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.



www.newspapers.com, The Boston Globe

Rummaging for bacon

When the Grove Park Inn opened in Asheville on July 12, 1913, one of the inn’s top priorities was insuring that the food and water served at GPI was of the highest quality. They proudly described their culinary philosophy in the “Eating” section of the 1916 GPI menu below, noting that “usually because of overwork and lack of exercise, digestion has grown poorer and poorer, until eating is a burden, when it should be one of the greatest pleasures.”

Grove Park Inn Exterior View
Grove Park Inn, circa 1920s.

It continues: “Grove Park Inn is not intended as a sanitarium for persons with indigestion, but we recognize the fact that those who can afford to patronize place like this are usually the overworkers, whose digestion needs our best assistance and not our opposition, as would almost seem to be the policy many hotels – so little thought do they give to the preparation of food.”

Dining Room, GPI
Dining Room at the Grove Park Inn

You could rest assured, if you were a Grove Park Inn guest in 1920, that the kitchen staff was there to prepare “the most wholesome, purest, cleanest foods we are able to secure and maintain a reasonable business.” Their culinary team was described in GPI’s literature as “the best cooks from Washington and New York.”

"Eating" details from the 1916 Grove Park Inn menu
“Eating” details from the 1916 Grove Park Inn menu

So where did Grove Park Inn secure these wholesome, pure foods? As documented in the Grove Park Inn section of the Blomberg, Patton & Grimes Biltmore Industries Archive, GPI ordered foods from a range of vendors, producers, and distributors, some local, and others from a distance. These records include nine boxes – 4.5 linear feet – of orders, correspondence, invoices, and payments for food served at Grove Park Inn. If there was a problem with an order from a vendor, it was quite common for Fred Seely himself – the manager of GPI from 1914 to 1927, and E. W. Grove’s son-in-law – to write the vendor to complain and demand redress.

1916 GPI Menu
1916 GPI Menu

Seely also had a certain amount of brand loyalty. “When we have adopted a brand or make, we stick to it and thus keep our foods uniform.” You’ll notice the list of brands on the menu above, including Heinz products and Squibb’s extracts. Sometimes, it seems, his brand loyalty eclipsed his common sense.

Which brings us to the case of the rummaged bacon.

Fred Seely was fond of Beech-Nut Bacon, which was produced by the Beech-Nut Packing Company in Canajoharie, New York.  Seely wrote the Beech-Nut Packing Company on December 6, 1920, declaring “you are aware, do doubt, that we have always used Beechnut bacon, and mention it in our menus.”

Between 1920 and 1926, GPI routinely ordered bacon from Beech-Nut, orders that were shipped 800 miles from mid-state New York to Asheville via railroad. These rail orders were sometimes problematic. For instance, a bacon order was shipped “express” from Beech-Nut on April 7, 1920, and when it had not arrived in Asheville by April 23, GPI notified Beech-Nut that the shipment was late. Beech-Nut contacted American Railway Express on April 23, noting that GPI in Asheville had not received their bacon, and asked the railroad to “please trace at once as they are perishable goods.” The bacon did arrive at GPI on April 28, three weeks after shipment from New York. And this wasn’t the first time this happened – a shipment in January 1920 was also late and had to be traced.

Remember, these are “perishable goods.”

And Grove Park wasn’t concerned only about shipping, but also about the quality of the bacon itself. In the letter below Seely wrote Beech-Nut in December complaining of “the irregularity of the product. We get some very small pieces which is not what we want. Is there any reason why it cannot run regular and always be as large as you formerly sent us?”

GPI letter to Beech-Nut Packing, December 6, 1920
GPI letter to Beech_Nut Packing, December 6, 1920

Problems in the procurement of pork products persisted, as noted when Beech-Nut shipped too much bacon:

Letter from GPI to Beech-Nut Packing, January 21, 1921
Letter from GPI to Beech-Nut Packing, January 21, 1921

Or too little bacon:

Letter from GPI to Beech-Nut Packing, May 19, 1921
Letter from GPI to Beech-Nut Packing, May 19, 1921

In this undated letter (from 1920 or 21) apparently GPI’s order threw normal packing operations at Beech-Nut into a frenzy.  “To get Bacon of the size you require, it necessitates considerable rummaging around through our stock, which results in some delay getting these goods ready for shipment.”

Letter from Beech-Nut Packing to GPI, undated
Letter from Beech-Nut Packing to GPI, undated

Finally, it seems that all this rummaging, poor quality, and shipping woes were too much for Seely, as he wrote in this letter of June 9, 1921, stating that “we have always paid you a fancy price for Beechnut quality but what we are receiving now isn’t making us very enthusiastic about continuing it.”

Letter from GPI to Beech-Nut Packing, June 9, 1921
Letter from GPI to Beech-Nut Packing, June 9, 1921

One of the questions this procurement tale begs is:  why didn’t Seely try to source bacon locally?  Buying pork in Buncombe County shouldn’t have been that difficult. According to the 1920 census there were over 3700 farms in Buncombe County, and farmers noted that they owned 10,074 swine. With all this locally available pork, it seems odd that Seely insisted on having his bacon shipped over 800 miles of rail lines.

To be fair, Seely did source a lot of food from local vendors. One of the largest files in the “food” section of these records are the invoices and orders with Virginia Fish & Oyster Company, an Asheville company that provided most of GPI’s seafood. Not only were they a local company, there’s no record that Virginia Fish & Oyster Company ever had to “rummage around” through their stock to fill an order.


Collections used in this post:

The photos of GPI and the dining room are from the Grove Park Inn Photograph Collection

The correspondence is from the Blomberg, Patton & Grimes Biltmore Industries Collection

The GPI menu is from the Shirley Stipp Ephemera Collection


Suffrage: An Emblem of Women’s Equality

“The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guarantee of your liberty… Understand what it means and what it can do for your country.”

Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters, upon the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote

As voters went to the polls this week for off-year election voting, the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment rapidly approaches. The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage– which guaranteed and protected women’s constitutional right to vote. This landmark ruling remains relevant in light of current issues related to equal rights for all and calls to mind the women behind this historic milestone of Democracy.

The National Voter Magazine, 1989/1990, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

On March 23, 1919, in St. Louis Missouri, a “jubilee” convention was held which celebrated the 50th anniversary of Wyoming as the first territory (prior to statehood), to recognize rights of women on the ballot. Another prerogative of the women at the convention was to form a “league of women voters.” This League of Women Voters would be responsible for organizing a campaign for national women’s suffrage and proposed that its members be a determining factor in vital political issues across the Nation.

1946 History, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The idea gained quick momentum, and an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times on March 26, 1922 discussed the possible formation of a local chapter of the League in Asheville. There were a few additional blurbs mentioning the local League, but on August 11, 1922, buried on page 7, there was a small reference to the meeting being postponed due to the absence of several members. The next mention of an Asheville chapter would not come until Thursday, November 20, 1947.

Program, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Why the lapse in time? What happened to the Asheville chapter from 1922-1947? Unfortunately, there’s not a clear answer. However, here at UNC Asheville’s Special Collections, we are the repository for the records and Archives of the League of Women Voters for Asheville. While we have not yet located material in the collection which speaks to the League’s absence between those years, there is still a plethora of other fascinating history to uncover.

Correspondence, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Indeed, one such intriguing piece of history can be found in the very first box of material containing several years worth of correspondence. In one of the first dated pieces, in a letter to the Asheville chapter from the President of the National League of Women Voters, Miss Anna Lord Strauss, she imparts upon its members “… that democracy is, in reality, a young and revolutionary idea in a world far more accustomed to authoritarianism.” President Strauss goes on to highlight the importance of a representative government, selected by its citizens and ready to accept full responsibility for upholding the freedoms of its Republic.

Correspondence, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

To this end, the League utilized various publications and educational resources to assist in championing their causes. In 1951, “The National Voter” magazine was first published. North Carolina chapters of the League employed their own publications, including the “Tarheel Voter,” the “North Carolina Voter,” and various brochures, pamphlets, and programs. In 1957, the League of Women Voters Education was formed to educate and inform citizens of major public policy issues, both national and local.

The Tarheel Voter, 1951, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Indeed, the Asheville chapter of the League of Women Voters, the same as their local, state, and national compatriots, often lobbied fiercely over issues of taxes, the environment, the United Nations and International Trade, employment, and Constitutional freedoms, and they completed the work to sustain their position. Each League in North Carolina prided themselves on both their study and action: “Its reputation for thorough study of the issues it selects to work on is a second ‘shining armor,’ along with non-partisanship, when the League goes to testify or lobby, or takes an issue to the community.”

The National Voter, 1955, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

Today, the agenda of the League of Women Voters, both National and local chapters, remains much the same. The League’s grassroots organization champions the idea of voters as instrumental in shaping public policy. Non-partisan, the group focuses on issues that affect voters regardless of party affiliation. The League opposes partisan and racial gerrymandering, is a proponent for health care reform, and supports a transparent donation trail in elections. The League also takes great pride in advocating for voter rights for all American citizens, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race, and they work to ensure that elections are fair, free, and accessible to all eligible citizens.

