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Ollen Lawrence Burnette, Jr. papers

Identifier: MSS 15864

Scope and Contents

Ollen Lawrence Burnette, Jr. papers, 1815-2014, 6 cubic feet, containing Dr. Burnette’s research and manuscripts for "Coastal Kingdom: A History of Baldwin County, Alabama" and other writings (1953-2011); correspondence with history professors and academics at state and private universities about teaching jobs, education, and history (1946-2003); military service records and assignments (1945-1987), and personal papers (1815-2011) including correspondence, school papers and yearbooks, pocket diaries, financial and legal papers, business ventures, organizations, awards, medals, photographs, church affiliations, and politics. Also included are papers of the Highsmith family containing slave receipts, confederate money, and a "cipher" book.

There are letters from two United States presidents, Harry S. Truman (1960) and Barack Obama (2001), thanking him for a copy of one of Burnette's books. There is also a letter describing the race riots in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, and a letter from Dr. Burnette to Senator Eugene McCue about the closing of the schools in Virginia due to desegregation in 1959.

The papers are grouped into four series: Research and manuscripts, teaching and consulting, military and naval intelligence, and personal papers.


  • Creation: 1815-2014

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use except for Box 13 which contains personal identification numbers and private financial information.

Biographical / Historical

Ollen Lawrence Burnette, Jr., a native of Bethel, North Carolina, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia, is a historian, educator, writer, and editor. He was born September 30, 1927 to Ollen Lawrence and Eva E. (Highsmith) Burnette (descendants of Highland Scots) and was educated at the University of Richmond where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy in 1945. He received an M. A. in history in 1948 from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in history and political science, also from the University of Virginia, in 1952. He also holds an honorary LL.D. degree from Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, Texas (1989) and a doctorate in International Law and Diplomacy from Canterbury, UK (2014). He served in the United States Navy from 1945 to 1947 and had a parallel career as a Naval Intelligence Officer with active and reserve status from 1954 to 1987, retiring with the rank of Captain.

He taught history and government at Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia from 1948 to 1949, and Virginia Military Institute from 1951 to 1953. He was an editor for Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953-1957 and the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1957-1963. His career as a history professor and University administrator began at Birmingham-Southern College from 1963-1972 and Stratford College from 1972 to 1974. He was a Visiting Professor of History at North Carolina State Agricultural & Technical University from 1975-1976. He was also a lecturer at the Naval War College in 1976 while holding the position of executive director of the West Piedmont Planning District Commission from 1975 to 1980. He was an assistant to the Superintendent at Virginia Military Academy from 1981 to 1986.

In addition to being an educator and an editor, Dr. Burnette served as a historical researcher, a planning and development consultant, and a mediator. He has been a consultant to several university administrations and president of several of his own companies, including Timber Ridge Enterprises, LTD., Around Again, LLC., and the Perdido Bay Foundation. Following his work as a consultant he continued to teach as a Senior Adjunct Professor of History and Foreign Relations at the University of West Florida, Pensacola, Florida (2000-2014) and Senior Professor in the Elderhostel program of Faulkner State Community College in Fairhope, Alabama.

His publications include “Coastal Kingdom: A History of Baldwin County, Alabama”, “A Soviet View of the American Past”, “A Syllabus of American History”, “Wisconsin Witness to Frederick Jackson Turner”, “Life in America”, “Beneath the Footnote: A Guide to the Use and Preservation of American Historical Documentation”, “Readings on the Development of the American Constitution”, “Lights Upon the Distant Shore: Poems by O. Lawrence Burnette, Jr.”, “Historic Baldwin County: A Bicentennial History”, “Son of Carolina: A Memoir”, and “Making American Foreign Policy in the Political Pressure Cooker”.

He has held memberships or trustee positions in the American Institute of Professional Planners, West Piedmont Planning District Commission, Baldwin County Historic Development Commission, Stonewall Jackson Hospital, Lexington, KY, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Burnette has received distinguished awards for his fields of specialization: history and culture of the South; U. S. military history, and American constitutional and diplomatic history. He is an honoree in “Who’s Who in America” and the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in teaching and historical writing. He was appointed a distinguished lecturer at the Naval War College in 1976; received a Distinguished International Professor citation at the State Technical University of Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1997, a Distinguished Service Award from the United States Department of State and the American Association of University Professors, and named Distinguished Professor by the American Association of Schools and Colleges. He also has an outstanding record in his Naval Intelligence career and has received many medals including a Victory Medal from World War II, a National Defense Service Medal, an Armed Forces Reserve Medal, a Naval Reserve Medal and a Meritorious Service Medal. He was a Naval-Aide-de-Camp to the governor of Virginia [1986?] and is fluent in Russian.


Resumes and papers in the collection.


6 Cubic Feet (13 document boxes and one oversize newspaper box.) : 5 CD's [containing research for his books] and newspapers about Alabama.

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into four series: Series 1. Research and manuscripts, Series 2. Teaching and consulting, Series 3. Military and naval Intelligence, and Series 4. Personal papers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from Ollen Lawrence Burnette, Jr. to the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia on December 16, 2014.

Ollen Lawrence Burnette, Jr. papers
Ellen Welch
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States