Cherokee Resources – Selections from the Bill and Alice Hart Collection

This is the second in a series of articles highlighting materials in the Bill and Alice Hart Collection, which the Harts donated to UNC Asheville’s Special Collections. This article highlights works documenting the Cherokee Nation.

Bill and Alice Hart’s Collection of the history and culture of Western North Carolina includes extensive works on the Cherokees, who have lived in this part of the world longer than any other humans. The Cherokee trace their roots in Western North Carolina to approximately 8000 b.c.e., and controlled about 40,000 square miles of territory in Southern Appalachia prior to the arrival of Europeans. Understanding the relationship of humans to the natural world in Southern Appalachia requires an understanding of Cherokee history and culture, and it is in this context that Bill and Alice Hart built an extensive collection of materials on the Cherokee. 

The following is a selection of the Cherokee materials in the Hart Collection.

Early History of the Cherokees

Emmet Starr’s Early History of the Cherokees: Embracing Aboriginal Customs, Religion, Laws, Folk Lore, and Civilization, was published in 1917, and considered a landmark historical account of the Cherokee nation. Starr establishes his credentials in the book’s Preface: “I am a Cherokee, born in Going Snake District, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, on December 12, 1870.” Starr spent over 15 years researching this history, and the volume includes extensive use of primary sources. This first edition, self-published by Starr, is relatively rare. 

Cover of Early History of the Cherokees by Emmett Starr
Cover of Early History of the Cherokees by Emmett Starr

Land of the North Carolina Cherokees

Published in 1970, Fred B. Bauer’s Land of the North Carolina Cherokees is a concise (70 page) history of legal issues concerning the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and their struggles to maintain their constitution and land rights in the Qualla Boundary. Bauer was a former Vice Chief of the Eastern Band, and was an outspoken advocate for Cherokee rights to their land during the development of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Land of the North Carolina Cherokees
Cover of Land of the North Carolina Cherokees by Fred B. Bauer

 Formal Opening of the Chief John Ross House – offical program

John Ross served in leadership roles for the Cherokee Nation from 1819 to his death in 1866. Ross was President of the Ntional Committee of the Cherokee Nation from 1819 to 1827, the year that the Cherokee Nation adopted its Constitution. In 1827 he was Assitant Principal Chief, and in 1828 was elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. He was relected as Principal Chief and held the position until his death in 1866.

The John Ross House in Rossville, Georgia, was built in 1797 by John Ross’s grandfather John McDonald. The house was restored 1963, and this program documents the Formal Opening ceremonies, which included a stick-ball game, archery, crafts, and dancing.

Formal Opening of the Chief John Ross House, May 29, 1963.
Formal Opening of the Chief John Ross House, May 29, 1963.

33rd Annual Cherokee Indian Fair program, October 1950

The Cherokee Indian Fair provided members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians an opportunity to exhibit “the products of their fields, forests, and farms, their cook stoves and preserving kettles, their needles and looms, all the best of their wood craft, metal work, and pottery; in fact any products of their minds and hands in which the can take pride.” The program is illed with photographs and details about the wide range of items being exhibited and sold, including fruits, vegetables, canned goods, baked goods, clothing, plants, flowers, and crafts. 

Program - 33rd Annual Cherokee Indian Fair, 1950
Program – 33rd Annual Cherokee Indian Fair, 1950

Cherokee Fair & Festival: A History thru 1978

This 1978 pamphlet edited by Mary Ulmore Chiltoskey provides more depth and historical information about the Cherokee Indian Fair. It cites 18th century European descriptions of Cherokee harvest festivals in such historical narratives as John Lawson’s History of Carolina and William Bartram’s Travels of William Bartram, then adds contemporary Cherokee accounts of the Fair’s growth and development. 

