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Collection Number: 01988

Collection Title: Mary Norcott Bryan Scrapbook, 1820-1921

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 section for more information.


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Size 1 volume (243 pages) items
Abstract The collection is a scrapbook of Mary Biddle Norcott Bryan, wife of Henry Ravenscroft Bryan (1835-1919), a New Bern, N.C., judge. Included are Mary Bryan's reminiscences (about 80 p.) of her family, her life before her marriage in 1860, her wedding trip to Alabama, her life in Raleigh, N.C., during the Civil War, and her life in New Bern, N.C., after the war. Also included are newspaper clippings about family members; letters, 1830s-1890s, between members of the Norcott, Biddle, and Bryan families; items pertaining to the legal and judicial career of Henry R. Bryan; and other items. Of particular interest are letters, 1853-1855, written by Henry R. Bryan while he was a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; letters, 1857, from Henry R. Bryan in Paris to his sister and his brother, describing his visits to England and Switzerland; and letters from Mary B. N. Bryan to her mother, describing her wedding trip to the southwest, especially to Mobile, Ala.
Creator Bryan, Mary Norcott, 1841-1925.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
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 Mary Norcott Bryan Scrapbook #1988, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of Southern women and their families in the 19th century, Series A.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Isabel Bryan Jordan, the daughter of Mary Norcott Bryan, of New Bern, N.C., in March 1952.
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

Mary Biddle Norcott Bryan (1841-1925), was the wife of Henry Ravenscroft Bryan (1835-1919), a New Bern, N.C., attorney and judge. She was born in 1841 in Pitt County, N.C., the daughter of John Norcott and Sarah Frances Biddle. In November 1859, she married Henry Bryan at New Bern, where the couple resided for most of their married life. The Bryans had three sons and five daughters. Mary Bryan died in May 1925 and was buried alongside her husband at Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Series 1 consists of Mary Biddle Norcott Bryan's scrapbook and a few enclosures from the scrapbook. The scrapbook contains items dated primarily from the mid-1860s to 1921, with a few from 1952. It is approximately 260 pages long, although many pages are blank. Included are more than eighty pages of Mary Norcott Bryan's reminiscences, written sporadically between 1896 and 1921, reflecting chiefly on her parents, her early family life and childhood, her marriage and honeymoon, the Civil War, and her married life at New Bern, N.C., after the war. Her son, Shepard Bryan of Atlanta, also wrote two letters and some of the notes in the book.

Pasted throughout the scrapbook are obituaries and newspaper clippings concerning family members; assorted items pertaining to the legal and judicial career of Henry Ravenscroft Bryan; United Daughters of the Confederacy memorial programs; articles on the Civil War, New Bern, and race relations; photos; telegrams; invitations; and other items. The half dozen enclosures are miscellaneous magazine and newspaper clippings and two law licenses, dated 1819 and 1820.

Series 2 consists chiefly of family correspondence, 1836 to 1904, of Mary Biddle Norcott Bryan, and members of the Norcott, Biddle, and Bryan families, with some business letters. The letters were originally pasted in the scrapbook, but were removed for purposes of preservation in 1992. A page number at the top of each letter indicates its original location within the scrapbook. In many cases, brief notes that Mary Norcott Bryan wrote identifying her relationship to the correspondent appear on the scrapbook pages from which the letter was removed.

Most of the letters are addressed to Mary Norcott Bryan, and mention news of family, relatives, and friends. Of particular interest are numerous letters from Mary Norcott Bryan to her mother, including some written while a student at a Murfreesboro, Tenn., boarding school and others describing her honeymoon trip to Memphis, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala.; letters to Mary Bryan from various relatives and friends, extending their sympathy at her mother's death; and letters concerning the burning of the Bryan home in New Bern, N.C., in 1895. Also included are several letters from Henry Ravenscroft Bryan to his mother, written between 1853 and 1855 when he was a student at the University of North Carolina, and letters he wrote from Paris in 1857 to his mother, brother, and sister, describing his visits to England and Switzerland.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Scrapbook and Enclosures, 1819-1921; 1952.

8 items.

Scrapbook of Mary Biddle Norcott Bryan, including approximately eighty pages of her reminiscences written sporadically between 1896 and 1921 (pages 1d-1s, 12-20, and 146-202), and two letters and some notes (pages 73-77) written in 1952 by her son, Shepard Bryan of Atlanta. The scrapbook contains items dated primarily from the mid-1860s to 1921, with a few from 1952, and is 261 pages long, although large sections are blank. All of the family and business letters, with a few exceptions, have been removed for purposes of preservation.

Mary Norcott Bryan's reminiscences, consisting of a sort of extended letter addressed to her children, reflect chiefly on her parents and family life before her marriage in 1859; her wedding trip through Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama; her life in Raleigh, N.C., during the Civil War; and her life in New Bern, N.C., after the war. Also included are photos of an unidentified woman (perhaps Bryan herself) and the Bryan home at New Bern; obituaries and newspaper clippings concerning family members; assorted items pertaining to the legal and judicial career of Henry Ravenscroft Bryan and to United Daughters of the Confederacy memorial programs; articles on the Civil War, New Bern, and race relations; telegrams; invitations; and other items.

The half dozen enclosures consist of magazine and newspaper clippings and two law licenses, dated 1819 and 1820, of John Herritage Bryan, Mary's father-in-law.

Folder 1

Scrapbook #01988, Series: "1. Scrapbook and Enclosures, 1819-1921; 1952." Folder 1

Folder 2

Enclosures #01988, Series: "1. Scrapbook and Enclosures, 1819-1921; 1952." Folder 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Correspondence, 1836-1904.

102 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly family correspondence, 1836 to 1904, of Mary Biddle Norcott Bryan, and members of the Norcott, Biddle, and Bryan families, with some business letters. The letters were removed from the scrapbook in 1992 for purposes of preservation. Apparently the scrapbook contained more letters at one point, but someone, probably Mary Norcott Bryan herself, removed them several decades before the volume was donated to the Southern Historical Collection. A page number at the top of each letter indicates its original location within the scrapbook. In many cases, brief notes that Mary Norcott Bryan wrote identifying her relationship to the correspondent appear on the scrapbook pages from which the letter was removed.

Most of the letters are addressed to Mary Norcott Bryan, or Mollie (apparently her nickname), and are concerned with news of family, relatives, and friends. Of particular interest are letters from the young Mary Biddle Norcott to her mother while she was a student at a boarding school in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; an 1857 letter from Mary Biddle Norcott, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, to her mother thanking her profusely for "those lessons of wisdom which you have labored so long and faithfully to inculcate"; letters, 1859 to 1860, from the newlywed Mary Norcott Bryan to her mother, describing her honeymoon trip to the southwest, especially Memphis, New Orleans, and Demopolis and Mobile, Ala.; letters, 1871, to Mary Bryan from various relatives and friends, consoling her on her mother's death; and letters, 1895, to Mary Bryan from various relatives and friends concerning the burning of the Bryan home in New Bern, N.C. Also included are several letters, 1853 to 1855, from Henry Ravenscroft Bryan to his mother written while he was attending the University of North Carolina; and three letters, 1857, from Henry Bryan in Paris to his mother, brother, and sister, describing his visits to England and Switzerland

Folder 3

1836-1858 #01988, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1836-1904." Folder 3

Folder 4

1859-1877 #01988, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1836-1904." Folder 4

Folder 5

1889-1904 #01988, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1836-1904." Folder 5

Folder 6

Undated #01988, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1836-1904." Folder 6

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Processing Information

Processed by: Patrick Huber, January 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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