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Georgia Government Documentation Project: B (A-H)

A guide to the Georgia Government Documentation Project oral history collection.

Series B. Public Figures A-H

Series B.  Public Figures (P2000-06)

The interviews in this series were, with a few exceptions, initiated by the Georgia Government Documentation Project and are with a wide range of prominent public figures.  Narrators include both elected officials and individuals who never held office.  Among the narrators interviewed are former U.S. Attorney General Griffin B. Bell, U.S. Senator Paul D. Coverdell, Speaker of the House Tom Murphy, and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell.  Most of the interviews are in a life history format, covering the narrator's upbringing, public career, and key events, developments and individuals.

This series is very large and has been divided into three parts by alphabetically by last name. This page contains oral histories from Allgood to Groover.

For Availability Information, see the Finding Aid.


Series B Oral Histories A-H

Allgood, Thomas (P1989-26)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

January 25, 1989

30 pp.

Thomas Allgood, from Richmond County, served in the Georgia Senate from 1977 to 1991, and was majority leader from 1980 to 1991.

Among topics discussed:  Personal background; early interest in law enforcement; Cracker Party in Augusta; Roy Harris as "king maker"; personal impact of attendance at a 1950 Talmadge rally; representation of blacks in civil cases; Allen Childs; Culver Kidd case; first campaign (1976); differences between courtroom and campaigning; opinions on Bush campaign; racism in politics; Ed McIntyre; A. K. Hassan; early Senate experiences; amending bills and writing legislation; race with Frank Eldridge for Senate Majority Leader; involvement of Tom Purdue, Zell Miller and Jimmy Lester in that race.





Alverson, Luther (P1990-12)

Interviewed by: Anne Larcom

October 11, 1990

No Transcript

Luther Alverson (1907-2002) served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1949‑1953, as a Judge in the Criminal Court of Fulton County from 1952‑1956, and as a Judge in the Superior Court, Atlanta circuit from 1957‑1991.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; education; early occupations; law school; Hooper and Miller; military service; entry into politics; consolidation of Buckhead and Atlanta; Everett Millican; "Four Horsemen; debates over total consolidation legislation; Elbert Tuttle; Richard Rich; William B. Hartsfield; DeKalb delegation members Pierre Howard and Richard Bell; recruiting vote for consolidation referendum; campaign versus Hamilton Douglas for Superior Court; 1948 campaign for legislature versus Frank Morrison. Three‑governor controversy; interposition as political issue; role of black vote in Georgia; urban renewal; Alverson's Congressional ambitions; Charles Weltner; Milledgeville Hospital; Jack Nelson; role in creating Mental Health Commission; Jekyll Island Authority.


Alverson, Luther (P1990-12)

Interviewed by: Anne Larcom

October 22, 1990

61 pp. Transcript


Among topics discussed:  1948 legislative race; "Four Horsemen" Frank Morrison, Fred Gilbert, Everett Millican, Muggsy Smith; role of Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Alverson's entry into politics; campaign against Buckhead annexation; three "E's": earnest, enthusiastic, endeavor; Reid plan; local government commission; controversy over constitutionality of Atlanta annexation policy; exclusion of airports, public works, schools from consolidation plan; issue of interposition; Jekyll Island authority; Highway Board; influence of Dick Rich, Elbert Tuttle; 1952 campaign for criminal court judgeship; 1956 campaign for superior court judgeship; service as chief judge; Milledgeville Hospital; mental health reforms; sentence review panel, Judicial Process Commission. Children Protective Services Commission; bail release program; federal courts bill signed by President Johnson; Christine Smith, movie censor in Atlanta; Never on Sunday censorship case; 1974 Marcus Wayne Chenault case; Trial Lawyers Association of America award; State Employees' Pension Fund; Freedom of Information Act; nude dancing, Gold Club case; semi‑automatic weapons case; obscenity case, The Story of  'O'; Georgia Board of Regents, open records case; formation of Georgia State University Law School. Among topics discussed:  Dr. George Manners; formation of Georgia State University Law School; Mr. Henry Neal; role of Vernon Crawford in founding GSU Law School; Delta Theta Phi; Golden Staff award; Alverson's role in setting up public defender system; Jess Watson; modifications in court system; professional training; Judge Frank Hooper; Hooper and segregation cases.


Barnes, Roy (P1990-13)

Interviewed by: Thomas A. Scott

October 5, 1990

26 pp.

Roy Barnes (b. 1948), from Cobb County, served in the Georgia Senate from 1975 to 1991, and was a candidate in the 1990 Democratic gubernatorial primary. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1992 where he served before winning the 1998 Gubernatorial election to become the 80th governor of Georgia. He lost the Governorship in 2002 and returned to his legal career, before attempting a political comeback in 2010 with a failed attempt to re-capture the governorship.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; family business; Eugene Talmadge supporters; changes in Mableton; education; early political interests; Republican Party; switch to Democratic Party; Buddy Darden and Matthews case; first political campaign; term limits; 1974 political newcomers; Joe Mack Wilson; Zell Miller; rise of Republican Party in Georgia.


Barnes, Roy (P1990-13)

Interviewed by: Thomas A. Scott

October 26, 1990

77 pp.

Among topics discussed:  Rise of Republican Party in Georgia; Cobb County voters; Democratic Party; changes in Georgia; use of the media; Zell Miller; independent voters' impact on elections; multi‑member districts; sunshine laws; the Georgia press; state budget process; education system in Georgia; power of the lieutenant governor; Joe Frank Harris as governor; taxes; Cobb County Commission; new state constitution; accomplishments in the General Assembly; the Code of Georgia; Clean Lakes Program; Department of Natural Resources board;  Cobb County landfills; cogeneration (power); MARTA; Harold Gloer; loss in governor's race; thrift industry; effect of television on elections; the state lottery; abortion issue; prison issue; drug issue; Johnny Isakson; Bubba McDonald; Joe Frank Harris; Tom Murphy; Andrew Young; Joe Mack Wilson; Al Burruss.


Bell, Griffin (P1990-09)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn and William L. Bost

Griffin Bell (1918-2009) served as Chief of Staff under Governor Ernest Vandiver, was a judge on the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1961 to 1976, and was United States Attorney General from 1977 to 1979. After leaving Carter's cabinet, Bell served on numerous commissions as well as practicing law.

June 12, 1990

74 pp.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; education; early legal career; King and Spalding; changes in legal profession; the Georgia Bar Association; Ernest Vandiver; Robert Jordan; Vandiver's 1954 lieutenant governor campaign; King and Spalding support for Fred Hand in 1954 governor's race; protecting clients' interests; potential governors in the late 1950s; "No, not one" decision; Cooper v. Aaron; Bell becomes Governor Vandiver's chief of staff; Holcombe Perry; school desegregation; Bell's role in creating the Sibley Commission; George Busbee; HOPE; changes in black leadership; meetings during the University desegregation crisis; 1960 Democratic National Convention; Bobby Troutman; Bell's role as Georgia Kennedy campaign co‑chair; presidential campaign tactics in Georgia; Kennedy supporters in Georgia; Martin Luther King, Jr.'s arrest; Bobby Kennedy involvement in King case; Kennedy campaign organization; county unit system decision while Bell on bench; redistricting cases; importance of school desegregation issue to the public; Bell's view of solution to desegregation issue.

September 19, 1990

68 pp.

Among topics discussed:  Vandiver's appointees; war experience; Atlanta law firms after WW II; Judge Hooper; rural roads controversy; desegregation issue in Atlanta; school closure issue; "Forward Atlanta"; Atlanta's highway system; starting idea of mass transit in Atlanta; how Bell became chief of staff to Vandiver; staff selection; opposition to Bell; Brown v. Board of Education; C. Vann Woodward's testimony; free textbooks; single school plan (desegregation); Sibley Commission; Bell's confirmation hearings; appointment of Judge Robert Elliott; voting rights violations in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Voting Rights Act; Bell's judicial philosophy; Bell as chairman of the Atlanta Commission on Crime and Juvenile Delinquency; Federal Judicial Center; Neighborhood Justice Center; work on Criminal Code; parole system; Federal Justice I; jury system; diversity jurisdiction; addition of a court of appeals between the circuit courts and the US Supreme Court; pre‑trial discovery abuses; summary procedure; Judge John R. Brown; Judge Elbert Tuttle.




Camp, Tom (P1977-21)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

December 6, 1993

59 pp.

Tom Camp was an Atlanta Civil Court Judge from 1957‑1981, and was a candidate for Congress in the 5th District in 1946.

SEE also Camp interview in series G.

Among topics discussed:  Childhood and family background; "boll weevil depression"; education; early career in education; 1926 congressional election; congressional aide to Leslie J. Steele 1927‑1929; George Washington Law School; marriage to Gladys Humphreys; aid to Congressman Robert Ramspeck 1929‑1944; merger of Campbell County with Fulton County 1932; abolition of county unit system; Social Security legislation; Ramspeck and Air Transport Association; Camp's work with Railroad Association of Georgia; 1946 congressional election, role of Ashby Street bloc; Camp's residence in Atlanta; appointment to Fulton County Commission, 1947‑1957; judge in Atlanta Municipal Court 1957‑1965, Chief Justice 1966‑1980; merger of criminal and civil courts into Fulton State court 1977; city improvement plan; actions of Fulton County Commission during Camp's tenure; expressway bond; parks; Grady Hospital; Camp and Boyd law firm; Witham bank case; Atlanta Law School; Lily Camp; Mayor Hartsfield; Buford Dam; jails; juvenile court; Atlanta law firms; Calvin Coolidge.


Coverdell, Paul (P1989-07)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

Paul Coverdell (1939-2000) served in the Georgia Senate from 1971 to 1989, and was minority leader from 1975 until 1989.  He was the United States Peace Corps director from 1989‑1991, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. Coverdell died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 2000.

March 4, 1989

43 pp.

Among topics discussed:  Youthful interest in politics; influence of the Kennedys; Ellis Arnall campaign in 1966; support of Bo Callaway; "Write In, Georgia"; legislative reform movement (1974); decision to run for state senate; Tena Bledsoe; Jack Hardy; redistricting issue in 1970 campaign; campaign strategy; campaign workers; registration drive; C.A. Scott; organizational abilities; Rodney Cook; Mills Lane; Sam Massell; Horace Tate; Ivan Allen; 1969 Atlanta mayoral race; town hall meetings; Mack Mattingly; Republican Party factions; Republican interaction with Jimmy Carter; Hal Suit; reapportionment; Culver Kidd.

March 10, 1989

28 pp.

Among topics discussed:  1976 congressional campaign; Ed Gradicks; Mack Mattingly; Carter Clew; congressional reapportionment; Everett Millican; Julian Bond; Joe Mack Wilson; Thomas Allgood; James Lester; Atlanta Journal; Tom Scott; Todd Evans; redistricting.




Dean, Nathan (P1989-27)

Interviewed by: James Cook

October 2, 1989

59 pp.

Nathan Dean (b. 1934), from Bartow County, served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1963 to 1975 and has served in the Georgia Senate since 1975.

Among topics discussed:  Family background and formative years; personal political philosophy; changes in campaign strategies; changes in the General Assembly since the 1960s; county unit system; shifts in political power in Georgia from south to north; changes in legislators; rural‑urban conflict in the legislature; "trade outs" in legislative work; the Georgia lottery issue; the abortion as a no‑win situation; comparison of speakers George L. Smith, George T. Smith, and Tom Murphy; House members decision against governor‑appointed speakers; changes in handling House Bill 1 (budget); comparison of House and Senate as democratic bodies; Denmark Groover; lieutenant governor's role in setting up committees; changes in Zell Miller's handling of lieutenant governor position; compromise on sales tax; James H. "Sloppy" Floyd as Appropriations Committee chair; working relationship with Jimmy Carter, Joe Frank Harris; personal views on the role of a legislator; Quality Basic Education greatest piece of legislation passed; Georgia's growth potential; assessment of Joe Frank Harris, George Busbee, Carl Sanders, and Jimmy Carter as governors; suggestions to change Georgia's government; Georgia's evolution to a two party state; relationship between the state and national Democratic parties.


Duke, Daniel (P1990-10)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn and Anne Larcom

October 3, 1990

87 pp.

Daniel Duke (1913-1999) served as Assistant Solicitor General of Georgia from 1939‑41, and was Assistant Attorney General of Georgia from 1944‑46.

SEE also Duke interview in series K.