Cherokee Fair & Festival: A History thru 1978
Cherokee Fair & Festival: A History thru 1978

The Hart Collection includes documents and resources about Cherokee law, as well as nineteenth century congressional papers documenting Cherokee attempts to have treaty promises fulfilled. These include the Constitution and Laws of the Cherokee Nation, Published by Authority of the National Council, 1875, and Congressional documents such as the US House of Representatives Bureau of Indian Affairs report “Cherokee Indians in North Carolina” from 1848, the U.S. Senate document “complaints of treaty violations by US, delivered by Cherokee delegation of Will P. Ross, W.S. Coodey, and John Drew, March 15, 1849,” and the U.S. Senate document “Committee on Indian Affairs, report on accounting balance owed the Cherokee nation by the US according to 1846 treaty terms.”

A small but representative sample of other Cherokee resources in the Hart Collection includes Art of the Cherokee : Prehistory to the Present by Susan C. Power, Cherokees of the Old South: a People in Transition by Henry Thompson Malone, The Shadow of Sequoyah:  Social Documents of the Cherokees, 1862-1964, Cherokee Legends and the Trail of Tears from the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Cherokee Cavaliers: Forty Years of Cherokee History as told in the Correspondence of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot family, as well as numerous issues of the Journal of Cherokee Studies and North Carolina Archaeology.

One of the most important works in the collection is a first edition of The Cherokee Physician, Or Indian Guide to Health, as Given by Richard Foreman, a Cherokee Doctor. Originally published in Asheville in 1849, this book merits its own blog post. We will feature a special guest discussing The Cherokee Physician in a future blog post. Stay tuned! 

For more information about these materials, please watch this video of Bill Hart discussing the Cherokee resources in the Hart Collection. This was recorded in the Hart’s private library prior to transferring the collection to UNC Asheville, but we have retained the original order that the Harts used to organize their collection.

The Bill and Alice Hart Collection is open to all, and we encourage you to contact Special Collections to make an appointment to spend time with this marvelous collection. Please contact us at to make an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

– Gene Hyde and Ashley Whittle


Women at the Forefront: The American Association of University Women

“We are living through one of those rare moments in history when profound changes are being made in our social and economic order… University women should be the leaders in reviewing old laws and testing them… We should be familiar with proposed laws and assist our community in understanding their full significance.”

Legislative Chairman, Miss Harriet Elliott, September 25, 1935
Delegates at the International Fellowship of University Women in Toronto Canada, August 13, 1947; American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

On November 28, 1881, with light snow falling in the chill air, 17 college graduates from eight colleges met in Boston to discuss the need for an organization related to higher education. At this point in history a plethora of college groups and societies related to higher education existed- the honor society Phi Theta Kappa was founded more than a century prior to when this meeting occurred. So why the need for another college organization? What was so interesting about this particular group of people who were meeting to discuss it?

They were all women.

The group was led by Marion Talbot and Ellen Richards, and their goal was to increase higher education opportunities for women through the formation of an organization devoted to women scholars. They would name their organization The Association of Collegiate Alumnae. By January 14, 1882, the organization was formally established and they would release their first research report establishing that women’s health was not adversely affected by attending college- a rather novel idea at the time.

Pamphlet from the Toronto Delegation, American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The Association of Collegiate Alumnae would go on to release several additional reports- a gender-based salary study in 1907, followed by a report presenting evidence that women during this time period were paid 78 percent of what men similarly employed were earning. By 1921 the Association moved into its new headquarters in Washington D.C., a mere two blocks from the White House, and continued to remain active in current events affecting women.

Later that same year, the Southern Association of College Women formally merged with the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, creating the American Association of University Women, or the AAUW. Today the AAUW is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose members promote equity for women and girls through education, research, and advocacy. The AAUW comprises over 170,000 members, with over 1,000 local branches and 800 participating college and university members.

Closer to home, the Asheville Branch of the American Association of University Women has a similar and equally storied history. Founded in 1915 by sixteen female college graduates, this branch of the AAUW is the fourth oldest branch in North Carolina. These women organized the Western North Carolina Branch of the Southern Association of College Women, which merged with the AAUW in 1921.

North Carolina Bulletin, American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The North Carolina Branch of the AAUW tackled community projects from the outset, including assisting with the Salvation Army and visiting patients in local sanitariums. Women’s education remained at the forefront though, and members established night schools and helped set up the public library. The membership rolls of this local branch of the AAUW contains an abundance of Asheville women who were instrumental in making significant inroads for women and girls in Western North Carolina.

