University of South Carolina

Holiday cards show a kinder, gentler season

By Margaret Lamb,, 803-777-5400

Once upon a time, politicians set aside their differences for a brief season. They wished one another peace. They practiced good will toward men, and they merrily raised their glasses in toasts for good cheer and good health.

And they were sincere.

Hard to believe that the season for trading nasty barbs that would make even the Grinch recoil was once a season for exchanging warm greetings. But come see for yourself at the Hollings Library’s annual holiday card exhibit, which is on display until Jan. 20.

This year marks the 17th that the S.C. Political Collections has reached into its trove of holiday cards to give its own gift…an exhibit of cards from the collections of some of the Palmetto State’s most prominent political leaders. The result is a mix of holiday spirit and nostalgia that harkens back to a kinder, gentler time.

“We like to think this annual exhibit puts all who see it in the holiday spirit,” Herb Hartsook, director of S.C. Political Collections, said. “It is great fun to select favorite cards from our collection. These include dozens of presidential cards and hundreds of cards from years past. My personal favorites are those of Governor and Mrs. Jim Edwards and California congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, whose cards have featured her Persian cat, Gretzky.”

Four display cases feature Christmas greetings sent to and by the state’s governors, congressional representatives and members of the General Assembly.

First Lady Iris Campbell, clad in a white fur coat and matching fur hat, posed in a snappy landau in front of the governor’s mansion with the late Gov. Carroll Campbell. Look closely and you can trace the growth of the family of the late U.S. Rep. William Jennings Bryan Dorn, including the family dog, through the various holiday photos that he sent to colleagues and constituents each year.

Not all are family photos. Many are artistic, and some have a touch of whimsy. A card from Bill and Hillary Clinton features cats playing beneath a Christmas tree in the Oval Office. Another, from President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn, resembles a Currier and Ives lithograph with its snowy scene of a 19th-century White House.

Hartsook said the idea of an annual exhibit originated 19 years ago when the staff were going through Dorn’s political papers that he had donated. “We found all these beautiful Christmas cards, and they were from ambassadors, senators, presidents and heads of state. Because of their artistry, their historic value, and because they capture the holiday spirit, we decided to share them with the university community.”

All of the cards are from papers donated by the state’s leaders to the S.C. Political Collections.

This year, Hartsook and his colleagues have created a power point, with music and a brief explanatory talk, to share with the community.

So, if you want an antidote to bitter politics, head to the Hollings Library for a dose of holiday cheer and history.

Hours are 8:30 – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information on the power point exhibit, contact Hartsook at 803-777-5077.

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 12/13/11 @ 10:30 AM | Updated: 12/13/11 @ 12:30 PM | Permalink