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Collection Number: 03862

Collection Title: William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1915-1977

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 3.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1600 items)
Abstract William R. Amberson was a professor at the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis, 1930-1937, advisor to the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and trustee of the Delta and Providence cooperative farms in Mississippi. The collection is primarily personal correspondence relating to Amberson's activities as a member of the Socialist Party and his relationship with the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union (STFU) and the Delta and Providence cooperatives farms. Also included are a few clippings, manuscript copies of some speeches and articles, eviction notices, and several financial papers, including receipts of tenants and expense sheets of H. L. Mitchell, secretary of the STFU. Also scattered through the main body of the papers are items dealing with the Socialist Party in Tennessee, the Communist Party in the South, the Llano del Rio Cooperative Colony in Louisiana, race relations, the condition of the southern tenant farmer, and southern politics. Correspondents include Roger Baldwin, C. T. Carpenter, Sherwood Eddy, Sam H. Franklin, Robert S. Keebler, Howard Kester, Koss Kimberlin, George Lambert, A. James McDonald, Mary Connor Myers, Clarence Senior, Norman Thomas, Frank Trager, Blaine Treadway, James Peter Warbasse, and Lawrence Westbrook. Also included is a small amount of correspondence with Pauli Murray, regarding Amberson's participation in a March 1940 National Sharecroppers Week event. Later correspondence documents Amberson's donation of his papers to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition, there is a very small amount of scattered family correspondence, as well as professional correspondence relating to Amberson's work at the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis and later at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, circa 1939 to 1959, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., after 1960.
Creator Amberson, William Ruthrauff, b. 1894.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the William Ruthrauff Amberson papers #3862, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from W. R. Amberson of Falmouth, Mass., 1968-1973. Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428) received from Barbara Amberson of Sacramento, Calif.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Mostly personal correspondence of William R. Amberson, concerning the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU), the Delta and Providence Cooperative Farms, the Socialist Party, and related matters. Also included in the papers are a few clippings, manuscript copies of some speeches and articles, eviction notices and several financial papers, including receipts of tenants and expense sheets of H. L. Mitchell, secretary of the STFU.

The 1933-1937 papers deal mostly with the STFU in Arkansas and Oklahoma. There are no papers for 1938. 1939-1940 concerns principally the Cooperative Farms. There are only seven letters between 1945 and 1968, including one from Norman Thomas in 1968. The collection also contains letters from A. James ("Mac") McDonald who worked at Delta and Providence Cooperative Farms, from 1940-1959.

Other topics scattered through the main body of the papers are the Socialist Party of Tennessee, the Communist Party in the South, the Llano del Rio Cooperative Colony of Louisiana, race relations, the conditions of the southern tenant farmers and southern politics.

The Addition of May 2006 includes correspondence, chiefly concerning the events leading up to and following William R. Amberson's resignation from the board of Delta Cooperative Farm in February 1939. Also documented is Amberson's involvement with the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union. Correspondents include Sherwood Eddy, Sam H. Franklin, Howard Kester, A. James McDonald, Norman Thomas, and Blaine Treadwell. Also includes a small amount of correspondence with Pauli Murray, regarding Amberson's participation in a March 1940 National Sharecroppers Week event. There is also significant amount of correspondence with J. Isaac Copeland and others, 1967-1977, related to the donation of Amberson's papers to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Correspondence, 1972-1973, documents communication with Copeland and others regarding a manuscript prepared by Amberson about being mistaken for a member of John Dillinger's gang in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934. In addition, there is a very small amount of scattered family correspondence, as well as professional correspondence relating to Amberson's work at the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis and later at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971.

Mostly personal correspondence of William R. Amberson, concerning the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU), the Delta and Providence Cooperative Farms, the Socialist Party, and related matters. Also included in the papers are a few clippings, manuscript copies of some speeches and articles, eviction notices and several financial papers, including receipts of tenants and expense sheets of H. L. Mitchell, secretary of the STFU.

The 1933-1937 papers deal mostly with the STFU in Arkansas and Oklahoma. There are no papers for 1938. 1939-1940 concerns principally the Cooperative Farms. There are only seven letters between 1945 and 1968, including one from Norman Thomas in 1968.

Other topics scattered through the main body of the papers are the Socialist Party of Tennessee, the Communist Party in the South, the Llano del Rio Cooperative Colony of Louisiana, race relations, the conditions of the southern tenant farmers and southern politics.

Folder 1

Correspondence, 1933 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 1

Materials include correspondence with the editors of The Nation magazine, as well as sample settlement sheets (accounts of tenant and landowner), Scott, Miss., 22 November 1933.

