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Collection Number: 05201-z

Collection Title: Wilbur Dorsett Letters, 1930-1939

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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 section for more information.


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Size 0.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 30 items)
Abstract Wilbur Dorsett attended high school in Spencer, N.C., then studied at the University of North Carolina (B.A. English 1934; M.A. 1936). While at UNC, he worked with the Carolina Playmakers, mostly on the technical staff. He went on to teach dramatic arts and work as a technical supervisor at other schools. The collection includes letters from Wilbur Dorsett to his high school teacher Lucile Martin (known later as Lucile Donnelly) throughout the 1930s. In the letters, Dorsett offered opinions on contemporary popular books, motion pictures, and plays. He also wrote about his experiences with the Carolina Playmakers and the technical aspect of his work and gave detailed information about his life as an undergraduate and graduate student. Dorsett published poems, short stories, and other writings in several student publications, some of which he sent to Martin. He also enclosed programs to theatrical productions with which he was involved, including several Playmakers performances and the 1939 production of The Lost Colony in Manteo, N.C., and discussed other post-college work, including his stage production job at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (later the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). The letters offer little information about Martin.
Creator Dorsett, Wilbur.
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 Wilbur Dorsett Letters #5201-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Elizabeth Donnelly Ziglar of Raleigh, N.C., in March 2005 (Acc. 100032).
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

Technical supervisor in the theater, Wilbur Dorsett, graduated from Spencer High School in Spencer, N.C., in 1930. From there, he went on to attend the University of North Carolina (UNC), majoring in English from 1930 to 1934. While studying at UNC, he worked with the Carolina Playmakers, mostly on the technical staff for several different performances. He received a Rockefeller Scholarship to pursue a Master of Arts degree at UNC, achieving that goal in 1936. For his master's thesis, Dorsett wrote a play called "Pillar of Fire." After leaving UNC, Dorsett was a technical director for the summer theater program at the New England Repertory Company in Maplewood, N.J. Dorsett started teaching dramatic arts in the fall of 1936 at Wesleyan College and Conservatory in Macon, Ga., and also directed theater there. By the late 1930s, Dorsett was working at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, helping with their stage productions.

Lucile Martin was Dorsett's high school teacher at Spencer High School in Spencer, N.C. They kept in touch after Dorsett's high school graduation and during his time at the University of North Carolina. For much of that time, Martin remained a teacher, working in Advance, N.C. In the late 1930s, Martin entered UNC's School of Social Work as a graduate student. Martin, later Lucile Donnelly, eventually became Director of the Welfare Department of Davie County, N.C., and later, Rowan County, N.C.

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Letters are from Wilbur Dorsett, as a student at the University of North Carolina and worker in technical theater, to his high school teacher Lucile Martin (later known as Lucile Donnelly) throughout the 1930s, beginning with his graduation from high school in Spencer, N.C. Dorsett offered opinions on contemporary popular books, motion pictures, and plays. He also wrote about his experiences with the Carolina Playmakers while at the University of North Carolina and the technical aspect of his theater work, including details about specific performances. Dorsett also included detailed information about his life as an undergraduate and graduate student, including information about courses, professors, sports events, and other aspects of student life. Dorsett published poems, short stories, and other writings in The Carolina Magazine, a Daily Tar Heel supplement, and the "Official Literary Organ of the Student Body of the University of North Carolina," some of which he sent to Martin. He also enclosed programs of theatrical productions with which he was involved, including performances at the Carolina Playmakers and the 1939 production of The Lost Colony in Manteo, N.C. Dorsett also mentioned other post-college work, including his stage production job at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (later the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). Most of the letters include little, if any, information about Martin and her life, although it is clear she usually responded to his letters.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Letters, 1930-1939.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Nathalie Wheaton, April 2005

Encoded by: Nathalie Wheaton, April 2005

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