The Voters’ Handbook, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

At a 1966 National Convention in Denver, North Carolina League President Louise Pitman (from Asheville), recalled receiving a message from Zella Leonard, a Chapel Hill member and former National Board member. Zella’s message read: “Keep your shirt on, the League of Women Voters can’t reform the world in five days.” Perhaps not, but looking at a storied history which has inspired an organization that is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all, the League is well-positioned to ensure that everyone at the table- regardless of political affiliation, race, or gender- has a voice in ensuring the future of “The Great Experiment.”

Brochure, League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.


  • “Last Great Convention Woman Suffrage Soon,” The Asheville Citizen, March 23, 1919.
  • “What the League of Women Voters is and Intends to Do,” Mrs. L.E. Fisher, The Asheville Citizen, March 26, 1922.
  • League of Women Voters, https://www.lwv.org/
  • League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County, https://www.lwvab.org/

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.

Exploring Local Archival Evidence of African American Expressions of Resilience in Asheville

The sixth annual African Americans in WNC and Southern Appalachia Conference, which will highlight the African American experience in Southern Appalachia with a lens towards history, culture, community, and enterprise, begins this Thursday, October 17 and runs through Saturday, October 19. This year’s theme is “Existence as Resistance: Expressions of Resilience.”

African Americans in WNC and Southern Appalachia Conference; https://aawnc.unca.edu/

UNCA’s Special Collections is assisting with the conference, and as such, revisiting some of our collections regarding this topic. One such collection is our Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, a rich and vibrant African American collection which is helping to dispel the myth that Southern Appalachia owes both its society and culture to one homogeneous background.

E.W. Pearson Jr. First African American Disc Jockey, WLOS Radio, 1950; Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

This collection is a collaboration of donations from individuals such as Mrs. Lucy Saunders Herring, Mr. Johnny Baxter, and Mrs. Jean McKissick McNeil, and the former Southern Highlands Research Center, now UNC Asheville’s Special Collections and Archives, along with the YMI Cultural Center. The Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection focuses on material that illustrates how African Americans helped to build an environment that was integral to both the culture and economy of Western North Carolina, and whose lasting effects can still be seen today.

“Candy Land,” Business on Eagle Street, 1929-1930; Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

This Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection encompasses material from churches, schools, businesses and workers, portraits of people, civic, social, and political organizations, military service photos and records, and several other print and web resources. Over 200 photos in the collection have been digitized and are available for viewing through DigitalNC.

NAACP National Conference; From the Eugene Smith Scrapbook, Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville, 28804.

The University of North Carolina Asheville’s Special Collections and University Archives is excited to share in this resource, along with several others highlighting this scholarship, and we are looking forward to a conference which will help better illustrate the intrepid history and ventures of the African American experience in Southern Appalachia and Western North Carolina. We hope to see you there!

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: https://nursinghistory.appstate.edu/counties/buncombe-county

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.

Lake Lure at Chimney Rock: America’s Greatest Scenic Playground

Lake Lure and Chimney Rock have long been known as sanctuaries for relaxation and rejuvenation. The town of Lake Lure derives its existence from the Morse Family. In 1925, they established Carolina Mountain Power Company and funded the building of a dam on the Broad River, which created Lake Lure. The scenic beauty of the area also made the region a frequent location for tourists, and more interestingly, for the motion picture business.

A page in the picture book from the Morse Family Chimney Rock Collection

One of the oldest legacies in Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, other than the towering monolith from which Chimney Rock derives its name, is the Esmeralda Inn. The storied past of the Esmeralda dates to 1891 when Colonel Thomas Turner built the Inn. It was opened in 1892 and was used as the first stage coach stop in the area. The Inn was instrumental in luring tourists into the area.

A postcard of the Esmeralda Inn from Sixty Four Selected Views of Western North Carolina: “The Land of the Sky”; “America’s Beauty Spot” from the Southern Post Card Co., Asheville, N.C.

The Inn burnt to the ground in 1917, but was rebuilt on the original foundation. It then served as a post office for some time. The Inn was destroyed by fire again in 1996 just after a massive flood wiped out many of the businesses in Chimney Rock. It was rebuilt again with much of its original historic character restored.

The Inn was “discovered” around 1915, and became host to several motion picture makers and cast members such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks, and Clark Gable, who used the Esmeralda as a hideout while in town filming.

On August 30, 1919, the Asheville Citizen-Times wrote about a “big feature” being filmed in the area. The actor Harry Morey and a company of vitagraph players resided at the Esmeralda Inn while filming The Man Who Might Have Been. According to the director of the company, the Esmeralda and surrounding area had been a “favorite location… for years,” and “its wonderful scenery, [was] so well suited to the production of pictures…”

Title page from the picture book from the Morse Family Chimney Rock Collection

Indeed, a number of movies were filmed in the area. Some of the more notable ones were Thunder Road, Firestarter, Dirty Dancing, My Fellow Americans, and The Last of the Mohicans.

