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Collection Number: 04019

Collection Title: Lucy M. Cobb Papers, 1928-1965.

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.


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 3.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2,000 items)
Abstract Lucy Maria Cobb (1877-1969) was a teacher, professional genealogist, and free-lance writer of Raleigh, N.C. The collection includes personal and professional papers of Cobb including family and genealogical correspondence, genealogical notes, primary drafts of poems, plays, children's stories, and articles by her, and the libretto (by Cobb) and music for an unpublished operetta, "The Pirate and the Governor's Daughter." Mary Louisa Cobb (1899-1976), Lucy Cobb's niece in Chapel Hill, N.C., was her most frequent family correspondent; her letters discuss family matters and report on people and events in Chapel Hill. Family correspondence also deals with Lucy's well-being as she ages, discussing dilemmas faced by an older, single woman in the late 1950s and 1960s. The Oates, Wyatt, Royster, and Whitfield families are prominent in the genealogical materials.
Creator Cobb, Lucy M. (Lucy Maria), 1877-1969.
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 Lucy M. Cobb Papers, #4019, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Nancy Cobb (Mrs. Edward G.) Lilly of Raleigh, N.C., May-June 1976.
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

Lucy Maria Cobb (1877-1969) was a teacher, professional genealogist, and free-lance writer of Raleigh, N.C. Cobb was born in Lilesville, N.C., the tenth of twelve children of Baptist minister Needham Bryan Cobb (1836-1905) and Martha Louisa Cobb (1840-1888). Her eldest brother was Collier Cobb (1862-1934), who became professor of geology at the University of North Carolina.

Lucy Cobb attended Peace Institute and St. Mary's School, both in Raleigh, N.C. She graduated from the latter in 1896 and thereafter taught English and drama in the public schools of a number of North Carolina towns and of Baton Rouge, La. She occasionally taught summer terms at small colleges including Campbell College in Buies Creek, N.C., and Carolina College in Maxton, N.C. For a short time, she was also the city editor of the High Point (N.C.) Enterprise. Later she acquired training in home economics and for four years worked as county home demonstrator for Duplin County, N.C. Intermittently she took courses at the Louisiana State Normal; Campbell College; Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn.; Greensboro (N.C.) College; North Carolina College for Women (later Woman's College of the University of North Carolina) in Greensboro, N.C.; and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

In 1921 she received her A. B. degree and in 1927 an M. A. degree in English from the University of North Carolina. Her thesis was a collection of folk-songs and ballads from eleven eastern North Carolina counties. As a member of the Carolina Playmakers at the University, she wrote a play, "Gaius and Gaius, Jr.," which was published in Carolina Folk Plays (1924) and for many years was the Playmakers' most frequently produced play.

After receiving her M. A. degree, Lucy Cobb tried to secure a college teaching position. Unable to do so, she settled in Raleigh, N.C., and devoted herself to free-lance writing and to genealogical research. From time to time she took other jobs. In 1929 and 1931 she proofread at the state legislature. In 1936 (and perhaps earlier) she worked for the Federal Writers Project in North Carolina. She and Mary A. Hicks collected for the Federal Writers Project a number of folk songs, animal tales, and local legends. They adapted many of the animal tales as children's stories; and in 1938 E. P. Dutton & Company published the stories as Animal Tales from the Old North State.

Sometime before 1928 Lucy Cobb wrote the libretto for an operetta entitled "Pretty Penelope and the Perilous Pirate" (later "The Pirate and the Governor's Daughter") and based on the legendary romance between the pirate Blackbeard and Penelope, daughter of North Carolina colonial Governor Charles Eden. Lucy tried unsuccessfully for many years to get it produced although in 1955 she hired Patrick McCarty of East Carolina College (Greenville, N.C.) to orchestrate it. (Dorothy Horne of Maryville College, Tenn., had written a piano score earlier.) That same year she privately published a related play, "A Gift for Penelope."

