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Interview with Betty Vandiver, October 3, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:07 - Interview introduction 00:00:36 - Russell Family / Early life

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Partial Transcript: You have had a very interesting and exciting political and personal life, and we are anxious to hear about it.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about her early life and education. She also talks about growing up in the Russell family.

Keywords: Governor; Governor's Mansion; Grandfather Russell; Grandmother Russell; Richard Russell; Sullins; Uncle Dick; University of Georgia; Winder, Ga; first lady; law

00:08:52 - Meeting Ernest Vandiver / 1948 campaign

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Partial Transcript: How did you meet S. Ernest Pinkney Vandiver?

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver recalls how she met her husband, S Ernest Pinkney Vandiver, and she gives some more details about their first dates. She also talks about living in Atlanta while Ernest worked on Herman Talmadge's campaign.

Keywords: Atlanta, Ga; Eugene Talmadge; Gubernatorial election; Herman Talmadge; Richard Russell; Winder, Ga; World War II; lawyer; marriage; reunion

00:15:59 - Launch of husband's political career

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Partial Transcript: At that point, as I recall, Governor Talmadge had asked Governor Vandiver if he would like a position in his administration, and he chose Adjutant General.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about the start of her husband's political career. She talks about his appointment as Adjutant General, and she talks about his election to Lieutenant Governor.

Keywords: Adjutant General; Lieutenant Governor; air conditioning; campaign; civil defense

00:24:06 - Life at the Governor's Mansion

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Partial Transcript: So he gets elected Governor and you move into the mansion.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about her family's life at the Governor's mansion. She mentions how they maintained a normal family life. For example: she took her children to school and they had family suppers every night.

Keywords: David Walker; Governor's Mansion; Spring St; leak; prisoners; staff; supper

00:29:54 - Vandiver's administaration

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk for a minute about the administration.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about the major changes that happened to Georgia during her husband's administration. She specifically talks about school integration and government reform.

Keywords: Carl Sanders; Eugene Cook; John Sibley; University of Georgia; corruption; marching; patrol; school integration; term

00:37:21 - Campaign for Richard Russell / Relationship with Uncle Dick

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Partial Transcript: I want to go back for a minute, if you will, to 1958, when Governor Vandiver campaigned for Senator Russell for President.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about her family's efforts in Senator Russell's campaign for President in 1958. She also talks about her relationship with "Uncle Dick".

Keywords: Chicago; Harry Truman; Lady Betty; Richard Russell; Uncle Dick; convention; presidential campaign

00:41:30 - Work for Mental Health / Mayor's parade

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk for a minute about your duties, I'll call them, as first lady. You did some wonderful things, particularly in the area of mental health.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver recalls her work in the area of mental health reform. She remembers the horrors of the mental health hospital she visited. She later talks about the organization of the Mayor's parade in Milledgeville, Ga.

Keywords: Cuba; Cuban doctors; Macon, Ga; Milledgeville, Ga; chapel; chaplaincy program; doctors; fundraiser; hospital; mental health; parade; telethon

00:51:32 - School integration

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Partial Transcript: Getting back for a minute to the integration situation in Georgia, I want to read you a quote and I want you to respond to it for me.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver responds to a quote from Ernest Vandiver's biography about any advice she may have given to him during the school integration issue.

Keywords: advice; decision; integration; relationship; school integration; schools

00:55:45 - Run for Governor 1966

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Partial Transcript: After his term ended, of course he couldn’t succeed himself.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about what her husband did after his term as governor was up. She later talks about the 1966 Gubernatorial election.

Keywords: Dr Carter Smith; Ellis Arnall; George Busbee; Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; election; heart attack; succession; withdrawal

01:03:14 - Lost appointment to Senate / Ernest Vandiver's run for the Senate

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Partial Transcript: There’s one question that I really want to ask you, and I’m not sure you’ll want to answer, but there was a great feeling that when Uncle Dick died, that Governor Vandiver should be appointed to the Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver talks about the understanding between her husband and Jimmy Carter. They had an understanding that when Richard Russell died, Vandiver would be appointed to take his place. Vandiver later talks about her husband's unsuccessful run for the US Senate.

Keywords: David Gambrell; Jimmy Carter; Richard Russell; Sam Nunn; Senate; Uncle Dick; appointment; nomination; political career

01:09:30 - Husband's post-political career

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Partial Transcript: Well, that was the end of his political career, but not the end of his life.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver reflects on her husband's post-political career. She talks about how it was a good thing that he was not elected to the Senate because of the Watergate Scandal. She also talks about her daughter, Jane's, political career.

Keywords: Alaska; Lavonia,Ga; Richard Nixon; US Senate; Watergate Scandal; golf; law practice

01:14:56 - Reflections

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Partial Transcript: Well, you’ve had a very wonderful political life.

Segment Synopsis: Vandiver has some further reflections on her political life. She talks about he Ports Authority, her husband's friends, and the Russell family reunion.

Keywords: Bill Ship; Griffin Bell; Russell family; family reunion; ports authority