Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Burson Collection Open

The William H. (Bill) Burson Scrapbooks are now open for research at the Russell Library. Bill Burson was born July 31, 1928 in Thomaston, Georgia, located in Upson County. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in Journalism in 1948 and served as a war correspondent in the Korean War. After the war, Burson served as an aide to Senator Herman Talmadge and later to Governor Carl Sanders. In 1967, the newly elected governor, Lester Maddox, appointed him Director of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services. Over the next three years Burson fought a “War on Hunger” attempting to create food stamps programs across Georgia. Burson was elected State Treasurer in 1970 and campaigned for the U.S. Senate in 1972. After losing the senatorial campaign, he worked as a lobbyist for business interests in the Southeast. In 1975, he became Zell Miller’s administrative and special assistant, a position he held until his retirement in 1991.

Above: Page from scrapbook volume 13, 1968; Below: The Burson family during Bill’s campaign for State Treasurer, 1970.

This collection includes a series of twenty-five scrapbooks compiled by Burson, containing artifacts, photographs, programs, speeches, correspondence, and clippings. The scrapbooks contain information regarding his education, various fraternal and academic organizations to which he belonged, appointments to numerous positions, his election to the position of State Treasurer and 1972 senatorial campaign, and his years spent as a special assistant to Governor Zell Miller. Topics include the Korean War, education, welfare and food programs, Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, birth control, sex education, financial reform, and Governor Jimmy Carter’s government reorganization plan.

Additional materials include thirty-eight photographs illustrating Burson’s experiences as a war correspondent on the frontlines with the U.S. 7th Infantry Division during the Korean War. Other photographs document both his campaign for treasurer and for the U.S. Senate. Certificates, commissions, diplomas, and plaques document Burson’s many achievements at the University of Georgia, State Department of Family and Children Services, and as State Treasurer. Seven original editorial cartoons by Clifford (Baldy) Baldowski, Bill Daniels, David Boyd, and Eric Devericks depict the difficulties Burson faced as he attempted to revise welfare and food programs across the state and his 1972 senatorial campaign.

Above: Burson interviewing Pvt. Warren Cappel, the "Front-Line Stop" sign put up by 24th Division Engineers to discourage excursions to the front, circa 1951.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the William H. (Bill) Burson Scrapbooks, please contact russlib@uga.edu or call (706) 542-5788.

Post by Kat Shirley, Head of Arrangement and Description, Russell Library

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