Lester Maddox Papers
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Lester Maddox Papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. 404.814.4040. reference@atlantahistorycenter.com
Creator: Maddox, Lester, 1915-2003
Title: Lester Maddox Papers
Dates: 1915-2003, undated
Quantity: 3.0 linear ft. (2 document cases, 3 oversize boxes, 3 audio discs)
Identification: ahc.MSS135

Biographical/Historical Note

Lester Garfield Maddox (30 September 1915-25 June 2003) was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He dropped out of high school in 1933 to work as a machine operator at the Atlantic Steel Company. Before working at Atlantic Steel, he had apprenticed as a dental technician. Maddox married Virginia Cox (1919-1997) in 1936, and in 1944 they opened a grocery store and restaurant. Building on the success of their first business they opened the Pickrick Restaurant in 1947. Maddox used the Pickrick as a platform for his political and segregationist views, and in 1965 he closed the restaurant rather than comply with the public accomodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Maddox ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Atlanta in 1957 and 1961, and later served as governor of the state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971. Maddox was legally prevented from running for a second consecutive term as governor and instead ran for, and won, the position of lieutenant-governor of Georgia which he held from 1972 to 1974.

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes papers from Maddox's political campaigns in 1966 and 1974, subject files, pamphlets, scrapbooks, and audio recordings. Campaign papers include letters of support, volunteer lists, thank you letters, receipts, schedules, business cards, district organization charts, and lists of contributors. Subject files include information on a grand jury investigation in to the Atlanta Police Department in 1963 in which some Atlanta police officers were accused of involvement with an illegal lottery. Handwritten notes and anonymous letters from police officers describing corruption within the force are included. Other files contain information about a racial disturbance in Augusta, Georgia in 1970; the Pickrick Restaurant, Georgia Governor Ernest Vandiver, and a 1964 report from Maddox's FBI file regarding his refusal to comply with the Civil Rights Act of that year. The file contains letters written on his behalf by Newt Gringrich, Paul Coverdell, Bob Barr, Sam Nunn, and Max Cleland to assist Maddox in gaining access to the 1964 report. Scrapbooks compiled by Maddox's wife, Virginia, span from 1966-1968 and 1970-1971. They include newspaper clippings, color and black & white photographs, and ephemera such as programs, Christmas cards, and menus. The photographs include pictures of Maddox's inauguration as Governor of Georgia in 1967 and the 1968 Democratic National Convention as well as photographs of Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield, Alabama Governor George Wallace, Georgia Senator Herman Talmadge, and entertainment figures such as Harold Latham, Danny Thomas, Johnny Cash, and June Carter Cash. The content of all the volumes reflects Mrs. Maddox's role as First Lady of Georgia and her perspective on their public life. Pamphlets and other printed materials contain writings by Maddox and other right wing political figures during the 1980s and 1990s. Audio recordings include a July 10, 1964 news conference by Maddox explaining his resistance to the 1964 Civil Rights Act; and a series of gospel tunes sung by Maddox.


Alphabetical according to titles supplied by staff with the exception of scrapbooks which are arranged chronologically.

Index Terms

Council of Conservative Citizens.
Georgia--Politics and government
Maddox, Virginia Cox, 1919-1997
Pickrick Cafeteria (Atlanta, Ga.)
Police corruption--Georgia--Atlanta
Political campaigns--Georgia
Race riots--Georgia--Augusta
Speeches, addresses, etc
Taylor, Mark
Vandiver, S. Ernest, (Samuel Ernest), 1918-

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

Audio recordings were made on 45 and 78 rpm disks and can be made accessible only through conversion to digital audio. Patrons who request access to the audio content in this collection are responsible for digital conversion costs.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Lester Maddox papers, MSS 135, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase from the Estate Sale Company, 2003 (2003.099)

Description Control

Collection processed in 2010.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Related Material

Lester Maddox photographs, VIS 105, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Container List




11Atlanta Police Department, 1963
2Augusta Riot, 1970
3Booklets, 1970-1994
4Booklets, 1970-1994
5Birth Certificates, 1915-1918
6Bumper stickers, undated
7Campaign for Lieutenant Governor, 1974
8Campaign for Lieutenant Governor, 1974
9Correspondence sent to Governor Maddox, 1970



21Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1964-1996
2Gubernatorial Campaign Correspondence, 1966
3Gubernatorial Campaign Correspondence, 1966
4Gubernatorial Campaign Day Planner, 1966
5Letterhead, 1967-1971
6Newspaper clippings, 1963-1971
7Pamphlets, 1976-2003
8Photos (photocopies), 1950, undated
9Pickrick Restaurant, undated
10Political cartoons, undated
11Printed writings, 1969-2000
12Programs, 1971-2001
13Vandiver, Ernest (S. Ernest), 1958-1965


5.63Scrapbook, 1966-1967


5.64Scrapbook, 1968


5.65Scrapbook, 1970-1971


MSS-AV 135.001.001If I Go To Jail, 1964


MSS-AV 135.002.001Lester Maddox Sings, Whistles, Speaks, and Plays Harmonica, 2002


MSS-AV 135.003.001Medley; I Love My Country; Be A Real Man, Son, undated