Skip to main content

Lawrence D. Griffith papers

Identifier: UA 5.086

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of scrapbooks and HIV/AID awarness educational materials created by Lawrence Griffith from the 1990s through 2009. The collection also includes copies of Griffith's website "" Griffith composed an introduction for the collection, which is available in box 1.

Extracts from his introduction include:

"The scrapbooks that I have given to the College represent my life as a professional, middle-class, middle-aged, completely actualized gay man with HIV who has stridently enunciated those causes that I believe in: gay rights, human rights, HIV education and prevention, left of center politics, sexual dynamics, spirituality, and global and timely issues such as global warning and energy policy."

"These scrapbooks were not assembled in any specific method. Each scrapbook ought to represent a discreet time of assembly, but documents and ephemera from different periods may have been inserted. I did not attempt to sequence the pages in any order in any particular scrapbook. More than not, the pages were arranged so as to have graphic appeal. Related text passages were separated by pages of graphics."

In addition to the scrapbooks about Griffith's life, there are scrapbooks containing family genealogical information compiled by Griffith. The collected material follows Harrison Patillo Griffith and his antecedents and descendents including: Ezekial, Benjamin, and Stephen Griffith; Harrison Patillo Griffith; Stepeh Harrison, Thomas Twitty, Walter Pat Griffith; Stepehn and L. David Griffith; Lindsey and Jonathan David Griffith; Rev. Henry Patillo; Major Richard Harrison; House and Westmoreland family histories; Twitty family history; Lanford, Posey, Woodruff, and other associated families including the Pridmore family, Byars family. For this portion of the collection, Lawrence Griffith offers the following introduction:

"My success in life was almost preordained, that I had an assured future based on my family’s race, relative wealth, and culturally, a champion of education. In essence, White Privilege. It’s time for that part of the South that is loving, forgiving, thoughtful, kind, and beneficent to pull rank morally. I choose to think of the South as that of Harper Lee, Tennessee Williams, Maya Angelou, William Faulkner, William Styron, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ann Richards, Jimmy Carter, William Percy, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, and other titans of intellect and wisdom. Jazz, the Blues, Soul, and Gospel gave depth to the American soul."

"Rev. Robert E. Lee, IV, a collateral descendant of the general, has disavowed that part of his past that held chattel slavery as moral. That my own family were slave owners is a matter of public record. An 1830 South Carolina census shows a head of household as Benjamin Griffith, and his wife Amelia Westmoreland Griffith, numerous children and 14 slaves, including 5 children under the age of 10. Not huge landowners but their lives and livelihood were enhanced through chattel slavery. Because of the wealth, generated through slave ownership, their grandchild, a Captain in the C.S.A. (wounded at Gettysburg), attended Furman College. His son, my great grandfather, graduated from medical school in Baltimore and became an ophthalmologist, his fortune unimpeded by penury. His son, my grandfather, graduated from Wofford College, because there was ready cash; my father matriculated at Georgia Tech and finished at Columbia University after the War. I attended The College of William and Mary because good education was non-negotiable, and there was ready cash. It’s called white privilege and it’s generational. here was no question that I would not go to college. It had always been that way. My family valued education, the investigation of things outside of one’s immediate purview, when one’s world view is expanded and you come to regard other peoples as sharing the very traits you call your own. I simply will not apologize for education."

"My family were also of among the most exalted, at the apex of, the Southern social pyramid, and among the fiercest defenders of Dixie. But like the Rev. Robert E. Lee IV my father was able to separate himself from the worst atrocities of the South, while never straying far from its very special culture. And like the present Robert E. Lee, my father had no patience with apologists. We talked once about the Civil War and he said it’s history and settled. A naive, but good man. In all these cases, of persons pursuing higher education, ready money, was the key to educational advancement, and thus social advancement. You were more likely to do more in life if ready cash were available. That’s not typically an African-American fate. How do we move forward? First, apologize. I can apologize about my family’s past, but I feel no guilt. I am not responsible for another’s actions over which I had no input. But I undoubtedly profited from it, intellectually and culturally. And I can be a witness to white privilege and be vocal about my good fortune."


  • Creation: 1994-2009

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Preliminary review of scrapbooks in accessions Acc. 2008.132 and 2009.13 by Special Collections Research Center staff is required due to potentially restricted financial information in the collection. Consult a staff member for assistance. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library. Copyright to the website is retained by the creator and his heirs.

Biographical Information:

Lawrence (Larry) Griffith graduated from William & Mary in 1981 with a BA in English. Griffith began his career at Colonial Williamsburg and was the 2008 curator of plants at Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was president of Lambda Alliance while a student in 1979 and a board member of the William and Mary GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association). Griffith was a garden columnist for the Daily Press from 1991-1992. He is the author of the books Flowers and Herbs of Early America published in 2008. Griffith's partner is Curtis Moyer.


8.50 Linear Feet (9 boxes)



Arrangement of Materials:

The collection has not yet been fully rehoused and described, which may require extra time considerations for users.

Acquisition Information:

Acc. 2008.132 received from Lawrence D. Griffith on 11/10/2008 and 12/2/2008. Acc. 2009.13 received from Lawrence D. Griffith on 1/23/2009. Acquisition information for material received after 7/13/2009 is available by consulting a Special Collections Research Center staff member.

Related Materials:

Larry Griffith participated in the Stephens Oral History Project and recordings of his interviews are available as part of the University Archives Oral History Collection (UA 43).

Separated Materials:

A signed copy of Griffith's book Flowers and Herbs of Early America (Photography by Barbara Temple Lombardi, Yale University Press, 2008) was received from the author on December 2, 2008 and has been added to the Archives Book Collection in the Special Collections Research Center.

Processing Information:

Accessioned and minimally described by Amy C. Schindler in December 2008, and January and December 2009. The collection may be updated to reflect new aquisitions to the collection.

Guide to the Lawrence D. Griffith papers
William & Mary Special Collections Staff.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository