Vacationing Amidst the Weight of the Great Depression: The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new collection: the Smith and Andrew Family Papers (#05800), a new collection documenting two white families from Rowland, N.C., Salem, Va., and other locations across the South between the late 1800s and the 1930s. Correspondence and other materials cover subjects such as the American Methodist Episcopal church, medical practices, and courtship during the early twentieth century.

Also of interest is the collection’s documentation of family travel—most notably a trip taken in the backdrop of the Depression’s darkest years. J. McNeill Smith Jr. (1918-2011) traveled with his mother, Roberta Olivia Andrew Smith (1894-1995), to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. The Fair’s motto of “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms” was purposefully optimistic in light of the ongoing economic challenges across the country.

J. McNeill Smith Jr.’s guidebook to the fair
A notecard describing the inspired purpose of the institution as it relates to the Technical Ascent of Man and its host of exhibits for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

Other trips documented in the collection include Minnie Smith’s (sister of J. McNeill Smith Sr.) trip to Europe in 1913, J. McNeill Smith Sr.’s and Roberta’s 1916 honeymoon in New York, and a 1921 trip to Cuba.

The collection finding aid is available online at https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/05800/# and the materials are open for research in Wilson Library.

Items related to the Chicago World’s Fair can be found in boxes 11 (postcards), 13 (letters), 23 (guidebook), and 25 (travel and exhibit ephemera).

Vacationing Amidst the Weight of the Great Depression: The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new collection: the Smith and Andrew Family Papers (#05800), a new collection documenting two white families from Rowland, N.C., Salem, Va., and other locations across the South between the late 1800s and the 1930s. Correspondence and other materials cover subjects such as the American Methodist Episcopal church, medical practices, and courtship during the early twentieth century.

Also of interest is the collection’s documentation of family travel—most notably a trip taken in the backdrop of the Depression’s darkest years. J. McNeill Smith Jr. (1918-2011) traveled with his mother, Roberta Olivia Andrew Smith (1894-1995), to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. The Fair’s motto of “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms” was purposefully optimistic in light of the ongoing economic challenges across the country.

J. McNeill Smith Jr.’s guidebook to the fair
A notecard describing the inspired purpose of the institution as it relates to the Technical Ascent of Man and its host of exhibits for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

Other trips documented in the collection include Minnie Smith’s (sister of J. McNeill Smith Sr.) trip to Europe in 1913, J. McNeill Smith Sr.’s and Roberta’s 1916 honeymoon in New York, and a 1921 trip to Cuba.

The collection finding aid is available online at https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/05800/# and the materials are open for research in Wilson Library.

Items related to the Chicago World’s Fair can be found in boxes 11 (postcards), 13 (letters), 23 (guidebook), and 25 (travel and exhibit ephemera).

Richardson Preyer and the Thanksgiving Sermon of 1979

In “preparing” for our Thanksgiving posts, I came across a sermon from the Richardson Preyer Papers given at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina on Thanksgiving weekend in 1979, where Preyer appears to have been a member. Closely related materials in the collection suggest Preyer is the author of the sermon, though it is not explicitly stated. The speaker used Thanksgiving as an occasion to reflect on several notable events from the past year, and I felt they each deserved some individual attention to reflect upon. I decided to do a deeper dive into the events, and see what other materials we might have relating to them in our collections!

Richard Preyer Papers, Sermon, Page 1 Continue reading “Richardson Preyer and the Thanksgiving Sermon of 1979”

Happy Thanksgiving from the SHC!

What would Thanksgiving be without the turkey? Below is an excerpt from an article written by Doug Storer called “Let’s Talk Turkey.” It explains how the turkey became synonymous with Thanksgiving. Doug Storer was a radio producer, talent agent, and writer responsible for creating and producing radio programs from the 1930s – 1960s, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not. In 1960, he started a similar franchise and titled it Amazing But True. It included books, radio shows, newspaper columns, and films. The article below was written for Amazing But True in 1971. To read the whole thing, come visit us after the holiday!

 

Folder 197, in the Doug and Hazel Anderson Storer Collection #5231, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Folder 197, in the Doug and Hazel Anderson Storer Collection #5231, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

As you can see, turkey has been enjoyed on Thanksgiving by Americans for a very long time. Below is an extravagant Thanksgiving Menu from 1916, where they are planning to eat “Roast young Vermont turkey, English dressing, cranberry jelly.”

Folder 4, in the Emily London Short Papers #5181, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Folder 4, in the Emily London Short Papers #5181, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

We hope that you have a delicious day!

Events at the Southern Historical Collection: Edward E. Baptist

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posting to give you the inside scoop on what you may have missed at Wilson Library last week.

The Southern Historical Collection had the privilege of hosting Edward E. Baptist as he presented findings from his new book The Half Has Never Been Told: The Making of American Capitalism. The book received media attention when The Economist published a now-redacted review criticizing his argument that the slave system in the pre-Civil War south is largely responsible for the capitalist system in America. Due to his book’s attention (and its increasingly positive reviews), we couldn’t wait to hear what evidence for this argument he found in our archives!

Edward Baptist at Wilson Dr. Baptist opened by explaining how he began trying to find accounts of slave survival and endurance during the migration of slaves deeper south to meet the growing demand for cotton. He explained that what he uncovered during the process was the systematic torture of slaves, to increase the amount of cotton that was picked.  Not many personal accounts of slaves from that time period exist, what he was able to find though was ledgers, receipts, and bank notes revealing how slaves provided collateral on bank loans, how foreign investors provided the funds for new plantation owner’s to buy slaves, and how slave owner’s systematically exploited slaves to increase the amount of cotton they picked.

