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Richard William Ervin Papers

 Collection — Container: Boxes
Identifier: MSS 74-7

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mainly of papers pertaining to Ervin's years as Attorney General and his campaigns for that office as well as his correspondence, campaign materials and court opinions of his years as Supreme Court Justice. Included are also papers reflecting his years of service to the Woodmen of the World. Among his papers are his extensive speech files containing his speeches and the background for them, speeches and articles by others, his collection of political anecdotes and assorted memorabilia. There is also correspondence with the State Road Department, letters of recommendation and congratulation, papers from the American Judicature Society, court hearing files, Christmas card lists, expense accounts, Florida Bar papers, materials from the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission and the National Association of Attorneys General, homestead exemption files, and speeches to the Dade County Bar Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Kiwanis Clubs of Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. Other topics or persons mentioned in the collection include Wakulla County, Guy Stovell, closing of T. B. hospitals, the United World Federalists, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Rollins College, and Florida newspapers.

Online Copies Available

Select materials from the Ervin Papers have been digitized and are available through the FSU Digital Library.


  • Created: 1929-1981
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1974


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Users may access this collection at the Claude Pepper Library.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Richard Wlilliam Ervin, Jr. was born on January 26, 1905 in Carrabelle, Florida. His father's family were early settlers of Lake County and his mother, the former Carrie Phillips, was a member of the pioneer Phillips family of Marion County.

Dick was raised on a farm in the little community of Fellowship, near Ocala, where his father farmed and also taught school. Mr. Ervin attended school in several counties - the number of different schools being occasion­ed by the father's profession as teacher.

In 1921 at the age of 16, he served as Engrossing Clerk for the Florida House of Representatives, youngest to hold this responsible position. He graduated from the Law College of the University of Florida in 1928 and engaged in the practice of law in Pinellas, Lee, and Putnam Counties until 1935.

He married the former Frances Baker of Jacksonville in 1933 and the Ervins have have two children, Richard W. III and Sarah Eve.

Mr. Ervin entered full time public service in 1935 as an attorney for the State Road Department. He served as Road Department Lawyer until August of 1943 then as Assistant Attorney General untill January 1945 when he became Secretary of the Florida Railroad Commission for six months. He resumed the position as Resident Attorney for the Road Department in 1945 until he resigned in January of 1948 to campaign successfully for the office of Attorney General.

During these years of public service Mr. Ervin helped activate the roadside beautification program by the Road Department, served as legal counsel for the Overseas Highway Bridge District, drafted the law creat­ing the Department of Public Safety, and later served as its attorney.

Mr. Ervin specialized in drafting complex legislative acts, assisted in drafting and securing passage of the law giving counties shares of gasoline tax, thus relieving them of staggering road bond indebtedness.

His administration of the office of Attorney General from 1948-1964 was distinguished by the publication of the first original revision of the Florida Statutes since 1941, and by his drive to rid the State of Florida of organized bookmaking and illegal gambling activities. Because of his efforts in this field, Mr. Ervin has achieved national and state acclaim and was selected by the Junior Chamber of Commerce as the outstanding government official in the State in 1950. He has been prom­inent in the affairs of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Richard Ervin has served on the Supreme Court from the time of his appointment and election in 1964 until his retirement January 7, 1975. As a judge he considers his years on the Supreme Court the most satisfying of his 40 years of public service. Ervin says of his contributions that he has tried to blow the chaff of judicial procedures so that the odds won't be so great against the average citizen, and feels that the law should try within reason to help the poor and the disadvantaged.


81.00 boxes (81 boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Claude Pepper Library.

Source of Acquisition

Richard W. Ervin

Method of Acquisition

Donated to Florida State University Library in several portions beginning December 1974.

Accruals and Additions

Additional gift received July 11, 1975 from Richard W. Ervin containing 7,376 items. Additional gift, MSS 87-4 containing 436 items. Additional gift, MSS 89-8 containing 853 items. Additional gift, MSS 81-3 containing 19 items. Additional gift, MSS 80-2 containing 1 item. Additional gift, MSS 81-4 containing 3 items.

Processing Information

Original donations, MSS 74-7 and 75-9 were processed by Shirley Fogle and Sara Buckmaster, Spring 1975 (22,472 items). Additional gift of 7,376 items (no MSS) processed August 1977. Additional gift MSS 87-4 processed May 1987. Additional gift MSS 89-8 processed May 1989. Additional gift MSS 81-3 processed March 1982. Additional gift MSS 80-2 processed August 25, 1980. Additional gift MSS 81-4 processed July 1983. An additional gift, 82-8 was withdrawn 6/15/82 as it was a duplication of an earlier addition, 80-2. A note on the paper finding aid for 80-2: "Manuscript returned to Richard Ervin, 9-15-81. Revised edition rec'd in exchange. See 81-2."

Richard William Ervin Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US