Lucy Cobb lived in Raleigh, N.C., until 1966, when failing health forced her to move to Pine Ridge Nursing Home in Southern Pines, N.C. She died in July 1969 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

She was a member of and active in the Baptist Church, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Magna Carta Dames, the North Carolina Folklore Society, and the Raleigh Women's Club. In 1957 she received the Charles A. Cannon Award from the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes personal and professional papers of Lucy M. Cobb including family and genealogical correspondence, genealogical notes, primary drafts of poems, plays, children's stories, and articles by her, and the libretto (by Cobb) and music for an unpublished operetta, "The Pirate and the Governor's Daughter." Mary Louisa Cobb (1899-1976), Lucy Cobb's niece in Chapel Hill, N.C., was her most frequent family correspondent; her letters discuss family matters and report on people and events in Chapel Hill. Family correspondence also deals with Lucy's well-being as she ages, discussing dilemmas faced by an older, single woman in the late 1950s and 1960s. The Oates, Wyatt, Royster, and Whitfield families are prominent in the genealogical materials.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated.

Chiefly correspondence with family and friends, including carbon copies of many of Lucy M. Cobb's own letters. Cobb's most frequent family correspondent is her niece Mary Louisa Cobb (1899-1976) of Chapel Hill, N.C., whose letters are scattered prior to 1957 but numerous thereafter. Mary Cobb's letters contain mostly family news and reports of people and events in Chapel Hill. The family members Mary mentions most often are: her step-mother Mary Knox Gatlin Cobb, who lives with her; her brother Collier Cobb, Junior, and his wife Emma (also called Empse) of Chapel Hill; her aunt and Lucy's sister, Penelope Cobb of Washington, D.C., and later Greensboro, N.C.; and her nieces and nephews, particularly Mary Martha Cobb Phillips (Mrs. A. Craig Phillips) of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Carol Cobb Hamilton (Mrs. Dan K. Hamilton).

From about 1958, Mary Knox Gatlin Cobb (sometimes called MK) and Penelope Cobb were in poor health. Consequently many of Mary's and Lucy's letters discuss the conditions of Mary Knox and Penelope. Also, beginning in 1958, many of Mary's letters to Lucy discuss her and her brother Collier's concern for Lucy's well-being and their feeling that perhaps Lucy should move to a retirement home. Mary and Collier propose the Baptist Home in Winston-Salem, N.C. But Lucy writes of her desire to remain in Raleigh, where she has many friends and where she can carry on her research. Many of these letters also discuss money matters--Lucy insisting she doesn't need all that Mary and Collier send her. Seen as a whole, these letters present a good picture of many of the dilemmas of older, single women.

In addition to the correspondence between Mary and Lucy, there are letters to Lucy from many other friends and relatives.

As well as the family correspondence described above, the papers contain a number of letters to and from college administrators, publishers, movie and play producers, and other potential underwriters of Lucy Cobb's operetta. During the period 1928-1930, Lucy writes to individuals at a number of schools and colleges in an effort to obtain a teaching position. In 1929 she also writes to Frank Brown of Duke University, Durham, N.C., asking him to help her obtain funds to do research in folklore.

The most frequent subject of Lucy Cobb's business and literary correspondence is her operetta, "The Pirate and the Governor's Daughter." From 1928 to 1962 there are letters to and from persons whom she tried to solicit to produce the operetta, including Douglas Fairbanks in Hollywood, Calif., and Florenz Ziegfield in New York City, 1929. In 1954 and 1955 there are a number of letters from Patrick McCarty of the Department of Music of East Carolina College, Greenville, N.C., whom she hired to orchestrate it.

Finally, there is some correspondence with E. P. Dutton & Company, New York City, concerning the publication of Animal Tales from the Old North State, 1936-1938. Also some correspondence with Exposition Press, New York City, concerning publication of The Preacher's Three, 1963.

Folder 1a

Original finding aid #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 1a

Folder 1

1928 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1929 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1930-1939 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1940-1941 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1942-1949 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1950-1954 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1955 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1956-1957 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1958 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

1959 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11-12

Folder 11

Folder 12

1960 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 11-12

Folder 13

1961-1962 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14-15

Folder 14

Folder 15

1963-1965 #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 14-15

Folder 16-17

Folder 16

Folder 17

Undated correspondence #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 16-17

Folder 18

Miscellaneous notes #04019, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1928-1965 and undated." Folder 18

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Clippings, 1928-1969 and undated.

Newspaper clippings chiefly related to the career of Lucy M. Cobb and to the activities of various relatives and friends.

Folder 19

Clippings #04019, Series: "2. Clippings, 1928-1969 and undated." Folder 19

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Writings

Drafts of various published and unpublished writings by Lucy M. Cobb including poems, plays, children's stories, articles, and the libretto for an unpublished operetta entitled "The Pirate and the Governor's Daughter." There is also the music for the operetta, including a score for piano and voice by Dorothy Horne and an orchestration by Patrick McCarty. There are also two folders of miscellaneous writings by other authors.

