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Collection Number: 03975

Collection Title: Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972.

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 and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; this finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 250 items)
Abstract Sam Byrd was an author, actor, and producer, of Mt. Olive, N.C. The collection is chiefly correspondence, clippings, and other material, 1940-1955, relating to Byrd's activities in the United States Navy in World War II; his novel, Hurry Home to My Heart (1945); the staging of an historical pageant in Duplin County, N.C., in 1949; and especially his proposed co-production, with Oliver Sayler, of stage adaptations of Edgar Lee Masters's Domesday Book and James Joyce's Ulysses in New York City, 1954-1955. Volumes include a photograph album and a European travel notebook, 1953.
Creator Byrd, Sam, 1908-
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
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 Sam Byrd Papers, #3975, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. Walter Theron Cherry of Mt. Olive, N.C., in memory of her husband, 1972.
Additional materials received from John Flowers III, of the North Carolina Collection, Unvirsity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, August 1973, and William Bridges, of Bronx, N.Y.
Additional Descriptive Resources
A copy of the original finding aid for this collection is filed in folder 1a.
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

Sam Byrd (1908-1955) was an author, actor, and producer. Byrd was born in Mt. Olive, N.C., and attended the University of Florida but dropped out to go to New York City, where he started with small roles in Broadway plays. He played the original Dude Lester, 1933-1936, in Tobacco Road and received the Literary Digest Award for Best Young Actor on Broadway for the 1933-1934 season. He was Curley in Of Mice and Men, 1937-1938, and at the same time produced Caldwell's Journeyman. In 1940 he produced Roark Bradford's dramatization of the John Henry stories, and in 1941 produced a play, Good Neighbor.

He published three books: Small Town South (1942); South Atlantic Shakedown (for the United States Navy in World War II) and Hurry Home to My Heart, following the Normandy landing; and two celebration pageants, "For Those who Live in the Sun," for the Jewish Congregation in Charleston, S.C., and "The Duplin Story" for Kenansville and Duplin County, N.C. At the time of his death he was working on two novels and dramatic productions of Edgar Lee Masters' Domesday Book and James Joyce's Ulysses.

His wife was Patricia Bolam. He first met her during World War II when she was a child, adopted her in 1946 when she was 12, brought her to his home Prospect Hill Plantation near Charleston, S.C., educated her at Ashley Hall there and in Paris and married her in 1951.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection is chiefly correspondence, clippings, and other material, 1940-1955, relating to Byrd's activities in the United States Navy in World War II; his novel, Hurry Home to My Heart (1945); the staging of a historical pageant in Duplin County, N.C., in 1949; and especially his proposed co-production, with Oliver Sayler, of stage adaptations of Edgar Lee Masters's Domesday Book and James Joyce's Ulysses in New York City, 1954-1955. Volumes include a photograph album and a European travel notebook, 1953.

Correspondence, 1940-1949, deals with Samuel Byrd's naval affairs and his receipt of the Guggenheim Fellowships. There are items about Byrd's being an ensign and various military matters, 1942; his receiving the Bronze Star, 1946; and his being promoted to lieutenant commander, 1948. There is some material on Byrd's novel Hurry Home to My Heart, 1945, and publishers' opinions on a projected work, 1948. Correspondence in 1949 relates to Byrd's contributions to the Duplin County Historical Association's Bicentennial Celebration.

Material from 1950-1953 consists mainly of financial data. Byrd was in England and New York City during this time. Some of the most significant correspondence begins in 1954 and involves dramatic productions of Edgar Lee Masters' Domesday Book and James Joyce's Ulysses. Much of this correspondence consists of letters from Sayler to Byrd and exchanges between Sayler and Trevor Passmore. Plans for the productions are discussed extensively, 1954-1955, including matters of direction, casting, script-writing, and music. Padraic Colum wrote the outlines for the Joyce production, "Ulysses in Nighttown," and there are typescripts of his outlines for acts one and two, 1955. There is also comment in correspondence on the Joyce Trustees and their attitudes toward stage and film rights.

Items dated after Byrd's death in 1955 involve the Wayne Historical Society's commemoration of Byrd in the form of a speech delivered by William Bridges, in Mt. Olive, N.C., 1958, and correspondence with the University of North Carolina Library about the papers, 1971-1972.

Also included are clippings related to Byrd's stage career, marriage, and receipt of the Guggenheim fellowships; play programs, playbills, and bookjackets; photographs; a European travel notebook, 1953; and an original copy of "The Story of Duplin."

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated.

Folder 1a

Original finding aid #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 1a

Folder 1

1904-1939 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1940 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1940-1949 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1950-1952 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1953 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6-7

Folder 6

Folder 7

1954 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 6-7

Folder 8

1955-1956 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1958-1972 and undated #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10-12

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Clippings #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 10-12

Folder 13

Ephemera #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 13

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Byrd, Sam in Tobacco Road, circa 1933 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/1-13

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Byrd, Sam in naval uniform, circa 1940-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/14-15

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Byrd, Sam, circa 1940-1950 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/16

Photographer: Leigh, New York, N.Y.

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Byrd, Sam, circa 1940-1950 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/17

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Byrd, Sam and Maude Odell in Tobacco Road, circa 1933-1936 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/18

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Beach scenes of Sam Byrd and two unidentified people, circal 1945-1955 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/19-21

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Byrd, Sam and two unidentified soldiers, circa 1940-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/22

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Byrd, Sam and unidentified man, circa 1940-1950 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/23

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Partially identified photographs, mostly of family members, circa 1935-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/24-33

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Partially identified photographs of family members and friends, circa 1930-1950 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/34-51

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Group of family members at a wedding, circa 1940-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/52

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Bradford, Roark, circa 1940-1950 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/53

Photographer: Lucas and Monroe

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Unidentified people and places, circa 1930-1940 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/54-61

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Unidentified children, circa 1935-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/62-65

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Unidentified woman, circa 1940-1950 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/66

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Unidentified children, 1946 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/67

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Two naval ships at sea, circa 1940-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." P-3975/68

Folder 14

Photograph Album PA-3975/1

Volume 1: Photograph album, " An interview with Willa Gray Martin," circa 1935-1945 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 14, Photoalbum PA-3975/1

Folder 15

Volume 2: Notebook, Patricia Bolam, 1953 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

Volume 3: European travel notebook, Sam Byrd, 1950-1951, 1953 #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 16

Folder 17

Volume 4: "The Story of Duplin: An Historical Play with Music" #03975, Series: "Sam Byrd Papers, 1904-1972 and undated." Folder 17

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, September 2009

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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