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Collection Number: 04341

Collection Title: Cates Family Papers, 1880-1981

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 6.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 3000 items)
Abstract Correspondence, business records, and other papers of members of the Cates family of Burlington, N.C. These papers document John Wesley Cates's activities as a businessman, school board member, and city booster; his daughter, Bertha Cates's, activities as a coal merchant in Burlington; his daughter, Verna Cates Stackhouse's, activites as a supervisor at the King Cotton Mill in Burlington and as an active Democrat; and a number of personal and civic concerns of the family. The papers include thirty-three diary volumes kept by Bertha Cates, discussing her daily activities, 1937- 1979. Organizations with which members of the Cates family were involved include the Burlington Merchants Association, the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association, the First Baptist Church of Burlington (of which John W. Cates was a founder), the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club (of which Bertha Cates was a founder), and the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association.
Creator Cates family.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 Cates Family Papers #4341, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from John H. Vernon, III, of Burlington, North Carolina, in January 1983, and Sarah E. Vernon Watts of Asheboro, North Carolina, in August 1986.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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

John Wesley Cates was born in 1847 in Orange County, N.C., the son of William Cates and Sarah Burns Cheek. In 1869, John Wesley Cates married Sarah Patterson. They had four children. After his wife died, he and his children moved to Burlington, N.C., where he worked as a carpenter. In 1885, Cates opened his own lumber and coffin business and helped organize the First Baptist Church of Burlington. Also in 1885, Cates met his second wife, Sarah Elizabeth Scott, who had come from Virginia to work as a weaver. John Wesley and Sarah had eight children. Sarah died in July 1917. John Wesley was seriously injured in an automobile accident in 1913 and died in 1918. Cates had been actively involved in organizing the Burlington school system and Chamber of Commerce.

Bertha Iona Cates was born in 1887 in Burlington, and was educated at Burlington High School. While still in school, she began working for her father, and after his automobile accident in 1913 she took over more and more responsibility in her father's company, J.W. Cates, Inc. When John Wesley died in 1918, his son-in-law, John Vernon, became president of the company while Bertha stayed on as manager. In the 1930s Bertha took charge of the whole company and continued to do business, much of it dealing with coal. She became involved in state coal affairs and helped to establish the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association. Until she sold the company in 1967, she continued to participate in the Association, holding the positions of treasurer and vice-president for a number of years. She is said to have been the first woman coal merchant in the South.

Bertha Cates also was involved in the Philathea Society, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club, of which she was a charter member. For her many achievements, she was named Burlington's Woman of the Year in 1956. She died in 1982 at age 95.

Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse was born in 1890 in Burlington. She too was educated at Burlington High School. She went on to study at Meredith College until she accepted a position teaching business courses at Oxford College. She quit teaching to take a position as a supervisor with King Cotton Mills in Burlington, a job which she continued until 1937. Cates married Frank Boyd Stackhouse in 1926. Later, they moved to Durham, N.C., where Verna worked with the Red Cross, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, and the local office of U.S. Senator B. Everett Jordan. She died in Burlington in 1986.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The Cates Family Papers consist of letters, diaries, records, and pictures of the family, primarily those of the father, John Wesley Cates, and two of his daughters, Bertha Iona Cates and Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse. The collection is divided into three major parts: the papers of the father and of each of the daughters.

John Wesley Cates's papers primarily concern two areas of interest: his business activities and his involvement with schools. John Wesley Cates's business papers are varied. His businesses involved coffin making, undertaking, hardware, lumber, curbing, coal, and shingles; he also found time for a land company. The school papers pertain to the selection of a new superintendent of Burlington schools in 1910 as well as to orders for classroom furniture.

The papers of Bertha Iona Cates are chiefly personal correspondence, diaries (dating from 1937 to 1979), and material relating to the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association.

Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse's papers are primarily personal and political correspondence and papers relating to her work as a supervisor at the King Cotton Mill. There are also notes pertaining to her civic activities, especially the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. John Wesley Cates, 1880-1917.

About 1,500 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Personal Correspondence.

About 200 items.

Letters to John Wesley and Sarah Scott Cates from associates and family members.

