Tag Archives: Private Collections

Processing the Bill Harris Papers

[This post was written by Taylor Wolford, a summer intern at the Outer Banks History Center.]

When I began working at the Outer Banks History Center, I was familiar with the name Bill Harris. In 2014, I was a high school student and budding historian in Dayton, Ohio researching the history of flight. My history teacher suggested that I contact local historians in North Carolina to expand the scope of my research. I researched local historians to contact, including Bill Harris, as word had gotten out among researchers regarding his extensive collection of local photographs, oral histories, and documents.

As a graduate student in Archives and Records Management, I am now processing the Bill Harris Papers at the Outer Banks History Center for future researchers. My internship involves processing the collection according to current archival standards and creating a descriptive online finding aid for the collection.

In order to process the collection, I developed groupings, known as series, for the organization of the documents. A notable series in this collection is the Wright Brothers First Flight, which is beneficial for researchers interested in a variety of related topics, including the construction of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Anniversary of the First Flight, and the First Flight Shrine. Bill worked for the Wright Brothers National Memorial as an expert on local history, and documents throughout the collection showcase his work with the National Park Service and First Flight Society. Additional topics covered by the collection include Dare County, N.C. and the U.S. Lifesaving Service Stations.

Bill Harris (right) at the Wright Brothers National Memorial for the unveiling of the Barnaby Plaque on December 17, 1963. The plaque was a gift from the Soaring Society of America.

Perhaps the most impressive series, however, is Local Genealogy. This series contains a large number of oral histories, documents, and photographs that highlight the juxtaposition of an evolving yet deeply rooted Outer Banks community. The Local Genealogy series poses the most difficulties in terms of organization, for local families often intermarried until it was challenging to separate the Baums from the Harrises. As locals tend to say, “Genealogy in the Outer Banks is not a tree, but a vine.” For those interested in researching family histories in the area, the collection provides many opportunities to answer questions and delve deeper into the familial vines that constitute the Outer Banks community.

After two months processing these documents, I can verify that this collection extends far beyond my initial research in aviation history. Bill spent his entire lifetime immersed in the unique culture of the Outer Banks, and the collection certainly reflects his knowledge of the area. As the collection covers a wide range of topics and geographic regions, I am confident that it will continue to contribute to the research community long after it is properly stored in boxes and folders.

Members of Bill Harris’s family explore his newly processed collection with Taylor’s help, July 2018.

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Highlights from the William and Mary Coker Joslin Papers: Mary Joslin, Woman of Many Talents

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist in the Special Collections Branch of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, private manuscripts archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina, I am arranging and describing materials in the William and Mary Coker Joslin Papers (PC.1929). This work is made possible through generous funding from the Joslins’ daughter Ellen Devereux Joslin.

Mary Coker (far left, with cello) at Vassar College, ca. 1943, around the same time she was experimenting with soybean cultivation.

Mary Coker (far left, with cello) at Vassar College, ca. 1943, around the same time she was experimenting with soybean cultivation. PC.1929.1

In 1975 and 1980, Hartsville, S.C., native and longtime Raleigh, N.C., resident Mary Coker Joslin (1922–2016) earned master’s and doctorate degrees in French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught the language at Ravenscroft School and Saint Augustine’s University, and her fascination with medieval French literature led her to publish a book on the subject with her daughter Carolyn Coker Joslin Watson. However, some thirty years before her graduate studies in French, Mary Joslin’s academic pursuits had taken a different direction. In 1944, she earned a degree in botany from Vassar College. Joslin earned her master’s degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946. Both of these endeavors revealed her interest in social causes.

Mary Joslin’s undergraduate studies were likely influenced by the work of her father, David Robert Coker (1870–1938), and her uncle William Chambers Coker. David R. Coker championed agricultural reform and experimented with plant breeding. Both pursuits had the ultimate goal of improving farmers’ yields and economic livelihoods. To these ends, David R. Coker’s Pedigreed Seed Company developed and sold superior varieties of cotton, corn, tobacco, and other crops. William C. Coker (1872–1953) was an associate professor of botany at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1902 to 1945. In addition to his teaching duties, he made an extensive study of Chapel Hill’s flora, cultivated a six-acre garden on the university’s campus (the present-day Coker Arboretum), and authored numerous publications.

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Women’s History Month 2018 – Charlotte Hilton Green

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Private Collections of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Charlotte Hilton Green (1889 – 1991)—writer, naturalist, wildlife and nature conservation advocate.

