Finding Aid of the Robert L. and Mary Lee (Swann) McMillan Papers, 1908 - 1980, PC.1677


Finding Aid of the Robert L. and Mary Lee (Swann) McMillan Papers, 1908 - 1980, PC.1677


Robert L. McMillan (1888-1969) was born in Richmond (now Scotland County) to Mary Amanda (Johnson) and Archibald Alexander McMillan. Founder of the law firm, McMillan and McMillan, he was a leader in Wake County and state civic, patriotic, and political functions. A native of Kingstree, S.C., Mary Lee McMillan (1890-1981) was a daughter of Mary Frances (Lewis) and James Milan Swann. Like her husband, Mrs. Swann was a leader of state and local organizations, long active in her church and community. The McMillan papers include circular letters, reports, publications, newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and so forth. These date from the year 1908 to the year 1980 and relate to their private lives and their activities in a number of organizations. The papers also include material relating to Mr. McMillan's political activities.

Descriptive Summary

Robert L. and Mary Lee (Swann) McMillan Papers
Call Number
McMillan, Robert Leroy
1908 - 1980
19.00 boxes
State Archives of North Carolina

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], P.C.1677, Robert L. and Mary Lee McMillan Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Collection Overview

The McMillan papers include circular letters, reports, publications, newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, American Legion materials and constitute the papers of Robert Leroy McMillan and Mary Lee (Swann) McMillan. These date from the year 1908 to the year 1980 and relate to: their private lives; their activities in the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary, the Clan mcMillan Society, Inc., in American, the Garden Club of North Carolina, the National Council of State Garden Clubs, the North Carolina Camellia Society, the Rlaeigh Garden Club, the Olla Podrida Club, the North Carolina Office of Civilian Defense, the State Recreation Commission, and so forth. The papers include also material relating to Mr. McMillan's political activities.

Additionally, there are approximately 43 cubic feet of material stored at the Old Records Center. These are client files of Mr. Robert L. McMillan and as such remain for an undetermined period as privileged records. Researchers wishing to consult these files must place a request for consideration and obtain the consent of the State Archivist to examine the papers. No interior description of the papers and their contents is available.

Arrangement Note

Series include: Mary Lee (Swann) McMillan Personal Papers: Correspondence, 1980-1980 and Biographical Materials; Mme. Paderewski Papers; American Weekly Papers; Robert L. McMillan Papers: Personal Materials: Correspondence, 1934-1967 and Biographical Material; Organizations; Political Papers; Oversized Materials. These are arranged topically and chronologically therein.

Biographical and Historical Note

Robert Leroy McMillan

Robert Leroy McMillan (1888-1969) was born in Richmond (now Scotland County) to Mary Amanda (Johnson) and Archibald Alexander McMillan. He was graduated from Spring Hill High School at Wagram, N.C. (1904); Wake Forest College (A.B. in 1909 and M.A. in 1910); Columbia University School of Law, NYC (LL.B. in 1917). Before pursuing his study of law in New York City, McMillan had been an educator with the Philadelphia (N.C.) schools, teaching English, Latin, and higher mathematics.

In early 1917 McMillan enlisted in the U.S Army following the country's entry into World War I. After training and service at Camp Jackson, S.C. he was sent to Hoboken, N.J. where he was promoted to sergeant first class. Later McMillan was selected as a candidate for a commission in the infantry and sent to officers training school at Camp Lee, Va. There he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in Infantry and assigned as an instructor. Following discharge in January 1919, he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve Corps. Thereafter, McMillan remained active in the American Legion, holding various leadership positions in the legion's Post 1, at Raleigh, and the state and national organizations.

In 1918 McMillan was married to the former Mary Lee Swann, a native of Kingstree, S.C., who had spent several years in New York City as a student, writer, and private secretary. Eventually the McMillans became parents of two sons, Archibald Alexander and Robert LeRoy, Jr.

McMillan was admitted to the N.C. Bar in 1919 and in August of that year began practicing in Raleigh in the area of general civil and trial law. Throughout most of his law career, he was associated as a partner with the Raleigh firm of Douglass and McMillan. During the course of his career, McMillan was a member and former president of the Wake County Bar Association, and member of the N.C. Bar Associaton, the N.C. Bar, Inc., and the American Bar Association. During the early years of his legal career, he had been a Professor of Law at Wake Forest College and a special instructor in business law at N.C. State College at Raleigh.

Throughout McMillan's adult life, he also played a strong leadership role in various civic, college alumni, groups and church. As an example, he served for a number of years on the board of trustees of the N.C. Institution for the Blind in Raleigh, and the board of the Salvation Army. Other activities during the decade of the 1940s and possibly beyond included working with the Boy Scouts of American, fund raising for the American Red Cross in Wake County, the YMCA of Raleigh, and the Greek War Relief Fund, and serving as state director of Civilian Defense in North Carolina. He was also a Mason and a long term member of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, McMillan's commitments there included service twenty-five years as superintendent of the Sunday School, teacher of the men's class, and service as a trustee of the Baptist State Convention of N.C.