UNC Asheville is the repository for the Morse Family Chimney Rock Collection. One unique piece that we happened upon in the collection is a picture book from the 1920’s entitled, “Lake Lure at Chimney Rock: A Pictureland.” The book references the Esmeralda Inn at the beginning:

A picturebook from the Morse Family Chimney Rock Park Collection; http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/morse_family_chimney_rock_park/default_morse_family.html

“Frequent, indeed, were the tallyho parties that started out from the old Battery Park hotel, in Asheville, and found welcome at the fireside of the Esmeralda. It was at Chimney Rock that Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote her romantic drama, entitled ‘Esmeralda,’ and Christian Reid declared that here, indeed, was the crowing jewel of the ‘Land of the Sky.'”

Frances Christine Fisher Tiernan, pen name Christian Reid, would go on to write The Land of the Sky, a novel about “adventures in mountain by-ways,” in 1876. However, Reid, like many others who enjoyed visiting the area, likely could not foretell how truly popular and loved both the Esmeralda Inn and the Lake Lure and Chimney Rock areas would eventually become to The Land of the Sky.

Ashley McGhee Whittle, Special Collections


Picture Book, Morse Family Chimney Rock Park, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville.

Postcard of the Esmeralda Inn, Sixty Four Selected Views of Western North Carolina,  D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.

“Harry Morey Comes to Esmeralda Inn,” Asheville Citizen-Times, August 30, 1919.

Esmeralda Inn History, https://theesmeralda.com/about-the-esmeralda-inn/esmeralda-inn-history/

Recommendations from the Rare Books Collection

Editor’s note: We were delighted to have Shelby Beard as an intern in Special Collections this semester. Her previous post discussed her research on UNCA’s John Martin’s Book Collection. In this post she explores some books from our Rare Book collection. Shelby, an English Major, graduates this semester.

By Shelby Beard, Special Collections Intern

The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

Thomas de Quincey

Content warning: addiction, drugs   

Thomas de Quincey was born in August, 1785, in Manchester, England. From an early age, it was clear that Thomas was creative and saw the world from a unique perspective. After the death of his father and two of his sisters, he was cared for primarily by a handful of legal guardians, which filled his life with conflict and transition. After attending two grammar schools, and fleeing the later, he went to university, and soon developed a relationship with a number of prominent writers at the time, such as William Wordsworth (and his family) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who proved to be influences in his writing career. Another influence on his career was opium, which de Quincey took for the first time in 1804 in hopes of quelling the pain of his “severe rheumatic pains in his head and jaw” (Agnew 34). At the time, opium was commonly and legally used to treat pain, but many people, including de Quincey, became addicted to the substance after taking it for a short time.

Portrait of Thomas de Quincey

In his autobiography, The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, de Quincey details the perks and downfalls of opium (or more specifically what was likely laudanum, a mixture of opium and alcohol) addiction and his own experiences with it, including the dreams he had under the influence. De Quincey began writing for Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1820, where he would publish Confessions as a two part series that would eventually be published as a book. Confessions was an immediate success and “brought [de Quincey] lasting fame” (Agnew 37). Despite his struggles with addiction, de Quincey maintained his writing career through most of his life. He regularly contributed to Blackwood’s, as well as Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, and published essays and books independently. Throughout his successful career, de Quincey struggled with money, and he was in and out of debtor’s prison nine times from 1832 to 1840. So despite his success, his family continued to struggle. Near the end of his life, de Quincey’s battles with addiction and debt began to fade. Under the careful watch of his children after his wife’s death, de Quincey paid his debts and lived fairly comfortably until his death in December of 1859.  

As previously stated, The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is an autobiographical account of de Quincey’s experience with opium addiction. Confessions is, as the title implies, a confession piece, which is a form of autobiographical literature that exposes intimate details of the subject’s life.  Writing in the Romantic era, de Quincey was pretty much alone in discussing addiction in the context of an English gentleman’s life, rather than a cliché junkie on the streets. He was also alone in discussing both the “pleasures” and the “pains” of opium, rather than outright condemning the substance and anyone who would touch it. De Quincey was famously fond of opium, though as he writes in his revised introduction, he was not proud of his addiction. This book is a compelling story, told in a stylistically unique fashion that helps the subject matter stand out in a crowd.  