Achievement List, American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Indeed, the Asheville AAUW’s History in the area showcases various projects through the decades, from helping set up a juvenile court system to aiding refugees of World War II with their Refugee Shop. The Shop netted over $20,000 in its first year and was so successful that it continued to operate for thirty more years. The Refugee Shop did not go unnoticed on a national level either- the Asheville Branch of the AAUW received the US Treasury Award for the Shop in 1943.

The AAUW Chapter of North Carolina boasts many impressive achievements throughout it’s history, including their Women in History project, which provided local elementary schools’ fifth grade classes with a viewpoint of History from a woman’s perspective. In 2002, the branch inaugurated their GEM Fund- Gaining Educational Momentum, a 501 (c)3 non-profit endowment for local scholarships for women whose education was interrupted or postponed. They have awarded over $160,000 in scholarships to date, in order to help women achieve their educational, employment, and research goals.

GEM Brochure, American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The Asheville Chapter of the AAUW continues to grow and maintain their ongoing commitment to AAUW’s mission. Here at UNC Asheville’s Ramsey Library Special Collections, we are honored to hold their archives and consider their collection an instrumental addition to part of our mission of documenting and preserving the significant achievements women have made in Buncombe County and Western North Carolina.

Certificate of Achievement, American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Today marks UNC Asheville’s Fall 2019 Commencement for its winter graduates, and it is collections like the American Association of University Women which remind us that education is, and should remain, a pathway to a brighter future for all that wish to seek it.

On that note, we would like to wish our graduates “Good Luck!” today and always, as well as a very Happy Holiday to all of you from Special Collections! We will see you all in the New Year!


American Association of University Women, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804., The Boston Globe

Exhibit on RiverLink: Asheville-Based Activism in the French Broad Watershed

The month of October is considered Archives Month across the nation and the theme for the upcoming year is Activism and Social Justice in North Carolina. The purpose of Archives month is to raise awareness in the Archives and what better way to do so than to spotlight Archival collections that illustrate a passion for local activism. Our Special Collections and Archives staff are members of the Society of American Archivists, as well as the Society of North Carolina Archivists, and we are excited to participate in Archives month as well.

Beginning stages of the RiverLink Exhibit in UNC Asheville’s Special Collections Reading Room for Archives month.

On that note, UNC Asheville’s Special Collections received a collection from RiverLink in 2017, and in 2018 the collection was processed by both staff members and interns. The collection has an online finding aid and is available for researchers to use. Special Collections will also be receiving additional material from RiverLink, which we will add to the collection soon. And since it is Archives month and this collection is an excellent example of a local activism group, let’s take a closer look at RiverLink and the new exhibit we just installed regarding their collection.

RiverLink Exhibit layout.

RiverLink is an organization in Asheville that for more than three decades has protected the French Broad River and its watershed. The non-profit environmental group was formed in 1987 by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and thru the vision of Karen Cragnolin, who remained RiverLink’s director for 30 years. RiverLink’s history, based on the ties the Asheville area has had with the French Broad for thousands of years, is a rich story of community activism.

Tools of the trade- the Archival trade.

RiverLink’s primary goal is to provide permanent access to the river for the public and to educate individuals and groups on the importance of the river and its watershed. Since its inception, RiverLink has successfully promoted the environmental and economic vitality of the river through a variety of initiatives, including community-based projects such as the development of Greenways and Blueways, riverbank restorations, and watershed plans.

The big reveal!

Education of the public remains a core component of RiverLink’s program. The various educational programs they lead, including the French Broad RiverCamp and Voices of the River: Art and Poetry Contests, focus on hands-on learning in order to empower the next generation of youth to protect the French Broad. RiverLink also partners with various other groups in order to create a collaborative of educational opportunities, including groups such as the North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville GreenWorks, and in the past, groups such as the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition.

RiverLink’s important connection to the French Broad.