Mary Lee (Swann) McMillan

A native of Kingstree, South Carolina Mary Lee Swann McMillan (1890-1981) was a daughter of Mary Frances (Lewis) and James Milan Swann. She attended Winthrop Normal and Industrial College of South Carolina, Rock Hill (later Winthrop College, then University), receiving a Commerical Department certificate there in 1913. She did further study at Teachers Collge of Columbia University and the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (Parsons' School). In 1915 she was given charge of the home economics department of the Bernard School of Household Arts in New York. During the course of her residence in New York, Miss Swann taught in the Scudder School of Household Arts and the Barnard School of Household Arts, and began writing a weekly homemaking column for American Weekly. Around 1917-1918 she served as personal secretary to Madame (Helena) Paderewski, the wife of Ignace Jan Paderewski, pianist and Polish patriot, and in that capacity began working with the Polish Victim's Relief Fund, and helped organize the Polish White Cross.

In 1918 Mary Lee Swann was married to Robert Leroy McMillan, Jr. A native of Richmond (now Scotland) County, N.C., McMillan had recently received a LL.D from his course of study at Columbia University, New York City. In 1919, he was admitted to the North Carolina bar, and the young couple moved to Raleigh, their home for the remainder of their lives. Eventually the McMillans became parents of two sons, Archibald Alexander and Robert LeRoy, Jr., both of whom saw military service during World War II in the United States Marine Corps. In 1966 Mrs. McMillan was named North Carolina's Mother of the Year.

Mrs. McMillan held offices, including the presidency, in various civic and service organizations such as the Woman's Club of Raleigh, the Raleigh Garden Club, the N.C. Garden Club, the N.C. Camellia Society, the March of Dimes, the American Legion Auxiliary, Raleigh Unit, Johnston Pettigrew Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Parent-Teachers Association. She was author of several books, including , (joint author with Ruth Dorval Jones, 1979), and (joint author with Ruth Dorval Jones, 1972).

Like her husband, Mary Lee McMillan was long an active member of the community and of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. For over forty years she made from 800 to 1,000 pillow corsages each year for hospital and nursing home patients. In her neighborhood she was known for years as because numerous children flocked around her and played in her yard. Once when the circus came she hosted a clown and neighborhood children at a breakfast at her home. Her obituary listed many accomplishments, but began with the statement that she was known for her love of children and flowers.

Sources: (Raleigh), May 10, 1969; (Raleigh), May 10, 1969; October 8, 1981; biographical material within the papers.

Contents of the Collection

1. Mary Lee McMillan: Personal Papers,1908-1980


The personal correspondence is not complete, but does includes family and other correspondence of interest. The few surviving letters from the 1960s and until 1975 are from friends, while nearly all from 1975 to 1979 are from family members. The correspondence is followed by Mrs. McMillan's designs for the family's Christmas card, 1918-1925, 1930-1937 (except for 1931 and 1932, which are lacking), and 1940-1944. The remainder of the files in this box are biographical in nature and include citations, commissions, part of a 1939 desk diary, the 1964 John Charles McNeill Bookclub program based on Mrs. McMillan's life, the Mary Lee McMillan Memorial Garden dedicated in her honor in 1973, her 1966 selection as North Carolina's and personal newspaper clippings. The last three folders include Mrs. McMillan's general writings, including part of the text of a four act play, Japonica, written by Mr. and Mrs. McMillan.

Note concerning Mrs. McMillan's Papers. Autographs of well-known individuals were separated in the past for purposes of appraisal and placed in flat box numbered PC. 1777.19.

Correspondence, 1908-1980, and Biographical Materials,1908-1980
Box PC.1677.1
Correspondence, , undated, 1908-1980
Christmas Cards, , undated, 1918-1944
John Charles McNeill Book Club Program,1964
Mary Lee McMillan Memorial Garden,1973
Mother of the Year--Award,1966
Mother of the Year--Letters of Congratulations,1966
Mother of the Year--National Awards Week,1966
Mother of the Year--Newspaper Clippings,1966
Newspaper Clippings (personal),
Writings--Play (Japonica),
Paderewski Papers, , <unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1926-1927</unitdate>, 1915 1926-1927
Box PC.1677.2
Raleigh Concert,1939
Polish Victims' Relief Fund,
Paderewski Foundation,
Ignace Jan Paderewski--Draft, 1943-1944
Helena Padereska--Draft articles
Helena Padereska--Recipe Book,
Helena Padereska--Recipes,
Typescript drafts--scattered sheets
My Helenka (1972)
Magazine Articles
Newspaper Clippings
Research Notes
Research Materials--Polish Relief
<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">American Weekly Test Kitchen</title>,1930s-1940s
Box PC.1677.3
Correspondence--Dorothy Dix, 1930s-1940s Articles (drafts),
Articles (drafts),
Articles (printed),
Recipes (drafts)
Recipes (drafts)
Recipes (tested)
Miscellaneous--Certificate of Culinary Merit
Miscellaneous--<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">American Cookery</title>

