The beginning of the New Year also marks another special milestone: the birthday of U.S. Senator Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, who was born on January 1, 1922. Senator Hollings is now the oldest living former Senator at the age of 97.
SCPC is honored to have Hollings’ papers as one of our largest and signature collections, and to have our home in the University of South Carolina’s Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library. Opened in 2010, the library was named in Hollings’ honor, and he was instrumental in securing federal funding to support the construction of the building as a home for SCPC, the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, and Digital Collections.
Senator Hollings is a true legend of South Carolina politics and government. A Charleston native, he graduated from The Citadel and, following service in World War II, from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He went on to serve in the South Carolina General Assembly and then as lieutenant governor. In 1958, Hollings was elected Governor of South Carolina. As we have noted in the finding aid for Hollings’ collection, “As governor…Hollings proved an energetic, forceful, and progressive leader who altered both the face of South Carolina and the fabric of the office itself….He made constant efforts to improve the state’s educational system at all levels, to develop industry, and to create jobs.”
In 1966, Hollings was elected to the United States Senate from South Carolina. He would go on to serve in the Senate until his retirement in 2005, becoming known for his emphasis on such issues as the federal budget, telecommunications, oceans and the environment, textiles, trade, campaign finance reform, and defense. He also was an outspoken advocate for those living in poverty, and in particular those affected by malnutrition, as described in his book, The Case Against Hunger: A Demand for a National Policy (1970).
Following his retirement, Hollings has continued to take an interest in policy and public service. His second book, Making Government Work, written with Kirk Victor, provided Hollings’ reflections on his career and his perspective on federal policy-making and issues. He has also remained active with a number of his areas of interest, including a scholarship program named in his honor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship. The program supports undergraduates studying environmental science and other fields related to NOAA’s mission.