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Eugene Noel "Nick" Zeigler, Jr. Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SCU-SCPC-061
The collection consists of 32 ft. of material, 1921 to 2012, relating to all aspects of Zeigler's life, from his early days in Florence through his legal career and his service in the General Assembly and on various boards and commissions. The collection is particularly valuable in providing insight into the development of Florence’s cultural institutions. Arranged in eight series, the collection includes Calendars, Campaign Files, Legal Files, Legislative Files, Personal Papers, Audiovisual, Clippings, and Speeches.

Campaign Files cover Zeigler’s earliest forays into politics in the 1950s and continue through his unsuccessful 1972 senatorial and 1974 gubernatorial campaigns. Files for the latter two campaigns are extensive, comprising four linear feet and making up the bulk of his campaign records.

Personal Papers is the largest series in the collection. Major topics include Zeigler’s work with Big Brothers and numerous cultural institutions in Florence, his education in Florence public schools and at Harvard Law, his service in the U.S. Navy, his family, his writings, and his involvement with the State Board of Corrections. His family files comprise two linear feet and include significant correspondence with his wife and mother, among other family members. The most recent additions to this collection include 34 letters penned by Zeigler to Anne Lide (his wife) between 1950 and 1959. They consist of various topics such as travel, the Navy, plays, museum work, and their relationship.

Dates

  • 1921 - 2012

Creator

Access

Library Use Only

Extent

32 Linear Feet

Abstract

Eugene Noel "Nick" Zeigler, Jr., personified the concept of the Renaissance man. He melded careers and interests as an attorney, public servant, naval officer, educator, playwright, gardener, scholar, spouse, and parent. More importantly, he achieved recognition and success in each of these areas. Zeigler had a distinguished legal career; during the sixties and seventies, his name was frequently mentioned whenever a vacancy occurred in South Carolina's Federal judiciary. His public service began with his election to serve Florence County in the South Carolina House in 1960. In 1966, he was elected to the state Senate, where he served until November of 1972. Zeigler was a candidate in the 1974 Democratic primary for Governor.

Biographical Note

Eugene Noel “Nick” Zeigler, Jr., personified the concept of the Renaissance man. He melded careers and interests as an attorney, public servant, naval officer, educator, playwright, gardener, scholar, spouse, and parent. More importantly, he achieved recognition and success in each of these areas.

Nick Zeigler was born in Florence, South Carolina, in 1921. While attending Florence High School he was active in a number of literary societies. Following graduation in 1938, he entered the University of the South where he majored in English Literature. He received his B.A. degree in 1942 and enlisted in the Naval Reserve in January of that year. Later during 1942, he entered into active duty and during the war served aboard four aircraft carriers in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. Following the war, Zeigler remained active in the Naval Reserve until his retirement in 1980 at the rank of Captain.

Shortly after leaving naval service, Zeigler enrolled in the Harvard Law School. He graduated early in 1949 and soon joined the Florence law firm of McEachin and Townsend. This was a family firm, founded by Zeigler’s uncle and aunt. Peter H. McEachin (1895-1971), was a prominent figure in Florence. McEachin was a graduate of the University of South Carolina and a veteran who had served nearly ten months overseas during the Great War. In 1930, McEachin was elected to the South Carolina Senate. Between 1931 and 1950, McEachin served in that body for some sixteen years. He served as attorney for the Gressette Committee from 1951 to 1966. Leah Townsend (1889-1981) was also a native of Florence. In 1929, Townsend received her Ph.D. in history from the University of South Carolina. Prior to that, her diverse and interesting experience included the processing of South Carolina manuscripts held by the University of Wisconsin. In 1932, at the age of 43, Townsend was admitted to the South Carolina Bar. She remained an active practitioner of the law until her retirement in 1970.

Zeigler had a distinguished legal career. During the sixties and seventies, his name was frequently mentioned when vacancies arose in South Carolina’s federal judiciary. During the seventies, Zeigler was counsel for the plaintiffs in a tobacco anti-trust case, Windham v. American Brands. He was also involved in Eslinger v. Thomas, et al., a sex-discrimination case concerning female pages in the South Carolina Senate. He was an active member of the South Carolina Bar as well, serving on committees such as the Committee on Institutes, Symposiums, and Seminars.

In addition to his legal work, Zeigler contributed widely to furthering social and cultural interests, particularly in the Florence area. Beginning in 1950, he taught Sunday school at the South Carolina Industrial School for Boys. In 1951, the same year he was named a full partner in the firm of McEachin, Townsend and Zeigler, he was elected President of the Florence Museum. In 1953, shortly after his marriage to Anne Marian Lide, he organized the Big Brothers Association of the Pee Dee. The following year he founded the Florence Fine Arts Council. Zeigler also served as a board member for many regional organizations and was an active member of the Kiwanis Club and Masterworks Choir.

As a writer, he composed many plays, short stories, and books. A production of his play, “The Cult,” was produced at the Florence Little Theatre, circa 1959. Zeigler also wrote Florence: a Renaissance Spirit, published in 1996, and most recently When Conscience and Power Meet: A Memoir, published in 2008.

Zeigler also served on the South Carolina Inter-Agency Council of Arts and Humanities, South Carolina Commission on Human Affairs, and the State Board of Corrections. During Zeigler’s sixteen years on the Board of Corrections, he continuously fought for better prison conditions and alleviation of problems such as overcrowding. He was also involved in two legal cases against the Board of Corrections.

His public service began with his election to the South Carolina House in 1960. In 1966, Zeigler was elected to the Senate, where he served until November of 1972. As Senator, Zeigler worked towards the passage of a bill to create the South Carolina Arts Commission, which was signed by Governor McNair in 1967. After serving in the South Carolina Legislature, Zeigler ran two unsuccessful campaigns, first running for the United States Senate, opposing incumbent Strom Thurmond in 1972, and second as a candidate in the 1974 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Zeigler died in Florence on October 8, 2012 at the age of 91.

Provenance

Donated by the Honorable Eugene Noel "Nick" Zeigler, Jr.

Copyright

Copyright of the Eugene Noel "Nick" Zeigler, Jr. Papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina

Processing Information

1985 and 1991, by H. J. Hartsook; 2008, by Malisa Lewis; 2013, by Ana Garcia; 2016, by Mae Bradford

Repository Details

Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository

Contact:
Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
803-777-0577

Language of description
English