The ledgers he found here at the Southern Historical Collection reveal that the growing world demand for cotton drove plantation owners to push slaves into picking greater and greater amounts of cotton. The ledgers reveal the weight of cotton picked by a slave, at three points during a single day. They forced slaves to exceed their past weights through systematic torture; they would be beaten if they fell under their quota, and exceeding their past performance resulted in the owners setting a higher quota for them. This widespread system of torture made the slaves valuable, and was the only way to meet the economic demand for cotton at the time. During the lecture, Dr. Baptist expressed how troubling this is to the American conception of capitalism, which is often associated with freedom and equality.

ledger baptist
An example of one of the ledgers recording weight of cotton picked by slaves. 
Item Citation: From Folder 447, in the Rice C. Ballard Papers #4850, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This is only a small portion of what Dr. Baptist found in his book, and we highly recommend that you check it out! It expands on slavery as an economic system, while also illuminating the resilience of slaves from their own personal accounts.

See you on Wednesday, when you can expect to find another staff profile! We hope you’re getting to know us a little better. In the meantime, please feel free to let us know what you think of Edward E. Baptist’s book!

The Photographs of Alexander Rivera

Harvey Beech (left) and J. Kenneth Lee
Harvey Beech (left) and J. Kenneth Lee

The image:  two young men stride through two large open doors.  Each man is carrying a packet of papers.  The men are smiling and seem confident.

I had seen this image many times before.  In fact, we have a print of this photograph in the SHC’s collection of J. Kenneth Lee Papers.  From our description of the photograph in the finding aid for the Lee Papers and from the other images that accompanied it in the collection, I knew that the photograph depicted the historic moment, on the morning of June 11, 1951, when Harvey Beech and J. Kenneth Lee entered South Building on UNC’s campus to complete their registration in the UNC School of Law, thereby becoming the first ever African American students to enroll at the University.

What I didn’t know, until this morning, was that this photograph was taken by Alexander M. Rivera Jr.  Thanks to a news release from the NC Department of Cultural Resources regarding the mounting of an exhibit featuring Rivera’s work at the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Sedalia, N.C., I now know the correct attribution for this image.

Alex Rivera was a nationally renowned and prominent photojournalist.  He also established the public relations office at North Carolina Central University, and served as the office’s first director.

Beech and Lee were both students at Central’s Law School who, through a lawsuit supported by the NAACP, were able to argue that their educational opportunities at Central were not equal to those that they would receive at Carolina.

So, it would follow that Rivera would have been present to document this moment as two of N.C. Central’s top law students transferred from Central to enroll as the first African American students at Carolina.

Last October, Alex Rivera passed away in Durham, N.C. at the age of 95.  His legacy lives on in the historic photographs that he captured during his amazing life.  Now, you have another chance to view some of these photographs. The exhibit, “Bearing Witness: Civil Rights Photographs of Alexander Rivera,” is on view the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum until August 15, 2009.

[One last note:  You can listen online to Harvey Beech speak about his experience at Carolina.]

Historical marker to be placed in Raleigh today to remember a dark chapter in NC history

Image of Eugenics Board historical marker
Image of Eugenics Board historical marker

The Raleigh News & Observer reported yesterday that, “State officials are dedicating a historical marker to remember the forced sterilization program that affected thousands of people in North Carolina.” The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker contains a historical description of the North Carolina eugenics program that lasted from 1929 into the 1970s. About 7,600 people were sterilized in North Carolina during this period.

Recently, a state House panel approved a measure that would give $20,000 each to surviving victims of the eugenics program.  However, due to the state’s budget shortfalls of late, it is unclear if the state will have the $18.6 million dollars needed to enact the measure next year.

The historical marker will be dedicated today (Monday, June 22, at 5pm) at the N.C. Community Colleges building at 200 W. Jones Street in Raleigh. The ceremony will be attended by state leaders and several living victims of the program.

[Note: This difficult period in our state’s history is also the subject of a new digital project by the State Library of North Carolina.  The project features digitized material from the North Carolina Eugenics Board/Commission.]

Historical marker to be placed in Raleigh today to remember a dark chapter in NC history

Image of Eugenics Board historical marker
Image of Eugenics Board historical marker

The Raleigh News & Observer reported yesterday that, “State officials are dedicating a historical marker to remember the forced sterilization program that affected thousands of people in North Carolina.” The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker contains a historical description of the North Carolina eugenics program that lasted from 1929 into the 1970s. About 7,600 people were sterilized in North Carolina during this period.

Recently, a state House panel approved a measure that would give $20,000 each to surviving victims of the eugenics program.  However, due to the state’s budget shortfalls of late, it is unclear if the state will have the $18.6 million dollars needed to enact the measure next year.

The historical marker will be dedicated today (Monday, June 22, at 5pm) at the N.C. Community Colleges building at 200 W. Jones Street in Raleigh. The ceremony will be attended by state leaders and several living victims of the program.

[Note: This difficult period in our state’s history is also the subject of a new digital project by the State Library of North Carolina.  The project features digitized material from the North Carolina Eugenics Board/Commission.]