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Collection Number: 04360

Collection Title: Henry T. Harris Papers, 1889-1943

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 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 150 items)
Abstract Correspondence, sermons, memoirs, financial records, and other papers of the Henry T. and Mary Ann Harris family of Urbanna, Va., documenting the lives of a southern African-American family at the turn of the century. The majority of the material is correspondence and sermons of Henry T. and Mary Ann Harris, both actively involved in the Baptist Church. Henry Harris's correspondence concerns his work as a Baptist minister and book dealer; his wife's correspondence reflects her work with women's missionary groups and a home for elderly blacks. Of particular significance is a set of sermons by Mary Ann Harris (fl. 1889-1929). The sermons deal with missionary work, the role of women, and the importance of raising children properly.
Creator Harris, Henry T., fl. 1889-1916.
Language English
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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 Henry T. Harris Papers #4360, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Louis Ginsberg, Petersburg, Virginia, in July 1983.
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

Little information was found about the Henry T. and Mary Ann Harris family except what is discernible through their papers. These papers were accumulated chiefly between 1900 and 1925 while the Harrises lived in Urbanna, Middlesex County, Virginia.

Henry T. Harris attended Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), became a Baptist minister, and married Mary Ann (Smith?). He served as moderator of the Southside Rappahannock Baptist Association. (Published minutes of the Association for the years 1898 and 1901 may contain additional information about his work with this Association.)

Mary Ann Harris was active in women's missionary groups and was also associated with running a home for elderly blacks.

The Harris's children were Naomi, who married Percell (or Purcell) C. Dabney, a physician, and lived in Fredricksburg, Virginia; William D. (Willie), who married Daisy, worked as a funeral director and embalmer in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and later moved to New York State; Newton (Bet), who married Florence (?) and served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Willie and Bet attended Virginia Union University.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists primarily of correspondence, sermons, memoirs, financial records, and miscellaneous papers of the Henry T. and Mary Ann Harris family of Urbanna, Va. The collection is small, but the papers do touch on aspects of the social history of a southern black family at the turn of the century. The most significant material may be the set of sermons by Mary Ann Harris.

The majority of the material is correspondence and sermons of Henry T. and Mary Ann Harris, both actively involved in the Baptist Church. Many of the sermons are fragments, and only one is by Henry T. Harris. The rest are in the handwriting of Mary Ann Harris. Henry Harris's sermon addresses the topic of "Evils of Child Labor in the South." Mary Ann Harris's sermons deal with missionary work, the role of women, and the importance of raising children properly. Much of Henry Harris's correspondence concerns his work as a Baptist minister and book dealer, while his wife's correspondence reflects her work with women's missionary groups and a home for elderly blacks. The correspondence also includes various letters from family members and friends.

The collection also contains various financial accounts (some written on the backs of letters) probably pertaining to church records or missionary groups. Other accounts with merchants relate to the home for elderly blacks. A folder of receipts is also included, most dealing with expenditures for the home for the elderly.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1889-1944.

About 63 items.

Arrangement: by recipient, then chronological.

Most of the letters of Henry T. Harris relate to his work as a minister, especially requests to speak or give seminars. A few are from members of his immediate family.

The letters to Mary Ann Harris chiefly concern her work with women's missionary groups, requests to deliver sermons, letters from various family members, and financial matters. There is also correspondence, particularly letters from Ida Bayton and Lucy Wheeler, related to the home for elderly blacks.

Series 1 also includes letters to William D. Harris from college friends and family members; several letters to other family members and other miscellaneous letters. The back of the letter of 23 March 1914 (in folder 5) contains an account of contributions. A letter from M. A. Harris of 10 May 1915 (also in folder 5) deals with problems at the home for the elderly.

Folder 1

Letters to Henry T. Harris, 11 September 1899-3 December 1916 and undated #04360, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1889-1944." Folder 1

From Chas. Hamilton, Essex County, Va., 11 September 1899

Postcard from McDowell, Corstra (?), Va., 11 July 1900

From his wife Mary, Phoebus, Va., 22 October 1900

Postcard from S. Lindley, Euforia, Va., 14 November 1900

From CWW Frazier, Lancaster, Va., 15 December 1900

From D. Tucker, White Stone, Va., 30 October 1902

Postcard from Ch. H. Morton, Harmony Village, Va., 26 September 1904

From Lewis Jamis, Urbanna, Va., 30 November 1904

From Wm. H. Ward, Rexburg, Va., 11 January 1905

Postcard from North Jersey Nurseries, Millburn, N.J., 15 May 1905

From Chas. Hamilton, Essex Co., Va., 7 July 1905

From Geo. Armstead, New Kent, Va., 18 September 1905

Fragment of a receipt from R. S. Bristow, Urbanna, Va., 10 July 1906

From P. T. Edwards, King & Queen Co., Va., 2 September 1906

From Mallie E. Harris, Norfolk, England, 1 January 1907

From Lucy A. Borum, Gloucester, Va., 20 August 1907

From Fady Taylor, Bock P.O., New Kent County, Va., 13 September 1907

From P. T. Edwards, Cologue, King & Queen County, Va., 9 October 1907

Wedding announcement from Mr. and Mrs. Giles Williams, Phoebus, Va., 10 December 1907

From his son W. D. Harris, Virginia Union University., December 1908

From the Alumni Association of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, 3 December 1916

From H. V. Washington, Downings, Va., undated

Stray envelope with note on back

Folder 2-3

Folder 2

Folder 3

Letters to Mary Ann Harris, 7 June 1889-1 July 1915 and 20 December 1917-10 September 1929 #04360, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1889-1944." Folder 2-3