Another of RiverLink’s fundamental values is promoting clean water. In order to advance this project, they have adopted the practice of a “riverkeeper.” RiverKeepers were long employed in the British Isles and in the late 1990s, RiverLink added a fifth RiverKeeper to their program, specifically covering the French Broad River. This position was created in order to safeguard the French Broad and to act as a public advocate for clean water throughout the 5,000 mile watershed.

RiverLink Exhibit centerpiece- who is this environmental activist group? Come find out more!

At UNC Asheville’s Special Collections, one of our core drivers is documenting the diverse culture and history of Asheville and Western North Carolina. Some of our strongest collections which help to tell this story are those with ties directly to the land. In recent years, our mission has expanded in order to encompass those collections which are of interest to our undergraduate researchers, scholars, and general users- including those collections with strong environmental ties to our beloved mountain region. RiverLink’s collection is a vibrant example of the history of environmental activism in this area, and we invite you to come take a closer look at both the exhibit and the collection itself!

RiverLink Exhibit on display directly outside of Special Collections. Come and take a closer look!


RiverLink Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Western North Carolina’s Sanatoria History: A Closer Look at the Fred Kahn Postcard Collection

On September 27, 1919, 100 years ago today, The Asheville Citizen ran an ad on page 10 which read:


Dunnwhyce Sanatorium, Black Mountain, N.C., reopened under new management, can accomodate ten more convalescents; ideal location; modern and complete.

Sanatoria had become a health craze by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Asheville had become a mecca for those suffering from tuberculosis. The climate, which was the basis of treatment in these sanitoria, was considered ideal in Western North Carolina. Indeed, for those studying climatotheraphy, Asheville was considered one of the top climates in the treatment of various lung diseases.

Veranda View, Highland Hospital, Asheville, from the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

People had long believed, from the low-country elite to the Cherokee Indians, that Asheville fell within the realm of a health resort and by the 1890s, the city and surrounding areas were firmly entrenched in the building explosion of sanitoria. The largest of which was St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Fairview Sanatorium.

An airplane view of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Asheville, NC, from the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The Asheville Citizen ad mentioning “Dunnwhyce,” was actually referencing the sanatorium in Black Mountain, Dunnwyche, a sanitorium for consumptive nurses. During this time period, it was quite common for nurses caring for tuberculosis to contract the disease themselves, and most were single women with limited means for their own healthcare.

During the 1911 annual meeting of the North Carolina State Nurses Association (the professional nursing organization for white nurses in the state), two nurses came forward with the idea of a sanatorium for sick and disabled nurses. Supported by the NCSNA, it would be a place nurses could find care and respite. A site was found in Buncombe County, near present-day Black Mountain, and the new institution was named Dunnwyche, in honor of the two women who first championed the idea, Birdie Dunn and Mary Whyche.

Dunnwyche thrived until 1919, when World War I made it necessary for the US Army to build a 1,500 bed sanatorium at nearby Oteen to care for soldiers with lung ailments related to poison gases used as weapons on the battlefield. The Army’s pay scale was higher than Dunnwyche, effectively removing the majority of those caring for their fellow nurses and patients, and leading to the declining maintenance and financial instability of the sanatorium. The building was sold and the proceeds invested in Liberty Bonds, although the interest was then used to help those nurses who had acquired the disease with finding care and money for treatment costs.

Night-time scene US Veterans’ Administration Facility, Oteen, NC, near Asheville, from the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The sanatoria movement in Western North Carolina would go on to become yet another pillar that firmly established Asheville as both a health resort and tourist destination across the globe. Today though, all that remains of much of the history of the sanatoria of this area are simply a memory.

Meriwether Hospital, Asheville, NC, from the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

However, at UNC Asheville Special Collections, we are the repository for the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection. Housed within this postcard collection is a magnificent binder which includes 108 postcards of several of the sanatoria in Asheville and Western North Carolina. Fortunately, through vibrant collections such as the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, the legacy that helped shape Asheville into the renowned destination it has become today will remain alive and well for future generations.

Wesnoca, Asheville, NC “In the Land of the Sky,” from the Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.


Buncombe County, North Carolina Nursing History, Appalachian State University, accessed:

Fred Kahn Asheville Postcard Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

“Sanatorium: Dunnwhyce.” The Asheville Citizen, September 27, 1919.

