Articles,  New Aqusitions

What’s New in Appalachian Special Collections?

This article appeared in the Volume 3, Issue 1 Spring/Summer 2021 issue of the Appalachian Curator. Click here to view a PDF of the full issue.

New collections in regional repositories:

Appalachian State University

Berea College

Eastern Kentucky University

University of Tennessee 

Virginia Tech

Western Carolina University

W. L. Eury Collection, Appalachian State University

MerleFest Archives (AC-1279): The W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection received the MerleFest Archives (AC-1279) in June.  MerleFest is an annual music festival held on the grounds of Wilkes Community College. It began in 1988 in memory of Merle Watson, son of musician and songwriter Doc Watson. The collection includes audio and video recordings of performances, photographs, and ephemera.

Berea College

Additions to the Lincoln Institute Collection:  The collection recently received a gift from Western Kentucky University of six large format photographs of the cornerstone laying ceremony for Berea Hall in 1911. Although Berea College president William G. Frost features prominently in the photos, these are not images of Berea College. Instead, they are photos taken on the grounds of Lincoln Institute, an all-black boarding high school in Simpsonville, Kentucky that operated from 1912 to 1966. The school was created by the trustees of Berea College after the Kentucky State Legislature passed the Day Law in 1904, putting an end to the racially-integrated education at Berea that had existed since the end of the Civil War. The Lincoln Institute offered vocational education, standard high school classes, and some post-secondary coursework. The students produced the school’s food on the campus’s 444 acres. Since its 1966 closing, the Lincoln campus has housed gifted and talented programs, the Whitney Young, Jr. Job Corps Center, and the Whitney Young Birthplace and Museum (a National Historic Landmark).

Eastern Kentucky University

Ralph White Papers – This small collection consists of a single issue of Mountain Life & Work and several photographs of schools in the Appalachian Region taken in the 1950s. These photographs are mostly of one-room schools and were taken in Jackson County, KY, Greene and Hancock Counties, Tennessee and Russell County, Virginia, Several photos were deliberately unidentified including one photograph with an integrated class. Several photos also show parents building playgrounds and painting the school.

University of Tennessee

Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts Archive. Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Arrowmont is the oldest craft school in the state. Arrowmont began as settlement school founded by the Pi Beta Phi women’s fraternity in Gatlinburg in 1912.

1923 Graduate’s Photo and Memory Album of Lane College in Jackson Tennessee. Founded in 1882, Lane College is one of the earliest black-founded and run HBCUs. The album belonged to Lessie Belle Spann and includes detailed records of her senior year, including photos, hand-written commentary and pen and ink embellishments.

Archive of American Artist Marion Greenwood. Greenwood served as artist in residence at UT in 1954–55 and was commissioned to paint a mural in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center. She participated in the WPA Federal Art Project in 1936–39 and during World War II, was one of only two women appointed as an artist war-correspondent. She also painted a mural for the Post Office in Crossville, Tennessee. The archive contains 470 letters, over 100 pieces of artwork, and numerous photographs.

Western Carolina University

Alan & Stephen Sellars Collection:  Photographs of the construction of the Champion Fibre Co. mill in Canton, NC, many of which have appeared in the Carroll C. Jones book, Thomson’s Pulp Mill: Building the Champion Fibre Company at Canton, North Carolina, 1905-1908.

Roland C. Osborne & Kezia Stradley Osborne Civil War Letters, Add. #1: An addition to our original collection of related Osborne Civil War letters, these letters poignantly describe home life during the early years of the Civil War in Haywood County, NC.

Kelly Bennett Collection: This large collection of slides and negatives were taken by “Doc” Kelly Bennett (1890-1974). Bennett was a prominent pharmacist in Swain County, NC. Owner of the Bryson City Drug Company, Bennett served as alderman and mayor of Bryson City, on the Swain County Board of Education, as well as several terms as NC State Senator and NC State Representative. He participated in numerous other initiatives and organizations. Known as the “Apostle of the Smokies,” Bennett was an instrumental figure in the movement to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He was also an avid photographer, skillfully documenting a wide variety of people, places, and events in Swain County and the surrounding area.  Many of these photos appear to be of Swain County people and places, and appear to chiefly date from the first half of the twentieth century.

Kelly Bennett Collection, Add. #1:  Joining the aforementioned Kelly Bennett Collection, this collection of negatives and prints taken by “Doc” Kelly Bennett (1890-1974) supplements our collection of historic photography of Swain County, NC, and the surrounding area.

McFee-Misemer Civil War Letters:  This collection of Civil War letters were written by members of the McFee family of Buncombe County, NC, and the Misemer family of eastern Tennessee.  Included in this collection is a letter written by Solomon F. Bogart describing the explosion of the USS Sultana on the Mississippi River in 1865, a disaster which killed most of the vessel’s 2,400 passengers.  Bogart was among the survivors of the disaster.

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