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Collection Number: 04597

Collection Title: Ruth Johnson Papers, 1908-1970

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 2.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 600 items)
Abstract Ruth Johnson, whose family lived in Cardenas and other communities in southern Wake County, N.C., attended Elon College, 1910- 1916; taught school in Cardenas; attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in 1923; was a church worker at the Riverdale Christian Church (Congregational-Christian) in Dayton, Ohio, 1926-1928; and operated the State Book Store in Raleigh in the 1940s and 1950s. Chiefly correspondence of Ruth Johnson and other members of her family of Raleigh and Cardenas, N.C. Many letters are from Ruth's would-be suitors, all of whom she rejected in the end. At Elon college, 1910- 1916, she received letters from her family and from William Harrell, a student at the University of North Carolina, who described campus events and student life in Chapel Hill. They corresponded until his death in 1949. In late 1913, Charles E. Neighbour, a student at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago and later a Baptist minister, began writing to Ruth about love and religion. In 1914, Ruth began corresponding with Walter A. Dumas, then a student at Davidson College. This relationship endured through Dumas's army career--his service with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and the American Commission to Negotiate Peace after the war; his tenure, beginning in 1927, as instructor at the United States Military Academy; and other duties in World War II--until his death in 1952. Dumas's letters are quite detailed and descriptive, especially those written during the world wars. There is scant information about Ruth's work at the Moody Bible Institute, the Riverdale Christian Church or the State Book Store. Beginning in 1941, Ruth received letters from some-time writer Southard Brown of New York. In 1942-1944, there are many letters from Ruth's brother Baird, who reported to his sister and parents on life in various army training camps around the country. Also included are a few clippings collected by Ruth, programs, grade reports, a brief diary of 1914 social engagements, and a few family pictures.
Creator Johnson, Ruth, fl. 1893-1950s.
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 Ruth Johnson papers #4597, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Doug Maddox of Raleigh, N.C., in December 1991 (Acc. 91170).
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

Ruth Johnson, whose family lived in Cardenas and other communities in southern Wake County, N.C., attended Elon College, 1910- 1916; taught school in Cardenas; attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in 1923; was a church worker at the Riverdale Christian Church (Congregational-Christian) in Dayton, Ohio, 1926-1928; and operated the State Book Store in Raleigh in the 1940s and 1950s.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Chiefly correspondence of Ruth Johnson and other members of her family of Raleigh and Cardenas, N.C. Many letters are from Ruth's would-be suitors, all of whom she rejected in the end. At Elon college, 1910- 1916, she received letters from her family and from William Harrell, a student at the University of North Carolina, who described campus events and student life in Chapel Hill. They corresponded until his death in 1949. In late 1913, Charles E. Neighbour, a student at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago and later a Baptist minister, began writing to Ruth about love and religion. In 1914, Ruth began corresponding with Walter A. Dumas, then a student at Davidson College. This relationship endured through Dumas's army career--his service with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and the American Commission to Negotiate Peace after the war; his tenure, beginning in 1927, as instructor at the United States Military Academy; and other duties in World War II--until his death in 1952. Dumas's letters are quite detailed and descriptive, especially those written during the world wars. There is scant information about Ruth's work at the Moody Bible Institute, the Riverdale Christian Church or the State Book Store. Beginning in 1941, Ruth received letters from some-time writer Southard Brown of New York. In 1942-1944, there are many letters from Ruth's brother Baird, who reported to his sister and parents on life in various army training camps around the country. Also included are a few clippings collected by Ruth, programs, grade reports, a brief diary of 1914 social engagements, and a few family pictures.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated.

540 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly correspondence of Ruth Johnson and other members of her family. Many letters are from Ruth's would-be suitors, all of whom she rejected in the end.

From 1910 to 1916, Ruth was at Elon College. Many early letters are to Ruth from her mother and father in Cardenas, N.C. Her mother's letters tend to be about family activities and offer Ruth advice on her studies and other matters. Her father, K. B. Johnson, who was a manufacturer of dressed lumber, wrote about finances and the logistics involved in arranging for his daughter's travel to and from home and various religious gatherings. Also included are letters from various young relatives--brothers, sisters, cousins--who were in the throes of learning to write.