Folder 1-6

Folder 1

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder 4

Folder 5

Folder 6

1867-1917 and undated #04341, Subseries: "1.1. Personal Correspondence." Folder 1-6

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Personal Financial and Legal Items.

About 100 items.

Insurance policies, items concerning stock investments, bills relating to childrens' education, and correspondence with Cates's lawyer.

Folder 7-10

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

1892-1917 and undated #04341, Subseries: "1.2. Personal Financial and Legal Items." Folder 7-10

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Business Items.

About 750 items.

Items documenting John Wesley Cates's business activities in Burlington and elsewhere in North Carolina, including his lumber, building, undertaker, coal, concrete, and brick businesses.

Folder 11-50

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

Folder 15

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

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

Folder 37

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

Folder 45

Folder 46

Folder 47

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

1880-1920 and undated #04341, Subseries: "1.3. Business Items." Folder 11-50

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. Burlington Schools.

About 300 items.

Correspondence concerning Cates's activities on the Burlington school board. Most items are letters concerning the selection of a new superintendent in 1910.

Folder 51-68

Folder 51

Folder 52

Folder 53

Folder 54

Folder 55

Folder 56

Folder 57

Folder 58

Folder 59

Folder 60

Folder 61

Folder 62

Folder 63

Folder 64

Folder 65

Folder 66

Folder 67

Folder 68

1894-1913 and undated #04341, Subseries: "1.4. Burlington Schools." Folder 51-68

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.5. Church and Civic Items.

About 30 items.

Items concerning Cates's involvement with such civic organizations as the First Baptist Church, the Oxford Orphans Home, and the Burlington Merchants Association.

Folder 69

Church material #04341, Subseries: "1.5. Church and Civic Items." Folder 69

Folder 70

Civic material #04341, Subseries: "1.5. Church and Civic Items." Folder 70

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Bertha Iona Cates, 1902-1981.

About 500 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Personal Correspondence.

About 75 items.

Correspondence with friends, relatives, and business associates.

Folder 71-75

Folder 71

Folder 72

Folder 73

Folder 74

Folder 75

1907-1981 and undated #04341, Subseries: "2.1. Personal Correspondence." Folder 71-75

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. School Items.

About 10 items.

School papers and exams from Bertha's years at Burlington High School.

Folder 76-77

Folder 76

Folder 77

1902-1906 #04341, Subseries: "2.2. School Items." Folder 76-77

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.3. Diaries.

33 items.

Diaries kept by Bertha Cates, discussing her daily activities, 1937-1979.

Folder 78-110

Folder 78

Folder 79

Folder 80

Folder 81

Folder 82

Folder 83

Folder 84

Folder 85

Folder 86

Folder 87

Folder 88

Folder 89

Folder 90

Folder 91

Folder 92

Folder 93

Folder 94

Folder 95

Folder 96

Folder 97

Folder 98

Folder 99

Folder 100

Folder 101

Folder 102

Folder 103

Folder 104

Folder 105

Folder 106

Folder 107

Folder 108

Folder 109

Folder 110

1937-1979 #04341, Subseries: "2.3. Diaries." Folder 78-110

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.4. Church and Civic Items.

About 100 items.

Material relating to the Burlington Business and Professional Womens Club, the Kill Kare Club, and various other activities.

Folder 111-113

Folder 111

Folder 112

Folder 113

1909-1981 and undated #04341, Subseries: "2.4. Church and Civic Items." Folder 111-113

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.5. Business Items.

About 25 items.

Correspondence, agreements, and customer lists pertaining to J. W. Cates, Incorporated, while the company was managed by Bertha Cates.

Folder 114

Business Papers, 1918-1959 #04341, Subseries: "2.5. Business Items." Folder 114

Folder 115a

Store Ledger, 1941-1967 #04341, Subseries: "2.5. Business Items." Folder 115a

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.6. North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.7. Clippings.

About 25 items.

News clippings about Bertha Cates.

Folder 125

Clippings #04341, Subseries: "2.7. Clippings." Folder 125

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse, 1907-1981.

About 700 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.1. Personal and Political Correspondence.

About 200 items.

Letters from Frank Stackhouse, friends, other family members, and political associates. These items document Verna's family concerns and political activities.