2. Mary Lee McMillan's Papers of Organizations,1925-1977


The organizations represented in this collection are as follows: American Legion Auxiliary, Garden Club of North Carolina, National Council of State Garden Clubs, N.C. Camellia Society, and Raleigh Garden Club, and other organizations, including the Woman's Club of Raleigh and the Caswell-Nash Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Reflecting Mrs. McMillan's strong interest in gardening, there are three organizations with a central emphasis on gardening and flowers.

American Legion Auxiliary,1936-1948
Box PC.1677.4
Auxiliary Correspondence,1936-1946
Christmas Pageant,1936-1937
Conventions (State),1941-1943
Conventions (National),1941
Girls' State,
Conventions (National),1941
Newspaper Clippings
Raleigh Post No.1--Yearbooks
Other Organizations: American War Mothers, Wake County TB Seal Sales, DAR, Etc., circa, 1925-1935
Box PC.1677.5
American War Mothers
DAR, Caswell-Nash Chapter--Miscellaneous
DAR, Caswell-Nash Chapter--Yearbooks
The Hobby Club
National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis,1942-1948
Olla Podrida [Book] Club
Scottish Clans Evacuation Plan,1941
Tuesday Afternoon Book Club,1965
Salvation Army
United Daughters of the Confederacy
Wake County Tuberculosis Seal Sale
Other Organizations: Woman's Club of Raleigh, Junior Woman's Club,, circa, 1925-1935
Box 1677.6
Memorials and Tributes
Newspaper Clippings
Junior Woman's Club
Garden Club of North Carolina, Including Executive Files, , circa, 1925-1939
Box PC.1677.7-PC.1677.8
Garden Club of North Carolina, Correspondence Continued, and Writings and Speeches, and Publications, and Publicity. ,1937-1944
Box PC.1677.9-PC.1677.10
National Council State Garden Clubs Executive Files,1929-1939
Box PC.1677.11-PC.1677.12
North Carolina Camellia Society and the Raleigh Garden Club,1929-1977
Box PC.1677.13
N.C. Camellia Society--Correspondence and Programs
N.C. Camellia Society--Camellia Day, 1950, 1950
N.C. Camellia Society--Publicity
N.C. Camellia Society--Reference File
N.C. Camellia Society--Yearbooks
Raleigh Garden Club--Minutes,1929-1932
Raleigh Garden Club--Correspondence,1931-1937
Raleigh Garden Club--Flower Show
Raleigh Garden Club--Garden School,1934-1935
Raleigh Garden Club--Miscellaneous
Raleigh Garden Club--Newspaper Clippings
Raleigh Garden Club--Victory Garden Center,
Raleigh Garden Club--Yearbooks

3. Robert Leroy McMillan : Personal Papers,1934-1967


Includes personal correspondence dating from 1934-1936 and 1950-1966, biographical files, and files of information of his family and on Spring Hill Baptist Church, Scotland County, founded by his maternal grandfather (Daniel White) in 1807.

Correspondence and Other Material,1934-1966
Box PC.1677.14
Correspondence--Onetah McMillan,1949
Correspondence--Onetah McMillan,1954-1967
Biographical--Henry Hudson McMillan
Biographical--Robert Leroy (Roy) McMillan
Biographical--Spring Hill Church
Biographical--Spring Hill Church--Johnson Family
Biographical--Spring Hill Church--McMillan Family

4. Robert L.McMillan's Papers Relating to Organizations and Agencies,1928-1969


The organizations represented in this collection are as follows: American Legion, 1928-1960; Clan McMillan, 1959-1969; Various Organizations and Agencies, including the state's Office of Civilian Defense, 1935-1960.

