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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.

Ernest Vandiver Jr.

Ernest Vandiver Jr. (1918-2005) was born and raised in Lavonia, Georgia, later obtaining a law degree from the University of Georgia. After serving as a bomber pilot during World War II, he was elected mayor of Lavonia as a Democrat in 1946 at the age of twenty-seven.He was appointed state adjutant general by Governor Herman Talmadge in 1947 and elected lieutenant governor in 1954. In 1958, Vandiver was elected governor of Georgia by a huge margin. He helped bring about fiscal order and restore the image of a state that had been tarnished by the scandal-ridden administration of Governor Marvin Griffin. While campaigning, he had promised to uphold segregation, but actually oversaw the desegregation of Atlanta's public schools. After leaving the governorship, Vandiver practiced law in Atlanta and in his hometown of Lavonia where he passed away in 2005.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely and Ted Fitz-Simons in an unmentioned location.; Former governor Ernest Vandiver describes his childhood in rural Georgia, his family roots back to the American Revolution, and his years in school, up to Darlington Preparatory and the University of Georgia. He goes into his relationships with his father and the Talmadges, and the influence that Speaker Richard Russell had on his life. He discusses his time as an aid to Herman Talmadge, as Eugene Talmadge passed away before Vandiver had been able to start. He goes into detail about the campaigns and fundraising for several elections, including the 1946 and 1948 races. He also discusses his views on segregation and their affect on his campaign for governor. Vandiver also takes time to explain his fallout with Marvin Griffin, as well as his reaction to the integration of universities in Georgia.