Creators of the Month: John Charles Campbell and Olive D. Campbell

[Each month we feature a “creator” or one of the SHC’s manuscript collections. In archival terms, a creator is defined as an individual, group, or organization that is responsible for a collection’s production, accumulation, or formation.]

John Charles Campbell and Olive D. Campbell were missionary teachers in Appalachian Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama at the turn of the 20th Century.  John Campbell received a research grant from the Russell Sage Foundation to study the mountain regions of the South in 1909 and soon became an expert on the economic and social conditions of the Appalachians. He was secretary of Southern Highland Division of the Russell Sage Foundation in Asheville, N.C.; author of the Foundation’s survey of conditions in the Southern Appalachians; and organizer of the Conference of Southern Mountain Workers.

His wife, Olive Dame Campbell (1882-1954) traveled with her husband; founded and directed the John C. Campbell Folk School and related cooperatives at Brasstown, N.C.; and participated in the formation of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. While working with her husband, she collected mountain ballads and, after his death in 1919, prepared the report of his survey for publication.

Their collection gives a good look into life in Appalachia in the early 20th century.  Of particular interest, at least to me, are the volumes and the photographs.  Olive Campbell kept diaries of her trips to locations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  In these diaries, she describes things such as the kinds of food she ate, the houses she went into, and the people that she met.

The photographs are divided into two groups: loose photographs and photograph albums.  The loose photographs are primarily images of John Campbell, Olive Campbell, and their families, as well as pictures of their students, their school, and trips that they took.  The photograph albums have pictures of Appalachian mountain scenery, students at the Campbell’s schools, and people both at work and at leisure.  In PA-3800/8, there is a “Photo-essay on illicit distilling operations in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.”

The John Charles Campbell and Olive D. Campbell Papers are collection number 3800 in the Southern Historical Collection.

Thar She Blows

We recently uncovered a single-item collection with this intriguing title: “Sailor’s Journal, 30 March-24 April 1847” (#5219-z). Although not completely unheard of, this is a bit of a strange one in that it’s totally unattributed.

19 April 1847: Entry from an unknown sailor's journal.
19 April 1847: Entry from an unknown sailor

Normally, our collections are tied to a definite creator (a person, or perhaps an organization), but here we have an example of one of our collections whose connection to its creator has been lost. The question of who penned this journal is only a part of the overall mystery of this 161 year old item. Why did the entries end on the 24th of April? Are the numerous empty pages that follow this last entry merely because he lost interest in maintaining a journal? If not, what happened to him? Here’s what we do know about it…

The writer was a sailor on the Memphis during its passage from New York to New Orleans between 30 March and 24 April 1847. The journal provides a daily record of the weather conditions at sea, the speed and position of the ship, the wildlife sighted around the ship, and other vessels encountered during the voyage. The sailor mentioned passing Cape Hatteras, Cape Florida, and Key West.

In one passage of the journal, April 19th, the sailor notes the damage that a hurricane had inflicted on Key West the previous year.

“…passed Key West a place belonging to the U.S. and used as a navel depot, was partly destroyed by the Water last year a blow from the South demolishing the lighthouse, also passed at 10 o’clock a.m. Sand Key light House on [Island] which was blow down in a tornado last year, part of the Is[land] is washed away and they have erected a liberty Pole in the Center of the Isl’d to show the spot on which it once stood. The U.S have now a Light ship placed, at Key West, also a substitute for the Light House, destroy’d.”

Any guesses on the author of this journal? Does anyone know anything about this hurricane that hit Key West in 1847? Know anything more about this lighthouse that was destroyed?  Of course, digging into the journal itself would be the best place to look for clues.  As always, it’s here in the SHC (carefully preserved) and we’d love to have you in to take a look at it!

New Collections (21 May 2008)

Mahlon D. Cushman Diary (#5379-z)

Mahlon D. Cushman, a Union soldier during the Civil War, served as a private in Company I of the 16th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 1862-1864. As part of the Union garrison at Plymouth, N.C., the 16th Connecticut, with the 18th Army Corps, defended against a Confederate land and naval attack, 17-20 April 1864. On 20 April 1864, the Union garrison at Plymouth surrended, and Cushman was sent to the Andersonville Prison at Camp Sumter, Ga. He was paroled in November 1864 and discharged with disability in June 1865. The collection consists of the 1864 pocket diary of Civil War soldier Mahlon D. Cushman. The diary documents Cushman’s capture by Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Plymouth and subsequent imprisonment in Andersonville Prison. Daily entries are typically brief, generally indicating weather conditions and occasionally diet. Entries of note include the 20 April 1864 surrender at Plymouth, the journey southward, and 2 May 1864 arrival at Andersonville Prison. Brief entries tell of many hundreds of prisoners coming into the prison and the deaths of prisoners. On 26 November 1864, Cushman recorded his parole and, on 5 December 1864, his arrival in Annapolis, Md.

Charles Louis Schlom Papers (#5313-z)

Born to a family of Jewish craftspeople near Riga, Latvia, Charles Louis Schlom emigrated to America to avoid religious persecution, and, in 1908, settled in Greenville, Miss., where he operated a jewelry store. The collection includes documents related to the Schlom family in Latvia; legal and financial papers, including the naturalization papers, property deed and loan papers, and last will and testament of Charles Louis Schlom; letters and materials sent to Schlom and newspaper clippings related to the purchase and operation of his Greenville, Miss., jewelry store; photographs of Charles Louis Schlom, family members, and the store; a biographical sketch of Charles Louis Schlom by his oldest daughter, Zelda Schlom Sachs; and other materials.

Newly Revised and Described (18 April 2008)

Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Records (#4687)

The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (Knight Commission) was established in 1989 with the purpose of drafting a reform agenda for the administration of intercollegiate sports. The Commission was dissolved in February 1996.

Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings (#5275-z)

The first African-American woman undergraduate to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Karen L. Parker was born in Salisbury, N.C., and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C. Parker worked for the Winston-Salem Journal before attending UNC-Chapel Hill. She majored in journalism and was elected vice-president of the UNC Press Club and served as editor of the UNC Journalist, the School of Journalism’s newspaper, in 1964. After graduating in 1965, Parker was a copy editor for the Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Mich. She also worked for the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers before returning to the Winston-Salem Journal. The collection is Karen L. Parker’s diary with entries 5 November 1963-11 August 1966. The Addition of February 2008 consists of a letter from Katherine Kennedy Carmichael, Dean of Women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Karen L. Parker’s mother, F.D. Parker, concerning Karen L. Parker’s arrest on 19 December 1963. Also included are newspaper clippings about Karen L. Parker’s accomplishments as a journalism student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Nicholas Phillip Trist Papers (#2104)

Nicholas Philip Trist, student at West Point, 1818-1821; Louisiana planter, 1821-1824; United States State Department clerk, 1828-1834; consul to Havana, Cuba, 1834-1840; State Dept. chief clerk, 1845-1847; and chief negotiator of treaty ending Mexican War, 1847. Trist was also a lawyer and worked as paymaster for the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company, and postmaster at Alexandria, Va. He married Virginia Jefferson Randolph (fl. 1818-1875), Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter, in 1824 and lived at Monticello. The collection contains chiefly family correspondence of the Trist and Randolph families.

University of North Carolina Miscellaneous Diplomas (#3050-z)

The collection consists of diplomas and certificates from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., some issued by the Dialectic Society and some by the Philanthropic Society, both literary societies at the University. Most are from the nineteenth century.