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Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Papers

Identifier: Mss. 78 G54

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  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The personal papers of Mills E. Godwin, Jr., dating from 1947 to 1978, consist of 24 boxes of correspondence, 1,100 copies of speeches, schedules and appointments. Also included are 40 scrapbooks of news clippings and photographs, 159 citations and plaques, and one box of audiovisual materials, all of which pertain largely to Godwin's personal involvement in the government, political life, activities, organizations and institutions of Virginia during the 30-year period. The majority of the items comprising this collection were microfilmed by the Virginia State Library.

It should be noted that all of the above referenced papers are identified as "personal" since the official executive correspondence of Godwin's two terms as governor of Virginia (1966-1970 and 1974-1978) has been placed by statute in the Archives Branch of the Virginia State Library. In connection with the personal papers, however, and available to researchers, are copies of the guide to the executive correspondence. The guide is on file with the Curator of Manuscripts at the Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

In addition to Godwin's personal papers, the collection includes a small quantity of Mrs. Godwin's correspondence and papers of their daughter, Becky, who was fatally struck by lightning in 1968, at the age of 15, at Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Included among these papers is correspondence of, or concerning, the following individuals: Watkins M. Abbitt, Harry Flood Byrd, Sr., Harry Flood Byrd, Jr., John N. Dalton, Henry E. Howell, Carter O. Lowance, Richard D. Obenshain, Julian Sargeant Reynolds, A. Willis Robertson, Howard W. Smith, William B. Spong, Thomas B. Stanley, A. E. S. Stephens, and William M. Tuck.

Among the many topics the papers cover are: the College of William and Mary, segregation, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, higher education, taxation, the contamination of the James River by kepone, the oystering industry and public mental health care.

Addition Acc. 1979.14 includes pamphlet, "Notes on the Mills Godwin Family of Isle of Wight County and Nansemond County, Virginia" prepared by Mills E. Godwin, Jr., 1979, a Daily Press article written at death of Mills Godwin, a typed copy of a paper entitled, "Biography of Mills Edwin Godwin, Jr." (author unknown) and a typed carbon copy of a speech by Mills E. Godwin to the Virginia Manufacturers Association in Williamsburg, Virginia on September 26, 1970.

Addition Acc. No. 1980.13 contains two small boxes of photographs, mostly official appearances of Governor Godwin.

Addition Acc. No. 1994.25 contains copies of eleven nineteenth century copies of eighteenth century Godwin family wills.


  • Creation: 1712-1989
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1947-1989


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.

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 Information:

Mills Edwin Godwin, Jr., was born November 19, 1914, at Chuckatuck in Nansemond County, now the City of Suffolk, Virginia. He completed public school and attended the college of William and Mary. He obtained his degree in law from the University of Virginia in 1938.

He first entered politics in 1948 when he began service in the House of Delegates. From 1952 to 1962 he served in the State Senate of Virginia. He was lieutenant-governor of Virginia from 1962 to 1966. His first election as governor in November 1965, came after he had received the Democratic nomination without opposition. He was elected governor a second time in November 1973 as Republican. On January 30, 1999, Mills E. Godwin Jr. died in Newport News, Virginia at the age of 84. He is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Suffolk, VA.


53.50 Linear Feet

Arrangement of Materials:

Organization: The collection is organized twelve series. Series 1 is correspondence of Mills E. Godwin, Jr.; Series 2 is correspondence of Katherine B. Godwin; Series 3 is correspondence of Becky Godwin; Series 4 is schedules; Series 5 is speeches; Series 6 is citations and plaques; Series 7 is audiovisual; Series 8 is scrapbooks; and Series 9 is Political Memorabilia and Selected Material. The last four series, 10-13, are additions to the collection and are group into series by their accession number. Series 10 is accession 1985.15; Series 11 is accession 1989.29; Series 12 is accession 1994.66 and Series 13 is Accession 1994.25. Arrangement: Series 1-10 are generally arranged chronologically. The Additions to the collection located in Series 11, 12 and 13, are also each arranged by date.

Acquisition Information:

Gift: 27 cubic feet 12/15/1978. Gift: ca. 40,000 items, 10/1/1978. Gift: 1 item, 06/01/1979. Gift: 3 cartons, 1985. Gift: 4 cartons, 1989. Gift:  1 box, 9/12/1991 Purchase: 11 items, 04/01/1994. Gift: ca. 2,070 items, 1994.

Related Materials:

Related papers can be found in the faculty-alumni file at the University Archive, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

Other related papers can be found at the Library of Virginia.

Audiocassettes, phonograph records, and reel-to-reel tapes from this collection have been moved to the Manuscripts Audiovisual Collection.

Note: The College of William and Mary, Swem Library, Special Collections has a copy of the inventory/finding aid to this collection at the Library of Virginia. It is located with the Mills E. Godwin Jr. Papers. Executive Papers of Mills E. Godwin Jr., Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St., Richmond, Va. 23219 USA.

Separated Materials:

Two campaign buttons (78G54.01ab) were transferred to the Manuscripts Artifact Collection (Mss. 1.03).

All audiovisual material from this collection has been moved to the Manuscripts Audiovisual Collection.


Other Information:

Additional information may be found at

Guide to the Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Papers
Special Collections Staff.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2010: Updated by Anne Johnson.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository