Category Archives: Featured Collections

Four activists to be honored in Chapel Hill, SHC preserves documentation of their legacy

This Sunday, August 28, 2011, four names will be added to a plaque at Chapel Hill’s “Peace and Justice Plaza.” Yonni Chapman, Rebecca Clark, Rev. Charles M. Jones and Dan Pollitt will all be honored posthumously for their contributions to civil rights, social justice and equality in the Chapel Hill community. The ceremony will begin at 3pm in front of the Historic Chapel Hill Post Office on Franklin Street, just across the street from UNC’s McCorkle Place. For the full story, see the article, “Four Honored for Activism,” from the Chapel Hill News.

The Southern Historical Collection is proud to preserve a large body of material that documents the lives and legacies of these four activists, including:

Charles Miles Jones Papers – The collection includes correspondence, church documents and publications, clippings, and other items reflecting Jones’s ministry and concern for civil rights. Materials generally focus on his public rather than personal life with a special emphasis on the 1952-1953 investigation of his Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church ministry. General correspondence includes letters from supporters (among them Frank Porter Graham) and detractors, commenting on the investigation, Jones’s sermons, and several well-publicized actions in support of social justice causes.

Oral history interview with Rebecca Clark (1 interview available online via DocSouth’s Oral Histories of the American South project) – In this interview, Rebecca Clark recalls living and working in segregated North Carolina. She finished her schooling in all-black schools, so the bulk of her experience with white people in a segregated context took place in the work world. There she experienced economic discrimination in a variety of forms, and despite her claims that many black people kept quiet in the face of racial discrimination at the time, she often agitated for, and won, better pay. Along with offering some information about school desegregation, this interview provides a look into the constricted economic lives of black Americans living under Jim Crow.

John K. Chapman Papers (available Fall 2011) – This collection documents Yonni Chapman’s social activism and academic achievements, and offers an account of nearly four decades of progressive racial, social, and economic justice struggles in the central North Carolina region. Organizational materials, including correspondence, notes, newsletters and reports, document the activities of the Communist Workers’ Party, the Federation for Progress, the Orange County Rainbow Coalition of Conscience, the New Democratic Movement, the Freedom Legacy Project, and the Campaign for Historical Accuracy and Truth, among other organizations on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, in Chapel Hill, N.C., Durham, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C. Workers’ rights and racial justice campaigns and commemorations, including those of the Greensboro Massacre and the campaign to end the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, are documented in paper, audio, visual, and photographic formats.

Daniel H. Pollitt Papers (available Fall 2012) – This collection documents Dan Pollitt’s distinguished career as an attorney, professor in the University of North Carolina Law School, and civil rights activist in the American South. The collection documents Pollitt’s activities with a number of organizations, including: the National Labor Relations Board, the National Sharecroppers Fund, the NAACP, the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, the Rural Advancement Fund, and other organizations. Material also covers Pollitt’s involvement with the Speaker Ban controversy at the University of North Carolina, his opposition to the death penalty in North Carolina, issues of congressional misconduct, and many other legal and ethical matters.

Oral history interviews with Daniel H. Pollitt (13 interviews, many of which are available online via DocSouth’s Oral Histories of the American South project)

Creator of the Month…John Harden

John William Harden (1903-1985) of Greensboro, N.C., was a journalist, newspaper editor, author, advisor to North Carolina governors and textile executives, and founder of the state’s first full-service public relations company. The collection contains materials, 1914-1986, including business records, correspondence, writings, speeches and speech materials, administrative records, newspaper clippings, diaries, scrapbooks, photograph albums, family papers, sound recordings, and videocassettes relating to John Harden.

Correspondence and other papers includes items relating to each of John Harden’s published books. Harden published The Devil’s Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories in 1949 and Tar Heel Ghosts in 1954. These books present stories gathered by Harden that deal with North Carolina locales, myths, and stories. Devil’s Tramping Ground grew out of a weekly radio program, entitled Tales of Tarheelia, presented over eighteen months on station WPTF in Raleigh in 1946-1947. Both books were illustrated by Lindsey McAlister, an acquaintance of Harden’s daughter Glenn Abbott, and were published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Here are some interesting items and images that can be found within the writings series that highlight Harden’s interest in the strange and unknown. Since Halloween is fast approaching, we hope that you will find items in this collection fascinating and ghoulish.

The Delta Ministry, an ambitious self-help initiative for Mississippi

“Through the long, hot summer and the long cold winter, Delta Ministry looks ahead: to a total ministry, to growing self-respect and self-determination among delta Negroes, to a bold new start for some.”  So begins the text of a wonderful brochure (found in the SHC’s Delta Health Center Records) that tells the story of the Delta Ministry.

The Delta Ministry was a project begun in 1964 by the New York-based National Council of Churches to provide support to African Americans in the Mississippi Delta region. The project not only sought to bring economic aid to black Mississippians but also encouraged voter registration and greater political involvement.  According to Mark Newman’s 2004 book, Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi, the Delta Ministry began with a 10-year mandate but ended up stretching its support for the citizens of the Delta into the 1980s.  This, according to Newman, filled the vacuum created as other civil rights organizations, such as SNCC and CORE, discontinued similar programs of support for poor blacks in the Mississippi Delta.

The group has a fascinating story, much more deftly told by Newman’s extensively-researched book than I could do in this space.  The organization’s history deserves greater attention, it deserves even more ink from historians writing on the legacy of the American Civil Rights Movement.  As an intro, we hope you’ll read and enjoy this Delta Ministry brochure.   Click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the image.  Finally, if you’re interested in digging deeper, there are other great materials in Box 59 of the SHC’s Delta Health Center Records.

The lives of prisoners of war at Johnson’s Island

The SHC contains a number of collections that document the lives of Confederate prisoners at Johnson’s Island Prison near Sandusky, Ohio. [Click here to see a listing of catalog records of SHC material on the subject.]

Drawing of Johnson’s Island Prison, 7 October 1863, Sandusky Bay near Sandusky, Ohio

Drawing of Johnson’s Island Prison, 7 October 1863 (from Joseph Mason Kern Papers, SHC #2526-z)

The image above comes from the SHC’s Joseph Mason Kern Papers (SHC collection #2526-z).  Kern (b. 1842), of Romney, Va., served in the C.S.A. 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and was imprisoned for several months at Johnson’s Island. Kern compiled a scrapbook that documents his Civil War experiences and his time at Johnson’s Island, and includes this colored map of the prison.

A second example:  The SHC preserves two diaries of Robert Bingham (1838-1927) kept, 1863-1864, while he was a prisoner at Norfolk, Va., Fort Delaware, Johnson’s Island, Ohio, and Point Lookout, Md.  The diary describes prison life, including quarters, gambling, work, escape plots, sermons, food, illness, and hospitals at various prison camps.  Here’s his diary entry from August 26, 1863 (while imprisoned at Johnson’s Island):

Two months.  Yes it is a long time to be in prison. I have not heard a word from my wife in two months. It is very long.  How my heart has yearned for her in these two months! & for my child.  God bless them – & keep them.  The Lord make his face to shine upon them & be gracious to them.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon them & grant them peace.  Two months in prison.  I have suffered – some from sickness, much from anxiety about home – much from looking thro[ugh] bars & across bayonets – but I have much to be thankful for.  I have had money – not in abundance, but enough.  I have had books – & several very kind letters & have been very much more comfortable than I expected to be.  I wrote to Dell to day assuring her of this & I do hope the letter may get thro[ugh].  Other have got letters thro[ugh] both ways.

Andrew Young oral history interview

Image of Andrew Young from Library of Congress (this public domain photograph is not part of the SHC's collections)

UNC’s Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) collects interviews with Southerners who have made significant contributions to a variety of fields and interviews that will render historically visible those whose experience is not reflected in traditional written sources. The Southern Historical Collection is the repository for oral histories collected by the SOHP.

The SOHP has digitized 500 interviews from the collection, through a project called Oral Histories of the American South. Periodically, “Southern Sources” will share links to audio of selected SOHP interviews.

Today, we are pleased to feature an SOHP interview with Andrew Young.  Andrew Young was the first African American congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction. First elected in 1972, Young was later appointed as ambassador to the United Nations by Jimmy Carter.

In this SOHP interview, Young discusses the nature of racial discrimination in the South and describes his involvement in voter registration drives. Throughout the interview, he draws comparisons between race relations within southern states and those between the North and South. According to Young, it was access to political power that ultimately altered the tides of racial prejudice in the South. He cites the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a decisive turning point in race relations. For Young, it was the election of African Americans to positions of power that allowed African Americans to bring to fruition other advances they had made in education, business, and social standing.

Interview Menu (Description, Transcript, and Audio): Andrew Young interview menu (from the SOHP)

Link Directly to Audio File: audio of Andrew Young interview (from the SOHP)

Civil War sketches of Herbert E. Valentine

Herbert Eugene Valentine (1841-1917) was a private in Company F of the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteers, who served in the United States Army between 1861 and 1864 in eastern Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The SHC’s Herbert E. Valentine Papers contains a diary, pencil and watercolor sketches, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and maps, all contained in two manuscript volumes of Herbert E. Valentine. These volumes contain 184 sketches picturing towns, buildings, ships, bridges, fortifications, and everyday life at military bases. Valentine made birds eye view sketches of the towns in which he was stationed, as well as sketches of their principal buildings such as hospitals, churches, warehouses, and private residences that served as military command headquarters and as officers’ quarters. Locations with numerous sketches include Beaufort, Morehead City, and New Bern, N.C., and Hilton Head and Saint Helena Island, S.C. Seven color maps pertain to the operations of the 23rd Massachusetts Regiment in eastern North Carolina and Virginia.

We thought we’d share a few selections of these great Civil War sketches:

"Allison: Steamer" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Steamer Allison, October 13, 1862" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Broken Bridge: Over Broad Creek" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Broken Bridge: Over Broad Creek" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Convoy S. S." - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Convoy S. S." - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Chapel, Fort Monroe, Va., 1863" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Chapel, Fort Monroe, Va., 1863" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Pillow Fight" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

"Pillow Fight" - from Herbert E. Valentine Papers, SHC #4397

Manigault Plantation Journal

The SHC has several wonderful projects available online that provide samples or portions of our collections, including: online exhibits, digitized historical images, maps, bound volumes, and other interesting online content.   Today we wanted to share one such project with you.  It’s called the Manigault Plantation Journal.  It’s found by visiting the UNC Library homepage, then clicking on Digital Collections.  Or you can go directly there by visiting this link:

http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/manigault/

The Manigault Plantation Journal, compiled by Louis Manigault between 1856 and 1879, includes information on plantation life, slaves and slavery, rice cultivation, market conditions, accounts, and other topics. Notes and memoranda kept by Charles Manigault regarding the plantations during the 1830s and 1840s were pasted into the journal. Pages of particular interest include:

  • A narrative of plantation life during the Civil War (pages 22-39)
  • A hand-drawn and colored illustration of Gowrie House (page 41)
  • A hand-drawn and colored illustration of the kitchen house at Gowrie Plantation (page 45)
  • A narrative of a post-Civil War visit to the plantations (pages 55-71)
  • A narrative of a trip to Scotland (pages 74-86)
  • A list of slaves, including their names and ages, who were sold at auction in Charleston, 13 January 1859 (page 140)
  • A photograph of “Dolly,” a runaway slave, and an accompanying description (page 179)

The image shown in this post is that photograph of “Dolly.”  The accompanying description and the offer of a $50.00 reward for her return are real and heartbreaking reminders of the cruelties of slavery.

The Manigault Plantation Journal is part of the Manigault Family Papers (#484).  An full inventory of the materials in this collection is available here.

Creators of the Month: John Charles Campbell and Olive D. Campbell

[Each month we feature a "creator" or one of the SHC's manuscript collections. In archival terms, a creator is defined as an individual, group, or organization that is responsible for a collection's production, accumulation, or formation.]

John Charles Campbell and Olive D. Campbell were missionary teachers in Appalachian Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama at the turn of the 20th Century.  John Campbell received a research grant from the Russell Sage Foundation to study the mountain regions of the South in 1909 and soon became an expert on the economic and social conditions of the Appalachians. He was secretary of Southern Highland Division of the Russell Sage Foundation in Asheville, N.C.; author of the Foundation’s survey of conditions in the Southern Appalachians; and organizer of the Conference of Southern Mountain Workers.

His wife, Olive Dame Campbell (1882-1954) traveled with her husband; founded and directed the John C. Campbell Folk School and related cooperatives at Brasstown, N.C.; and participated in the formation of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. While working with her husband, she collected mountain ballads and, after his death in 1919, prepared the report of his survey for publication.

Their collection gives a good look into life in Appalachia in the early 20th century.  Of particular interest, at least to me, are the volumes and the photographs.  Olive Campbell kept diaries of her trips to locations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  In these diaries, she describes things such as the kinds of food she ate, the houses she went into, and the people that she met.

The photographs are divided into two groups: loose photographs and photograph albums.  The loose photographs are primarily images of John Campbell, Olive Campbell, and their families, as well as pictures of their students, their school, and trips that they took.  The photograph albums have pictures of Appalachian mountain scenery, students at the Campbell’s schools, and people both at work and at leisure.  In PA-3800/8, there is a “Photo-essay on illicit distilling operations in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.”

The John Charles Campbell and Olive D. Campbell Papers are collection number 3800 in the Southern Historical Collection.