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LeRoy Collins papers

Identifier: MS-1962-01

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The materials comprising the Collins papers range in date from the 1940s to the 1980s, with concentrations in Collins' terms as Governor and materials related to his 1968 unsuccessful Senatorial campaign. The collection consists of 344 manuscript boxes, approximately 200 linear feet of papers which include and are not limited to correspondence files, working papers, reports, campaign research, memoranda and speeches. The collection also includes approximately 35 scrapbooks, memorabilia, and an extensive amount of pictures. Film and recordings from the collection were transferred to the State Library and Archives of Florida for preservation.


  • Created: 1945-1993
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1953-1968
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1962


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

LeRoy Collins was born in Tallahassee on March 10, 1909. He graduated from Leon High School in Tallahassee and received a degree in law from Cumberland University in Birmingham, Alabama. He returned to Tallahassee and married Mary Call Darby, the great-granddaughter of Richard Call who had twice served as Territorial Governor of Florida. Soon after his marriage to Mary Call, Collins was elected as the representative of Leon County to the Florida House of Representatives in 1934. He served in this position until 1940 when he filled the term of the late William Hodges in the Florida Senate. Collins purchased the Call family home "The Grove" in 1941 and shortly thereafter resigned his position from the Florida Senate to join the Navy in 1942. He was reelected to the Florida Senate upon his return from World War II in 1946. He was reelected in 1950, serving until 1954 when a special election was held to fill the remaining two years in the term of the late Governor Daniel T. McCarty, who had died in office in 1953. Collins Served as Florida's thirty-third Governor from 1955 to 1961 where he dealt with the complicated social and political issues of the time. His two greatest issues were the dismantling of segregation and the process of political patronage, both of which he employed a liberal diplomacy. Collins was also integral in the development of the Florida University system, including the University of South Florida in Tampa. He is considered by many historians to be one of the first liberal Southern Democrats to transform the political agenda of the South and is thought to be one of the best governors in Florida's History. Collins served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Convention in 1960, where he was a possible candidate for the presidential nomination due to his leadership position amongst Southern Governors and his strong stance on Civil Rights which would attract Northern liberals, however he did not seek the nomination. Upon leaving the governor’s office, he became President of the National Association of Broadcasters, where he served until 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Collins to be the first Director of Community Relations, a government office created out of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was followed by an appointment to the Undersecretary of Commerce in 1965 by President Johnson. Following his service in the federal government, Collins sought reelection to the Florida Senate in 1968. He won the primary but lost in the general election. His progressive stand for Civil Rights and his highly publicized role in the Selma, Alabama march while Director of Community Relations is credited with having cost him the 1968 Senate election. Upon his retirement from public service, Collins retired from his law firm in Tampa in which he had been a partner. He then returned to "The Grove" in Tallahassee where he remained active in the community and was also a guest contributor on politics to the St. Petersburg Times until his death from cancer in 1991

Note written by JT, 2011


209.61 Linear Feet

471 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged chronologically by Collins' career. Individual series are devoted to Collins' years in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Governorship, the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Convention, his tenure as president of the National Association of Broadcasters, appointments as both Director of Community Relations and Undersecretary of Commerce, an unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 1968, and his years in retirement. Within each series, the papers are arranged categorically by box. Pictures, films, and memorabilia are arranged in separate series as well.

Source of Acquisition

LeRoy Collins

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

Additional correspondence (1961-1968), film strips, tapes, and campaign materials for Collins' senatorial campaign in 1969 donated by LeRoy Collins in December 1969.

Related Materials

Thomas LeRoy Collins Papers, Special Collections, Robert Manning Strozier Library, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.

LeRoy Collins Papers
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