Among topics discussed:  Personal background; early interest in law; John Ritter Daniel; Wheeler Mangum, sheriff of Fulton County at the time of the Leo Frank Case; Leo Frank case; law school experiences; hired by Solicitor General's staff to investigate Highway Department corruption; involvement of Ku Klux Klan head Hiram Evans; John Boykin as Solicitor General; Jimmy Carmichael; Frank Lawson, editor of The Statesman; first experience with the Ku Klux Klan; common knowledge of flogging in south Fulton County; Ike Gaston case; reasons many became Ku Klux Klan members; Henry Cawthorn case; Ku Klux Klan as a moral force; problems finding witnesses; Paul Donehoo, blind coroner; Duke given case against floggers; staff for investigation assembled; Ku Klux Klan records seized; P.S. Toney flogging case; involvement of Fulton County Sheriff's Department; Grady Kent flogging case; Rainwater flogging case; cases of blacks not prosecuted for lack of evidence; Allen flogging case; Duke's role in coroner's inquest; background of Gaston case; special sessions of the Fulton County Grand Jury; Boykin's requirement of second confession; the appeal of the Ku Klux Klan; differences between criminal justice system then and now; Judge Etheridge; coordination of other investigations at the same time; Camp family; seizure and burning of Ku Klux Klan records; support for the Ku Klux Klan by Ford and General Motors for their anti‑union actions; Klan member on the jury; episode with George Cameron in an elevator; "Judge" Parham; E. D. Rivers's Ku Klux Klan association; origin of River's nickname "Asphalt Ed"; corruption in the Highway Department; Talmadge clemency hearings in 1941; Walter LeCraw; Duke as assistant Attorney General under Eugene Cook; CIO; plan to revoke the Ku Klux Klan charter; Cleburne Gregory as the governor's lawyer; theft of Klan records; connection between Samuel Green and Drew Pearson; cooperation with press against Klan; Ralph McGill's role in anti‑Klan publicity; importance of the charter revocation; Homer Loomis and the Colombians; appeal of the modern Ku Klux Klan; Duke's analysis of Klan membership; Ku Klux Klan sympathizers; locations of Ku Klux Klan activity; three‑governor controversy; duties as assistant Attorney General; involvement in pioneering jury box challenges; John Crum case; Amos Reese case; Helen Mankin's 1946 congressional campaign.


Gillis, Hugh (P1988-09)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

March 25, 1988

72 pp.

Hugh Gillis (b. 1918), from Treutlen County, served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1941 to 1944 and 1949 to 1956, and served in the Georgia Senate from 1957-58, and from 1963 to the present.

Among topics discussed:  Gillis' family in politics; formation of Treutlen County; political memories of Gillis's father (Jim Gillis); Franklin D. Roosevelt and Jim Gillis; first campaign; Cocking affair; switch of family political allegiance from Ellis Arnall to the Talmadges; old style political rallies; the county unit system and campaign strategy; three‑governor controversy; power of the highway department; allocating road money; road crew system; Gene Talmadge's stump style; stories told by politicians in the Henry Grady Hotel; decision making at the Henry Grady; participants at the Henry Grady; anti‑Herman Talmadge faction; state budget cutting under Vandiver; reaction to Maddox as governor; reorganization battles with Governor Jimmy Carter; campaign against Cecil Passmore; Carter's involvement in Passmore‑Gillis campaign; Maddox support of Gillis for Speaker Pro Tem; Carter's attempt to reorganize the forestry department; the "Green Door" (budget) committee; rural political influence; the Fulton County delegation; changes in state government; changes in campaigning; Gillis' accomplishments.


Gowen, Charles (1988-23)


Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

June 27, 1988

49 pp.

Charles Gowen (1904-2003), from Glynn County, served in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1939, 1941, from 1943 to 1954, and from 1957 to 1960.  He was a candidate for governor in 1954. He died in 2003.

Among topics discussed:  Upbringing and family background; education; Gwen's decision to get into politics; the poll tax; Georgia Power Company investigation by the SEC; Fred Wilson; legislators at the Henry Grady Hotel; political decision‑making at the Henry Grady; Cocking affair; Gowan's role in Arnall's administration; State Port Authority; county unit system; state constitution; three‑governor controversy; differences between Roy Harris and Ellis Arnall; Adie Durden; Eugene Talmadge speeches; campaign financing in the 1940s; Gowan's 1954 race for governor; telethon preparation; Gowan's relationship with the press; liquor interests in campaigns.


Greer, John (P1987-07)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

May 6, 1987

66 pp.

John W. Greer (1909-1994) served as a clerk in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1939 and secretary to Gov. E.D. Rivers from 1939 to 1940; he served Lanier County in the Georgia House from 1945-54 and in the Georgia Senate from 1959-60, and served Fulton County in the House from 1971-89. He died in 1994.

SEE also John Greer collection.

Among topics discussed:  Personal background; early political interest; education; memories of Franklin D. Roosevelt; Eugene Talmadge as an opponent of Roosevelt; Talmadge campaign tactics; Governor E. D. Rivers; the New Deal; the General Assembly during the Rivers administration; first political campaign; problems with road paving; Jim Gillis; politics in the highway department; committee assignments; the Secret Ballot bill; the Ku Klux Klan in politics; the Democratic Party in the South; the anti‑mask bill; Roy Harris; James Mackay; involvement in MARTA; "the gentleman from Lanier."


Greer, John (P1987-07)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

May 27, 1987

40 pp.

