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Highlights from Women's History Manuscript Collections at the Rubenstein Library: 20th Century Collections

20th Century Collections

Image of the publication, Don't Phone MotherAfrican Travel Diary, 1921-1926; (bulk 1921-1922)
Travel diary kept by an unidentified Englishwoman during a visit to Africa. Diary commences near Victoria Falls and describes travel along the Zambesi River, including descriptions of indigenous plants, animals, and people. Also comments on European settlements.

Michael Francis Blake Photographs, 1912-1934
Charleston, SC. Photographs made by Michael Francis Blake, Charleston's first, and for many years only, black photographer. The subject of his photographs are black women, men, and children which gives a window into the African American community life in Charleston. Notable is a photo of a woman dressed in man's clothing, and a group photo of ten young nurses, probably students at the Hospital Training School for Nurses at Charleston, a black institution.

Annie Lois Newkirk Blakely Papers, 1870-1988; (bulk 1921-1970)
Durham, NC. Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, photographs, calendars, and cards. Diaries span thirty years of daily entries documenting the life of a mother and housewife from the depression period to the 1970s. Correspondence is mainly from family and friends, including two daughters writing home from college in the 1940s.

Blunt Family Papers, 1943-1965 and undated
Portsmouth, VA. Correspondence, financial papers, genealogy, clippings, printed material, and photographs, all relating to the Blunt family. Topics in the correspondence include: family relations; health; courtship; financial matters; and other domestic issues, particularly the strains of maintaining the family when its members migrated to other parts of the United States. Some letters detail the workings of an Afro-American women's voluntary association, or "friendly society," the House of Ruth Lodge. Collection also includes greeting cards, report cards, and numerous photographs of family members.

Frank Clyde Brown Papers, 1912-1974
Durham, NC. Trinity college professor. Chiefly concerns Brown's activities with the North Carolina Folklore Society and contains items of its Folklore Collection. Included are drawings and examples of quilt patterns and handmade lace and folklorist Maude Sutton's collection of songs and games.

Lillian Dimmick Scrapbook, 1942-1947
Scrapbook contains clippings from newspapers, recipes, check stubs, letters, telegrams, and other materials documenting Lillian Dimmick's various winnings in local recipe and music trivia contests. Some war-time recipes feature meat substitutes and other rationed food saving techniques. Prizes included money and theater tickets. Acquired as part of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

Rachael Ferver Diary, 1928, Jan. 1-Dec. 31
Youngstown, OH. Wife of a steel factory manager in Yokohama, Japan, her diary primarily focuses on how Ferver filled her days while her husband was away at his job. Activities included visiting others, shopping, letter writing, and playing bridge. For much of the time she confessed to being bored and to feeling "so helpless in this muddy Orient."

Ruth Finlay Papers, 1960-2011
Collection comprises diaries written by Finlay documenting the details of her emotional reactions to her daily life, activities, behavior, social life, and family life. Topics include her hospitalization, ongoing treatment for, and life following cancer, her relationships with her husband, children, and grandchildren, and the death of an adult son.

Frank W. Gardner Letters, 1938-1947
World War II era correspondence between Frank Gardner and his wife Jennie between 1941 and 1944 during his military service. Also present are some letters Jennie Gardner mailed to Frank around the time of his death, which document her life on the home front in Arlington, Mass. The collection also contains some letters from the United States War Department, greeting cards, postcards, and photographs.

Thaddeus Ellis Harris Papers, 1916-1933
North Fork, WV. Correspondence, legal, and financial papers of African American attorney in McDowell Co., West Virginia. Legal and financial papers include insurance policies, deeds, receipts, promissory notes, divorce and parole petitions. There are also several warm and affectionate letters from wife, Mary, which include several references to their teenaged daughter and a letter dated May 27, 1925 which gives a good view of housekeeping chores.

Paul Kwilecki Photographs and Papers, 1960-2008 and undated
Bainbridge, GA. Photographic prints made by documentary photographer Paul Kwilecki in Decatur County, Georgia. The prints relate to various aspects of life in Decatur County, including religion, agriculture, industry, commerce, courts, and recreation. Conditions of African Americans and women are reflected in this collection.

Margaret K. Motsinger Papers, 1946
Roaring Gap, NC. Diary kept by an Englishwoman while aboard a ship as one of a group of war brides en route to New York. Entries describe her reactions to the accommodations, Negroes in the crew, and preparation for life in America provided through films and talks.

Mary Elizabeth Patten Diaries, 1883-1943
Washington, DC. Entries of Washington society leader describing her daily activities and social functions and the people who attended them.

Post Card Collection, 1910-present
US and International. The postcard collection consists of cards indexed geographically and by subject matter, and images or portraits of women can be found throughout. Such images range from work scenes to pinups to stereotypical and "humorous" comments on women's place in society.

Elizabeth Ringgold Diaries, 1910-1924
OK. Chronicle of routine farm activities in rural northeastern Oklahoma. Daily entries document family and social life and more broadly the effects of World War I, the intrusion of the oil industry, and socialist and Ku Klux Klan activities.

Florence Moss Smith Papers, 1916-1973; (bulk 1941-1945)
Elberta, AL. Chiefly correspondence between Smith and her husband during his enlistment as a Lt. in the U. S. Navy during WWII. Also includes correspondence with other family members such as her son while her served in the Army during the Vietnam Conflict and her daughter while a student at Duke. Some correspondence dates from Smith's own student years at Duke in the 1920s as well as her employment at the Duke University Press and as Director of Religious Activities.

Harriet Sanderson Stewart Diaries, 1906-1911
Three diaries: "Westwards Wanderings 1906-1907" (2 v.) describing travels in the West Indies, the United States, and Canada, including interleaving maps, menus, and illustrations; "Eastern Impressions, 1907-1908" (2 v.) describing travels principally in India, also heavily interleaved with photographs, drawings, maps, menus, passenger lists, etc.; and "Scenes in Southern Spain" (1 v.) describing travels in Spain between March and April, 1911, and interleaved with photographs and picture postcards.