Cover of Confessions

On ‘Tao Te Ching’

Bertolt Brecht

Portrait of Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht was most well-known for his play writing, but also wrote some poetry and fiction before his death in 1956. He is often remembered for his Marxist views that are apparent in his writing, which has made him a controversial figure amongst literary scholars. Bertolt Brecht’s On ‘Tao Te Ching’ is a short poem about an old man on a journey. This pocket sized book is number 85 of 150 numbered editions printed by Nancy Chambers for the Anvil Press in 1959. It is printed on rice paper, the cover is coated in decorated paper with the title pasted on the binding, and it includes illustrations pulled from a collection of Chinese prints. This is a beautiful book, and as a first (and only) edition could be valued at over $200 dollars. Little is known about this book, which makes it an intriguing addition to the rare books collection in UNCA’s Special Collections.

Cover of On ‘Tao Te Ching’

A Double Barrelled Detective Story

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in Missouri, where he spent most of his childhood years by the Mississippi River. As a young adult, Clemens worked as an apprentice, a compositor, a writer for local newspapers, a journeyman, and a steamboat driver. He eventually adopted the pen name Mark Twain, which is a riverman’s term for “water that is safe, but only just safe, for navigation” (Gale 2). Twain continued to write for newspapers, began venturing into travel correspondence, and eventually began writing and lecturing on various topics. In 1870, Twain married Olivia Langdon, and they moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where they would live for the next twenty years and have their three daughters. Twain also started gaining popularity as a writer and lecturer at this time. Twain’s early work was sold by subscription, and sold well, which granted Twain a sizable profit. However, he soon fell into debt after his publishing company went bankrupt and his typesetting machine failed to make his fortune. He and his family moved to Europe, where they could live cheaper, until Twain was able to pay off his debts and return to the United States in 1900. By this point, Twain was reaching new levels of popularity and considered a public hero to some. He is often thought “among the best to express, or expose, the spirit of the American people” through his writings (Gale 4).

Portrait of Mark Twain

        Some of Twain’s most well-known books are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1875), which center around quintessentially American notions of life along the Mississippi river, and The Innocents Abroad (1869), which is a humerous retelling of Twain’s travels. A Double Barrelled Detective Story (1902), is different from Twain’s more popular works. He write it later in his career, at a time when some believed Twain was only writing so that he could get out of debt, stay out of debt, and rebuild his decimated savings. Much of his work from this time is considered messy and not important to Twain’s established canon. However,  A Double Barrelled Detective Story is a unique work, and worth a look. This satirical story follows a woman who discovers that her son has a superhuman sense of smell. She decides to use this power to find her husband, who was abusive when they were together and is unaware that he has a son, and kill him. Along the way, a handful of colorful characters are introduced, including none other than Sherlock Holmes. Twain’s detective story is a satire jabbing at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s meticulously thought out crime dramas by throwing logic to the wind and telling a story with all the drama of an original Sherlock Holmes piece, but much less planning.  A Double Barrelled Detective Story was not received well by Twain’s contemporaries, or the general public, who largely seemed to miss his satire. While this story isn’t one of Twain’s most famous, it is worth a read. The edition available in the UNCA Special Collections is formatted uniquely in that each page of text is summed up in the margins with a word or two. For example on page 95, the margin simply reads “Sherlock Holmes!”, which adds to the intrigue and humor of this story.

Cover of A Double Barrelled Detective Story

The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems

Oscar Wilde

Content warning: homophobia, imprisonment

        Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. He was an Irish poet and playwright, and was well known for his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). His mother was also a writer, and his father was a doctor. Wilde was a leader of the Aestheticism movement in England, which promoted the idea of “art for art’s sake”. In 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd, and they had two children. The last ten years of Wilde’s life were most fruitful to his writing career, he wrote and published Dorian Gray, and his society comedies which included A Woman of No Importance (1893) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). The central theme of many of his works was the exposure of a secret or sin that someone was hiding, which usually ended badly. Wilde himself was known for his “reckless pursuit of pleasure” in life (Britannica). In 1891, Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas, whom he started an affair with. Douglas’s father, upon finding out about their relationship, accused Wilde of homosexual activity. Wilde attempted to sue Douglas’s father for libel, but his case fell through and Wilde was arrested and made to stand trial. He was found guilty in 1895 and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Most of his sentence was served at Reading Gaol, and his time there left him with irreparable health issues that plagued him for the final years of his life. After his release in 1897, Wilde published The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), which expressed his concern about inhumane prison conditions. He died in 1900.

