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Collection Number: 04043

Collection Title: Robert Lewis Bolton Papers, 1900-1989

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.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 3.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 750 items)
Abstract Robert Lewis Bolton, Baptist minister of New Orleans, La., and Millen, Ga. He married Lizzie Gary Griffith Compton (1882-1964), a nurse from Charlotte, N.C., in 1911. In 1935, Bolton and his family moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., where Lizzie Bolton became a travelling salesperson for The Farmer's Wife, a national magazine. Correspondence, including letters, 1903-1904, from Lizzie Gary Griffith Compton to her first husband, John Compton, a South Carolina farmer who died in 1908 or 1909. Most letters tell about family activities. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from Robert Lewis Bolton to Lizzie Gary Griffith Compton before their 4 October 1911 marriage. Most of these letters were written while Bolton was pastor at the Valence Street Baptist Church in New Orleans. Besides courtship, topics include Robert's church activities and his views on various issues, particularly his dislike for Roman Catholics and dissatisfaction with the religious life of Catholic-dominated New Orleans. Also included are sermons, notes for sermons, and sermon fragments of Bolton, and a few letters to editors and miscellaneous writings. Other papers include a few newspaper clippings relating to Bolton, some tracts and other printed Baptist materials, two family histories by Bolton's daughter Elizabeth Grier Bolton, and a photograph of Robert Lewis Bolton from the 1900s.
Creator Bolton, Robert Lewis, 1883-1950.
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 Robert Lewis Bolton papers #4043, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Elizabeth G. Bolton of Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1978, 1979, 1989, 1990, May 1996 (Acc. 96057), August 1996 (Acc. 96117), February 1997 (Acc. 97023), and August 1997 (Acc. 97112).
Received from Elizabeth Bolton of Chapel Hill, N.C., on 18 February 1997 and 28 August 1997.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Robert Lewis Bolton was born near Milner, Ga., on 15 November 1883, the fourth of five sons of farmers William Hardy and Mittie Purdue Bolton. Bolton was a frail boy, who also stuttered and had trouble pronouncing certain sounds.

A good student, after completing his work in the local school, Bolton was sent to the Gordon Institute in Barnesville, Ga. There, he became interested in debate. After graduation from Gordon, he entered Mercer University in Macon, Ga., intending to prepare himself for a career in law. At Mercer, he apparently overcame his stuttering problem by submerging himself in debate.

Attending the Y.M.C.A. conference at Blue Ridge, N.C., where he heard several Baptist ministers speak, convinced him to enter the ministry. From Mercer he went to the Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he paid his expenses with earnings from part-time ministries. In 1907, he received the Bachelor of Theology degree and accepted a position at the Valence Street Baptist Church in New Orleans, where he stayed for four years. During this time, he was also active in revivals, and, at one meeting in Fairfax, Va., he met his future wife, Lizzie Gary Griffith Compton (1882-1964), a nurse from Charlotte, N.C. After their marriage, on 4 October 1911, Bolton accepted a new pastorate in Millen, Ga., a small town near Augusta. The couple had three children: Elizabeth Grier; Robert Lewis, Jr. (d. 1964); and Louise.

With the Great Depression, Bolton's position in Millen was eliminated, and he accepted a position at a church in eastern North Carolina. By 1935, his health began to fail seriously, and he was advised to give up full-time work. In 1935, Bolton and his family moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., where Robert Lewis Bolton, Jr., was a senior at the University of North Carolina. To support the family, Lizzie Bolton became a travelling salesperson for The Farmer's Wife, a national magazine.

Robert Lewis Bolton died of a stroke in Chapel Hill on 11 December 1950.

[Source: "The Man Who Stuttered: A Biography of Robert Lewis Bolton" by Elizabeth Grier Bolton, circa 1989.]

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Several letters written to Robert Bolton from friends, 1946-1950; a Baptist newsletter from 1910; a scrapbook with clippings, photos and momentos from the 1920s; and three photographs of Bolton.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1903-1947.

About 400 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1903-1904.

About 30 items.

Letters from Lizzie Gary Griffith Compton to her first husband, John Compton, a South Carolina farmer who died in 1908 or 1909. Most letters tell about Lizzie's nursing duties in Charlotte, N.C., and about family activities. There are also a few letters to John from Lizzie's parents.

Folder 1

1903 March-October #04043, Subseries: "1.1. 1903-1904." Folder 1

Folder 2

1903 November-December #04043, Subseries: "1.1. 1903-1904." Folder 2

Folder 3

1904 #04043, Subseries: "1.1. 1903-1904." Folder 3

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1909-1947.

About 370 items.

Chiefly letters from Robert Lewis Bolton to Lizzie Gary Griffith Compton before their 4 October 1911 marriage. Most of these letters were written while Robert was pastor at the Valence Street Baptist Church in New Orleans. Besides courtship, topics include Robert's church activities and his views on various issues, particularly his dislike for Roman Catholics and dissatisfaction with the religious life of Catholic-dominated New Orleans. As their marriage date approached, Lizzie apparently voiced her desire to stay in New Orleans as opposed to accepting the offer of the church in Millen, Ga. In a letter dated 26 August 1911, Robert wrote: "I love the climate and I love my people and they love me--but I think I have a larger work in Ga. Remember, although I am in a great city, ... this great city is full of Catholics and they do not go to church. I like to preach to a crowd of folks. You can't get them in New Orleans."

There are only a few letters after 1911. These include letters in 1925, 1932, and 1937 that Bolton wrote to his wife to commemorate wedding anniversaries.

Also included are a small number of letters to Bolton from others, among them a few letters from those seeking his opinion on church and moral matters.

Folder 4

1909 #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 4

Folder 5

1910 January-March #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 5

Folder 6

1910 April-June #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 6

Folder 7

1910 July-August #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 7

Folder 8

1910 September-October #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 8

Folder 9

1910 November-December #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 9

Folder 10

1911 January-February #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 10

Folder 11

1911 March-May #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 11

Folder 12

1911 June-July #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 12

Folder 13

1911 August #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 13

Folder 14

1911 September-October #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 14

Folder 15

1912-1947 #04043, Subseries: "1.2. 1909-1947." Folder 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Writings, Undated.

About 325 items.

Chiefly sermons, notes for sermons, and sermon fragments of Robert Lewis Bolton. There are also a few letters to editors and miscellaneous writings.

Folder 16-32

Folder 16

Folder 17

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

Folder 22

Folder 23

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

#04043, Series: "2. Writings, Undated." Folder 16-32

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers, 1900s-circa 1989.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom with assistance from Matt Powell and subsequent additions, March 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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