“Please Excuse the Boldness of a Country Girl in Writing”

While looking through correspondence in the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), we came across a striking note from Corea A. Jarman of Franklin County, North Carolina to UNC president Kemp Plummer Battle.

It’s not unusual to find letters from prospective students about the possibility of attending the university, but this one stands out because the author, a clearly well-educated young woman, is inquiring on behalf of a male friend and her brother. At the time, she herself could not attend UNC – women would not be admitted to UNC as undergraduates until 1897 when President Battle’s successor, Edwin Alderman, opened enrollment to women.

Honored Sir,
Please excuse the boldness of a country girl in writing to one who is so much occupied as yourself; I plead a deep interest in the education of a brother and friend as an excuse. I was told last year by one who professed to be a pupil of the University, that a young man desiring an education and willing to work for it, would be carried through the course, and then a situation obtained for him, by which he could pay his tuition, or he would be given a situation in which he could work before and after school hours and pay his expenses in that way. The friend I spoke of is eighteen years old, but has had no advantages. He understands as far a [sic] Compound Quantities in Arithmetic, the rudiments of Grammar and Geography; is a tolerably good speller and reader, and writes a passibly [sic] good hand. He is apt, sober, honest, truthful and industrious, and will work hard at almost any honest calling in order to get an education. My brother is very well advanced. I don’t think there are any two boys in the state who are more desirous of educational advantages, or who would work harder, more earnestly, or conscientiously for it.
You may never have heard of me, but you know my grandfather – Augustus J. Foster -, and I have heard my mother and father – Ferneyfold Jarman – speak of you many, many times.
I hope I may succeed in arousing your interest on the behalf of the boys, and if you wish for references I can furnish them.

I remain,
Yours Very Respectfully
Miss Corea A. Jarman,
Franklin Co.,

Letter from Corea A. Jarman to Kemp Plummer Battle, 20 November 1889. From the University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill

It’s not clear whether Battle responded to her inquiry, or if her brother and friend were  admitted. However, curious about the writer of this letter, we learned that Corea Jarman (later Andrew) was born in 1868, making her 21 years old at the time of this letter. As a student she was, according to honor roll lists published in the Wilson Advance, consistently at the top of her class at the Wilson Graded School. The grandfather she mentions, Augustus Foster, graduated in the class of 1835 according to Kemp Battle’s history of the university.