Cobb family papers, 1814-1975.

Creator: Cobb family.
Collection number: 4008
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Abstract: Collier Cobb, geologist and professor at the University of North Carolina, was born in 1862 in Wayne County, N.C., the eldest of the seven children of Martha Louisa Cobb and Needham Bryan Cobb, a Baptist minister and the first person to receive a Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina in 1856. Collier Cobb attended Wake Forest College, 1878-1880, and the University of North Carolina briefly in 1880. In 1879, he completed his School Map of North Carolina, which was adopted by the State Board of Education and went through six editions. From 1889 to 1886, he taught school. From 1885 to 1889, he studied at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Annisquan, Mass., and at Harvard University, where he studied geology and also worked as an assistant on the United States Geological Survey. In 1892, he returned to Chapel Hill to become assistant professor of geology at the University of North Carolina. He eventually became head of the Geology Department, retiring in 1933. Besides teaching at the University, Cobb was also involved in community activities, especially those relating to schools. Cobb was married first Mary Lindsay Battle, with whom he had three children (William Cobb, Collier Cobb Jr., and Mary Louisa Cobb), second Lucy Battle, a cousin of his first wife; and third Mary Knox Gatlin of Little Rock, Ark. Cobb’s sister, Lucy Maria Cobb, was a writer, genealogist, and active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and his daughter, Mary Louisa Cobb, was chief of the Correspondence Bureau of the UNC Extension Division, 1922-1954. The collection chiefly consists of materials relating to the lives and work of Collier Cobb and his sister, Lucy Maria Cobb, but there are also materials relating to Collier Cobb’s father, Needham Bryan Cobb; Collier Cobb’s three wives; his daughter, Mary Louisa Cobb, especially while she was attending Fassifern, a school for girls at Hendersonville, N.C.; his son, Collier Cobb Jr.; and other members of the Cobb family. Included are letters and related materials, both personal and professional. Among the correspondents are botanist Harriet E. Freeman of Boston and geographer/botanist Roland M. Harper. There are also clippings relating to the Cobb family or to scientific subjects and writings by Lucy Maria Cobb; Collier Cobb, including a book manuscript on evolution and biographical sketches of Kemp Plummer Battle, Maria Edgeworth, Nicholas Marcellus Hentz, Joseph Austin Holmes, George Horton, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Denison Olmsted, Laura Battle Philips, William George Randall, and others; as well as journals, account books, address books, a commonplace book, a recipe book, and a family Bible with annotations and enclosed ephemera. Some of the volumes relate to Needham Bryan Cobb’s ministerial activities before, during, and after the Civil War. Pictures are of members of Cobb family members, friends, and relatives; the family’s Mount Auburn Plantation; the Cobb family homes in Chapel Hill; the University of North Carolina campus; geological field expeditions; and travels. Included is a series of glass plate negatives depicting the University of North Carolina campus, people, travels to Alaska and China, and other subjects. There are also maps; childhood drawings; genealogical materials relating to Lucy Maria Cobb’s career as genealogical researcher for hire; financial and legal documents belonging to Needham Bryan Cobb; diplomas, including the first Master’s degree awarded by the University of North Carolina; and other items. The Addition of 2009 includes Collier Cobb correspondence, writings, and other materials, as well as materials relating to the Chapel Hill, N.C., community activities of Collier Cobb Jr. and his wife, Emma Cobb. There are also photographs of University of North Carolina faculty, Collier Cobb, Nancy Cobb, Collier Cobb Jr., and Emma Cobb.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: There are two photographs with African Americans: Image P-4008/172 of an African American man c. 1880 – 1890  identified as “Identified on verso as “Uncle Daniel – wood cutter – 85 years old.”, and P-4008/185 of an unidentified African American man c. 1905 – 1915. There are also pictures and postcards of West Africa (Image folders p-4008/355 – 403). In folder 260, there is an article entitled “”An American Man of Letters: George Horton, the Negro Poet”.