It’s All Up to You! North Carolina and the Good Health Program, Part 1

During World War II, the state of North Carolina received an enormous number of draft rejections due to the poor health of its citizens compared to other states, including problems such as poor teeth and eyesight, chronic infections, malnutrition, tuberculosis, hookworm, and even malaria. The conditions of medical care in the state prompted the Medical Society of the State of North Carolina to urge Governor Broughton to take action, resulting in the formation of the State Hospital and Medical Care Commission in 1944.   Their study of health conditions demonstrated that a lack of hospitals, lack of doctors, and limited understanding of health and nutrition were among the reasons for North Carolinians’ poor health.  At the same time, statistics showed that while 41% of white draftees and 61% of African American draftees were being rejected in North Carolina, young men raised in orphanages (receiving state supported medical care and nutrition) had a draft acceptance rate of 99%.

Medical Department: Dr. Wright, 20 September 1942 (Left), and Physical tests, circa 1942.  From the United States Navy Pre-Flight School (University of North Carolina) Photographic Collection #P0027, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Medical Department: Dr. Wright, 20 September 1942 (Left), and Physical tests, circa 1942. From the United States Navy Pre-Flight School (University of North Carolina) Photographic Collection #P0027, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

In response to this study, lawmakers, administrators, health officials, and prominent citizens launched the Good Health Program to educate North Carolinians about health needs, raise money for the building of hospitals, and generate support for increased medical training in the state.

One of these prominent citizens was Kay Kyser, a Rocky Mount, NC native whose career as a band leader had taken him to Hollywood. Kyser’s dedication to the Good Health program resulted in the talents of well known musicians, radio personalities, and film stars being recruited for the public awareness campaign, encompassing film, radio, and various print media.

Kay and Company

Counterclockwise from top: Kay Kyser (Rocky Mount, NC), Ava Gardner (Actress, Smithfield, NC), Kathryn Grayson (Actress, Winston Salem, NC), Skinnay Ennis (Bandleader and singer, Salisbury, NC), and John Scott Trotter (Bandleader, Charlotte). From folder P-3550/1, North Carolina Good Health Association Records, #3550, Southern Historical Collection.

North Carolina natives including film stars Ava Gardner, Kathryn Grayson, Randolph Scott, and Anne Jeffreys, as well as bandleaders Edgar “Skinnay” Ennis and John Trotter, participated in programs and advertisements via radio and movie trailers to increase awareness of the project’s goals.  Popular radio personalities Burns & Allen and Fibber McGee & Molly contributed radio announcements as well.

"It's All Up To You" sheet music cover.  From the Kay Kyser and Georgia Carroll Kyser Papers #5289, Southern Historical Collection.

“It’s All Up To You” sheet music cover. From the Kay Kyser and Georgia Carroll Kyser Papers #5289, Southern Historical Collection.

One of the most well remembered publicity efforts of the Good Health Program was the creation of its theme song, “It’s All Up to You!” Written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne (authors of “Let It Snow” among other popular songs), the song was played by Kay Kyser’s Orchestra and sung by Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore.  Copies of the recording were played and distributed to the public by every radio station in state and sent to juke box operators in all major North Carolina cities. Sheet music was made available to the public through Columbia dealers and sent to the superintendent of each county and city school system.

Click the play button below to hear a recording of “It’s All Up To You” from the J. Taylor Doggett Collection (#20286) in the Southern Folklife Collection:

"It's All Up to You" music and lyrics. From the Kay Kyser and Georgia Carroll Kyser Papers #5289, Southern Historical Collection.

“It’s All Up to You” music and lyrics. From the Kay Kyser and Georgia Carroll Kyser Papers #5289, Southern Historical Collection.

So how did the Good Health Plan affect change in North Carolina? Tune in Friday morning for our exciting conclusion…

Posted in Activism, Education, Just for Kicks, Staff Finds | 2 Comments

Playmakers Madness!

The Southern Historical Collection is proud to present our 2014 bracket, Playmakers Madness! In celebration of the current North Carolina Collection Gallery exhibit, Making a People’s Theater: Proff Koch and the Carolina Playmakers, our 2014 bracket will feature some of our favorite photographs from over fifty years of Carolina Playmakers productions.

Playmakers Photo Bracket

From production shots to publicity stills to behind the scenes moments, these images from the North Carolina Collection capture the amazing range of performances the Playmakers put on between 1918 and 1976.  These are just a few of our favorite acting moments, costumes, and props, and we’re passing them on to you to choose the winner.

Starting today, we’ll be releasing a new poll every day with paired photographs to our Google poll, and also linked to our Facebook page.  Here’s one of our runner-up pairings as an example of what you’ll see:

The Taming of the Shrew, 1969 (left) and The Boy Friend, 1971.

The Taming of the Shrew, 1969 (top) and The Boy Friend, 1971.

You’ll be able to vote for your favorite in each pairing, and we’ll eliminate contenders, tournament-style, until a winner is crowned.  Happy voting, and we hope you enjoy the show!

UPDATE: We have a winner! The votes are in, and your favorite photograph is Experimental Play, 1947!

Playmakers Madness 2014 Champion: Experimental Play (1947) from the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Playmakers Madness 2014 Champion: Experimental Play (1947) from the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This photograph shows a scene from one of the many student-written one act plays produced by the Carolina Playmakers, and we sure wish we knew what it was about.

For more about the Playmakers be sure to check out Making a People’s Theater, on display in the North Carolina Collection Gallery through May 31st.
Thanks for voting, and we’ll see you next year!

Playmakers Madness 2014 Final Bracket

Playmakers Madness 2014 Final Bracket

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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.

Hickerson_83001

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.

Spencer f86001

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

Posted in Digital SHC, Southern Culture | 1 Comment

“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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