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Violet McDougall Pollard Papers

Identifier: 01/Mss. 74 P76

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection is housed off-site. At least 72 hours advanced notice is required for retrieval.

The papers primarily focus on Violet McDougall Pollard’s activities in politics and art. They also cover her many civic activities, and correspondence with family and friends.

Information on her political activities is found in the files she kept on National Politics, documenting her activities as an official in the Democratic Party; her files on State Politics, documenting her involvement with state Party activities and with organizations such as the Democratic Women’s Clubs in Virginia; and throughout her correspondence files, in her letters with many prominent Virginia politicians such as Harry F. Byrd and John S. Battle. Virginia Democrats’ increasing dissatisfaction with the national party as not representing the views of the Southern states on issues of civil rights and integration from the late 1940s through the 1960s is a major topic. The role of women in public affairs and politics is another frequent topic in Pollard’s papers. In addition to direct discussion of women’s roles, the papers document women’s activities in the Democratic Party in a time when those activities were generally separate from, though complementary to, men’s activities.

Pollard’s involvement with art and art education in Virginia are reflected in her files on the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which include a mixture of personal files, copies of official museum records, and literature produced by the museum; her files on the Federated Arts Council of Richmond and other subject files on arts issues; and in correspondence files under the names of artists and of museum staff and supporters.


  • Creation: 1907-1976
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1933-1968


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. 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.

Collection is stroed off-site. Please allow a minimum of 3 business days for retrieval.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Violet Elizabeth McDougall was born on 17 July 1889, at Maxville, Ontario, Canada, daughter of Peter and Ellen (Robertson) McDougall. She attended Cornwall Normal School of Ontario and was a teacher in Ontario and Saskatchewan, 1910-1912. She then attended Regina College at Saskatchewan for a year, and was secretary in a law office from 1913-1917. She came to the United States in 1917 and was offered a position as secretary in the Virginia governor’s office in 1918. She was executive secretary to four successive governors of Virginia between 1918 and 1933: Westmoreland Davis, E. Lee Trinkle, Harry F. Byrd, and John Garland Pollard. She was known affectionately as “Miss Mac” to her many friends.

On 31 July 1933, she married Governor Pollard, whose first wife had died in 1932. After his term in office ended in 1934, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as Chairman of the Board of Veterans Appeals and she attended law school at George Washington University. Upon John Garland Pollard’s death in 1937, she returned to Richmond and attended law school at the University of Richmond. She went back to Washington from 1938 to 1940, to work as secretary to the Assistant Administrator of the United States Housing Authority.

In 1940 Violet McDougall Pollard returned again to Richmond to join the staff of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which John Garland Pollard had been instrumental in creating. During World War II, the museum’s director left to join the Marines, and she served as co-director (in charge of business affairs) with Beatrice von Keller (in charge of art). After the war, she was the museum’s associate director until her retirement in 1956. She continued her association with the museum through museum advisory committees and through her position on the board of the Federated Arts Council of Richmond until about 1971.

Long interested in politics and maintaining a wide circle of friends in Virginia political circles from her years on the governor’s staff, Violet McDougall Pollard became active in the Democratic Party after becoming a naturalized citizen in 1934. She was a delegate to every national Democratic convention from 1936 to 1968, serving on the platform committee in 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1964. She was elected National Committeewoman for Virginia in 1940, a position she held until 1968. As National Committeewoman, she was deeply involved with Democratic Party activities on the state and local levels as well.

Violet McDougall Pollard was involved with a host of state and civic organizations and causes, including the Recreation Committee of the Advisory Council on the Virginia Economy and the Inter-Agency Committee on Recreation; the Associated Clubs of Virginia for Roadside Development; the Industrial Committee of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce; the Federated Arts Council of Richmond; the Historic Richmond Foundation; and the Woman’s Club of Richmond.

She died at her home in Lancaster, Virginia, on 2 January 1977.


46.00 Linear Feet (46 boxes.)

Arrangement of Materials:

The arrangement of the papers follows Violet McDougall Pollard’s filing order with a few exceptions. Subseries within the series reflect the labeled dividers in the original files. Her general files are in Series I, Correspondence and Subject Files, arranged alphabetically, in boxes 1-24. Speeches by Violet McDougall Pollard, and articles by or about her, are filed in Series I under “Speeches.” Series II, Recreation Committee (boxes 25-26), and Series III, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,(boxes 27-29), were at one time filed in the general sequence under R and V respectively, but have been pulled out into separate series due to their bulk. Series IV, Democratic Party, boxes 30-42, has two subseries, National Politics and Virginia Politics.

National Politics is arranged chronologically, with a small group ofsubject folders at the end. Virginia Politics includes State Politics (arranged chronologically), state subject folders, Democratic Woman’s Club, and Young Democrats. Series V, Scrapbooks, in Boxes 43-46, contains scrapbooks of clippings and other bound volumes.

Researchers should note that particular correspondents or topics are often found in more than one place in the collection. For example, correspondence with and about a Virginia artist might be found under his or her name, in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts files, and in the files “Art Exhibitions – Virginia and Virginians” or “Artists’ Christmas Cards.” Correspondence with a particular Virginia politician might be found under his name, in the National Politics folders, in the State Politics folders, in the Democratic Woman’s Club folder because of a speaking engagement, or in another politician’s folder because of Pollard’s habit of bundling together sequences of related correspondence among several people and filing them as a group.

Acquisition Information:


Guide to the Violet McDougall Pollard Papers
Special Collections Staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository