Category Archives: Featured Z-Collections

Featured Z- Collection: Lizzie Chambers Hall (#4145-z)

Lizzie Chambers Hall was the wife of W. T. Hall, who was the  pastor of Baptist churches in Danville, Virginia from 1897-1907, and in Roxborough, Pennsylvania from 1913- 1928.

Photo of Lizzie and an article she wrote from her scrapbook

The Lizze Chambers Hall Papers contain  photographs, scattered family correspondence, and a scrapook which Lizzie compiled.

The scrapbook contains news papers clippings, pictures, religious tracts and broadsides,  printed and manuscript poems (some of which were written by Lizzie herself ) and other memorabilia. It is a fascinating record of certain elements of African American family life and religious practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Click here to link to the finding aid for the Lizzie Chambers Hall papers.

From the Digital SHC

Detail from a page in the Martha Ryan Cipher Book, SHC #1940-z

Today’s digital feature is the Martha Ryan Cipher Book, SHC collection #1940-z. From the finding aid:

“School mathematics exercise book kept by Martha Ryan, probably of Perquimans County, N.C., circa 1781. The volume is bound in homespun fabric with ornate decorations on each page. Mottos, ship designs, and other patriotic decorations, and inscriptions such as “Liberty” or “George Washington” on many of the pages reflect the Revolutionary influence.”

We have digitized the entire cipher book. Please see the finding aid to view it online (once you reach the finding aid, scroll down and click on the link for “Folder 1″ to view the digitized material). Enjoy!

Eleven Reasons Why Everybody Should Buy the Studebaker Wagon (1877)

I came across this great little pamphlet yesterday in the Burwell Benson Papers (Collection #60-z, finding aid). It’s an 1877 catalog of “farm, freight, plantation, platform & spring wagons” from the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company of South Bend, Indiana – the same Studebaker famous for producing those swank early 20th-century (horse-less) automobiles.

The catalog includes wonderful pictures of the 1877 models (with such names as: “Salt Lake Wagons” or “Pic Nic Wagons”), a nice pullout engraving showing the South Bend factory, a page extolling the virtues of The Studebaker Slope Shoulder Spoke (“the most solid and strongest wheel yet invented”), and price lists for wagon upgrades (like “seats” or “brakes”). Finally, the catalog includes a list of the “Eleven Reasons Why Everybody Should Buy the Studebaker Wagon.” Here are some highlights from those reasons:

First: It is made of the best selected INDIANA TIMBER, the same being cut at the proper season of the year, piled under sheds, properly dated, and allowed to remain there from three to five years.

Sixth: It is the only wagon in which the SLOPE-SHOULDER SPOKE is used. hence they have the best wheel, which is actually the foundation of the wagon, and should be carefully examined by persons purchasing.

Ninth: The Studebaker Brothers are practical workmen, attend to their business personally, and do not intrust it to the Foreman, as is generally the case in large factories, hence the superiority of their work over all others.

[Thought I'd just throw in a picture of their sleigh selection, for good measure. If you had some dashing to do in the snow in 1877, it looks like it would have only cost you $57.50 to get outfitted with one of these beauties.]

The Turpentine Remedy

The turpentine, as given to patient, G.P. Milton, who died the following day (January 8, 1865)

The turpentine treatment, as given to patient, G.P. Milton, who died the following day (January 8, 1865). From collection #612-z, Southern Historical Collection.

You never know what you’re going to find in our collections. Today, while looking for something totally unrelated, I happened upon a folder with an intriguing title: “Prescription and Diet Book, circa 1800s.” I thought I might have stumbled on some sort of early new age work. So, I started thumbing through.

What I found was that it was a record book, apparently from a Civil War hospital near Greensboro, North Carolina, that listed daily treatments that were given to wounded soldiers and others convalescing during the war.

In this record book are listings for some run of the mill treatments and remedies that were ordered on patients of the hospital such as, “light diet,” “light dressing applied to wound,” or “beef soup.” But then I started seeing some more, shall we say, experimental treatments listed. The regimen given to one particular patient named G. P. Milton was especially striking (see image shown here).

Sunday’s entry: “Rx…Whiskey and Turpentine every 3 hours”

Monday’s entry: “Died Jan. 8, 1865″

I guess turpentine isn’t always good for what ails you. Anyone know if this was once a common treatment? And if so, for which ailment was it usually prescribed? Was it ever successful?

[The item described comes from collection #612-z from the Southern Historical Collection.]

Thar She Blows

We recently uncovered a single-item collection with this intriguing title: “Sailor’s Journal, 30 March-24 April 1847″ (#5219-z). Although not completely unheard of, this is a bit of a strange one in that it’s totally unattributed.

19 April 1847: Entry from an unknown sailor's journal.

19 April 1847: Entry from an unknown sailor

Normally, our collections are tied to a definite creator (a person, or perhaps an organization), but here we have an example of one of our collections whose connection to its creator has been lost. The question of who penned this journal is only a part of the overall mystery of this 161 year old item. Why did the entries end on the 24th of April? Are the numerous empty pages that follow this last entry merely because he lost interest in maintaining a journal? If not, what happened to him? Here’s what we do know about it…

The writer was a sailor on the Memphis during its passage from New York to New Orleans between 30 March and 24 April 1847. The journal provides a daily record of the weather conditions at sea, the speed and position of the ship, the wildlife sighted around the ship, and other vessels encountered during the voyage. The sailor mentioned passing Cape Hatteras, Cape Florida, and Key West.

