Russell, Donald S. (1906-1998)
Papers, 1929-1998, 23.75 ft.
Donald Russell began his career with the Spartanburg law firm of Nichols, Wyche & Byrnes, where he became a close friend and protégé of James F. Byrnes. Thanks in part to this connection, Russell held several important positions with the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, including Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. In 1952, Russell was named president of the University of South Carolina. As president, Russell guided the school from regional significance towards its current national prestige. Russell resigned in 1957 to run for governor, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Ernest F. Hollings. In 1961, Russell again ran for governor and was elected. Upon the death of Olin Johnston, South Carolina's senior senator, in 1965, Russell stepped down as governor. He was succeeded by his Lieutenant Governor, Robert McNair, who appointed Russell to serve as South Carolina's senator until such time as a special election could be held. Russell was praised for his acumen and activities as senator, but was defeated by Hollings in the 1966 special election. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Russell a U.S. District Court judge in 1967. In 1971, he was appointed to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. He served as an appellate court judge until the time of his death in 1998.
Collection Finding Aid
The collection is arranged in five major series: Public Papers, Personal Papers, Speeches, Audio-Visual Material and Clippings. Public Papers document Russell’s service at the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, and as Assistant Secretary of State, Governor of South Carolina and U.S. Senator. The bulk of the public materials regard his Senate service and demonstrate Russell’s commitment to constituent service as well as significant work on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and the Agriculture and Forestry Committee. Personal Papers document Russell’s interests in business, finance, charity, education and Foreign Service. Russell’s personal activities rival his public work in importance to the state; he worked particularly diligently to promote education and the welfare of children and the disabled.
Oral History Transcript (21 pages)
In this 1992 interview, Russell discusses his political career and the integration of Clemson University.
Records of the President, 1952-1957 (University Archives, USC)
Gubernatorial Records (S.C. Department of Archives & History)
Oral History with Russell’s Secretary at the War Department (Truman Library)
S.C. Governors (at “SCIway”)
Memory Hold the Door (USC Law School)
Donald Russell: A Life of Public Service (online exhibit)