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Lester Maddox collection

Identifier: POL-0015

Scope and Content

This collection consists of artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and documents relating to the life and political career of Lester Maddox.


  • 1947-1990


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users; no restrictions

User Restrictions

As stipulated by U.S. copyright laws

Biographical Note

Lester Maddox served as governor of Georgia from 1967-1971 and as lieutenant governor from 1971-1975. Maddox was an American Independent Party nominee in the 1976 U.S. presidential election.

Lester Maddox was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1915. He went to work in 1933 to help his family by working at Atlantic Steel and for the Works Progress Administration. He married Virginia Cox in 1936 and opened a very successful restaurant in 1947 called The Pickrick. Always very opinionated, Maddox began to run "Pickrick Says" advertisements that promoted the restaurant and allowed him a forum for political commentary. After unsuccessful bids for mayor in 1957 and lieutenant governor in 1962, Maddox focused his energy toward the Pickrick and his strong beliefs in segregation. On July 3, 1964, Maddox and supporters wielded ax handles to thwart the African-American activists who attempted to enter the Pickrick. Maddox later closed the restaurant rather than desegregate.

In 1966, Maddox entered the political arena again and faced off against Bo Callaway for governor of Georgia. Callaway won the popular vote, but failed to gain the majority of the votes because of a write-in for former Governor Ellis Arnall. Democrats who controlled the Georgia legislature decided the election in favor of Maddox. As governor, Maddox was not as controversial as some had feared. He appointed more African-Americans to government positions than all previous Georgia governors combined and backed some issues important to African-Americans, including prison reform. However, Maddox still believed deeply in segregation and never altered his views or apologized. In addition, he fought heavily against civil rights causes. Despite these facts, Maddox remained a popular governor and was often celebrated for his unique antics such as riding a bicycle backwards and wearing "Phooey" tee shirts that symbolized his displeasure with various political events. He also hosted "Little People's Day" where people were encouraged to meet with him at the Governor's mansion twice a month.

Maddox was elected lieutenant governor in 1971 and was often at odds with his political rival, Governor Jimmy Carter. Maddox ran for governor again in 1974 and ran for president in 1976—both attempts unsuccessful. Maddox returned to private life and embarked on various endeavors including operating a furniture store and selling real estate. Over the course of his life, Maddox suffered from various degenerative diseases and cancer. He died at 87 years old.


7.02 Linear feet (5 boxes, 4 scrapbooks, 3 OV items, 1 OV map folder)




Personal papers of Lester Maddox who served as governor of Georgia from 1967-1971 and as lieutenant governor from 1971-1975. Maddox was also an American Independent Party presidential nominee in the 1976 election.


Arranged into four series: Series 1. Manuscripts; Series 2. Scrapbooks, Series 3. Artifacts, and; Series 4. Oversized.


Collection was purchased for Special Collections from an estate sale in August 2003

Processed By

Processed by Shannon Danielle Smith, 2010

Finding Aid to the Maddox (Lester) Collection 1947-1990 POL-0015
Finding aid prepared by Written by Shannon Danielle Smith, 2010
© 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English
Finding aid converted with funds from a UWG FY14 Presidential Assistance Grant.

Repository Details

Part of the University of West Georgia Special Collections Repository

Special Collections, Ingram Library
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton GA 30118-2000 United States