Folder 2-7

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder 4

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Correspondence, 1934 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 2-7

Includes materials on the League of Industrial Democracy's local lecture committee; Socialist Party matters; the tenant farmer situation at Tyronza, Ark., the resulting unrest, strife and investigation; a tri-state rural economic survey in the spring; and the writing of articles and reports. Among the correspondents are Norman Thomas, Paul Bruton, H. L. Mitchell at Tyronza, Robert S. Keebler, Buck Jones and George McLean in Mississippi, C. L. Buck in Missouri, officers and employees of American Civil Liberties Union and the legal office of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, other members of voluntary committees, and government lawyers. Other correspondents include Roger Baldwin (ACLU), C.T. Carpenter, Lucille B. Milner (ACLU), W.H. Schultz, Norman Thomas, Rupert B. Vance, and the editors of The Nation. Also includes the Tri-State Rural Economic Survey, with forms completed for about 35 farm laborers, March 1934; and "The Plight of the Southern Share Cropper," by Olive M. Stone, Washington, D. C., 8 December 1934.

Folder 8

Clippings and Published Articles, 1934 and Undated #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 8

Folder 9-13a

Folder 9

Correspondence, 1935 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 9-13a

Includes correspondence regarding Ward Rodgers and tenant farmer unrest at Tyronza, Ark. William R. Amberson's correspondents include Robert S. Keebler, Roger Baldwin, Mary Connor Myers, Frank W. McCulloch, John Herling, and others connected with the Department of Agriculture, FERA, members of committees and commissions, professors, and local people in Arkansas. Other correspondents include C.T. Carpenter, Powers Hapgood (one letter), Howard Kester, H.L. Mitchell, Clarence Senior, Norman Thomas, Sam H. Franklin Jr., and the editors of The Nation. Also included is Senate bill-2367 (74th Congress, first session), 9 May 1935, "To Create Farmers Home Corporation," reported by Mr. Bankhead.

Folder 13b

Clippings and Published Articles, 1935 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 13b

Folder 13c

Newspaper Clippings #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 13c

Packet of newspaper clippings, New York and Memphis, regarding tenant farmers in the south, their plight and activities, 1934, 1935, and undated.

Folder 14-17

Folder 14

Folder 15

Folder 16

Folder 17

Correspondence, 1936 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 14-17

Includes correspondence between William R. Amberson and Sam H. Franklin, Jr., December 1935-February 1937, concerning the eviction of Union people from the farms where they worked, plans for a cooperative farm, developments at the Delta Cooperative Farm, of which Sam H. Franklin was director in 1936, and the problem of financial support for the Delta farm at Hillhouse, Miss. Amberson was in Memphis during this time. Included is a copy of the Constitution and By-laws of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, approved by the executive council (undated pamphlet, placed in Southern Pamphlet Collection). Includes correspondence with the ACLU, LID, STFU, and with various government lawyers and officials of the AAA, FERA, Federal Power Commission, and United States Department of Labor, as well as correspondence about articles for publication in 1937. Other correspondents include Roger Baldwin (ACLU), C.T. Carpenter, Robert S. Keebler, Howard Kester, George Lambert, H.L. Mitchell, Mary Connor Myers (AAA), Clarence Senior, Norman Thomas, Frank Trager, James Peter Warbasse, Lawrence Westbrook, and the editors of The Nation.

Folder 18-19

Folder 18

Folder 19

Correspondence, 1937 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 18-19

Includes correspondence with the ACLU, LID, STFU, and with various government lawyers and officials of the AAA, FERA, Federal Power Commission, and United States Department of Labor. Also includes correspondence about William R. Amberson's resignation from the Board of Delta Cooperative Farm in February 1939. Other correspondents include Roger Baldwin (ACLU), C.T. Carpenter, Brooks Hays (one letter), Howard Kester, George Lambert, H.L. Mitchell, Norman Thomas, Frank Trager, James Peter Warbasse, Lawrence Westbrook, Sam H. Franklin Jr., and the editors of The Nation. There is also a copy of an article, "To Rescue the South," by William R. Amberson, Christian Register, pp. 178-180, 18 March 1937.

Folder 20

Correspondence, 1939 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 20

Includes a photocopy of a letter dated 2 May 1939, from J. P. Warbasse, president of the Cooperative League of the United States, New York, to William R. Amberson, and copy of Amberson's statement of 22 February 1939, resigning from the Board of Cooperative Farms.

