Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 053 Erwin MitchellReflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 053 Erwin Mitchell

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 053 Erwin Mitchell

Descriptive Summary

Title: Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 053 Erwin Mitchell
Creator: Mitchell, Harlan Erwin, 1924-
Dates: 2008 October 20
Extent: 1.0 interview
Collection Number: RBRL/220/ROGP
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Erwin Mitchell practiced law in Dalton, Georgia, before serving as a solicitor general for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit and subsequently as a Superior Court judge on the same circuit. In 1958 Mitchell was elected as a Democrat to the 85th Congress, serving until 1961. Mitchell served on the House Subcommittee on Patents and Scientific Inventions, the Committee on Science and Astronautics, and the Veterans' Affairs Committee. He was elected state senator to the Georgia General Assembly in 1960. Mitchell recalls the turmoil of the integration issue, the Sibley Commission, the Three Governors Controversy, the University System's loss of accreditation during the Talmadge administration, and the River-Arnall and Talmadge factions of the Georgia Democratic Party.

Collection Description

Biographical note

Harlan Erwin Mitchell was born in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia, on August 17, 1924. He attended public schools in Dalton, Georgia, and attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He received a LL.B. from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1948. During college, Mitchell was a member of the Gridiron Honorary Society, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, and Delta Theta Phi Legal Fraternity.

During World War II, he served as first lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946 and again in the United States Air Force in 1951 and 1952. Mitchell received the Air Medal with two stars and Pacific Ribbon with two battle stars. He was admitted to the bar on April 17, 1948, and commenced law practice in Dalton, Georgia. He served as solicitor general for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit from January 1, 1953 to December 31, 1956, and from January 1, 1957 to January 8, 1958, he served as a Superior Court judge in the Cherokee Judicial Circuit.

In early 1958, Erwin Mitchell was elected as a Democrat to the 85th Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Henderson L. Lanham (7th District) in November 1957. In 1958, Mitchell was re-elected to the 86th Congress. In total, he served from January 8, 1958 to January 3, 1961. Mitchell served as the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Patents and Scientific Inventions, with the Committee on Science and Astronautics, and as a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Although Mitchell was not a candidate for renomination to the U.S. House in 1960, he was elected State Senator (Forty-Third District: Whitfield, Gordon, and Murray counties) to the Georgia General Assembly, serving from 1960 to 1961. He did not seek re-election, however, and resumed practicing law in Dalton. In 1996, Mitchell founded the Georgia Project, a teacher exchange program for Spanish-speaking teachers in Mexico and teachers from Dalton, Georgia. In 2001, Mitchell received the National Education Association's George I. Sánchez Memorial Award for his work with the Georgia Project.

Scope and Content

Mitchell discusses his childhood in Dalton and how he became interested in politics though his father's involvement in Al Smith's campaign in Whitfield County. Mitchell recalls his experiences at the Citadel, the University of Georgia, and in the Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot before returning to UGA for law school.

Mitchell discusses working for the solicitor's office, being elected a Superior Court judge, and running for the House of Representatives to represent the 7th district. He talks about his work on the original Committee on Science and Astronautics and discusses his votes regarding Hawaii's statehood, the National Defense Education act, and other bills which set him apart from the rest of the Georgia delegation.

Mitchell explains his decision to leave Congress in favor of returning to practice law in Dalton. He recalls the turmoil of the integration issue, the Sibley Commission and his subsequent decision to run for State Senate.

Mitchell discusses the Three Governors Controversy, the University System's loss of accreditation during the Talmadge administration, and the River-Arnall and Talmadge factions of the Georgia Democratic Party.

Mitchell recalls his work with the Georgia Project and discusses the health of the carpet industry in Georgia.

Mitchell mentions working with Phil Landrum, Richard Russell, Carl Vinson, M.E. Thompson, Prince Preston, Bob Shaw, and Prof. Victor Zuniga.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Custodial History note

Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century.

Preferred citation

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 053, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Copyright Information

Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2013.


Related Materials

Access Points

Georgia--Governors.
Georgia--Superior Court.
Georgia. General Assembly. Senate.
Hispanic American children--Education.
Oral histories.
Political campaigns--United States--Georgia.
School integration--Georgia.
Sibley, John Adams, 1888-1986.
Talmadge, Herman E. (Herman Eugene), 1913-2002.
United States--Congress--House.
University System of Georgia. Board of Regents.

Related Collections in this Repository

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection

Erwin Mitchell Papers


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

ROGP 053 Erwin Mitchell video, transcript, and interview index in OHMS Access Online
ROGP 053 Erwin Mitchell video (Extent: 82.0 minutes ) Access Online
ROGP 053 Erwin Mitchell transcript Access Online