SU's Nabb Center Preserves Political Legacy of Governor J. Millard Tawes
SALISBURY, MD---Crisfield native J. Millard Tawes holds a special place in Maryland history as the only person to be elected to all three of the state’s executive positions: comptroller (1939-1947, 1950-1959), governor (1959-1967) and treasurer (1973-1975).
In those roles, he nearly quadrupled the state’s budget, doubled the size of its state parks, added over 1,000 miles of major roads and highways, markedly improved Maryland’s education systems, founded Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts, created Maryland Public Television, established anti-discrimination hiring practices for state agencies and contractors, and was the first governor south of the Mason-Dixon line to enact public accommodations laws during the civil rights movement.
Salisbury University’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture will preserve Tawes’ political legacy and the 30-plus years of history it represents as the new caretaker of the former governor’s papers, recently donated by the Crisfield Heritage Foundation.
“This represents one of the most significant collections, in terms of stature, that the Nabb Center has acquired,” said Dr. Creston Long, director.
The center has long been home to some of the nation’s oldest genealogical documents and a treasure trove of items from throughout the peninsula. However, “this is the first time we’ve had a governor’s collection,” Long said.
Tawes left his papers to the J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum (now a part of the Crisfield Heritage Foundation), which was established shortly before his death in 1979. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the foundation acquired several historical properties in the Crisfield area, including Tawes’ birthplace, where the collection was stored.
The 19th-century house, however, lacks the climate-controlled archival space suitable for ensuring the papers, films and other items in the collection do not deteriorate further over time. The state-of-the-art Nabb Center offers such an environment.
“The Crisfield Heritage Foundation is extremely pleased that Governor Tawes' papers will be housed at a top-notch research facility like the Nabb Center, where professors, students and members of the community will have the opportunity to study and learn from them,” said Claire Otterbein, the foundation’s executive director.
The collection includes governmental documents and speeches given by Tawes throughout his political career.
“This will allow SU students and other researchers a rare opportunity to view original documents that tell not only the story of Governor Tawes, but of the State of Maryland for more than three decades,” said Long. “We are fortunate to have such historically valuable materials.”