New batch of legacy finding aids available

A new set of legacy finding aids, or finding aids previously only available in paper format, have been posted online.

Notable selections from this group include:

John K. Hoyt Journal, #3436-z

John K. Hoyt was a viticulturist and vintner at Engadine Vineyards in West Asheville, NC.  The collection includes a volume of records, March 1892 – January 1894 kept by Hoyt at the vineyard. Records include a daily accounting of work in the vineyard, details of farm activities, personal matters and weather; accounts of wages, supplies, bottles, advertising, and fertilizer; and records of shipments.

Macon Bonner Papers, #3758-z

Macon Bonner (born 1836) of Washington, N.C., was a Confederate artillery officer who served in coastal North Carolina. The collection includes sixty-six letters by Bonner written to his wife, Virginia Ellison Bonner, while he was attached to the 31st North Carolina Regiment and 40th North Carolina Regiment and stationed in the Cape Fear defenses at Fort Fisher, 1862-1864, and at Fort Holmes on Smith Island (Bald Head Island), February-November 1864, describing military events and conditions in the Wilmington, N.C. and Southport, N.C., areas.

James Alves Hogg Letters of Recommendation, #3636-z

Initially notable for the length and specificity of its title, this collection includes four letters of recommendation written on behalf of James Alves Hogg while applying for a job at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. These letters were written by Elisha Mitchell, William Hooper, Joseph Caldwell, and David L. Swain.

Williamston (N.C.) Night Watch Reports, #3422-z

The collection includes a volume of nightly reports, 14 June 1861-5 February 1862, from captains of town watch squads in Williamston, N.C. to Mayor H. B. Smithwick. Reports indicate presence or absence of squad members and almost always that the town was ‘quiet.’

A complete list of updated legacy finding aids can be found here.

The Delta Ministry, an ambitious self-help initiative for Mississippi

“Through the long, hot summer and the long cold winter, Delta Ministry looks ahead: to a total ministry, to growing self-respect and self-determination among delta Negroes, to a bold new start for some.”  So begins the text of a wonderful brochure (found in the SHC’s Delta Health Center Records) that tells the story of the Delta Ministry.

The Delta Ministry was a project begun in 1964 by the New York-based National Council of Churches to provide support to African Americans in the Mississippi Delta region. The project not only sought to bring economic aid to black Mississippians but also encouraged voter registration and greater political involvement.  According to Mark Newman’s 2004 book, Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi, the Delta Ministry began with a 10-year mandate but ended up stretching its support for the citizens of the Delta into the 1980s.  This, according to Newman, filled the vacuum created as other civil rights organizations, such as SNCC and CORE, discontinued similar programs of support for poor blacks in the Mississippi Delta.

The group has a fascinating story, much more deftly told by Newman’s extensively-researched book than I could do in this space.  The organization’s history deserves greater attention, it deserves even more ink from historians writing on the legacy of the American Civil Rights Movement.  As an intro, we hope you’ll read and enjoy this Delta Ministry brochure.   Click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the image.  Finally, if you’re interested in digging deeper, there are other great materials in Box 59 of the SHC’s Delta Health Center Records.

New SHC collection: Harry Stanley mess book and other papers, 1863-1865.

Harry Stanley was born Tufton K. Stanley on 2 September 1832 in Boston, Mass. He first enlisted in the United States Navy in 1855 and then reenlisted on 21 September 1861. He was made master at arms, the chief disciplinary officer on the USS Ethan Allen, on 24 August 1863, and left the ship on 14 June 1865 as a yeoman. He died on 15 February 1890 in Boston, Mass.

The collection contains the mess book of Harry Stanley, the master at arms for the USS Ethan Allen. The beginning of the book lists the sailors on the ship, divided into the eight different messes with which they ate. The second part of the book is a list of disciplinary actions taken against crew members of the ship, listed by date. Typical entries contain the name of the crew member who was punished, the event for which they were punished, the dates on which they were punished and released, and by whom they were released. There are also drawings of the various semaphore flags and their meanings, a penciled copy of the list of members of the eight different messes, and a list of all money received and spent by Stanley on behalf of the USS Ethan Allen. There are also photocopies of Harry Stanley’s pension; his discharge; and a few documents relating to the widow’s pension of his wife, Margaret Stanley.

