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Collection Number: 05199

Collection Title: Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. Records, 1951-2009

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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.


Funding from the Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. supported the processing of this collection. The processing of accessions 100423, 100589, 100852, 101142, 101249, and 101268 were supported by Elizabeth Moore Ruffin.

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Size 17.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 75 items)
Abstract The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball of Durham, N.C., was established in 1955 by Mrs. Thomas Davenport Wright. In 1961, Mrs. Wright and others founded the Debutante Ball Society of Durham, N.C. Over the years, various traditions have been incorporated into the program, but the core events remain the same. The debutante social season begins when the names of the new debutantes, chiefly from Durham, Chapel Hill, and Orange County, N.C., are announced in May at the Mothers Day luncheon. Additional parties and other social events take place during the summer and fall. The season culminates with the cotillion and ball in December. The collection chiefly consists of scrapbooks of the Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. of Durham, N.C. The scrapbooks document yearlong preparations and events associated with the annual ball held in late December. Included are photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, announcements, invitations, yearbooks, and other materials that show the young women in formal, semi-formal, and casual attire as they attend parties held in their honor, learning about society, etiquette, and the traditional debutante dances. Also included is a pin with the Society's crest; ball programs, 1955-2009; The Debutante Register, 1951; and a video recording of the 2002 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball.
Creator Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
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 Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. Records #5199, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from the Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. of Durham, N.C., in February 2005 (Acc. 100020), January 2008 (Acc. 100852), January 2009 (Acc. 101142), and February 2010 (Acc. 101249); from Paula McGurk Meyer in December 2006 (Acc. 100589), March 2010 (Acc. 101268), May 2010 (Acc. 101284), March 2011 (Acc. 101409), and September 2011 (Acc. 101499); and from Martha Erwin Uzzle in May 2009 (Acc. 100423).
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 Historical Information

The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball of Durham, N.C., was founded by Mrs. Thomas Davenport Wright in 1955. Through 1960, the Ball was given as a benefit for Kenmore, a colonial mansion in Fredericksburg, Va., built by Colonel Fielding Lewis for his bride Betty Washington, the only sister of George Washington. In 1961, Mrs. Wright, along with Mrs. Edward McCullough Cameron, Mrs. Charles Harris Livengood Jr., Mrs. Edward Stewart Orgain, Mrs. William Edwards Cranford, founded the Debutante Ball Society of Durham, N.C. At that time the Durham Arts Council, formerly Allied Arts, became the beneficiary of the ball.

The Durham Society is steeped in tradition. In every year since its founding, young women have been presented at the annual ball. The debutante calendar begins each year in February when young women, chiefly from Durham, Chapel Hill, and Orange County, N.C., are nominated by members of the Society. Members, formerly "patronesses," are a group of women selected as representative of the best civic and social life of the community, and invited to lend their names, prestige, and efforts to the ball, and to chair and serve on all ball committees. Mrs. Cameron served as the first chair of the patronesses in 1955.

In March, the Society selects young women to be debutantes and invites them to participate in the process. The Durham Society prides itself on its decision to select young women not only for their social standing, but for their personal achievements and special talents as well. The debutante social season begins when the names of the new debutantes are announced in May at the Mothers Day luncheon. Additional parties and other social events take place during the summer and fall. The season culminates with the cotillion and ball in December.

The first Debutante Ball consisted of a receiving line, the garland waltz, cotillion figures, singing of Christmas carols, a welcoming address by a local minister, and the first dance by the debutantes and their fathers. In succeeding years, the polka sleigh ride and the minuet were added, and the cotillion figure became the Christmas tree.

In 1964, the Society held its inaugural debutante art exhibit, and in 1967, it introduced the creative writing contest. In 1989, debutantes began the tradition of presenting a long-stemmed red rose to their mothers, and in 1990, the chorale was re-introduced.

Other traditions of the Durham Society include the crest, designed by William Cranford, the husband of one of the founders, with the inscription Integras, Virtus, Gratia (integrity, virtue, grace)--the qualities emphasized by the Society throughout the debutante year. During 1969 and 1970, the crest adorned a canopy under which the debutantes were introduced. The canopy was replaced by a set built by students of the North Carolina School of the Arts for the ball's relocation to the Omni Hotel and Convention Center Ballroom. Today the crest is featured on a charm that is presented to each debutante.