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Charlotte Hilton Green, center, with Bernice Kelly Harris, right. Charlotte Hilton Green Papers, PC.1661, State Archives of NC. [PC.1661_B3_F1_B]

Private Collections are filled with the traces and imprints of inspiring women. Charlotte Hilton Green (1889-1991) is one of the many women deserving of tribute. A native of Chautauqua County, New York, Charlotte first taught school in a one-room school house, as early as 1909. Students included distractible boys who would rather shoot birds and animals than study them. Yet Charlotte was successful, in large part, because she developed the art of creating interest and communicating on a child’s level the complexities of science and nature study. Later, as writer of a weekly nature column for the News and Observer, Charlotte developed a wide following––which many attributed to her ability to put scientific facts and environmental issues into layman’s terms. Continue reading

Women’s History Month 2018 – Lillian Exum Clement Stafford

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Private Collections of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford (March 1886 – February 1925)

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Photograph of Exum taken probably during the early 1900s confirms her reputation as a beauty, parallel to her talents as a very capable young woman bent upon a career in law. Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, State Archives of NC. [PC.2084_Phots_Bx5_F1_A]

In early 1920, before women could even vote, exceptional courage and drive were essential for a woman to run for the state legislature. Such gumption was characteristic of Lillian Exum Clement, known as Exum, who decided as early as April to enter the race––months before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 26. The Buncombe County Democratic party, in a remarkable show of support, had placed Exum’s name on the ballot for the June primary. She went on to beat two male contenders, winning in the November election to become the first female lawmaker in her own state and in the entire South.

Exum was born near the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, March of 1886, the fourth child of George W. and Sarah Elizabeth Burnett Clement [see note at the end regarding her birth date and birth order.] Fast forward 35 years to the beginning of her legislative service when Exum was quoted as telling a reporter, “I am by nature, very conservative, but I am firm in my convictions. I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.” [News and Observer. Jan. 7, 1921]. Continue reading

Basketball and High School Romance: Vada Palma and Pete Maravich Papers, Private Collection (PC) 2071

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina.]

Pete and Vada at her home before leaving for the Queen of Hearts Dance.

Pete and Vada at her home before leaving for the Queen of Hearts Dance. Call number: PC2071_2_F11_A. From the Vada Palma and Pete Maravich Papers, PC.2071.

As Valentine’s Day approaches and we are full throttle into the basketball season, this post calls attention to one of the many unique collections in our holdings: the Vada Palma and Pete Maravich Papers, Private Collection (PC) 2071.

Millions of fans have heard of Pistol Pete Maravich. However, not all know that this iconic professional basketball player spent a few but highly formative years in Raleigh while his father Press Maravich was coaching the North Carolina State University’s basketball team, 1964–1966. Furthermore, few of the stories about the legendary Pete Maravich (1947–1988), mention that Pete was smitten by a girl named Vada during the height of his stellar career at Raleigh’s Needham B. Broughton High School, 1965. Known then as “String Bean,” Pete was considered girl shy and socially awkward.  Early on he had a passionate devotion to basketball, and his father hoped to hone and focus that passion, in part by steering him away from girls. Coach Press Maravich’s sense of discipline and his parental hopes aside, young Pete fell hard for a popular, pretty junior, Vada Palma.

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Vintage Greeting Cards in the Barber and Towler Papers (PC.1995): Christmas and New Year’s, 1920

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina.]

The Barber and Towler Papers (PC.1995) are one of various Private Collections that include a box or at least a series devoted exclusively to greeting cards. This particular collection has only vintage cards, with most being Christmas and New Year’s greetings. Though many were sent by businesses, including The Raleigh Times, the example below is a 1920 Christmas postcard sent to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. James J. Towler, Raleigh, North Carolina.

The side of the card with the address and stamp includes the notation that the card was “Whitney Made.”  Behind that trademark is a fascinating bit of greeting card history with a small but significant North Carolina connection. “Whitney Made” refers especially to George Clarkson Whitney (1842–1915), Worcester, Massachusetts native. In 1861 George enlisted in the Union Army, entering as a private in the 51st Regiment. Later in his military service, George was a clerk in the Provost Marshal’s Office, working with Major Harkness at Beaufort, North Carolina, which fell under Federal occupation during 1862.

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New Digital Collection: Travel Perspectives

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Stewart Family Ledger and Scrapbook, available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Travel Perspectives collection is now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection features narratives and images of tourism as experienced by North Carolinians, found within the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. These documents consist of letters, scrapbooks, journals, photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other material related to the representation of the creator’s travels and experiences. The collection consists of items dating primarily from the 1850s through the 1950s, representing the first significant wave of mass tourism in which North Carolinians participated.

For more information on topics related to this collection, please check out this NCpedia page developed by the State Library:

Other resources:

Another digital collection of interest includes the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism Photos Project, which includes a series of photos, originally used in advertising campaigns to market the state as a travel destination, produced between 1929 and 1970 by the Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division.