Category Archives: Women

Doris Betts, a Greyhound Bus, and an Academy Award

Did you know that one of Doris Betts’ short stories was adapted into an Academy Award-winning short film?
In 1969, the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts was published in the Red Clay Reader, an annual magazine focusing on the work of southern authors and artists.  Betts, a UNC English professor, was also an award-winning author short stories, novels, plays, and poetry.  “The Ugliest Pilgrim” told the story of a disfigured young woman named Violet who travels by bus from her home in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma in the hopes of being healed by a televangelist.

Ugliest Pilgrim

“The Ugliest Pilgrim,” published in the Red Clay Reader, 1969. From folder 176 in the Doris Betts Papers, #4695.

 

In 1981, “The Ugliest Pilgrim” was adapted into a short film titled Violet, which in 1982 garnered the Academy Award for Best Short Film.  The film starred Didi Conn in the title role, otherwise known for her portrayal of “Frenchy” in the film Grease. UNC celebrated the success of the adaptation with a screening at the Carolina Fall Festival that year.

Carolina Fall Festival Program, 1982, featuring a screening of “Violet.” From folder 177 in the Doris Betts Papers #4695

“The Ugliest Pilgrim” was later adapted into a musical (also titled Violet), by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, which has been performed across the country, including a production by Playmakers Repertory Company.  A one-act adaptation starring Sutton Foster will debut on Broadway this month.

Productions of "Violet" by Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY) and Playmakers Repertory Company (UNC-Chapel Hill). From folder 179 in the Doris Betts Papers, #4695.

Productions of “Violet” by Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY) and Playmakers Repertory Company (UNC-Chapel Hill). From folder 179 in the Doris Betts Papers, #4695.

 

From the Doris Betts Papers #4695, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

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!

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.

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.

Creator of the Month… Guion Griffis Johnson

[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.]

Guion Griffis Johnson of Chapel Hill, N.C., was a professor, author, scholar, journalist, women’s advocate, and general civic leader. Johnson held a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina. She published three books: A Social History of the Sea Islands (1930), Antebellum North Carolina (1937), and Volunteers in Community Service (1967). Her husband was Guy Johnson, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the 1920s and 1930s, Johnson and her husband worked together at the Institute for Research in Social Science at University of North Carolina. Continue reading

Early interracial conferences, Part I

Olive M. StoneOlive M. Stone, an Alabama native, was a sociologist whose work focused on social welfare, race relations, and southern farmers. That’s her, pictured here in Russia, 1931. Stone’s involvement in civil rights and radical politics brought her to a number of southern and northern interracial conferences in the 1930s. This post is the first of three that will highlight some of the documents that represent these conferences in the Olive M. Stone Papers, illustrating some of the earlier stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement.

Swarthmore Institute of Race Relations

"The Institute of Race Relations: an attempt at evaluation by a southern woman," #4107 Olive M. Stone papers, folder 6

The Swarthmore institute of Race Relations
July 1934, Swarthmore College, P.A.
Stone wrote this evaluation of the conference, praising it for it’s “truly inter-racial character.” The conference was sponsored by Pennsylvania Society of Friends, lasted twenty-nine days, and featured twenty-nine African American speakers.
Excerpt:


“Too often, at inter-racial conferences which I have attended in the South, there is a patronizing approach on the part of the whites and an ingratiating appeal from the Negroes. At such meetings, the races usually sit on opposite sides of a public hall and are discreetly careful to discuss only the most flagrant abuses of discrimination which neither would dare challenge; as, for example, the undue cruelty administered to a certain Negro on a “jim-crow” street-car rather than the whole question of segregation in transportation…”

Finding Aid for the Olive M. Stone Papers (#4107)