Among Stackhouse's political correspondents are U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordon, for whom Stackhouse was an aide; Senator Josiah Bailey; U.S. Representatives William Umstead, Carl Durham, and Frank W. Hancock; and North Carolina Governors Cameron Morrison, J. Melville Broughton, Terry Sanford, and Robert Scott. Correspondence with these officials is scattered throughout their terms in office. It relates chiefly to contributions Stackhouse made to their campaigns and to Stackhouse's interest in particular issues, chiefly government retirement benefits.

Folder 126-141

Folder 126

Folder 127

Folder 128

Folder 129

Folder 130

Folder 131

Folder 132

Folder 133

Folder 134

Folder 135

Folder 136

Folder 137

Folder 138

Folder 139

Folder 140

Folder 141

1912-1982 and undated #04341, Subseries: "3.1. Personal and Political Correspondence." Folder 126-141

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.2. Diaries.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.3. King Cotton Mill.

About 200 items.

Correspondence of Verna Stackhouse relating to her management of the mill, and newspaper clippings related to the mill.

Folder 146-159

Folder 146

Folder 147

Folder 148

Folder 149

Folder 150

Folder 151

Folder 152

Folder 153

Folder 154

Folder 155

Folder 156

Folder 157

Folder 158

Folder 159

1913-1937 and undated. #04341, Subseries: "3.3. King Cotton Mill." Folder 146-159

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.4. Civic Items.

About 150 items.

Items documenting Verna's activities with the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club and other civic organizations.

Folder 160-164

Folder 160

Folder 161

Folder 162

Folder 163

Folder 164

Civic items #04341, Subseries: "3.4. Civic Items." Folder 160-164

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.5. Financial and Legal Items.

About 100 items.

Personal financial and legal items, chiefly relating to a 1957 dispute between Stackhouse and her health insurance company.

Folder 165-166

Folder 165

Folder 166

Financial and legal items #04341, Subseries: "3.5. Financial and Legal Items." Folder 165-166

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.6. College Items.

About 25 items.

Items relating to Meredith College, where Stackhouse was a student, and Oxford College, where she taught.1

Folder 167

College items #04341, Subseries: "3.6. College Items." Folder 167

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.7. Other Items.

About 50 items.

Newspaper clippings and notes.

Folder 168-169

Folder 168

Folder 169

Other items #04341, Subseries: "3.7. Other Items." Folder 168-169

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Other Papers.

About 125 items.

Papers of William M. Cates, George Robert Cates, Frank Boyd Stackhouse, and other members of the Cates family, as well as items with unidentified authors.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.1. Correspondence.

About 75 items.

Letters and letter fragments to and from members of the Cates family and associates, including William M. and Sarah Cates.

Folder 170-171

Folder 170

Folder 171

Correspondence #04341, Subseries: "4.1. Correspondence." Folder 170-171

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.2. Financial and Legal Items.

About 25 items.

Financial and legal items of Frank Stackhouse and other members of the Cates family.

Folder 172

Financial and legal items #04341, Subseries: "4.2. Financial and Legal Items." Folder 172

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.3. Writings.

About 25 items.

Writings, chiefly poems and essays, by unidentified authors.

Folder 173

Writings #04341, Subseries: "4.3. Writings." Folder 173

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972.

62 items.

Photographs of Bertha and Verna Cates, other family members, and associates.

Image P-4341/1

"Old Union Church School," early 1900s #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/1

Image P-4341/2

"Burlington High School," circa 1910 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/2

Oversize Paper OP-4341/3

"Graduating Class of 1906, Burlington High School" (Bertha 3rd row, 2nd from right) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." OP-4341/3

Image P-4341/4

"W. N. Cates," circa 1916-1918 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/4

Image P-4341/5

"Delivery of Plants to Servicemen at Oteen and Kenilworth hospitals for Easter," circa 1921 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/5

Image P-4341/6

"World War II buddies," 1944 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/6

Oversize Paper OP-4341/7

Baraca/Philathea conference in Greensboro, NC, April 1911 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." OP-4341/7

Image P-4341/8

"Philathea and Baraca Group," circa 1920 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/8