In one passage of the journal, April 19th, the sailor notes the damage that a hurricane had inflicted on Key West the previous year.

“…passed Key West a place belonging to the U.S. and used as a navel depot, was partly destroyed by the Water last year a blow from the South demolishing the lighthouse, also passed at 10 o’clock a.m. Sand Key light House on [Island] which was blow down in a tornado last year, part of the Is[land] is washed away and they have erected a liberty Pole in the Center of the Isl’d to show the spot on which it once stood. The U.S have now a Light ship placed, at Key West, also a substitute for the Light House, destroy’d.”

Any guesses on the author of this journal? Does anyone know anything about this hurricane that hit Key West in 1847? Know anything more about this lighthouse that was destroyed?  Of course, digging into the journal itself would be the best place to look for clues.  As always, it’s here in the SHC (carefully preserved) and we’d love to have you in to take a look at it!

“What is it that binds us to this place as to no other?”

Mrs. Charles W. Bain Letter, 1917 (Collection #1327-z)

Mrs. Charles W. Bain Letter, 1917 (Collection #1327-z)

Individual collections of manuscript material preserved in the Southern Historical Collection range in size from giant collections of more than half a million items all the way down to single-item collections. Our smaller collections, due to the way that they have been cataloged over the years, are referred to as “z-collections” (or simply “z’s”). Often, these z-collections contain items with extremely rich content – lots of bang for the buck. Some researchers enjoy these collections because they are so digestible, especially if your time in the SHC is limited. In fact, they’re great for student projects too! However, because of their small size, our lil’ z’s often get the short shrift. So, through this blog, we intend to highlight some of these great z’s from time to time so that others may enjoy them as much as we do.

It may not be the most representative of the z’s, but here’s one that jumped out at me today – as z’s are wont to do sometimes (“Pick me, pick me!”). It’s cataloged as “The Mrs. Charles W. Bain Letter, 1917″ (Collection #1327-z). A note dated July 1947 written by SHC staff gives this endearing description of the letter:

“September 17, 1917, A letter to Mrs. Bain from Mrs. Elizabeth W. Blackwell, whom she met in 1917 at Atlantic City. Mrs. Blackwell was a young Northern woman living in Chapel Hill during the War between the states. She left in 1862, through the kindness of Southern friends, to join her relatives in the North. In the intervening years she had longed to meet someone from Chapel Hill, which she had always loved and hoped to see once more. Mrs. Bain was the first person she had ever met from Chapel Hill since. This letter gives a brief account of her sojourn and departure. At that time she was Mrs. Fry.”

Transcript of the letter:

September 17, 1917.

My dear Mrs. Bain

Your picture postals of the University Buildings, gave me a great deal of pleasure; and I thank you sincerely for remembering me so kindly.

I received also a synopsis of ‘Battle’s History of the University,’ which I have read repeatedly; and each time with interest; seeing always some reminiscence of that long ago; I think I told you, that I left here in July 1862.

My son, Mr. James Woods Fry, was born in December 1862. I was then, just twenty-three years old; so, you can imagine how deplorable my situation would have been, to have been down there among strangers; in, at that time, a hostile country.

I owe my restoration to my home and family, to Mr. John Pool who lived on the Chowan River, Mrs. Joseph Pool, whose home was in Elizabeth City, was a refugee resident of Chapel Hill. Mrs. Pool had a daughter in the North, from whom she could not hear; this fact, made her sympathize with me, separated from my home.

She loaned me her horse and buggy, with which we drove through the state; leaving the team at Mr. John Pool’s handsome home.

In all these years, I have met with very few connecting links with Chapel Hill, although in my travels I have always scanned the registers in the hotels thinking I might see some familiar name. This time, at Atlantic City, I neglected to do so; but, my niece, knowing my interest, told me of your name, for which I was very glad.

Some years ago, I spent six weeks at Palm Beach. I thought then, I might possibly meet some one from North Carolina, or, see the name of some student on the Register: I have the Catalogue of the period I tell you of; but as usual, I was disappointed.

My niece sends her regards to you; and I wish to present mine to your sister. Thanking you again for your kindness, I am, yours most cordially,

Elizabeth W. Blackwell

…[additional sheet inserted]…

I inferred from some remark you made, that Mr. Samuel Phillips’s mother was still living; if that be the case, she must be a very old lady. I, myself am in my seventy-ninth year.

When I was seventy-six, I was as active as a much younger woman; but unfortunately a paralytic stroke made me, as you saw me; is affected my speech, and also my left foot; but I am thankful that I still have the use of my hands; otherwise I would not be writing this.

If I was sure, Mrs. Phillips was living, I would certainly write to her.

Gratefully yours,

Elizabeth W. Blackwell.

In July 1888, I was married to Mr. John G. Blackwell, after being a widow for many years.