaries changed several times as a result of redistricting. In 1972, he was elected to a new district consisting of Kershaw, Lancaster and York counties (District 6). His district changed again in 1982 to become District 27, including Kershaw, Chesterfield, Lancaster, and Marlboro counties. Holland served as chairman of a number of committees, including the Judiciary Committee, the Election Law Study Committee, the Forestry Committee, and the General Committee. Holland also served on the Corrections and Penology Committee, the Ethics Committee, the Natural Resources Committee, the Rules Committee, and the Rural Electrification Committee.

As Representative, Commissioner, and Senator, Holland was involved in policy decisions affecting all of South Carolina. By working to establish rural development programs, supporting the construction of a new, modern hospital, and preserving historical and natural spaces, Holland also endeavored to improve the quality of life in his own home district. He was noted for his constituent service, and in 1990 he responded to a student survey with some thoughts on serving his constituents: “Since childhood I have always enjoyed helping people. As my life progressed, my service came to the Senate... One of my most enjoyable and self-fulfilling moments is to see someone (at a distance) doing well who I have been of assistance to.” Partly as a result of his reputation for service, Holland enjoyed both Republican and Democratic support in his few contested elections. In 1996, Camden resident George F. West wrote a letter to the editor of the Chronicle-Independent urging his fellow Republicans to support Holland: “Regardless of party label, Donald Holland is the candidate who will afford his neighbors the best representation. Donald Holland knows what our views are on the pressing issues that affect our lives. Donald Holland is the man we have trusted over the years to be our collective voice at the State House.”


Donated by the Honorable Donald H. Holland.

Digitized Material


Copyright of the Donald H. Holland Papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.

Processing Information

Processed by by Laura Koser, 2003; additions by Santi Thompson and Dorothy Hazelrigg, 2006; additions by Allison Hughes, 2009.


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

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description