Portrait of Oscar Wilde

        Reading Gaol was a prison in England known for its harsh conditions. While imprisoned, Wilde was only allowed to write letters, but upon his release he wrote and published The Ballad of Reading Gaol in response to what he had endured for the past two years. He details the shame and pain he felt while imprisoned, and the brutal conditions he and the other prisoners faced on a daily basis. He mentions other prisoners, such as Charles Thomas Wooldridge, who was a murderer and was sentenced to death by hanging, which Wilde also recounts in his poem.  UNCA Special Collections has a small copy of The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems, published in 1951, well after Wilde’s death. This edition features black and white illustrations by Louise Phillips that accompany the poem, and make a powerful addition to the content.

Cover of The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Fairy Tales and Legends by Hans Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen

Portrait of Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen is a well-known and well-loved writer of fairy tales. Born in 1805 near Copenhagen, Denmark, Andersen was a prolific writer, and his work is renowned in many countries all over the world. He also wrote a number of novels, plays, and poems, which are less popular. Fairy tales most people would be familiar with, such as “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and “The Ugly Duckling” are all works of Andersen. Some of his stories end with optimism and a favorable outcome for the characters, but others end unhappily like many Grimm’s fairy tales. Andersen was willing to engage with less than perfect outcomes in children’s literature, which is part of what made his stories compelling to adults as well. UNCA Special Collections has an illustrated copy of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, published in 1948. This edition features a beautifully designed cover, and nearly fifty stories with illustrated pages throughout.

Cover of Fairytales and Legends


Agnew, Lois Peters. “Chapter 2: De Quincey’s Life.” Thomas de Quincey: British Rhetoric’s Romantic Turn, Southern Illinois University Press, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unca/detail.action?docID=1354633.

BBC – History – Historic Figures: Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900). http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/wilde_oscar.shtml. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.

“Bertolt Brecht | German Dramatist.” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bertolt-Brecht. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.

Foundation, Poetry. “Bertolt Brecht.” Poetry Foundation, 10 Apr. 2019, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/bertolt-brecht.

“Hans Christian Andersen | Biography, Fairy Tales, & Books.” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hans-Christian-Andersen-Danish-author. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.

“Oscar Wilde | Biography, Books, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Oscar-Wilde. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.

Schiller, Francis. “Thomas De Quincey’s Lifelong Addiction.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. 20, no. 1, 1976, pp. 131–41. DOI.org (Crossref), doi:10.1353/pbm.1976.0009.

Twain, Mark | Gale Biographies: Popular People – Credo Reference. https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/galegbpp/twain_mark/0. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.

John Martin’s Book

By Shelby Beard, Special Collections Intern

UNC Asheville’s Special Collections is home to a large collection of John Martin’s Book magazines. The John Martin’s Book collection contains forty bound volumes and one hundred and nine individual issues, ranging in publication date from 1914 through 1933.

Who Was John Martin?

Morgan von Roorbach Shepard was born in 1865 and lived in poverty for the first years of his life in Maryland. Despite his circumstances, he lived happily with his “joy-giving” mother until she died when he was nine years old, leaving him in the care of a number of boarding schools until he was sixteen and he began to face the world alone. For years he worked odd jobs engineering, herding livestock, mining, ranching, street car driving, and he even claimed to have fought in a Central American revolution. Eventually he ended up in San Francisco and became a banker, which remained his employment for thirteen years and which Shepard considered repressing and dull work.

In early 1898 Shepard started a small publishing company in partnership with a book dealer.  During their time together Shepard and his partner, Paul Elder, published about forty books, many of which were targeted at children and some of which Shepard wrote and/or illustrated himself (“Paul Elder & Company”). Shepard worked with the company until 1904 and then traveled Europe, ultimately returning to San Francisco broke and jobless a couple of years later. He began designing greeting cards, which only lasted until 1906 when his office building was destroyed in an earthquake. Shepard then moved to New York City.

While recovering from an injury, Shepard began to write poetry for children’s magazines, and here he seems to have found his calling. After the earthquake brought his professional life to a halt, Shepard found joy in writing letters to children who were sick in hospitals or “lacking gladness” in their lives. He “yearned to give other children some measure of the joy and good that had been [his] ‘once upon a time’”, the joy he had experienced with his mother as a child (Martin). The individual letters eventually grew into a subscription service, and from there he followed his “hidden heart desires” and began to turn his passion for bringing happiness to children into John Martin’s Book.

John Martin’s Book was inspired by Shepard’s love for children and his mother’s love for life. When he was young, Shepard’s mother encouraged his imagination and creativity. In fact, the idea of John Martin’s Book was born of a story his mother used to tell him about a group of birds that lived near the family home. Shepard’s mother would tell him stories about these birds, and “John Martin-bird” was the leader of the group. He signed those first letters with the pseudonym, John Martin, and would from then on use that pen name when writing in his magazine.

What is John Martin’s Book?