Image P-4341/9

"Bertha Cates receiving Woman of the Year Award," 1956 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/9

Image P-4341/10

Verna Cates with Terry Sanford, circa 1962 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/10

Image P-4341/11

Bertha Cates, president of United Daughters of the Confederacy, at party, Christmas 1961 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/11

Image P-4341/12

Bertha Cates with United Daughters of the Confederacy National President, circa 1966 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/12

Image P-4341/13

Verna Cates Stackhouse at Democratic dinner fund-raiser, circa 1966 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/13

Image P-4341/14

Verna Cates Stackhouse, presentation of vase for Alumni House at Meredith College, circa 1971 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/14

Image P-4341/15

Philanthea Class Christmans Card, circa 1972 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/15

Image P-4341/16

Saturday night fellowship at Hope Baptist Church, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, circa 1969 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/16

Image P-4341/17

C. B. Aycock, governor of North Carolina, circa 1905 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/17

Image P-4341/18-24

P-4341/18

P-4341/19

P-4341/20

P-4341/21

P-4341/22

P-4341/23

P-4341/24

Verna Cates, alone and with others, circa 1895-1925 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/18-24

Image P-4341/25

Verna Cates, circa 1910 (a salt print photo) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/25

Image P-4341/26-27

P-4341/26

P-4341/27

Verna Cates, circa 1940 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/26-27

Image P-4341/28-29

P-4341/28

P-4341/29

Verna Cates, circa 1968 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/28-29

Image P-4341/30

Verna Cates and Frank Stackhouse, circa 1920 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/30

Image P-4341/31

Verna Cates Stackhouse and Frank Stackhouse, 1953 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/31

Image P-4341/32-33

P-4341/32

P-4341/33

Verna Cates Stackhouse and Bertha Cates, circa 1950 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/32-33

Image P-4341/34-35

P-4341/34

P-4341/35

Bertha Cates alone and with others #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/34-35

Image P-4341/36

Frank Boyd Stackhouse with others, circa 1930 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/36

Image P-4341/37

Annie Myrtle Cates (age about four), circa 1910 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/37

Image P-4341/38

Barry M. Cates, circa 1940 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/38

Image P-4341/39

Zachary family, Coolimee, N.C., circa 1920 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/39

Image P-4341/40-44

P-4341/40

P-4341/41

P-4341/42

P-4341/43

P-4341/44

Wynkin Stackhouse (a cat), circa 1940 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/40-44

Image P-4341/45-52

P-4341/45

P-4341/46

P-4341/47

P-4341/48

P-4341/49

P-4341/50

P-4341/51

P-4341/52

Unidentified people, circa 1900-1930q #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/45-52

Image P-4341/53

Site of J. W. Cates's auto accident, 1913 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/53

Image P-4341/54

Nurses in a parade, circa 1910 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/54

Image P-4341/55

King Cotten Mill float in a parade, circa 1942 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/55

Image P-4341/56-61

P-4341/56

P-4341/57

P-4341/58

P-4341/59

P-4341/60

P-4341/61

King Cotten Mill, circa 1920 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." P-4341/56-61

Photograph Album PA-4341

Picture Album. Picture album assembled by Verna Cates Stackhouse, circa 1920 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." PA-4341

1

Verna Cates and others at Oxford College, circa 1910 (5 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 1

2

People in Wallburg, N.C., circa 1910 (5 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 2

3

Verna and Bertha Cates and others at Oxford College, circa 1910 (6 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 3

4

Verna Cates and others, circa 1910 (7 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 4

5

Athletes and others at Liberty-Piedmont Institute, circa 1910 (7 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 5

6

People, chiefly two young women, in Asheville, N.C., circa 1910 (5 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 6

7

Soldiers at camps in the United States, circa 1916 (5 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 7

8

Blank page #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 8

9

Verna Cates at the King Cotton Mills, circa 1920 (4 photos) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 9

10

Photographs removed (Photos are included among loose photos, see page 10.) #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 10

11

Three commendations for Verna Cates from King Cotton Mills and Oxford College, 1913-1918 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 11

12

1917 program and calling card #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." 12

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Processing Information

Processed by: Carolyn Roff, July 1986; Mark Beasley, April 1987

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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