New Collections: Activists, Educators, Families, and War

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights: New materials span from 1764 to 2010 Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in … Continue reading

We have over a dozen new collections that are preserved, processed, and now available for research. Some highlights:

  • New materials span from 1764 to 2010
  • Subjects geographically range from Mexico to China (with plenty of Alabama and North Carolina in between)
  • Grassroots organizing, coal mining, and educational activism are common themes
  • There are 3 Civil War photographs and 2 books containing personal sketches from much of the UNC Chapel Hill classes of 1859-1865

Click on any of the collection titles to learn more about the materials, view any digital items, and request them for use in our reading room.

Records of Activists & Educators

James Franklin Cooley Papers (5663)

James Franklin Cooley was an educator, minister, police officer, World War II veteran, judge, civil rights activist, and college administrator in Little Rock, Ark. The collection contains Cooley’s resume; scattered printed materials relating to his candidacy in statewide and local elections; proclamations, certificates, and awards; pages from biographical dictionaries containing James Franklin Cooley’s entry; and clippings about him.


Lynch (Ky.) Colored High School-West Main Alumni Association, Inc. Collection (5590)

Lynch Colored School in Harlan County, Ky., served African American children, kindergarten through twelfth grade, who lived in the neighboring coal camps and company towns of Lynch, Ky., and Benham, Ky. United States Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation established a segregated school system in 1923 to accommodate the children of the company’s black coal miners, many of whom had migrated from Alabama and Georgia.


Carol Wills Materials on Eddie Hatcher (5668)

Carol Wills worked for The Independent in Durham, N.C., during the time that Eddie Hatcher was on trial for holding hostages at the The Robesonian newspaper office. Eddie Hatcher was a Lumbee activist in Robeson County, N.C. He and Timothy Jacobs said they held hostages at The Robesonian to draw attention to racism, drug trafficing, and poverty in Lumberton and the county.


Leah Wise Papers (5645)*

Papers documenting social justice activities of Durham, N.C., activist Leah Wise including her work with global social justice organizations and in community action groups. There is particular focus on African and African American issues, workers’ rights, anti-racism and anti-Ku Klux Klan groups, women’s rights, and agricultural and agriculture workers’ issues.

*These materials are currently available only by request, and may require additional processing time to access. If you are interested in accessing materials in this collection, please contact


Kathleen Kitchen Wood Collection (5620)

The collection documents the local and grassroots political efforts of Kathleen Kitchen Wood (1926-2011) during the 1960s in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Printed items, correspondence, and organizational documents illustrate the work of politically moderate and mostly white or all white organizations with which Wood affiliated including Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.), which advocated for keeping Mobile’s public schools open during the court ordered desegregation crisis, and the Georgia Council on Human Relations.

Family Collections

Benjamin Hickman Bunn Papers (5677)

Papers of lawyer, North Carolina state legislator, congressman, and Democratic Party politician, Benjamin Hickman Bunn (1844-1907) include political correspondence, legal documents, financial materials, and some items related to the Bunn family of Nash County, N.C. Political correspondence chiefly concerns congressional elections and North Carolina Democratic Party conventions in the 1880s and 1890s and contains frequent references to the North Carolina Farmers’ Alliance.


James McNeill Papers (5624)

The James McNeill Papers consist of letters written between 1846 and 1866 by James McNeill in Lauderdale and Kemper counties, Mississippi. The letters reveal that James McNeill was a Democrat, a slaveowner, and invested in several businesses, including lumber, cotton and corn crops, and buying and selling land in Mississippi and North Carolina. McNeill also wrote about family matters, settlers enacting vigilante justice against Mexicans in San Antonio, Tex., and the futility of the Civil War.


Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers (5643)

Guilford Mortimer Mooring (1847-1916) was a farmer and politician in Pitt County, N.C. The Guilford Mortimer Mooring Papers consist chiefly of land indentures, deeds, and grants; personal receipts; and receipts relating to Mooring’s work as sheriff of Pitt County, N.C. Also of note are an 1862 promissory note pledging payment to Temperance Congleton for keeping a group of enslaved children and an 1867 indenture for Alexander Brown, a six-year-old orphan.


Knox Family Papers (5553)

The Knox family is from Rowan County, N.C., where they have lived since the 1740s. The Knox Family Papers contain business and legal receipts for the Knox family through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but also includes account books, indentures, intestate succession documents, slave lists, and receipts for blacksmithing, ministerial services, and other everyday purchases.


Ellen Whitehurst Papers (5634)

Ellen Cook Whitehurst was born in 1856 in Elizabeth City, N.C., to Nancy Cook, an enslaved woman, and an unknown father. The collection includes a letter, circa 1930, from Ellen Cook Whitehurst of New York to William White Griffin of Kinston, N.C., a cousin through their common Cook family line. The letter is a twenty-page manuscript written as reminiscences of Whitehurst’s life and family history.

Experiencing War

Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence (5650)

Jesse I. Ledbetter (1922-2015), of Buncombe County, N.C., served as a U.S. Army Air Corps B-24 bomber pilot with the 485th Bomber Group, 831st Bomb Squadron in Venosa, Italy during World War II. The Jesse I. Ledbetter Reminiscence documents a 26 July 1944 bombing mission to Vienna, Austria.


John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books (5651)

John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher were students at the University of North Carolina during the Civil War. The John Grant Rencher and William Conway Rencher Autograph Books contain autographs, biographical information, quotes, and personal notes to the brothers from University of North Carolina students of the classes of 1859 through 1865.


Isaac O. Shelby Diaries and Photographs (5674)

The collection contains two diaries kept by Union solider Isaac O. Shelby while he served in the 25th Iowa Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and three carte des visites portraits of him. Diary entries describe his regiment’s involvement in the siege of Vicksburg; the Battle of Chattanooga; the siege of Atlanta; the Battle of Bentonville, and the surrender at Bennett Place.