Elizabeth Rigsbee Letters

There is a new finding aid on the Private Collections Finding Aids page:

Rigsbee, Elizabeth, Letters, 1914 – 1923, and undated – Hannah Elizabeth Rigsbee (1893-1965), known as Elizabeth, was born in Durham County, N.C. to John Vernon Rigsbee (1848-1912), and Mary Whitworth Leigh Rigsbee (1854-1908). The family’s youngest child, Elizabeth was only fifteen when her mother died and around nineteen when her father died. By 1914 or earlier, Elizabeth was working with children at the Baptist Orphanage in Thomasville, N.C.(later the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina). By 1930 or before she was married to Thomas Benton Roberts (1889-1965), a district supervisor of buyers for the American Tobacco Company. The collection includes twenty original letters addressed to Miss Rigsbee, with seventeen written to her as part of courtship initiated by various male friends. Dates of the letters range from 1914 to 1923 with fourteen undated or lacking complete dates. Two of the letters are from a sister, Mary Jessie Rigsbee, known as Jessie, and one from a boy, Annual Wheeler, a resident of the Kennedy Home, a branch of the Baptist Orphanage in Kinston, N.C. Nineteen of the letters are handwritten, while one is typescript. In their entirety the letters include scattered references to activities and entertainments such as ball games, card games, plays, picture shows, church activities, casual gatherings, and going for rides. As a whole, the letters provide a small window into the practice of courtship or dating between a young employed woman and middle class men (at least two employed in the tobacco industry) in small town and rural North Carolina during the early twentieth century. There is one wedding announcement in the collection, dated October 1918. (1 letter size box, 1/3 cubic feet.)

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