Folder 21-22

Folder 21

Folder 22

Correspondence, 1940 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 21-22

Folder 23

Correspondence, 1941 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 23

Folder 24

Correspondence, 1942-1972 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 24

Contains materials from 1942-1943, 1945-1946, 1949, 1954, 1957, and 1968-1972. The 1968 item consists of a single letter from Norman Thomas to William R. Amberson. Items from 1972 relate to Amberson's short manuscript about being mistaken for members of John Dillinger's gang in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934.

Folder 25

Undated Materials #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 25

Folder 26

The Llano Cooperative Colony and What It Taught, by A. James McDonald (typewritten manuscript) #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 26

Folder 27

Issues of The Share-Croppers Voice, 1935-1936 #03862, Series: "William Ruthrauff Amberson Papers, 1919-1968; 1971." Folder 27

The Share-Croppers Voice, Volume I, Numbers 1 (April 1935?), 3 (June 1935), 5 (August 1935), and 10 (January 1936).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977.

About 1500 items.

Correspondence, chiefly concerning the events leading up to and following William R. Amberson's resignation from the board of Delta Cooperative Farm in February 1939. Also documented is Amberson's involvement with the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union, including some STFU printed materials. Correspondents include Sherwood Eddy, Sam H. Franklin, Howard Kester, A. James McDonald, Norman Thomas, and Blaine Treadwell. Also included is a small amount of correspondence with Pauli Murray, regarding Amberson's participation in a March 1940 National Sharecroppers Week event. There is also correspondence with J. Isaac Copeland and others, 1967-1977, related to the donation of Amberson's papers to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and correspondence, 1972-1973, Between Amberson, Copeland, and others regarding a manuscript Amberson prepared about being mistaken for a member of John Dillinger's gang in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934. In addition, there is a very small amount of scattered family correspondence, as well as professional correspondence relating to Amberson's work at the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis and later at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

Folder 28

Correspondence, 1915, 1931, 1933 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 28

Folder 29-31

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Correspondence, 1934 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 29-31

Folder 32

Correspondence, 1935 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 32

Folder 33-35

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Correspondence, 1936 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 33-35

Folder 36-37

Folder 36

Folder 37

Correspondence, 1937 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 36-37

Folder 38-41

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

Correspondence, 1938 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 38-41

Folder 42

Correspondence, January 1939 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 42

Folder 43

Correspondence, February 1939 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 43

Contains copies of William R. Amberson's statement of resignation, delivered to the board of the Delta and Providence Cooperative Farms on 22 February 1939.

Folder 44

Correspondence, March-April 1939 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 44

Folder 45

Correspondence, May-June 1939 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 45

Folder 46

Correspondence, July 1939 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 46

Includes the report of an STFU delegation to an agricultural conference in Torreon Coahuila, Mexico.

Folder 47

Correspondence, August-December 1939 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 47

Includes Southern Tenant Farmers' Union printed items, newsletters, and materials describing the organization's history, programs, and objectives.

Folder 48-49

Folder 48

Folder 49

Correspondence, 1940 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 48-49

Includes a small amount of correspondence with Pauli Murray, regarding William R. Amberson's participation in a March 1940 National Sharecroppers Week event.

Folder 50

Correspondence, 1941 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 50

Folder 51

Correspondence, 1942-1943 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 51

Folder 52

A. James McDonald, The Llano Co-Operative Colony And What It Taught , 1950 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 52

Also includes a letter from McDonald to William R. Amberson, dated 17 July 1953, about the volume.

Folder 53

Correspondence, 1959, 1964 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 53

Folder 54

Correspondence, 1967-1969 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 54

Includes correspondence with J. Isaac Copeland and others regarding the donation of William R. Amberson's papers to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Folder 55

Correspondence, 1970-1971 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 55

Folder 56

Correspondence, 1972-1973 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 56

Contains chiefly correspondence with J. Isaac Copeland and others regarding a manuscript William R. Amberson prepared about being mistaken for a member of John Dillinger's gang in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934. Also includes copies of the manuscript, titled "We Were Mistaken for Dillinger's Gang and Arrested at Gunpoint."

Folder 57

Correspondence, 1975-1977 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 57

Folder 58

Family correspondence,1941-1957 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 58

Folder 59

Professional correspondence, 1931-1960 #03862, Series: "Addition of May 2006 (Acc. 100428), 1915-1977." Folder 59

Scattered correspondence related to William R. Amberson's work as professor of physiology at the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and as a researcher at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff, 1997

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Addition of May 2006 processed by: Martin Gengenbach, May 2011

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