Thursday, September 13, 2007

Politics and Domestic Life in the Russell Library Collections

Herman and Betty Talmadge holding a ham in their smokehouse, ca. 1947,
Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Richard B. Russell Library for Political
Research and Studies

Political gossip and scandal have always played a part in politics, be it from illegal campaign contributions to persistent rumor-mongering. Before the age of career politicians, public servants maintained separate lives from their Washington D.C. alter egos. During breaks from legislation, many returned to their day jobs as farmers, doctors, and lawyers and while away on the nation’s business, their wives and children ran these enterprises.

The selection of letters and photographs in “Politics and Domestic Life in the Russell Library Collections” highlights the personal side of politics. Virginia Rusk’s annual Christmas letters share feelings of excitement when her husband Dean was named Secretary of State by President John F. Kennedy but also record her feelings of shock and dismay two years later after Kennedy’s assassination. In 1900, Dudley Mays Hughes lovingly addressed a letter to his niece, nicknamed “Miss Empire State of the South,” and told her that “the Senate is hard at work” but he would be home soon. While her husband Herman was in Washington D.C. representing Georgia as a Senator, Betty Talmadge ran Talmadge Country Cured Hams based in their hometown of Lovejoy. In 1960 she submitted a recipe for the 1961 Congressional Club Cookbook for Baked Country Cured Ham, which informs cooks that they can soak the ham in water, wine, ginger ale, orange juice, apple cider, pineapple juice, peach pickle juice, Coca-Cola, or champagne and achieve a delicious meal.

The Russell Library lobby gallery is open from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. For more information about this exhibit, History Lives in the Russell Library (an exhibit of the Russell Library’s greatest hits) or the Russell Library collections, please visit or call 706-542-5788.

New Russell Library website

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies would like to announce the debut of our their new website at Among the variety of improvements added to the site are links to a news and events weblog, dynamic collection search capabilities, and forms to allow users to subscribe to e-updates or offer suggestions.