Workdays, 1974, 1977-2004
Scope and Contents note
The Workdays series documents more than 400 workdays that Graham began as a state legislator and continued throughout his political career. Press releases, schedules, photographs, and background information pertaining to each job are contained within the Workdays files. The files are numbered from 1 to 405 and range in date from 1974 to 2004. Often memorabilia such as uniforms, hats, and other mementos from the various jobs accompany the Workdays files. Such items are stored in Series 6. Apparel and Accessories. Graham also generated material from his Workdays experiences including a book, Workdays: Finding Florida on the Job (1978), postcards and a Workdays calendar. Graham staffers also maintained lists of his various Workdays by city and occupation. These items can be located at the end of the numbered Workdays files. Evidence of the popularity of the Workday concept can be found in the number of offers to host a Graham Workday. Notable requests include a letter in braille from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and an offer to allow Graham to "scrub-in" a heart operation with a cardiovascular surgeon in Miami.
In response to a teacher's request at Miami's Carol City High School that he do more than simply complain about the state of civics education in the public schools, Graham taught a semester of civics in 1974. Graham considers his class at Carol City High School the inspiration for the Workday. Three years later, Graham used this same idea to provide a kick-start to his nascent gubernatorial campaign. In conjunction with national political consultant Bob Squier, Graham initiated a series of events in which he participated in the jobs of everyday Floridians. Through 1977 and into the election year of 1978, Graham conducted 100 workdays and connected with the people of Florida and their lives. What was a campaign device became a hallmark of the rest of Graham's political career. Throughout his 2 terms as governor and 3 terms as United States Senator, Graham continued this strategy of shadowing Floridians on their jobs.
Graham's workdays experiences significantly impacted Graham's views on Florida, the changing nature of work, and the importance of real connections to the people of his state. They also changed people's perceptions of Graham as they viewed these workdays as real attempts to understand the issues and problems facing Floridians. In January 2001, on his 365th Workday, Graham worked for US Airways in Tallahassee, Tampa, and Miami in three roles as flight attendant, service agent and baggage handler. To honor an entire year of Workdays, a large celebration was held with former Workdays colleagues in each of the three cities. Congratulations poured in and former Workday colleague, Ezra M. Krieg, wrote to Graham, "I know from my experience with you that you take your 'working' seriously. I hope your efforts on Wednesday do not include flying the plane. That is taking it just a bit too far." When asked by a reporter if he could pick a favorite workday, he would not. But Adele Graham did; she told the reporter that Graham as a homemaker was her favorite. "This greatly improved his skills around the house," she said.
Often Graham's Workdays tied directly to his legislative work. One such example comes from his 200th Workday and first as a United States Senator. Graham served as a Park Ranger in the Everglades National Park. As governor, Graham launched the "Save our Everglades" program in 1983 and continued to be a steadfast advocate for Florida's natural habitats in the Senate. As such, "Ranger Graham," told park visitors, "I'm here today because the Everglades have always interested me deeply-it's endangered wildlife, its hydrology, and all that could be done to preserve its natural beauty."
Whether Bob Graham worked as a toll collector, a grocery clerk, or a fish cleaner, these workdays defined him as a political figure who not only cared about Floridians but attempted to see them on their own terms. In 2001, an anonymous constituent wrote to Graham, "You are truly a man of the people. Bravo."
- 1974, 1977-2004
Conditions Governing Access note
This collection is open for research.
Constituent Mail (Boxes 116-131, 450-452) and Casework (Boxes 135-136) are closed for a period of 30 years. The earliest records will become available in 2016 and restrictions of their use will still apply. Contact the archivist for additional information. Records of executive nominations are unavilable for public inspection for 50 years after creation. CD-Rs and DVD-Rs (Boxes 301, 410, and 449): original discs are restricted fragile. Please consult with staff to access electronic files. Records of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are restricted for 20 years from creation.
20 linear feet (18 boxes + 8 framed items)
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English
Arranged in the following groups: Workdays Files, Miscellaneous, Oversize Workdays Material, and Objects. Workdays files are further arranged chronologically.
Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America