Children’s periodicals began to gain popularity in the Victorian “age of children”. Increased literacy and general education in the eighteenth century lead to an increase in children’s literacy amongst the middle class. With this new level of literacy came a concern for what kind of things children should be reading. In the Victorian era, literature was considered “a potent force capable of immense good or harm”, and was to be handled with care (Lang 17). Theories of childhood purity and the desire to protect childhood innocence rose in popularity over the previously dominant puritanical fixation with the original sin. A parent could not entrust their child’s innocence in just any publication, and so the popularity of children’s books and magazines, written with these new ideals in mind, skyrocketed. This trend continued through the Victorian era and into the twentieth century.

John Martin’s Book was first published as such in 1913. The magazine was aimed at children from ages three to ten, which Shepard considered to be the period in childhood when values are shaped. He adopted a policy of writing “right and only what is right for children” and aimed for each issue to be wholesome and valuable to children’s development (Martin).

What was John Martin’s Book Teaching?

The pages of each issue of John Martin’s Book are filled with colorful illustrations and whimsical writing meant to engage the child readers’ imagination and moral compass. The goal of the magazine was to entertain young children in a wholesome and “exceptionally constructive” way, providing them with content they could enjoy with their parents or on their own (Martin). Every issue included a number of short works ranging from retellings of old fables and fairy tales, to summaries of historical events, to regular installments of stories revolving around a specific character. Some pages were even made to be interacted with, including coloring pages, puzzles, and cut outs.

The left page is titled “Peter Puzzlemaker’s Tree Puzzle”, written across the bottom. The last two words are in a font that resembles tree bark. Above and to the left is a figure (Peter), he is small and wears a tall pointy hat, a black tunic with buttons and a collar, shorts, and buckled shoes. He is dipping a paintbrush into a can of paint with his right hand and pointing to the puzzle above with his left. The puzzle above is a grid of nine squares (one of which Peter is in front of, and is empty). In order from one to eight the squares contain drawings of a dog, a pocket watch, a wig, a book with pages falling out, an old trunk, mannequin limbs, a spinning top, and a bowing man. Behind the grid and peter is a forest scene. The second page is an introduction to Peter Puzzlemaker. It gives instructions on how to solve the puzzle - in this case, each illustration in a box represents a part of a tree.

This is the first appearance of a regular installment in the magazine, Peter Puzzlemaker. Peter “thinks up jolly puzzles for [children] to solve”.  
A two page spread in black ink. At the top of the left page is the title “A Silly Story” followed by “Can U Read It?”, where the “can” is replaced with a drawing of a tin can. To the left of the title is a drawing of a boy walking in the sun. To the right is a drawing of a bird, a duck wearing a top hat, and a rat. The rest of the first page and the entire second page are filled by the text of the story, and the small symbols to replace sounds. Some of the symbols are: an eye, a sun, a saw, an ink well, a tree branch, a deer, a cat, a bee, and a hat.
An example of one of the more quirky pages often included in the magazine, this is a short story where some of the words are replaced (in whole or in part) by small symbols and illustrations. The reader is meant to see if they can read the story using the pictures to sound out the missing letters.
A page in black ink with the title “The Funny Menagere” at the top in bold curly letters. There are five boxes, each with a drawing of an animal pun. There is “A dog with a cocked ear” with a drawing of a dog that has a chicken for an ear, for example.
An example of the fun pages found in John Martin’s Book. A humorous page with animal puns.

Every selection in the magazine was meant to entertain a child, and to instill messages of positivity, love, and happiness. Even the advertisements were carefully selected to reflect the values of the John Martin’s Book company. Shepard says in his article “The Substance of Dreams”, in which he details his motives behind creating John Martin’s Book, “I take the responsibility of preserving the right of children to have only the truest influences brought to them… I will not exploit children for money gain or popularize John Martin’s Book for ‘circulation’ ends” (Martin). Shepard wrote the advertisements himself (or supervised a colleague doing so), and nearly always made something as simple as a soap ad into an engaging story for children to read.

A fully illustrated page printed in light blue ink. Title “A Gift of The Sea” across the top. Below, a woman floats amongst the waves of the sea, bubbles or pearls flowing from her hands. In the center a poem is printed, followed by Colgate branding and an illustration of a box of toothpaste. There is a bust portrait on either side of the box, a little girl on the left and little boy on the right, they look content.
This fully illustrated page shows the care that Shepard put into the advertisements he chose to include in the magazine. He creates a story about a magical lady that lives in the sea and gives children the gift of pearly white teeth, where he could simply have printed a generic ad for Colgate that wouldn’t have been of much interest to the children reading. Shepard was intentional about everything he included in his magazine.