From Catharine Smith, 7 June 1889

From C. Nelson, 9 April 1889

Postcard from Mary E. Tyson, 11 July 1902

From Bertha Powell, 8 October 1906

From J. T. Gay, 31 July 1914

From Willie U. Williams, 6 October 1914

From Ida Bayton, 2 November 1914 (includes receipt)

From Ida Bayton, 19 November 1914

From S. A. Page, February 1915

Postcard from Mrs. R. E. Richardson, et. al., 14 April 1915

From Ida Bayton, 5 May 1915

From Mrs. W. V. Williams, et. al., 14 April 1915

From Minnie Coleman, 12 May 1915

From Lucy E. Wheeler, 14 May 1915

From Lucy Wheeler, 18 May 1915

From Lucy Wheeler, 24 May 1915

From C. P. Tabb, 26 May 1915

From Mary E. Smith, 8 June 1915

From Eliza Moody, 12 June 1915

From N. A. Coleman, et. al., 28 June 1915

From Mrs. Lucy Wheeler, 1 July 1915

From James Richardson, 20 December 1917

From her son Newton, 20 January 1918

From Florence (daughter or daughter-in-law), 13 June 1918 (?)

From J. A. Martin, 14 October 1918 (on back is a draft of a letter to Mrs. U. Thomas from Mrs. M. A. Harris(?) ), 23 October 1918

From Mrs. Sophie Wilson, et. al., 11 May 1921

From Willie U. Williams, 21 August 1922

From her daughter, Naomi, 18 August 1923

From her son, William D. (Willie), 24 September 1923

From Willie U. Williams, 29 December 1923

From her daughter, Naomi, 12 May 1924

Mother's Day card from son William D. (Willie) and Daisy, 10 May 1928 (?)

From son, W. D. (Willie) and Daisy, 24 October 1928

From Mary Towbs, et. al., 10 September 1929

Folder 4

Letters to William D. Harris, 12 September 1905-November 1903 #04360, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1889-1944." Folder 4

Pages 1 and 2 of letter to WDH from unidentified source, 12 September 1905

From C. P. (Connie) Myers, 14 June 1906

From Ollie Guerrant, 17 July 1906

From Connie (Myers?), 9 August 1906

From W. D's sister, Naomi, 25 November 1907 (includes card for Bessie Hearn)

Miscellaneous receipt, November 1903

Folder 5

Miscellaneous letters, 23 February 1905-8 October 1944 and undated #04360, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1889-1944." Folder 5

To Mr. F. A. Bristow, from Union Book and Bible House, 23 February 1905 (includes return envelope)

To Mr. Newton T. Harris from his mother, Mrs. M. A. Harris, 29 November 1907

Pages 1 and 2 of a letter probably to Mrs. M. A. Harris from one of her children, 23 March 1914; rest of letter missing. (See back of both pages - seems to be an account of religious contributions, probably recorded by Mrs. M. A. Harris)

To Mr. Rice from M. A. Harris, 4 February 1915

To Mrs. Ida Bayton from M. A. Harris, 10 May 1915

To Mr. Nathan Rayfield from John A. Bradshaw, 6 March 1922

To Miss Robenette (Bob?) Drusilla (Goode?) from Douglass, 8 October 1944

To Bet (probably Newton T. Harris) from Doof, undated

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Sermons, Undated.

17 items.

Most of these sermons are fragments. The backs of some were used for accounting purposes. The sermons and fragments of sermons have been reorganized without regard for the order of the financial information written on them, and with priority given to the original organization of the sermons.

Folder 6-7

Folder 6

Folder 7

Sermons by Henry T. Harris and Mary Ann Harris #04360, Series: "2. Sermons, Undated." Folder 6-7

"Evils of Child Labor in the South." Also labeled "H. T. Harris, Class 1914." Apparently complete.

Comments on the importance of rearing children properly (fragment, 6 pages)

Handwritten sermon by Mary Ann Harris (fragment, 3 pages). Appears to be a draft or copy of the above.

Handwritten sermon by Mary Ann Harris (fragment, 2 pages). The text addresses themes similar to the preceding two items.

Fragment of a sermon by Mary Ann Harris (1 page)

Fragment of a sermon by Mary Ann Harris (1 page)

Brief comments for an anonymous funeral (1 page)

Undated sermon by Mary Ann Harris (3 pages). Addressed to a convention concerning a Jubilee in 1927.

Fragment of a sermon by Mary Ann Harris (3 pages). Conveys inspiration of last Cary Convention, and relates missionary efforts in foreign countries.

Undated sermon by Mary Ann Harris (5 pages). An Easter Day sermon.

Undated sermon by Mary Ann Harris (4 pages). Addresses the issue of prejudice against blacks.

Undated sermon by Mary Ann Harris (7 pages). Delivered to the BGPU.

Fragment of a sermon by Mary Ann Harris (2 pages). An Easter Day sermon.

Undated sermon by Mary Ann Harris (5 pages). Addressed to the BGPU.

Undated sermon by Mary Ann Harris (10 pages). Comments on the role of women, and encourages missionary effort abroad.

Undated memoirs of a convention

Brief notes concerning a dead friend

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Material, 1899-1914.

About 70 items.

Form letters, order forms, invoices, and promotional material from the Union Book and Bible Publishing Company; similar materials from other publishing companies; and receipts.

Folder 8

Union Book and Bible Publishing Company, 1902-1906 #04360, Series: "3. Other Material, 1899-1914." Folder 8

Folder 9

Other publishers, 1889-1909 #04360, Series: "3. Other Material, 1899-1914." Folder 9

Folder 10

Receipts, 1913-1914 #04360, Series: "3. Other Material, 1899-1914." Folder 10

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Processing Information

Processed by: David Day, Ray Moretz, February 1985

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, January 2010

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