Category Archives: Collections

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.

New SHC collection: Harry Stanley mess book and other papers, 1863-1865.

Harry Stanley was born Tufton K. Stanley on 2 September 1832 in Boston, Mass. He first enlisted in the United States Navy in 1855 and then reenlisted on 21 September 1861. He was made master at arms, the chief disciplinary officer on the USS Ethan Allen, on 24 August 1863, and left the ship on 14 June 1865 as a yeoman. He died on 15 February 1890 in Boston, Mass.

The collection contains the mess book of Harry Stanley, the master at arms for the USS Ethan Allen. The beginning of the book lists the sailors on the ship, divided into the eight different messes with which they ate. The second part of the book is a list of disciplinary actions taken against crew members of the ship, listed by date. Typical entries contain the name of the crew member who was punished, the event for which they were punished, the dates on which they were punished and released, and by whom they were released. There are also drawings of the various semaphore flags and their meanings, a penciled copy of the list of members of the eight different messes, and a list of all money received and spent by Stanley on behalf of the USS Ethan Allen. There are also photocopies of Harry Stanley’s pension; his discharge; and a few documents relating to the widow’s pension of his wife, Margaret Stanley.

[You may click here to view the finding aid for this new collection.]


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.

Creator of the Month: Walker Percy

Walker Percy as a student at UNC (from 1937 Yackety Yack - UNCs student yearbook)

Walker Percy as a student at UNC (from 1937 "Yackety Yack" - UNC's student yearbook)

In conjunction with the current exhibit “Four from between the Wars,” the creator of the month for September is Walker Percy. A UNC alum and celebrated Southern author, Percy’s works include The Moviegoer, which won the 1962 National Book Award for fiction, The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins (1971), Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987). He published two works of non-fiction, The Message in the Bottle (1975) and Lost in the Cosmos (1983).

Walker Percy’s papers are held by the Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library. The collection consists of material produced by Walker Percy while working on his six published novels, two published book-length works of non-fiction, various essays and reviews, and three unpublished long works–two fiction (one of which is not extant) and one non-fiction. A description of the materials can be found in the finding aid, here on the SHC website. The finding aid has been recently revised to make the materials more accessible. Additional materials relating to Walker Percy, including his working library, can be found in the Rare Book Collection

Legacy finding aids now available online

The SHC has some exciting news for our researchers: we’ve embarked on a 3 year project funded by a grant from NC ECHO to update and make available online over 1000 finding aids currently only available in paper format. Over 200 of these finding aids are now available online!

These finding aids represent some of the earliest acquisitions of the SHC. Many of these collections contain information about the Civil War and early North Carolina politics.

Some collections that have jumped out at us from the initial group of 200 include:

Abraham Enloe Papers, #4229

This collection contains a letter arguing that Enloe fathered Abraham Lincoln.

Spinsters’ Club Records, #4144-z

Membership in this Fayetteville, NC club was limited to women under the age of 30.

James E. Green Diary, #2678

Green, a farmer and physician, served in the 53rd North Carolina Regiment during the Civil War and his diary contains entries from his active duty in army hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.

Lutie Kealhofer Papers, #1011

Included in this collection is a diary kept by Kealhofer describing her activities during the Civil War in Hagerstown, Md. and her travels to Canada and upstate New York.

We will be posting newly updated finding aids each month so stay tuned for more highlights!

A list of all finding aids published online through this project is now available.

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.