In addition to whimsical games, poems, stories, short plays, and advertisements, John Martin’s Book typically included pieces that invoked God and/or piety. Mostly from Christian influence, though not always explicitly denominational, these pieces were light and peaceful, aiming to express love to the children reading and instill religious conviction from a young age.

A poem printed in mostly black ink, with accents of orange. At the top of the page is the title, “Friendship Road”, in which the F and R are printed in orange. Below, the poem is printed. To the right of the poem is an illustration of a mountain with a castle at the top. The sun in the background is orange. There is a group of children in the foreground walking up a path towards the castle together, they are smiling and holding hands. One child is dressed in orange.
A poem that exemplifies the religious themes often found in the John Martin’s Books. It discusses being grateful to God every day, and following the “right” path in life. There are also themes of friendship and hope in this poem.
A simple page, mostly of text. At the top is the title “Little Beatitudes” below is the poem, four stanzas of four lines each. The first letter of each stanza is ornately drawn in black and red. Below the poem is a small symbol that resembles a heart shape.
This short poem is another example of the way Shepard often wrote about God in the magazine. This poem is teaching that God fearing children are happy.

It is true that John Martin’s Book was never extremely lucrative, in the early days Shepard was fighting to break even, but he always said he wasn’t in it for the money. The purpose of this magazine was to  provide a safe space for children. Parents never had to worry what would be in the next issue of John Martin’s Book, and children could always expect to be entertained.

Shepard was not the only person writing for John Martin’s Book. As the magazine grew in popularity, Shepard brought on new editors to assist him in creating content, including Helene Jane Waldo, who remained on Shepard’s editorial staff until the magazine’s final issue in 1933 (Gardner 151). John Martin’s Book often included pieces submitted by guest authors, who would be credited in the magazine alongside their works. Regardless of the size of his team, Shepard was the only person to write to the children as John Martin.  

A double page spread featuring ornate illustration printed in black and orange ink. The left page depicts an illustration of a castle with knights on horses coming out of the gates and riding down a path. This illustration is contained in an oval. Outside the upper part of the oval, the illustration is framed with tree leaves. An owl sits to the left of the oval reading a book, and a raven to the right, also reading a book and wearing glasses. Near the lower part of the oval, two bunnies dressed like the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland hold a letter between them. The right page features the title of the magazine in a large font, contained in an oval mirroring the left page’s. Behind the oval is another illustration of a castle and knights on horses. The bottom third of the page has an owl holding a book that reads “Come children look, This is your book” on the pages.
These pages exemplify the amount of detail that can be found in the design and illustrations of John Martin’s Book. Notice the small note to the reader on the first page, signed by John Martin himself. A note like this could be found in nearly every issue, greeting the reader and welcoming them to the magazine. The owl on the second page holds a message that invites the children to read on.

Little has been written about John Martin’s Book, and few copies of the earliest editions have survived. However, this magazine remains a shining example of children’s literature from the early twentieth century. As stated in a bulletin in the September 1915 issue of the magazine, the purpose of John Martin’s Book was “to make little children happy”. Shepard’s whimsical writing and editorial style captured the hearts of tens of thousands of children, and his clear love for these children is apparent in his fondly, if scarcely,  remembered magazine.

Works Cited/Referenced

Gardner, Martin. “John Martin’s Book: An Almost Forgotten Children’s Magazine.” Children’s Literature, vol. 18, no. 1, 1990, pp. 145–59. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/chl.0.0682.

Lang, Marjory. “Childhood’s Champions: Mid-Victorian Children’s Periodicals and the Critics.” Victorian Periodicals Review, vol. 13, no. 1/2, 1980, pp. 17–31. JSTOR.

Martin, John. “The Substance of Dreams: A Bit of Intimate History and Romance of How John Martin’s Book Came to Be.” John Martin’s Book, July 1923. UNCA Special Collections.“Morgan

Shepard, Aka ‘John Martin.’” Paul Elder & Company: San Francisco Bookseller & Publisher, 1898-1968, http://paulelder.org/people/morgan-shepard/. Accessed 6 Feb. 2019.

Photos Cited

Martin, John. “Friendship Road.” John Martin’s Book, July 1915. UNCA Special Collections.

Martin, John. “A Gift From the Sea.” John Martin’s Book, July 1918. UNCA Special Collections.

Martin, John. “Little Beatitudes.” John Martin’s Book, Mar. 1924. UNCA Special Collections.

Martin, John. “Peter Puzzlemaker.” John Martin’s Book, Oct. 1918. UNCA Special Collections.

Martin, John. “A Silly Story.” John Martin’s Book, Nov. 19198. UNCA Special Collections.

Martin, John. “Title Pages” John Martin’s Book, May 1924. UNCA Special Collections.