Folder 20a-20e

"Traditional Ballads and Songs of Eastern North Carolina" #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 20a-20e

Carbon typescript of Lucy Cobb's master's thesis.

Folder 20f-20g

Class notes #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 20f-20g

Folder 21a-21i

Animal Tales from the Old North State #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 21a-21i

Folder 22a-33

"The Pirate and the Governor's Daughter" #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 22a-33

Includes drafts of the operetta and copies of scores for piano, voice, and orchestra. See also Volume 2 (SV-4019/2).

Folder 34

"A Gift for Penelope": Play #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 34

Folder 35

"The Girl and the Commandant" #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 35

Folder 36-37

Folder 36

Folder 37

"Stories and Plays for Children" #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 36-37

Drafts of various children's stories and plays by Lucy Cobb; some fragmentary. Includes drafts of two of the stories in The Preachers' Three published by Exposition Press (1963).

Folder 38-40

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

Poems by Lucy Cobb #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 38-40

Folder 41-44

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

Articles and essays by Lucy Cobb #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 41-44

Includes reviews of books and exhibits; biographical and historical essays; a number of articles and press releases about Campbell College at Buies Creek, N.C.; and several feature-type articles. Among the historical and biographical material is a long essay on American railroads; also short articles on Mary Slocomb and Archibald Henderson.

Folder 45

Miscellaneous writings and fragments #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 45

Includes a few ballads and songs collected by Lucy Cobb, among other items.

Folder 46-47

Folder 46

Folder 47

Writings by other authors #04019, Series: "3. Writings" Folder 46-47

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Genealogy

Includes correspondence, notes, completed applications to patriotic societies, and other papers related to Lucy M. Cobb's genealogical research. Most of these papers pertain to North Carolina families or to families with North Carolina connections.

Folder 48-55

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

Folder 51

Folder 52

Folder 53

Folder 54

Folder 55

Cobb and related families #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 48-55

Includes data on North Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama Cobbs, though it relates chiefly to the Cobbs of Wayne County, N.C. Also data on the Bryan, Caswell, Collier, Franck, Green, Heritage, May, Massengale (Massengille, Masengale), and Whitfield families.

Folder 56

Boddie/Crudup #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 56

Folder 57

Boyd #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 57

Folder 58

Crutcher #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 58

Folder 59

Etheridge/Ethridge #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 59

Folder 60

Gordon/McFarland #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 60

Folder 61

Handlin/Hamblin #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 61

Folder 62

Hunter #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 62

Folder 63

McCaleb #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 63

Folder 64-67

Folder 64

Folder 65

Folder 66

Folder 67

Oates/Wyatt #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 64-67

Extensive research done for Cora Case Porter of Ada, Okla. Includes a good deal of correspondence, 1955-1961, with Mrs. Porter, who became Lucy Cobb's friend by virtue of this correspondence.

Folder 68

Riddle #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 68

Folder 69

Ridenhower #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 69

Folder 70

Rogers #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 70

Folder 71

Royster #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 71

Folder 72

Ryals #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 72

Folder 73

Smith/Woodson #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 73

Folder 74

Stedman #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 74

Folder 75

Whitaker #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 75

Folder 76-78

Folder 76

Folder 77

Folder 78

Miscellaneous families #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 76-78

Folder 79-81

Folder 79

Folder 80

Folder 81

Miscellaneous genealogical correspondence and notes #04019, Series: "4. Genealogy" Folder 79-81

Notes bearing either no family name or a number of apparently unconnected family names; some may be related to the families listed above.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Photographs

Includes an engraving of Needham Bryan Cobb; photographs of Archibald D. Murphey and Frederick H. Koch; one unidentified group photograph; and a number of snapshots of various Cobb houses, which Lucy Cobb used to illustrate her Cobb family history, "Cobb and Cobbs," among other items.

Folder 82-83

Folder 82

Folder 83

Photographs #04019, Series: "5. Photographs" Folder 82-83

Image Folder PF-4019/1-2

PF-4019/1

PF-4019/2

Photographs #04019, Series: "5. Photographs" PF-4019/1-2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 6. Volumes

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, November 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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