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William D. Workman, Jr. Papers

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-WDW

The collection consists of 65 linear feet of material, 1915-1997, arranged in ten major series: General Papers, Campaigns, Journalism, Personal Papers, Published Manuscripts, Speeches, Topical Files, Clippings, Audio-Visual Materials, and Vertical File Materials. When possible, Workman’s original arrangement and file headings have been retained (i.e. Constitutional Reform, Integration/Civil Rights). Some files have been rearranged, retitled, or combined for clarity and ease of use.

General Papers, 1933 to 1985, consists primarily of Workman’s correspondence with friends, colleagues, Citadel classmates, wartime buddies, and admirers from around the country. Among his regular correspondents were Citadel classmate and Charleston Evening Post editor Robert M. Hitt, Jr., 1935 to 1968, and longtime friend and Nixon biographer Earl Mazo, 1952 to 1976. Mazo, a fellow newspaperman, moved to the New York Herald Tribune after working at the News and Courier with Workman. Letters pertaining primarily to politics or journalism, or to specific persons or topics (such as Strom Thurmond or Energy) are found in the appropriate series or subseries.

Campaign Files, 1939-1982, are significant for their breadth. Extensive records document Workman’s 1962 Senate campaign. The series also contains newsletters and material regarding other elections, conventions, and general coverage of the state and national Democratic and Republican parties. Several files concern the States’ Rights Party and its campaigns in 1948 and 1956. There is an unusual example of campaign literature from the 1956 Presidential race—a cartoon book titled “Forward with Eisenhower-Nixon: Let’s Continue Peace ... Prosperity ... Progress.”

Journalism records chronicle Workman’s career from his days as a reporter on the Charleston News and Courier to his term as editor of The State newspaper in Columbia. There are extensive files documenting Workman’s efforts to produce three special historical editions of The State. These commemorated South Carolina’s Tricentennial, the U.S. Bicentennial, and the Centennial of the burning of Columbia during the Civil War. His last special edition, in 1978, was a survey of the South Carolina state government titled South Carolina Digest.

Personal Papers contains family papers of Workman and his wife, including biographical data, correspondence, 1915 to 1971, and records of Workman’s military career, 1931 to 1965, civic activities, and financial affairs. Although the financial records are not comprehensive, Workman’s financial affairs, 1956 to 1981, are documented by correspondence, tax returns and ledgers of earnings and expenditures. Family members represented in the correspondence include Workman’s parents, sister Virginia, wife Rhea, and her parents Ruth and Heber Thomas.

Of particular interest is an extensive series of letters from Heber Thomas [1889-1959], a native of Crocketville and a longtime resident of Walterboro, to Thomas’ fiancée and later wife, Ruth (Dorrill) Thomas. A private in the army during the First World War, Thomas received his military training at Clemson in May and June of 1918, and at Camp Meade, Maryland. His unit was sent overseas in August, 1918. Thomas served chiefly in France, with a field artillery unit of the 79th Division of the American Expeditionary Force and later with the Army of Occupation. His wartime letters reflect his loneliness and concern with duty. Shortly after his arrival in France, Thomas wrote — “Our officers seem to think the war will not last long, but oh God I wish it was all over so I could come back home.” (Aug. 15, 1918) A week later, still awaiting his first taste of action, he wrote — “From what little news I can gather is that the Americans are giving the Germans Hell and you can bet that we will keep it up. I presume it will be some time before we go to the front. But when the word is said I will be up and ready to do my duty.” (Aug. 23, 1918)

Heber and Ruth married in 1918. They had one daughter, Heber Rhea [1918-1988], known to her family and friends as “Dimples,” and to Workman as “Tommie.” Workman and Rhea, a Winthrop graduate, were married in June 1939. Eager to keep busy during Workman’s absence in World War II, Rhea accepted an offer to be the supervisor of recreation for the Walterboro WPA serviceman’s club. After the war, Rhea returned to school, and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in English at the University of South Carolina. From 1957 to 1977, Rhea taught English at Columbia College.

Personal Papers also contains Rhea’s frequent letters to her parents while attending Winthrop in the mid-1930s, and a considerable correspondence with Workman before and after their marriage. Of special interest are Workman’s World War Two letters from England, 1942, North Africa, 1942 to 1943, Hawaii, 1945, and posts in the states including Fort Bragg, NC, 1941, Norfolk, VA, 1941 to 1942, Camp Davis, NC, 1943, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 1944, and Fort Bliss, TX, 1944 to 1945. Although limited in what he could say because of censorship regulations, Workman described for Rhea his impressions of the people and places he was stationed. Her letters provide insight into life on the home front, the difficulties — “There have been two more cases of polio this week...None of us are going to the movies or anywhere,” and the lighter moments — “Tonight was a big night at the club...jittering, doing the double ‘Lindy Hop’ no less!”

The post-war years were busy ones personally as well as professionally. In the mid-1950s Workman and his wife became founding members of the Trenholm Road Methodist Church. Correspondence documents his growing disenchantment with the policies of the church, particularly in the areas of social and political affairs. In a 1972 letter to the Methodist Advocate explaining his resignation as a delegate to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the Methodist Church, Workman stated — “the actions and pronouncements at the 1972 General Conference make it impossible for me to profess adherence to the prevailing course of present-day Methodism.... The church so blatantly repudiated United States policy in national and international affairs as to grievously offend my sense of loyalty to country....” In a related letter, Workman further expressed his disenchantment with the church — “I fear that the magnitude and the momentum of liberal extremism in the United Methodist Church have reached the point of no return.”

Personal Papers also documents Workman’s thirty years of military service as an intelligence officer during World War II and as a Reservist. Among the files is a series of sixty-one World War II aircraft recognition cards from London’s Valentine & Sons and a bound volume of America’s Alertmen, 1942, a weekly newspaper for the Antiaircraft Artillery Command, Eastern Theater of Operations.

Published Manuscripts includes material pertaining to Workman’s writing and publication of several books. Among these are the original and revised versions of the manuscript for The Case for the South, correspondence with the publisher, and reaction letters from readers across the country. Newspaper coverage, including book reviews, is located here and in the Clippings files. Other publications with materials in this series include The Bishop from Barnwell, Southern Schools: Progress and Problems, and With All Deliberate Speed.

Workman, an articulate speaker, spoke to groups throughout the state on a wide variety of topics. His Speech files include texts of remarks and “charts” on which he recorded the date, place, group, attendance, topic, amount of honorarium and the person who invited him to speak.

Topical Files is a broad series containing correspondence and background information on subjects of personal and professional interest to Workman. These include Constitutional Reform, Education, Electoral Reform, Energy, and a particularly rich and informative Integration/Civil Rights subseries. Persons files regard thirty-seven individuals with whom Workman corresponded or in whom he had some special interest. Local, state, and national figures include William F. Buckley, Jr., Generals Mark Clark and William Westmoreland, Strom Thurmond, Judge J. Waties Waring, Lester Bates and J[ohn] K. Breedin. The Thomas Family file consists of stories compiled by Ruth Thomas about her youth and family.

The Ernest F. Hollings files contain Workman’s notes from Hollings’ gubernatorial press conferences, 1959-1961, gubernatorial campaign of 1958, and primary campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1962 (including transcripts of television appearances). The George Bell Timmerman and Donald Russell files also contain gubernatorial press conference notes and speeches.

Clippings are arranged topically and mirror the other series to a certain extent. This series is a rich source of contemporary information on a wide range of subjects. Included are Workman's editorials from The State, coverage of political campaigns and parties, and state government, and files on a large number of individuals. This series concludes with seventeen scrapbooks in which Workman preserved copies of his articles. In addition to the twelve bound volumes of “South Carolina By-Lines,” which range from 1946 to 1963, there are also four volumes of articles on “School Segregation,” ranging from 1946 to 1956, and a single bound volume on “States’ Rights, 1948.”

Audio-Visual Materials includes a large subseries of Photographic Materials. The subseries is primarily arranged by image format and contains slides, negatives, prints, and scrapbook pages. It is secondarily arranged by county and topical content. The only exception is the scrapbook pages, which were left in their original order.

Workman was an amateur photographer. His collection includes thousands of images taken across South Carolina and feature prominent South Carolinians within and outside the state. Of the counties, Charleston in the late 1930s is particularly well documented, with significant series of images from the aftermath of tornadoes in 1938, which resulted in deaths, hundreds of serious injuries, and property damage exceeding $3 million; the Azalea Festival, which began in 1934 as a rival to New Orleans’s Mardi Gras festivities and ended in 1953; and Cromwell “Crumble” Alley, a slum occupied by African-Americans that was cleared to make way for Robert Mills Manor, a federally funded low-income housing project for whites. The topical subseries contain images from both World Wars, people such as James Byrnes, political life (notably the Dixiecrat Movement and Workman’s 1962 Senate campaign), and the creation of the Savannah River Plant. In 1984, a retrospective of Workman’s photographs, titled “Bill Workman’s South Carolina: Four Decades Through a Newsman’s Eyes,” was mounted at the Columbia Museum of Art. An assortment of prints selected for the retrospective, sponsored by Springs Industries, are present in both Photographic Materials and Oversized Prints. A master list of the images used in the exhibit and captions from the photographs are included in Cutlines.

Digitized recordings from sixty-five audio reels, chiefly political in nature, provide a chance to hear key figures in modern southern political history, among them Herman E. Talmadge, Sen. Edgar A. Brown, and George Wallace. The earliest reel in the collection is of a 1938 campaign speech by “Cotton Ed” Smith. There are several recordings from rallies and other events held during Workman’s 1962 Senate campaign. The recordings also include interviews with Workman by Mike Wallace and by Dave Garroway of NBC’s Today Show following the publication of his book The Case for the South. The subseries also includes audio cassettes and vinyl records. Two optical discs, housed with the other items of that format, appear to contain duplicates of some audio reel content.

The Sketches subseries include illustrations by political cartoonist Walt Lardner and by Fred Rhoads, an American cartoonist best known for his contributions to George Baker's comic strip Sad Sack. The sketches include representations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Edgar Brown, James F. Byrnes, Robert Kennedy, and Workman during his 1962 campaign.

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

The availability of digital surrogates for some materials is noted in brackets. Contact SCPC staff for more information about accessing digital surrogates.


  • 1915 - 1997



Copyright of William D. Workman's papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.


Library Use Only


65 Linear Feet


William D. Workman, Jr. is best remembered for his pivotal role in the emergence of the Republican Party as a viable alternative to the Democratic Party in South Carolina. In 1962, when the Democrats were the dominant political power in the state, he made a serious bid for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. Although ultimately unsuccessful, Workman received enough votes to signal to others of like mind that a Republican could win a state-wide race. In his career as a journalist, he wrote for Charleston's Post and Courier and Columbia's The State, becoming editor of the latter in 1966. He was author of several books relating to the South and its politics, including The Case for the South (1960) and The Bishop from Barnwell (1963).

Biographical Note

Journalist William D. Workman, Jr. is best remembered for his pivotal role in the emergence of the Republican Party as a viable alternative to the Democratic Party in South Carolina. In 1962, when the Democrats were the dominant political power in the state, he made a serious bid for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. Although ultimately unsuccessful, Workman received enough votes to signal to others of like mind that a Republican could win a state-wide race.

William Douglas Workman, Jr., son of William Douglas and Vivian (Watkins) Workman, was born in Greenwood, South Carolina on August 10, 1914. After graduating from Greenville High School in 1931, Workman entered The Citadel where he majored in English and History. Upon graduation in 1935, he moved to Washington, D.C., to attend George Washington University Law School. Law school proved not to his liking, and he returned to South Carolina where he began his career in journalism as a reporter for the Charleston News and Courier. In addition to reporting for the News and Courier, Workman also managed local radio station WTMA.

Workman was called to active duty by the U.S. Army in 1940. His wartime service as an intelligence officer included tours in the United States, England, North Africa and the Pacific. He was demobilized in 1945 and returned to South Carolina to resume his career as a journalist. He remained active in the reserves and eventually retired from the military in 1965 with the rank of colonel.

Upon his return to the News and Courier, Workman became capital correspondent in Columbia. In addition to his position with the News and Courier, between 1945 and 1962, Workman wrote columns and articles for numerous other publications. These included several newspapers around the state, Newsweek magazine, the Hall Syndicate, and South Carolina Magazine. He also appeared regularly on WIS radio and TV in Columbia.

Workman's skills as a researcher and writer were not limited to newspapers and broadcast journalism. A strong believer in states’ rights and the virtues of the Southern culture, Workman authored The Case for the South (1960), a statement of the South’s position on integration, and The Bishop from Barnwell (1963), which looks at twentieth-century South Carolina politics and the key role played therein by Senator Edgar A. Brown. Workman utilized his first-hand experience as a reporter of the 1950s segregation battles when he assisted in the writing of three additional books on the South and its way of life. This Is The South (1959) is a Robert West Howard work on Southern civilization. With All Deliberate Speed (1957) and Southern Schools: Progress and Problems (1959), which were supported by the Southern Education Reporting Service, examine the issues of segregation and desegregation in Southern schools.

Workman’s bold challenge to incumbent Senator Olin D. Johnston in 1962 ended the first phase of his journalism career. A longtime conservative, the Republican Workman believed Johnston was too closely aligned with the National Democratic Party and decided the people of South Carolina deserved a Senator more in line with the conservative traditions of the state. In a speech accepting the Republican nomination, Workman said, “It is the Republican Party which offers the best hope, and perhaps the last hope, of stemming the liberal tide which has been sweeping the United States toward the murky depths of socialism. ... We must stop floating along the stream of least resistance and get our feet back down on the firm ground of sound, conservative, responsible government.” His campaign was the first significant Republican challenge in an important statewide race since Reconstruction. Workman made a strong showing, and earned forty-three percent of the vote. His effort, though unsuccessful, is credited with establishing the structure for a viable Republican party in South Carolina.

Following the election, Workman accepted the position of assistant editor with The State paper in Columbia. After he attained the post of editor in May 1966, Workman grew increasingly restless with the administrative duties that required so much of his time. He relinquished the editorship and its bureaucratic demands in 1972, to spend more time in research and writing. Workman remained with the paper as an editorial analyst until his retirement in 1979. From 1980 to 1982, he wrote occasional articles under the title of editorial consultant. In 1981 he co-authored, with Claude R. Canup, Charles E. Daniel: His Philosophy and Legacy, a biography of the founder of Greenville's Daniel Construction Company.

Workman’s activities and pursuits outside of journalism were often reflected in the subjects of his articles. With his deep commitment to South Carolina and its people, the state’s history, politics, and quality of life were of great interest to Workman.

In 1966 Workman agreed to Governor Robert McNair’s request that he assist the state’s Constitutional Revision Committee. He served as the group’s secretary for the next three years. The committee’s 1969 report led to significant changes in the operation of local and county government, which had been under the centralized control of the county legislative delegations.

In keeping with his commitment to the people, especially the young people, of South Carolina, Workman was active as a director of the James F. Byrnes Foundation. Established by the late James F. Byrnes and his wife Maude in 1948, this organization provides college scholarship funds and guidance counseling for qualified South Carolina orphans. Workman served as the Foundation’s president from 1972-1985.

Although he retired from The State in 1979, Workman’s interest in politics or the well-being of his fellow citizens did not end. In 1982, despite the onset of a mild form of Parkinson’s disease, Workman ran for Governor against popular incumbent Dick Riley. Although close associates, such as his 1962 campaign manager, J. Drake Edens, Jr., tried to dissuade him, Workman was determined to offer the people of South Carolina an alternative. He believed he and Riley had the same goals for South Carolina, but differed on the means of achieving them. In spite of lukewarm financial support from the state and national Republican parties, Workman gained 31% of the vote in the loss to Riley. In a speech after the election, he said, “I’m glad I made the fight. I've opened South Carolina to a lot of truisms. One is the need for a two-party system. It would have been a fluke if I had won. All the cards were stacked against me, financial and name recognition.”

After the 1982 election Workman quietly faded from public life. The Parkinson’s disease gradually worsened, and on November 23, 1990, William D. Workman, Jr. passed away, survived by his two children, son Bill III, a 1961 Citadel graduate and a mayor of Greenville, S.C., daughter Dorrill ["Dee"] Workman, and four grandchildren.


Donated by William D. Workman, III

Digital Collection

Processing Information

Processed in 1994 by Colleen Bradley, updated 2002 by Kelly Gilbert, Audio-Visual Series reprocessed 2017-2018 by Mae Howe and Chauna Carr with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

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

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