University of South Carolina

Library exhibit shows life at Governorís Mansion

Step into life at the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion through the words of the governors, their wives and their children in a new exhibit on display in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library at the University of South Carolina.

The exhibit will run through Aug. 31 and is free and open to the public.

“Life in the Mansion,” compiled by South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC), offers a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of South Carolina’s first families. Through text panels and illustrations, the exhibit paints a full picture of life at 800 Richland Street, including First Lady Iris Campbell’s revelation about how the state’s hard-won deal with auto manufacturer BMW was drafted on a cocktail napkin. Also featured is a story by First Lady Ann Edwards about Victoria, the family cat, which refused to leave a dinner being held for dignitaries.

Information for the exhibit was drawn from interviews with the first families conducted by the late George Terry, former dean of University Libraries. The “narrators” of the exhibit range from Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, governor from 1959 to 1963, to James H. Hodges, governor from 1999 to 2003, and members of their families.

First Lady Rachel Hodges calls the mansion “a hard-working building,” one that is both a home to the first family and a tool used by the governor for developing relationships with people, from state legislators to industry prospects.

“The exhibit has an intellectual component, but it’s not information heavy,” said Herb Hartsook, SCPC director and organizer of the exhibit. “You can look at the exhibit in 15 minutes and come away with some good insights into what it might have been like to live in the mansion as governor or as a member of one of South Carolina’s first families.”

Katharine Klein, a master’s candidate in public history, worked on the exhibit. Klein came up with the exhibit’s design and selected quotes from the interviews while matching the text with photographs from the library’s collections of gubernatorial papers.

“This was a wonderful experience,” said Klein, who said she came away from her work on the exhibit with a sense that the politicians who have occupied the mansion are real people like everyone else. “The exhibit gives visitors a chance to see a side of the families that they probably haven’t seen.”

For more information about South Carolina Political Collections, visit For more information about the Hollings Library at the University of South Carolina go to

'Life in the Mansion'

  • What: Exhibit offering behind-the-scenes look into the lives of South Carolina’s first families
  • Where: Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
  • When: Through August 2011

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 04/25/11 @ 12:30 PM | Updated: 04/25/11 @ 12:43 PM | Permalink