Since its inception, more than 2,000 young women have been presented by the Debutante Ball Society of Durham, N.C.

Note: Adapted from a history of the Debutante Ball Society compiled by past chairs.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection chiefly consists of scrapbooks of the Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. of Durham, N.C. The scrapbooks document yearlong preparations and events associated with the annual Debutante Ball held in late December. Included are photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, announcements, invitations, yearbooks, and other materials that show the young women, chiefly from Durham, Chapel Hill, N.C., and Orange County, N.C., in formal, semi-formal, and casual attire as they attend parties held in their honor, learning learning about society, etiquette, and the traditional debutante dances. Also included is a pin with the Society's crest; ball programs, 1955-2009; The Debutante Register, 1951; and a video recording of the 2002 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007.

26 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Volume SV-5199/1

Claudia Louis Wright, 1955-1969 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/1

Debutante at the Christmas Ball, December 1956

Christmas Ball, 1956

Cover of the Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball program, December 1957

Ball program, 1957

Invitation to a Coke party

Coke party invitation

Volume SV-5199/2

Claudia Louis Wright, Book II: 1965-1969 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/2

Volume SV-5199/3

Mary Toms Cameron #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/3

Mary Toms Cameron, Debutante Ball Society chair, 1969-1971

Mary Toms Cameron

Volume SV-5199/4

Virginia McClellan Livengood, 1971-1973; Frances Drake Bryant, 1973; Catherine Legg Carr, 1974 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/4

Julia Toms Carr, leader of the 1973 Debutante Ball

Julia Toms Carr, 1973

Frances Drake Bryant, Debutante Ball Society chair, 1973

Frances Drake Bryant, 1973

Letter from Martha Uzzle to the debutantes informing them of the processs involved in choosing their marshals, 1 August 1973

Martha Uzzle letter, 1973

Volume SV-5199/5

Julia Toms Carr, 1975; Anna Frank Strosnider DuBose, 1976; Gale Morrison Glen, 1977; Julia Bryant van Straaten, 1978 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/5

Ad from the 1975 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball program

Ad from Ball program, 1975

Ad from the 1975 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball program

Another ad from Ball program, 1975

Debutante questionnaire for the publicity chair, 1976

Questionnaire

Volume SV-5199/6

Martha Erwin Uzzle, 1979; Elsie Mason Sapp, 1980; Anne Gibson Sullivan Wright, 1981 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/6

Invitation to be a debutante, 1979

Invitation

Debutantes waiting to be presented, 29 December 1979

Debutantes waiting to be presented

A poem from Anne Gibson Sullivan Wright, Debutante Society chair, to her debutantes, 29 December 1981

Anne Gibson Sullivan Wright poem

Follow-up letter from Anne Wright to other members of the Debutante Ball Society, 2 January 1982

Anne Wright letter

Volume SV-5199/7

Ruth Watkins Barber, 1982; Patricia Hunter Joklik, 1983 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/7

"Standing Rules, Policies, and Traditions for Debutantes and Marshals," 1983

Rules, policies, traditions, 1983

Program notes from the 1982 Debutante Ball

Program notes, 1982

Volume SV-5199/8

Barbara Horton Carr, 1984; Scott Tyree Evans, 1985 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/8

Ad from the 1984 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball program

Ad from 1984 Ball program

Ad from the 1985 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball program

Ad from 1985 Ball program

Volume SV-5199/9

Hazel Mangum Stubbs, 1986; Barbara DeLapp Booth, 1988; Patricia Baker Paulson, 1988 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/9

Debutante with her father and date at the 1986 Debutante Ball

Debutante at 1986 Ball

Invitation to a casino party

Casino party invitation

Volume SV-5199/10

Margaret Allen Raise, 1989; Anita Wilkinson Brame, 1990; Perry Grimes Van Dyke, 1991 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/10