Among topics discussed:  Jim Gillis and the Georgia highway department paving in Lanier County; "two mile" Jim Gillis; the power of the highway department; amending the highway department; roads; Cocking affair; Talmadge's influence; Greer as an anti‑Talmadge candidate; E.D. Rivers‑Eugene Talmadge rivalry; Talmadge and the University of Georgia; the Georgia Board of Regents; George Hamilton and Talmadge; the power of the state treasurer; the rivalry between comptroller general and the treasurer; George Hamilton; Talmadge faction; Zack Cravey as comptroller general; the Talmadge group: Frank Twitty, Fred Hand, Al Henson; Roy Harris as a Rivers man; Harris's knowledge of Georgia politics; intra‑county power struggles; personality politics; changes in election laws and their effect on state elections; 1946 Talmadge‑Carmichael governor's race; 1952 amendment to strengthen county unit system; Osgood Williams; why Greer fought the county unit system; reaction in Lanier county; changing senatorial districts; county factions; Fred Hand; southwest Georgia and its fealty to Talmadge; Greer's efforts to pass an anti‑mask bill; KKK activity during anti‑mask bill debates; politicians and the KKK; Greer's terms in the Senate; Sibley Commission; Sibley Commission's public hearings; racial epithets; black office holders; black registration in a small county; Lanier County; testing black voter registrants; the Sibley hearings. 


Greer, John (P1987-07)

Interviewed by: Cliff Kuhn

June 4, 1987

60 pp.

Among topics discussed:  Efforts to insure secret ballot in 1949; political factions within individual counties; "Talmadge crowd"; leaders of the anti‑Talmadge crowd; Bernard "Buckshot" Nightingale; Charles Gowan's 1954 gubernatorial campaign ; Tom Linder; 1954 governor's race; Marvin Griffin; county unit campaigning; 1962 governor's race; Carl Sanders as an anti‑Talmadge man; New Deal's effects on political factionalism; Warm Springs, Georgia; FDR; state Democratic convention; factional fighting; Jim Peters; anti‑mask bill; Albany, Georgia as a pocket of anti‑Talmadge feeling in southwest Georgia; opposition to anti‑mask bill; appropriations and the New Deal; economic development in Georgia; Jim Gillis; building county roads; Downing Musgrove; highway board; moving to Atlanta; serving Fulton county compared to serving Lanier; road building; MARTA; trucking companies; appropriating money for highways; transportation; trucking legislation; Lamar Plunkett as appropriations committee chairman; Lee Purdham; reasons behind Greer's choice of committees; Insurance Committee; Rules Committee; Ways and Means Committee; MARTA overview; James Gray; Jimmy Dykes as a politician; Red Townsend; Ellis Arnall; Culver Kidd; Denmark Groover; Peter Zack Geer; Buck Murphy as a Talmadge leader; Robert Elliott; Claude Pittman; George L. Smith; George T. Smith; George L. Smith's funeral; the Ansley Hotel; the Henry Grady Hotel; Fred Wilson; the Piedmont Hotel; committee meetings at the Henry Grady Hotel; the Owl Room; M.E. Thompson's campaign for governor in 1950; Greer running for lieutenant governor; suites at the "political" hotels; politics without factionalism; Joe Frank Harris; Zell Miller; modern politics; MARTA; political issues; fund raising; Greer campaign against Ralph David Abernathy; Greer's political constituency; Greer campaign against Tom Miller; political career; Greer's family; editing a newspaper in Cordele, Georgia; early life.


Groover, Denmark (1989-12)

Interviewed by: James F. Cook

September 12, 1989

34 pp.

Denmark Groover (1922-2001) served Bibb, Twiggs, Jones, Jasper, and Monroe counties in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1953 to 1956, 1963 to 1964, 1971 to 1974 and from 1983 to 1995. He died in 2001 after assisting Roy Barnes efforts to change the Georgia State Flag.

Among topics discussed:  Personal background; reasons for entering politics; term as floor leader for Governor Griffin; Marvin Griffin as governor; comparison between Griffin and Eugene Talmadge as governor; the Atlanta press and Griffin's administration; the county unit system; benefits of the county unit system; personal political philosophy; segregation; career as House member; disagreement with Governor Sanders over constitution of 1964; the rural bloc; MARTA; Georgia's tax situation in the early twentieth century; reapportionment under Governor Sanders; the "clock incident"; personal ranking of speakers he served under; decision making; the Georgia insurance system; committee service; Rural Roads Authority; comparison of House of Representatives then and now; relationship with National Democratic Party; working relationship with Governor Carter.

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