On Monday, 16 October 2017, the City of Roanoke will dedicate Holton Plaza, a new park named in honor of former Virginia Governor A. Linwood Holton (1970-1974). Out of the Box thought this would be a good time to spotlight some of the Library’s collections related to Holton.
Abner Linwood Holton Jr. was born 21 September 1923 in Roanoke, Virginia, to Abner Linwood Holton and Edith Van Gorder Holton. He attended local schools, before receiving his B.A. from Washington and Lee University in 1944. Holton served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946. He then attended Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B. in 1949. Admitted to the Virginia bar that same year, Holton commenced practicing in Roanoke and became active in the Virginia Republican Party.
Following an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1965, Holton then won election in 1969, serving as governor of Virginia from 1970 to 1974. After his term ended, he served as assistant secretary of state for congressional relations in 1974. Holton resigned that position and practiced law in Washington D.C. He married Virginia “Jinx” Harrison Rogers on 10 January 1953, and had four children with her: Anne, Tayloe, Woody, and Dwight.
- The records of the Holton administration (1970-1974) are one of the largest 20th century gubernatorial collections held by the Library. Housed in 966 boxes (Accessions 28050, 28101, 29488, and 28795), Holton’s records include appointments, commissions, correspondence, executive orders, invitations, legislation, minutes, proclamations, reports, daily schedule, and speeches.
- In the sound recording of Governor Linwood Holton’s Inauguration, 17 January 1970 (WRVA-552), WRVA reporters, Larry Dodd, Don Murray, and Joe Weeks report on the inaugural ceremony for the governor-elect. The recording includes Andrew Pickens Miller, J. Sargeant Reynolds, and Linwood Holton taking the oaths of office for attorney-general, lieutenant governor, and governor, respectively, and the inaugural address of Linwood Holton. In his inaugural address, Holton emphasized bi-partisanship and called for Virginia to become a model for race relations. This recording also includes WRVA reporters providing an analysis of the inaugural address; Joe Weeks speaking with Mel Carico, political correspondent for the Roanoke Times; a description of the inaugural parade; speculation on the possibility of Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr., becoming a Republican for his upcoming re-election campaign for the United States Senate; and music of the Queen’s Guard Band of the College of William and Mary and the Robert E. Lee High School Band of Staunton, Virginia.
- One of Holton’s legacies was the creation of a cabinet system. On 18 February 1970, he created the Governor’s Management Study, Inc., a non-profit, privately funded corporation that was empowered to improve and reduce the cost of providing governmental services to the state’s citizens and reduce the number of departments reporting directly to the governor. The Study, which was composed of private citizens and business leaders, submitted its final report in November 1970. Its main recommendation was the creation of a cabinet system to streamline the executive branch and reduce demands on the governor’s time. The Virginia General Assembly concurred and created six cabinet secretaries in 1972. The Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission studied Virginia’s cabinet system in 1997 and videotaped interviews with former Virginia governor’s including Holton (accession 36070).
- A 1974 documentary, The Holton Years, examines Holton’s administration and can be viewed on the Library’s YouTube Channel.
Holton made several donations of his personal papers to the Library that document his life before and after his term as governor.
- Papers, 1943-1970 (accession 31535). This collection consists of papers relating to Holton’s time as a student at Washington and Lee University; his service in the United States Navy and his postwar veteran status, including photographs of American and Japanese submarines; his education at Harvard University Law School, including his bank account, exams, and grades; his efforts to locate a job after law school, successfully finding one in Roanoke; a letter, 19 March [n.y.], from Reinhold Niebuhr to a Mrs. Lockwo[o]d concerning a lecture he delivered at Harvard; a composition on the merits of the Republican Party; tax records; and a Washington and Lee fundraiser. Papers also include photographs taken at Holton’s inauguration as Virginia’s governor; newspaper clippings, brochures, and notes on political issues; military and identification cards; a poem on Holton’s winning the governorship; and two computer tapes dated 4 November 1968 by the United Citizens for Nixon and Agnew-Virginia.
- Papers, 1965-1974 (accession 28327). This collection consists of correspondence with Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), Mills E. Godwin (1914-1999), William W. Scranton (1917-2013), and Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) concerning Holton’s 1965 gubernatorial campaign and defeat; correspondence with H. Dunlop “Buz” Dawbarn (1915-1998) and Cynthia S. Newman about Holton’s 1969 election victory and his governorship; editorials and articles on the completion of Holton’s term as governor in January 1974, Virginia’s prisons, the Nixon administration, and the donation of Holton’s papers to the state library; the valedictorian address by Tayloe Holton at John F. Kennedy High School, Richmond, Virginia, 12 June 1974; an address and rough notes for the address by Holton at John F. Kennedy High School’s commencement, 12 June 1974; and photographs of Holton’s official visit to France in 1970.
- Papers, 1968-1970 (accession 31626). This collection consists of records from Holton’s campaign for governor in 1969; videotape of Holton with running mates H. Dunlop “Buz” Dawbarn (1915-1998), Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, and Richard Obenshain (1935-1978), Republican candidate for attorney general; the 1969 election returns for Suffolk and Newport News, Virginia; congratulatory letters and telegrams from 1969 on Holton’s gubernatorial victory; guest register for victory celebration held in Big Stone Gap, Virginia; correspondence and reports, 1969, from state departments to Holton; and correspondence, 1969-1970, from correspondents around the state to Holton on a variety of issues and interests.
- Papers, 1968-1974 (accession 28253). This collection consists of acknowledgements, appointment books, articles, audiotapes, biographies, certificates, clippings, editorials, histories, interviews, invitations, letters, logs, motion pictures, notes, photographs, poems, programs, reports, reviews, schedules, speeches, summaries, videotapes, and other materials documenting Holton’s election and governorship. Papers document Holton’s election campaign, his inauguration, and his term as governor, including his meetings, conferences, and addresses to various business, civic, and political groups. It also includes commencement addresses to colleges and universities in Virginia. Papers also document state and national Republican Party activities, including the 1972 reelection bid of President Richard Nixon (1913-1994). There are audio- and videotapes of Holton’s campaign, addresses, inaugurals, and interviews. Papers also cover First Lady Virginia “Jinx” Harrison Rogers Holton’s activities, including meetings with various organizations and civic groups.
- Papers, 1971-1975 (accession 30221). These records document Holton’s work as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations under Henry Kissinger from 1974-1975. Personal correspondence from Holton’s term as governor of Virginia is also included. In addition to general correspondence for this period, the papers include: daily appointments, memorandum, invitations to various embassies in Washington, invitations by members of the legislative and executive branches to government related gatherings, social invitations, photographs of Holton with President Gerald R. Ford, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other public officials, and clippings from a number of newspapers
These records are accessible in the Library’s Archives Room, which is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. All Archives Room users will need to have a valid Library of Virginia card. Please review the following guidelines before your visit:
- Archives and Map Research Room Use
- Library Cards and Circulation Procedures
- Archives and Map Research Rooms Photocopy Policy and How to Make Copies at the LVA
For more information about visiting the Library, please consult our Visitor’s Guide and videos.
-Compiled by Roger Christman, LVA Senior State Records Archivist