American Legion,1928-1960
Box PC.1677.15
Correspondence,1924; 1928
Armistice Day, , 1941, 1928-1933
Campaign for Commander (State),1941
Campaign for Commander (National),1938-1946
Conventions (State),1929-1946
Conventions (National),1938-1946
Newspaper Clippings
Raleigh Post No.1
Reports (various)
Society des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux
Clan McMillan Society,1959-1969
Box PC.1677.16
Correspondence, undated
Clan History
Clan McMillan Trust
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
McMillan Family Lineage
Clan McMillan Trust
Membership Lists
Newspaper Clippings
Reports; Audits; Constitution; Officers
Souvenir Programs, etc.
Other Organizations, Agencies, Including N.C. Office of Civilian Defense,1935-1960
Box PC.1677.17
National Committee on the Housing Emergency--Correspondence,1941
National Committee on the Housing Emergency--Publications
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--Correspondence,1942-1944
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--<title xlink:type="simple" render="doublequote">Civilian Front,</title>, Dec. 11, 1943
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--<title xlink:type="simple" render="doublequote">Home Front,</title>, Aug 1943-Jan 1945
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--Miscellaneous
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--<title xlink:type="simple" render="doublequote">Home Front, </title>, Aug 1943-Jan 1945
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--Newspaper Clippings,1942-1945
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--Speeches and Programs,1942-1945
N.C. Office of Civilian Defense--<title xlink:type="simple" render="italic">War Bulletins</title> of N.C.,Jan-June 1943
State Recreation Commission--Correspondence,1945-1956
State Recreation Commission--Commission and Citations
State Recreation Commission--Miscellaneous
State Recreation Commission--Newspaper Clippings
The Watauga Club,1935-1960

5. Robert Leroy McMillan: Political Papers,1935-1967


The majority of Mr. McMillan's political papers were deposited in the Archives in 1974. This is a small, but valuable, addition.

Political Correspondence,1934-1967
Box PC.1677.18
1936 Sandy Graham Campaign--Central Office: Correspondence and Mailing Lists
1936 Sandy Graham Campaign--Central Office: Managers (by district)
1936 Sandy Graham Campaign--Central Office: Miscellaneous Material
1936 Sandy Graham Campaign--County File: Alamance Wilkes
1947 McMillan Consideration of Gubernatorial Race
1954 Presidential Campaign--Adlai Stevenson
1960 Presidential Campaign--John F. Kennedy
1954 Presidential Campaign--Adlai Stevenson
1960 State House Campaign--Archie McMillan
General Political Correspondence,1954-1967
Patronage Correspondence, 1935 and, 1955-1967

6. Oversized Materials,1935-1967


The oversized materials are from the papers of both Mr. and Mrs. McMillan.

Oversized Photographs, Commissions of Office, etc.,
Box PC.1677.19
Eleanor Roosevelt,March 26, 1945
Bess W. Truman, White House Invitation Signed, Jan. 7, 1946
Bess W. Truman,March 26, 1945
Lady Bird Johnson,Jan. 30, 1968
Josephus Daniels,Apr. 30, 1936
Helen Gahagan Douglas,July 1, 1946
Frank Porter Graham,July 15, 1942
B. Everett Jordan,April 20, 1966
Sam J. Ervin, Jr.,Apr. 19, 1966
Harold D. Cooley,May 2, 1966
Jesse Helms,June 12, 1970
Clyde D. Hoey,Mar 20, 1942
Paul Green,July 8, 1946
Bernice Kelly Harris,July 8, 1946
Betty Smith,June 4, 1945
Inglis Fletcher,
Struthers Burt,
Sally Rand,Aug 27, 1963
Frankie Saluto (famous clown),Feb. 20, 1967

Subject Headings

  • McMillan, Mary Lee Swann.
  • McMillan, Robert Leroy.
  • Paderewski, Ignace Jan, 1860-1941.
  • Paderewski, Helena.
  • McMillan family.
  • Robert Leroy McMillan
  • McMillan, Mary Lee Swann
  • McMillan Family
  • American Legion. Dept. of North Carolina.
  • American Legion. Auxiliary. North Carolina.
  • American weekly (New York, N.Y.)
  • North Carolina Camellia Society
  • Office of Civil Defense. North Carolina.
  • Paderewski Foundation
  • Paderewski Fund for Polish Relief
  • Woman&apos;s Club of Raleigh (N.C.)
  • American Legion
  • Garden Club of North Carolina
  • American Legion Auxiliary
  • North Carolina Camellia Society
  • Clan McMillan Society, Inc. in America
  • Camellias
  • Clans--Scotland.
  • Clan McMillan.
  • Democratic Party (N.C.)--History--20th century.
  • Garden Club of North Carolina.
  • Raleigh Garden Club.
  • Politics and culture
  • Women--Journalists--North Carolina--History--20th century.
  • Women--North Carolina--Raleigh--Societies and clubs.
  • Women--North Carolina--20th century.
  • Manners and customs
  • Attorney and Client
  • Raleigh (N.C.)
  • Wake County (N.C.)
  • Raleigh (N.C.)
  • Photographs.
  • Recipes.
  • Acquisitions Information

    Gift, Robert L. McMillan, Jr., Raleigh, 1993.

    Processing Information

  • Processed by George Stevenson, 1994; Fran Tracy-Walls, 2011.
  • Encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, 2011