Letters from young men begin around 1912 with William Harrell, a student at the University of North Carolina. Harrell, whose stay in Chapel Hill coincided with Ruth's time at Elon, routinely described campus events and student life at UNC. From time to time, Ruth and Harrell appear to have met at social functions, even when, as a 24 February 1913 letter from her mother attests, Ruth had to forge her own permit to leave school in order to see him. Although her mother characterized Harrell as "not fit for a decent lady," Ruth continued to correspond with him until his death in 1949.

In late 1913, Charles E. Neighbour, a student at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, and B. Howard Wicksel, a New York lawyer, began writing to Ruth. Both became long-term correspondents, with Charles continuing his Bible-referenced courtship until around 1916, when he was a senior pastor at a Baptist church in Augusta, Ga. Wicksel's letters are few after 1917, when he wrote, without elaboration, that differing religious views doomed his romantic aspirations towards Ruth.

In 1914, Ruth began corresponding with Walter A. Dumas, a native of Fort Worth, Tex., who was then a student at Davidson College. This relationship endured through Dumas's army career--his service with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and the American Commission to Negotiate Peace after the war; his tenure, beginning in 1927, as instructor at the United States Military Academy; and other duties in World War II--until his death in 1952, by which time Ruth had become good friends with his wife and daughter. Dumas's letters tend to be quite detailed and descriptive, especially those he wrote during the world wars. In 1918, Ruth began correspondence with Hubert W. Collins, another World War I soldier who wound up making a career of the army.

Dumas was apparently the most serious of Ruth's suitors. Ruth, however, either rejected proposals of marriage from some of these young men or successfully dodged the question from others. Scattered references in letters show that, after her graduation from Elon in 1916, Ruth returned to Cardenas, where she appears to have taught English in a local school, and that, in 1923, she attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, returning to Cardenas in 1924. Letters show that, in 1926, Ruth made a short tour of Europe, after which she moved to Dayton, Ohio, where she served as Director of Young Peoples' Work and Church Music at the Riverdale Christian Church. There is not much detail about her trip or about the Riverdale Christian Church. By 1928, she had returned to North Carolina, where, at some point, she ran the State Book Store in Raleigh. There is no information about her bookstore career.

In the 1930s, there are a few family letters. Beginning in 1941, Ruth received many cranky, complaining letters from Southard Brown of New York, a sometime writer, editor, and salesperson. In 1942-1944, there are many letters from Ruth's brother Baird, who reported to his sister and parents on life in various army training camps around the country. Family letters continue through 1954 and include many letters of sympathy on the death of Ruth's father in 1943.

Folder 1

1908-1911 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2-4

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder 4

1912 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 2-4

Folder 5-8

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

1913 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 5-8

Folder 9-13

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

1914 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 9-13

Folder 14-17

Folder 14

Folder 15

Folder 16

Folder 17

1915 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 14-17

Folder 18-20

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

1916 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 18-20

Folder 21

1917 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

1918-1919 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 22

Folder 23

1920 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 23

Folder 24

1921 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 24

Folder 25

1922 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 25

Folder 26

1923 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 26

Folder 27

1924-1925 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 27

Folder 28

1926 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 28

Folder 29

1927 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 29

Folder 30

1928 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 30

Folder 31

1930-1939 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 31

Folder 32

1940-1941 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 32

Folder 33

1942 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 33

Folder 34

1943-1944 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 34

Folder 35

1945-1949 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 35

Folder 36

1950-1954 #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 36

Folder 37

Undated #04597, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1908-1954 and undated." Folder 37

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Other Materials, 1910-1970.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Pictures, Undated.

13 items.

Twelve photographs and one tintype with images probably of members of the Johnson and related families. All of the images are undated, and only a few are identified.

Image Folder P-4597/Folder 1

Photographs. #04597, Series: "3. Pictures, Undated." P-4597/Folder 1

Special Format Image SF-P-4597/1

Tintype. #04597, Series: "3. Pictures, Undated." SF-P-4597/1

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, December 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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