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John W. Egerton papers

Identifier: MS-1965-03
  • No requestable containers

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of materials relating to the 1962-1964 Johns Committee investigation of the University of South Florida.  The collection includes correspondence, press statements, statements to the Florida legislature, editorials, various newsletters and newspaper clippings, as well as the typescript of "The Controversity," John Egerton’s unpublished 300-page study of the Johns Committee.


  • Created: 1961-1965
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1965


Conditions Governing Access

None. The contents of this collection may be subject to copyright. Visit the United States Copyright Office's website at for more information.

Biographical or Historical Information

John Walden Egerton was born in Atlanta, Georgia on June 14, 1935.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky in 1958 and a Master of Arts in 1960. Between 1958 and 1960 he worked in the public relations department of the University of Kentucky. He served from 1960 to 1965 as the University of South Florida’s Director of Public Information and head of the USF News Bureau. While the Florida Legislature’s Johns Committee investigated administrators, faculty, and students at USF seeking “un-American” activities, Egerton collected and preserved materials documenting the investigation. He donated these materials to the USF library in 1965. After resigning from the University in 1965, Egerton became a staff writer for Southern Education Report (1965-1969) and for Race Relations Reporter (1969-1971). In 1971 he began a career as a free-lance writer and reporter.  He later became contributing editor for the Saturday Review of Education (1972-73), Race Relations Reporter (1973-1974), and Southern Voices (1974-l975).  Egerton has written over twenty non-fiction books and more than two hundred articles, primarily about the development and culture of the New South.  An authority on Southern foodways, Egerton is a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. The Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, also known as the Johns Committee, was created in 1956 by the legislature and headed by former governor and state senator Charley Johns.  The purpose of the committee was to seek out perceived subversive influences from Florida during the period of 1956-1965. Initially, the Johns Committee attempted to destroy chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Later, during an anti-intellectual crusade, its members attacked Florida's public universities. From 1962-1964, the University of South Florida was part of a large controversy when its students and faculty became the subject of a Johns Committee investigation. The state legislature refused to extend the Committee's mandate in 1965 after a controversial report entitled Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida was released. Bertwell, Dan. "'A Veritable Refuge for Practicing Homosexuals': The Johns Committee and the University of South Florida." Florida Historical Quarterly: 83.4 (Spring 2005). Schnur, James Anthony. "Cold Warriors in the Hot Sunshine: the Johns Committee's Assault on Civil Liberties in Florida, 1956-1965." Master's thesis, University of South Florida, 1995. "John Egerton: A Mind to Stay Here. Closing comments for the Conference on Southern Exceptionalism, Nashville, Tennessee." Southern Spaces, 11/29/2006. Stark, Bonnie. "McCarthyism in Florida: Charley Johns and the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee July 1956-July 1965." Master's thesis, University of South Florida, 1985.


1.25 Linear Feet

3 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Organized by Subject.

Source of Acquisition

John W. Egerton

Method of Acquisition


John W. Egerton papers
LH, 2005; revised by PEC, 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USF Libraries - Special Collections Repository

4202 East Fowler Ave.
Tampa FL 33620-5400 US