Keller Bumgardner Barron Papers
The Keller Bumgardner Barron collection consists of thirteen linear feet of material, c. 1916 to 2016, divided into six series: Personal, Public, Speeches, Clippings, Audiovisual, and Vertical File Materials.
Personal papers include materials from Agnes Scott College, particularly from Barron’s involvement with its Alumni Association. Of note are scrapbooks that include clippings, documents, and photographs. The “Columbia Area Agnes Scott College Alumni Association” scrapbook, 1978-1991, is filed with the materials relating to Agnes Scott College Alumni Association in the Personal files in Box 1. The “Agnes Scott College- Columbia Alumnae” scrapbook, 1968-1978, is housed with other scrapbooks from her collection.
Public papers make up the largest series of the collection, with almost twelve feet of material. These reflect Barron’s involvement in community and national organizations and her service on government commissions and committees, particularly the Columbia Community Relations Council, the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging, the League of Women Voters, and the Southern Regional Council, as well as women’s issues in general. In conjunction with her appointment to the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging, Barron served as a member of the Jarvie Commonweal Administrative Committee. The James Jarvie Commonweal Service, established in New York, acts in association with the Presbyterian Church and offers funding, services, and relief to senior citizens of the Protestant faith.
Speeches are arranged chronologically, 1967-1987. Of particular interest are Barron’s handwritten notes, drafts, and speech material accompanying the speeches.
Clippings document Barron’s participation in various community and government organizations and her interest in the issues of education, race, women, and voters’ rights.
Audiovisual materials contain a DVD, cassette tapes, film reels, video cassettes, and slides that document Barron’s engagement with the Equal Rights Amendment, voters’ rights, race relations, and her involvement in the League of Women Voters and the Southern Regional Council. Photographs include professional portraits and group shots from various bill signing ceremonies, Columbia Relations Council, and the National Leadership Institute on Aging, as well as photographs of other prominent political figures and historic family photographs.
Vertical File Materials contain information gathered by SCPC relating to Barron and may duplicate information already present in the collection.
- 1916 - 2016
- Barron, Keller H. (Keller Bumgardner) (Creator, Person)
Conditions Governing Use
Library use only. Copyright of the Keller Barron Papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.
13 Linear Feet
Biographical / Historical
Keller Bumgardner Barron turned volunteerism into a profession. She has held positions in local, state, and national organizations and is a prominent figure in the Columbia community. She is actively involved in the League of Women Voters and served as local and state League president and on the national board. She has championed women’s rights, voters’ rights, improved race relations, and education reform. Keller Henderson was born on February 20, 1932 to Gertrude Keller and George W. Henderson in Newport News, Virginia. Early in her life, her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Barron graduated from Napsonian High School (now Westminster School). She attended Vanderbilt University from 1949 to 1950 and graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia in 1953 with a B.A. in History and Political Science and an Elementary Teaching Certificate. In 1953, she married Sherrod Lewis Bumgardner, D.D.S., and made her home in Columbia. They had four children. Bumgardner passed away in 1979 and Keller was remarried to William B. Barron in 1984. Barron became active in the League of Women Voters in the mid-1950s and was president of the local League, 1963 to 1965, and the state League, 1967 to 1971. In 1971 she was appointed to the national board of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and elected in 1972 and 1974-1976. As a board member, she served as Chair of Voters Service, the Election Systems Project, and the Individual Liberties Project of the League of Women Voters Education Fund. From 1973 to 1976, she chaired the LWVUS national campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and was the Co-Coordinator of the Equal Rights Ratification Coalition of South Carolina with the National Organization for Women (NOW). Barron had a prolific career in state politics and organizations. Governor John West appointed her to the State Reorganization Commission, where she served as secretary, and the Human Affairs Commission in 1972. She was elected chair of the Accountability Study Committee of the State Commission on Alcoholism in 1972. In 1974 she was appointed to the Southern Regional Council Board of Governors, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, as a South Carolina representative and was chosen a Life Fellow, 1998. From 1975 - February 1979 she was employed by Community Care, Inc., a non-profit, interdenominational social action agency where she developed the Title XX Meals on Wheels program and directed the Emergency School Aid Act (ESAA) federal integration grant, "Support for Public Education," which included home visits by bi-racial teams from Benedict and Columbia Colleges and the University of South Carolina. She was elected the first woman chair of the SC Committee of the US Commission on Civil Rights, serving from 1977 to 1979. In 1979, she also became the Research Director for the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging for the South Carolina General Assembly, where she worked until 1997. She served as chair of the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, which addresses race relations in the Columbia area, for 12 years, elected first woman chair, from 1987 to 1988. Barron has received many honors and awards. She was the recipient of the Christian Action Council Citizenship Award in 1973 and, in 1974, was the first woman recipient of the E.A. McDowell Award for Distinguished Christian Service offered by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. She received the Outstanding Alumna Award for Public Service from Agnes Scott College in 2002. In May 1982, Barron was the first recipient of the Modjeska Simkins Prize. This honor is awarded by the non-profit group Human Endeavor to individuals whose contributions to society excel in the field of social justice, civil rights, and community improvement. She was recognized by the committee for her extensive and varied record of community service, citing her “outstanding record of undertaking and completing difficult, demanding, often unpopular tasks,” and Mrs. Simkins was quoted, "In the hot civil rights times, Keller Bumgardner stood up with us...and she had a lot more to lose." Moreover, the committee acknowledged that “in times of social conflict she has made personal commitments and sacrifices to facilitate social understanding,” and her work “called all America to rise to her high standard of justice under the law.” In her remarks at the awards ceremony, Barron told the story of Peanuts characters Lucy and Charlie Brown on a cruise ship, discussing the placement of deck chairs as a metaphor for life: “On the cruise ship of life, Charlie Brown, which way is your deck chair facing?” Barron answered Lucy’s inquiry by saying that she has chosen to look forward to the future as it related to her work: “Can we focus our vision into specific action, to make a difference, to achieve justice, to secure and guarantee the livelihood, well-being, freedom and dignity of every person in the community not just those strong enough to insist upon it?” She then addressed the audience, saying, “I believe you have your vision, you know where the action is for you…We do not go gentle into that good night.” In her retirement, Barron teaches the AARP Drivers Safety Course and has become involved in the political and social justice issues of immigration. She is a member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Public Education Commission of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. She continues leadership roles in the League of Women Voters and is an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, USA. She was LWVUS delegate to the 2019 United Nations 63rd Conference on the Status of Women, New York. She was chosen as a Columbia City of Women honoree by Historic Columbia and the Women's Right and Empowerment Network, August 26, 2021.
South Carolina Political Collections, Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, University of South Carolina. 1322 Greene St., Columbia, SC 29208.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Keller Bumgardner Barron
2015-2016 by Sarah Lerch, Dorothy Walker, Clara Bertagnolli, Mary Clare Johnson
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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