[You may click here to view the finding aid for this new collection.]

The lives of prisoners of war at Johnson’s Island

The SHC contains a number of collections that document the lives of Confederate prisoners at Johnson’s Island Prison near Sandusky, Ohio. [Click here to see a listing of catalog records of SHC material on the subject.]

Drawing of Johnson’s Island Prison, 7 October 1863, Sandusky Bay near Sandusky, Ohio
Drawing of Johnson’s Island Prison, 7 October 1863 (from Joseph Mason Kern Papers, SHC #2526-z)

The image above comes from the SHC’s Joseph Mason Kern Papers (SHC collection #2526-z).  Kern (b. 1842), of Romney, Va., served in the C.S.A. 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and was imprisoned for several months at Johnson’s Island. Kern compiled a scrapbook that documents his Civil War experiences and his time at Johnson’s Island, and includes this colored map of the prison.

A second example:  The SHC preserves two diaries of Robert Bingham (1838-1927) kept, 1863-1864, while he was a prisoner at Norfolk, Va., Fort Delaware, Johnson’s Island, Ohio, and Point Lookout, Md.  The diary describes prison life, including quarters, gambling, work, escape plots, sermons, food, illness, and hospitals at various prison camps.  Here’s his diary entry from August 26, 1863 (while imprisoned at Johnson’s Island):

Two months.  Yes it is a long time to be in prison. I have not heard a word from my wife in two months. It is very long.  How my heart has yearned for her in these two months! & for my child.  God bless them – & keep them.  The Lord make his face to shine upon them & be gracious to them.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon them & grant them peace.  Two months in prison.  I have suffered – some from sickness, much from anxiety about home – much from looking thro[ugh] bars & across bayonets – but I have much to be thankful for.  I have had money – not in abundance, but enough.  I have had books – & several very kind letters & have been very much more comfortable than I expected to be.  I wrote to Dell to day assuring her of this & I do hope the letter may get thro[ugh].  Other have got letters thro[ugh] both ways.

Announcing the 2009 Southern Studies Visiting Scholars Grant Recipients

The Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009 Southern Studies Visiting Scholars Grants. The Southern Historical Collection offers these awards to individuals who plan to use the collections for a major research project, including dissertations, theses, articles, and monographs.

The 2009 Southern Studies Visiting Scholars Grant recipients are:

2009 Joel Williamson Visiting Scholar Grants

  • Drew Addison Swanson, PhD candidate at the University of Georgia
    “Land of the Bright Leaf: Yellow Tobacco, Environment, and Culture along the Border of Virginia and North Carolina”

2009 Guion Griffis Johnson Visiting Scholar Grant

  • Katherine Armstrong, PhD candidate at Emory University
    “Children of Sorrow: Mothers, Child Mortality, and Grief in the Antebellum South”
  • Aaron Carico, PhD candidate at Yale University
    “Plantation State: Finance, Aesthetics, and the Political Reconstruction of America”

2009 J. Carlyle Sitterson Visiting Scholar Grant

  • Jennifer E. Tomas, PhD candidate at SUNY Binghamton
    “The Women’s History Movement in the United States: Building U.S. Women’s History, 1945-1995”

2009 John Eugene and Barbara Hilton Cay Visiting Scholar Grant

  • Christopher R. Lawton, PhD candidate at the University of Georgia
    “Re-Envisioning the South: William and T. Addison Richards, Georgia Illustrated, and the Cultural Politics of Antebellum Sectionalism”

Creator of the Month: Walker Percy

Walker Percy as a student at UNC (from 1937 Yackety Yack - UNCs student yearbook)
Walker Percy as a student at UNC (from 1937 "Yackety Yack" - UNC's student yearbook)

In conjunction with the current exhibit “Four from between the Wars,” the creator of the month for September is Walker Percy. A UNC alum and celebrated Southern author, Percy’s works include The Moviegoer, which won the 1962 National Book Award for fiction, The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins (1971), Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987). He published two works of non-fiction, The Message in the Bottle (1975) and Lost in the Cosmos (1983).

Walker Percy’s papers are held by the Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library. The collection consists of material produced by Walker Percy while working on his six published novels, two published book-length works of non-fiction, various essays and reviews, and three unpublished long works–two fiction (one of which is not extant) and one non-fiction. A description of the materials can be found in the finding aid, here on the SHC website. The finding aid has been recently revised to make the materials more accessible. Additional materials relating to Walker Percy, including his working library, can be found in the Rare Book Collection

“Author to Author” Exhibit Features SHC Literary Correspondence

Examples of correspondence among some of the South’s best-known authors will be on display in the Southern Historical Collection on the fourth floor of UNC’s Wilson Library from Aug. 18 through Sept. 30.

The free, public exhibit, Author to Author: Literary Letters from the Southern Historical Collection, illuminates ties within the community of Southern writers during much of the twentieth century.

William Faulkner with arm around Milton Ab Abernethy, publisher of Contempo, in Chapel Hill, 1931. North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.
William Faulkner with arm around Milton "Ab" Abernethy, publisher of Contempo, in Chapel Hill, 1931. North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

On view will be original letters by authors including Clyde Edgerton, Gail Godwin, Langston Hughes and Erskine Caldwell. Photographs from the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) will also be included.

The letters show how the authors built and maintained community by writing to one another, even as many of them moved far from the South.  The correspondence also reveals the support and motivation—and sometimes friendly competition—that the writers provided to one another.

The exhibit also highlights the complex relationships and strong personalities of the figures involved. A 1932 “cease and desist” letter from William Faulkner instructs the Chapel Hill literary magazine Contempo not to list Faulkner as an associate publisher; a photograph from the same period shows Faulkner hugging Contempo‘s publisher, Milton “Ab” Abernethy.

Author to Author adds depth to the larger Wilson Library exhibit Four from between the Wars: Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Ruark, and Walker Percy, on view in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room on the third floor of Wilson Library through Sept. 30.

Both exhibits complement the North Carolina Literary Festival, hosted by the Library on the UNC campus Sept. 10-13.


Author to Author:
Literary Letters from the Southern Historical Collection

Fourth floor of Wilson Library
Aug. 18-Sept. 30, 2009
Free and open to the public
Exhibit information: Biff Hollingsworth, (919) 962-1345
In conjunction with the North Carolina Literary Festival, Sept. 10-13, 2009

Wilson Library Exhibit Honors Four Alumni Writers

The lives and legacies of four writers who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the two world wars, will be the subject of an exhibit July 16 through Sept. 30 at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

The free, public exhibit, Four from between the Wars: Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Ruark, and Walker Percy, will be on view in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Room on the third floor of Wilson Library.

Four from between the Wars exhibit flier
"Four from between the Wars" exhibit flier

Approximately 75 historic photographs, rare printed items, and original documents illustrate the development of these students into some of the South’s best-known writers of the 20th century. The exhibit will also explore their literary circles and work of their protégés.

Among the items to be displayed is a copy of Wolfe’s autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel that he inscribed for his mother in 1929, and first editions of Wolfe’s novels. More fanciful items include a Thomas Wolfe T-shirt and a commemorative postage stamp.

First editions of the works of Ruark, a journalist and novelist, are on exhibit, along with cartoons he drew for campus publications as a student.

Green, a dramatist, teacher, and humanitarian, is represented with letters from fellow writers and collaborators including Richard Wright, Betty Smith, and Orson Welles. The exhibit also includes images and artifacts relating to the production of Green’s outdoor drama The Lost Colony (1937), which is still performed each summer on Roanoke Island, near North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

“It was during the interwar period that UNC became a modern research university,” said Eileen McGrath, assistant curator of the North Carolina Collection and one of the exhibit organizers.

“These authors came to the University as young men, novice writers,” McGrath said. “Their experiences here enabled them to develop their understanding of themselves and the world.”

Four of Wilson’s special collections— the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection, the Southern Historical Collection and University Archives— are jointly sponsoring this exhibit as a contribution to the 2009 North Carolina Literary Festival. The biennial festival will take place on the University campus Sept. 10-13.

“The festival focuses on contemporary writers,” said Biff Hollingsworth, collecting and public programming archivist for the Southern Historical Collection. “We wanted to offer a space for people to come and reflect on the historical aspect of Southern writing.”


Four from between the Wars:
Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Ruark, and Walker Percy

Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room, Wilson Library
July 16-Sept. 30, 2009
Free and open to the public
Exhibit information:, (919) 962-1143
In conjunction with the North Carolina Literary Festival, Sept. 10-13, 2009