Volume SV-5199/11

Linda Johnson Allen, 1992; Barbara Dimmick Yowell, 1993 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/11

Volume SV-5199/12

Barbara Green Collie, 1994 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/12

Transcript of speech given by Barbara Collie, chair of the 1994 Debutante Ball Society, at a Mother's Day luncheon

Barbara Collie speech, 1994

Father-Daughter Brunch, 21 December 1994

Father-Daughter Brunch, 1994

Volume SV-5199/13

Anne Harden Bradford, 1995 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/13

Former and current debutantes model vintage ball gowns at the Mother-Daughter Luncheon, 13 May 1995

Vintage ball gowns, 1995

Volume SV-5199/14

Elizabeth R. Patterson, 1996 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/14

Volume SV-5199/15

Diane Stockard Wade, 1997 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/15

Mother-Daughter Luncheon, 10 May 1997

Mother-Daughter Luncheon, 1997

Volume SV-5199/16

Susan Tatum Teer, 1998 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/16

"Important Dates and Deadlines": Event calendar for the 1998 debutante season

Event calendar, 1998

Volume SV-5199/17

Mrs. Jones Davis Pollard, 1999 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/17

Mother-Daughter Luncheon, 8 May 1999

Mother-Daughter Luncheon, 1999

Volume SV-5199/18

2000: Not included in the collection #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/18

Volume SV-5199/19

2001 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/19

Volume SV-5199/20

2002 #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/20

Volume SV-5199/21-24

SV-5199/21

SV-5199/22

SV-5199/23

SV-5199/24

2003-2006: Not included in the collection #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/21-24

Volume SV-5199/25

Debutante Ball Society of Durham, 2007 Season, Volume I #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/25

Volume SV-5199/26

Debutante Ball Society of Durham, 2007 Season, Volume II #05199, Series: "1. Scrapbooks, 1955-2007." SV-5199/26

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Pin.

1 item.

Pin with Society's crest.

Museum Item MU-5199/1

Pin #05199, Series: "2. Pin." MU-5199/1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009.

42 items.

Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball programs; The Debutante Register, 1951; Tomes-Toms family genealogical chart; The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball: Personal Recollections and a Pictorial History ; and a video recording of the first 13 minutes of the 2002 Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball.

Folder 1

The Debutante Register, 1951: Martha Erwin #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 1

Folder 2

The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball, 1955-1962: Mary Toms Cameron #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 2

Folder 3

The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball, 1963-1969: Mary Toms Cameron #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 3

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOP-5199/1

Tomes-Toms genealogical chart, 1967 #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." XOP-5199/1

Martha Erwin Uzzle is listed as a descendent.

Folder 4

The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball, 1970-1977: Mary Toms Cameron #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 4

Folder 5-15

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

Folder 15

Programs, 1970, 1975-2002 #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 5-15

Folder 16

Annual meeting, 2002 #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 16

List of models and dresses and an agenda for the 2002 Debutante Ball Society annual meeting, as well as a copy of The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball: Personal Recollections and a Pictorial History, given by Mrs. George Wright Meyer, Jr.

Folder 17

The Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball: Personal Recollections and a Pictorial History, 2002 #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 17

Copy of presentation given by Mrs. George Wright Meyer. Differs slightly from the presentation above.

Digital Item DI-5199/1

48th Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball, 2002 #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." DI-5199/1

13-minute video recording of the opening dances of the 48th Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball.

Folder 18-20

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Programs, 2003-2009 #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 18-20

Includes duplicates for 2004, 2005.

Folder 21

Stationery #05199, Series: "3. Programs and other materials, 1951-2009." Folder 21

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Processing Information

Processed by: Nancy Kaiser and Margaret Dickson, December 2005

Accessions 100423, 100589, 100852, 101142, 101249, and 101268 were processed by Kiley Orchard

Encoded by: Nancy Kaiser and Margaret Dickson, December 2005

Funding from the Debutante Ball Society of Durham Inc. supported the processing of this collection. Accessions 100423, 100589, 100852, 101142, 101249, and 101268 were processed with support from Elizabeth Moore Ruffin.

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