Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Collection Open!

The Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Files is now open for research in the Russell Library.

Thomas Gresham
The collection consists primarily of speeches and press releases written by Thomas Gresham, Bob Short, Jack Thomas, Cliff Brewton and other members of Governor Lester Maddox’s press department. Copies and drafts of speeches made to the Georgia General Assembly include inaugural addresses, the State-of-the-State addresses, and budget messages. There are also remarks to numerous schools, colleges, businesses, and civic and social organizations including the American Legion, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Lion Club, American Turpentine Farmers, Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Bar Association. Accompanying several of the speeches are speaking schedules, handwritten notes, and fact sheets that summarize the event for the speech writer, documenting the purpose of the speech and information about the audiences’ race, sex, religion and political attitudes.

Of particular interest are several transcripts of meetings between Governor Maddox and the press department. During these meetings the Governor would speak extemporaneously about how his speech writers should handle subjects such as the War on Poverty, local control of education and the role of vocational-technical schools, wasteful spending on foreign aid, prison reform, the importance of providing proper utilities, such as water and sewage, throughout the state, and building an economy based on local agriculture and industry. These themes are echoed throughout Maddox’s speeches along with messages concerning the Vietnam War, desegregation, the increased role of the federal government in education, and concern over hippies and draft dodgers.

These files were maintained by Thomas Talmadge Gresham, a speechwriter for Lester G. Maddox and member of the governor’s press department. Over the course of his position under Governor Maddox, Gresham wrote or drafted over 200 speeches on various topics from patriotism to the importance of women in Georgia. After his service to the Maddox administration, Gresham became a communications officer in the Georgia Department of Highway Safety. This collection complements the Clifford Hodges Brewton Collection of Lester G. Maddox Speech/Press Research Files and William H. (Bill) Burson Scrapbooks already held by the Russell Library.

Above Left: Notes on conference with Gov. Maddox, 1968. Below Right: text of a speech given by Maddox, July 15, 1969.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Files, please contact or call (706) 542-5788.

Post by Kat Shirley, Head of Processing, Russell Library

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