Asheville Women in History: Catalysts For Change

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which allowed women the right to vote. While some American women were granted the right to vote under this Amendment, there were still many inequalities that women were fighting to change. In Asheville, on Friday, September 12, 1919, an organization was created by several of these ground-breaking women in order to combat some of these inequalities and provide women with opportunities previously only afforded to men.

The Asheville Business and Professional Women’s Association began with 36 members, with Dr. Elizabeth Smith elected as the first President. According to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, “… the association is non-political, non-sectarian, and in no wise [sic] a union.” The Association was also self-supporting, with a primary goal of promoting better social and recreational opportunities for business and professional women.

One such professional woman who was also an organizing member and Vice President of the Association was Lillian Exum Clement. Clement was born near Black Mountain, and raised in Buncombe County. She studied law while working for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and was admitted to the bar and began practicing as an attorney in 1917. Clement was widely known among law circles as “Brother Exum.” She represented Buncombe County as the Democratic candidate in 1920, nominated before women were even enfranchised. She was elected by a landslide (some 10,000 votes to around 40) and became North Carolina’s first female legislator, as well as the first female lawyer to practice without male partners in North Carolina. Clement’s victories helped continue the drive for women’s suffrage during this monumental time.

Lillian Exum Clement on foot bridge; from the Stafford and Wingate L. Anders Collection

Lillian Exum Clement introduced 17 bills during her time as a Representative and was active in many local civic groups, including the Asheville Business and Professional Women’s Association. Clement’s legacy certainly lives on- in 1997, “Lillian’s List” was formed as a pro-choice, Democratic women’s group, supporting women for North Carolina office and providing scholarships to women attending law school. Clement died of pneumonia at age thirty-eight and is buried in Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery.

The family of Lillian Exum Clement graciously allowed UNC Asheville’s Special Collections to make 25 digital copies of various images related to Clement and Asheville, which is titled the Stafford and Wingate L. Anders Collection. UNC Asheville is also the repository for an oral history with Nancie Stafford Anders, daughter of Lillian Exum Clement. Anders speaks on her Mother, some of Asheville’s history, and the development of the College Street area in downtown Asheville.

Across North Carolina, several universities and archives are celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. In Asheville, there will be a two day symposium on this event. You Have to Start a Thing: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers will feature speakers Thursday evening, September 12 and all day Friday, September 13 at Pack Memorial Library. This free event is sponsored by the UNC Asheville History Department and Pack Library. UNC Asheville History Faculty Dr. Daniel Pierce and Dr. Sarah Judson will be two guest speakers, and UNC Asheville History Alums Katherine Calhoun Cutshall and Catherine Amos will be presenting on Lillian Exum Clement and others like her- daring women who broke barriers and became catalysts for change in Asheville and the world beyond.

From the symposium program: “You Have to Start a Thing: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers”


Stafford and Wingate L. Anders Collection (027), D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

“Permanent Club is Organized by Women,” Asheville Citizen-Times, September 13, 1919.

Thomas Rain Crowe interview and collection

Special Collections recently added the Thomas Rain Crowe Regional Publications Collection to our holdings. Crowe, an internationally known writer, poet, editor, translator, and critic, who lives in Western North Carolina, is best known for his book Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods, a narrative about living intentionally in a cabin in southwestern North Carolina. The collection contains over 250 items, mostly documenting Crowe’s writings in smaller regional newspapers where he published reviews, poems, articles, and other materials over the course of several decades. The collection also contains some books from Crowe’s New Native Press, as well as chapbooks, broadsides, journal articles, and books.

The collection was processed by Special Collections intern Renee Ambroso,  an English Major at UNCA. As part of her internship Ambroso interviewed Crowe on video, and the interview, entitle Thomas Rain Crowe: A Writer’s Life, An Interview and Reading, has just made available on UNCA’s Ramsey Library YouTube channel.

An example of material from the Thomas Rain Crowe Regional Publications Collection. This is from the August 1995 edition of Point: South Carolina’s Independent Newsmonthly.

A chapbook from the Crowe Collection.