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Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

Griffin Boyette Bell

Griffin Boyette Bell was born on a rural Georgia cotton farm in Sumpter County on October 31, 1918. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II he attended Mercer University's law school in Macon, graduating with high honors. After working for several prestigious law firms, Bell, a Democrat, was appointed chief of staff to Governor Ernest Vandiver in 1958, and helped oversee Georgia's desegregation of the public schools. Bell served as a chair of John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign and was rewarded with an appointment to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.In 1976 he was nominated as attorney general of the United States by President Carter. Bell helped restore confidence in and morale at the Justice Department after the damage done by the Nixon Administration and Watergate. In 1979, Bell returned to private practice where he is in senior management and remains active in local and national affairs.; Interviewed by Mel Steely on September 24, 1997 at Judge Bell's Atlanta home.; Dr. Steely begins the interview by asking Judge Bell about his childhood and growing up in Americus, Georgia, during the 1920s. Bell discusses his jobs before entering the military and where he was when he heard about Pearl Harbor. Bell then describes his entrance into law school and his first job offer from an Atlanta law firm. He then discusses his time in politics, from his relationship with Ernest Vandiver and the governorship, and the influence of military on Georgia's governors. The conversation stays in the realm of politics and Bell talks about his participation and endorsements of different candidates over the years.