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.

 

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“It’s a honey of a play…”: Playmakers Exhibit in Progress

Opening tomorrow, The North Carolina Collection Gallery will present “Making a People’s Theater: Proff Koch and the Carolina Playmakers” from February 21st to May 31st. This exhibit demonstrates Frederick Koch’s involvement with the Carolina Playmakers, as well as the Playmakers’ contributions to student and regional theater in North Carolina throughout the 20th century.
The photo below features a few items contributed by the Southern Historical Collection to a section on the student-authored musical, “Spring For Sure.”
SFS_Case

Clockwise from top right:

Poster, Spring for Sure, 1952. - Lynn Gault Papers (#4987), Southern Historical Collection.

Letter, Loren MacKinney to Lillian Hughes Prince, circa 1952. – William Meade Prince and Lillian Hughes Prince Papers (#3660), Southern Historical Collection.  

Photograph, Production of Spring For Sure, 1950, Chapel Hill, N.C. – Photographic Laboratory Collection (#P0031), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. 

Playbill, Spring for Sure, 1952. – William Meade Prince and Lillian Hughes Prince Papers (#3660), Southern Historical Collection.  

Photographs, Playmakers touring Spring for Sure, 1952. – Department of Dramatic Art Photographs and Related Materials (#P0035), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. 

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“To endeavor to cease swearing” and other New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make any resolutions for the new year?  The tradition has been around for some time – here are polar explorer Adolphus Greely’s resolutions from 1869:

Resolutions

From the Adolphus Greely Diary, 1869, in the George Stuart Collection of Archeological and Other Materials #5268, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Transcription:

New Year Resolves

1st To write mother at least once a week

2nd To spend at least one hour a day in study, or useful reading

3rd To keep an account of all receipts and expenditures

4th To endeavor to stop swearing

5th To endeavor to restrain rash speech

6th To keep a diary of whereabouts &c. each day during the year,

7th To [settle?] a report of these rules in this diary on the last day of each month

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What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Looking for a few numbers to jazz up your party playlist tonight?  Then break out the piano and clarinet for Kay Kyser’s 1947 big band hit, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

From the Kay Kyser and Georgia Carroll Kyser Papers #5289, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

KayKyserMusic001 KayKyserMusic002 KayKyserMusic003 KayKyserMusic004

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Holiday Festivities Through the Years: 1913-2007

Happy Holidays! Please enjoy a few of Wilson Library’s favorite photographs of seasonal celebrations across the South:

Group on their way to Ronda, N.C. for a Christmas dance, circa 1913.  From the Thomas F. Hickerson Papers, #3809, Southern Historical Collection.

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Hatteras Island “Old Christmas” celebrations in Rodanthe, N.C., circa 1940s  From the North Carolina County Photographic Collection #P0001, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Buck_Old_Xmas

For more on “Buck” and Old Christmas on the Outer Banks, click here.

Nashville Community Sing, 1949.  From the Charles S. Killebrew Photographic Collection (P0091), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

nashville sing

Bunn Family Christmas, 1951.  From the Charles S. Killebrew Photographic Collection (P0091), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

BunnFamilyXmas

Elizabeth Spencer with unknown companions, New Year’s Eve party, 1994.  From the Elizabeth Spencer Papers #5145, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Poster, A Rockabilly Christmas Party, Hideaway BBQ, Raleigh, N.C., 14 December 2007.  From the Jason Lonon Poster Collection #20451, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

OP20459_5_Rockabilly Christmas Poster

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“May a Good Christmas Be Yours!”: Seasonal Greetings from Paul and Elizabeth Green

Paul Green, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Carolina alum, was known for writing “The Lost Colony” and many other outdoor dramas. However, during the holidays he and his wife Elizabeth put their creative genius to a specifically festive use.  Each year, the Greens crafted a Christmas card featuring lyrics, and sometimes sheet music, to seasonally-themed songs.  Some of the tunes were borrowed, but the words were the Greens’ own writing, sometimes featuring songs from Paul’s published plays. Check out a few of these cards below:

MayAGoodXmas

Lost Colony

1945poem

1955poem

1969music

1979music

MaryPoemStar

From the Paul Green Papers, #3693, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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“And a two winged aeroplane that will fly”: Kids’ Letters to Santa from 1932

Check out these Christmas wish lists from cousins Niles Grosvenor and Phoebe Evans of Memphis, Tennessee from November, 1932.  The corresponding orders to Sears, Roebuck, and Co. from their grandmother and Phoebe’s father show that Santa got it right.

From folder 293 in the Hill and Grosvenor Family Papers #4191, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

NilesLetter001 NilesLetter002 PhoebeLetter001 PhoebeLetter002

For reference, it appears that a transcript was made:

transcript001CNGorder001 MEorder001

 

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“…deportment has been uniformly correct…”: Report Cards of the 19th Century

With exams in full swing here at UNC, we thought we’d take a moment to appreciate the subjects we’re no longer graded on. Take a look at these report cards from years past – which categories and wordings would you least like to be added to your transcript?  Our nomination is “total failure.”

This UNC Chapel Hill student appears to have missed 65 recitations, but at least his deportment was “uniformly good.” From folder 34 of the John S. Henderson Papers #327.

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Calista Ramsey wasn’t doing all that well in arithmetic at the Concord Female College, but she did avoid the “total failure” mark. From folder 9 in the J. G. Ramsey Papers #1568.

Ramsey_ 1568_f9001

 

Eliza London seems to be doing very well in French, German, and Greek at the School of the Misses Nash and Kollock. From folder 14 in the Emily London Short Papers #5181.

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(For more on the history of this Hillsboro girls’ school, check out A Sketch of the School of the Misses Nash and Miss Kollock.)

Siblings W. H. and Bettie Joyner both did well in these Franklinton Schools report cards, but both missed the opportunity to take “Wax Work.” Note that W. H.’s penmanship received perfect marks. From folder 41 in the Joyner Family Papers #4428.

Joyner_04428_f41001

The note on the back of W.H's report card reads "Your grandfather's report card.  Not as good as Aunt Bettie's."

The note on the back of W.H’s report card reads “your grandfather’s report card. not as good as Aunt Bettie’s, though.” See Bettie’s straight A’s (straight sevens?) below.

Joyner_04428_f41003

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