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Collection Number: 00417

Collection Title: George W. Lay Papers, 1877-1972

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 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1,600 items)
Abstract George William Lay was an Episcopal clergyman and teacher or rector of St. Mary's School, Raleigh, N.C.; St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.; and academies in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York. The collection includes correspondence concerning family matters, school and church activities, including work among African Americans in eastern North Carolina, and various civic interests. Among the papers are two brief notes, 1907 and 1912, from Woodrow Wilson prior to his presidency. Genealogical data on the Lay and Atkinson families also is included.
Creator Lay, George W. (George William), 1860-1932.
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 George William Lay Papers, #417, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. George W. Lay of Chapel Hill, N.C., prior to 1940.
Additional materials received from Elizabeth Lay (Mrs. Paul) Green of Chapel Hill, N.C., August 1963 and May 1977; and transferred from the Paul Green Papers, #3693, February 1976 and February 1990 (Acc. 90018).
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

George William Lay (1860-1932) was an Episcopal clergyman and teacher or rector of St. Mary's School, Raleigh, N.C.; St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.; and academies in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York. Lay was born in Huntsville, Ala., to Henry Champlin Lay and Elizabeth Withers Atkinson Lay. He was educated at St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.; Yale University; and General Theological Seminary.

He was ordained deacon in Protestant Episcopal Church, 1885, and priest, 1886. He served as the acting minister of St. Paul's Church, Erie, Pa., 1885-1887; rector of St. George's Church, Newburgh, N.Y., 1887-1888; teacher at St. Paul's School, 1888-1907; rector of St. Mary's School, Raleigh, N.C., 1907-1918; assistant rector Christ Church, Springfield, Mass., 1918-1919; rector of St. Paul's Church, Beaufort, N.C., 1919-1928; assistant in charge of St. Clement's Mission and priest in charge of St. Andrew's Church at Morehead City, N.C.; and acting rector of Church of the Good Shepherd, Raleigh, N.C., 1930.

He also served as alternate deputy from New Hampshire to General Convention at Richmond, Va., 1907; secretary of board of managers and missions for Diocese of New Hampshire, 1895-1907; member executive council and chairman of committee on canons of Diocese of East Carolina; vice-chairman of department of religious education, Province of Sewanee, N.C.; correspondent of the Living Church, 1884-1885; and contributor to North Carolina State Health Bulletin, as well as to the daily press and various church periodicals; member American Association for the Advancement of Science, North Carolina Academy of Science, and Good Roads Association.

He married Anna Booth Balch in 1894, daughter of Rear Admiral George B. Balch, United States Navy, and Mary Ellen Booth Balch. They had eight children.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes correspondence concerning family matters, school and church activities, including work among African Americans in eastern North Carolina, and various civic interests. Amongst the papers are two brief notes, 1907 and 1912, from Woodrow Wilson prior to his presidency. Genealogical data on the Lay and Atkinson families also is included. Papers of George William Lay before 1886 are in a related collection, the papers of his father, Henry Champlin Lay, #418.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated.

Papers consist of correspondence of George W. Lay with members of his family throughout his lifetime, as well as correspondence and other papers relating to his work as a priest and educator, and writer of articles on a variety of subjects.

Papers, 1886-1908, are largely family letters to and from George W. Lay, his mother Eliza Lay, and also his brothers Henry C. Lay Junior and Bierne Lay and his sister Louisa. Eliza Lay and Louisa Lay lived in Baltimore, Md., and were active in the Episcopal Church there. There is some correspondence about property in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the 1890s and early 1900s and the beginning of George W. Lay's correspondence concerning his church work. Henry C. Lay Junior was in Colorado in the 1890s.

Papers, 1909-1932, include letters received by George W. Lay, carbon copies of letters written by him, and brief articles written by him on various subjects. Family correspondence continues throughout the period. During the time when Lay was rector of St. Mary's School, Raleigh, N.C., he was also concerned with civic matters, public health, public education, mental health, roads, and frequently contributed public letters and short articles to newspapers and magazines. Among his correspondents were Walter L. Fleming, Mrs. Richard Peters, and James K. Hall. There are two brief notes from Woodrow Wilson, 12 August 1907 and 2 April 1912, one suggests that Lay may have been involved in the education of Wilson's daughter.

During the period 1919-1928, while Lay was rector at Beaufort, N.C., and doing mission work in Morehead City and Hertford, N.C., there is constant correspondence between him and Bishop Thomas Darst and other officers of the Diocese of Eastern North Carolina. In addition to his parish work, his papers are concerned with his interest in Episcopal Church work among African-Americans and meetings of the Southern Federation of Episcopal Educational Institutions, the business of the Diocese, and his writings for church magazines.

After his retirement to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1928, his interests mentioned above continued and his writing of articles increased. His correspondence with Bishop Darst continued; also letters from Bishop Joseph B. Cheshire; articles based on addresses made by Lay to the North Carolina Academy of Science each spring; an article on temperance; and papers concerning Lay's service at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Raleigh, N.C.

Papers dated after Lay's death in 1932 are primarily letters received by his widow from Mrs. Frederick E. Sears and Alexander Andrews.

Folder 1a

Original finding aid #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 1a

Folder 1

1886-1887 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1888-1889 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1890-1891 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1892 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1893 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1894 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1895-1897 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1898 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1899 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

1900-1902 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

1903-1906 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

1907-1908 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

1909-1911 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

1912-1913 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 14

Folder 15

1914-1918 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

1919 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 16

Folder 17

1921-1922 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 17

Folder 18

1923-1924 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

1925 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 19

Folder 20

1926 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21-22

Folder 21

Folder 22

1927 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 21-22

Folder 23-24

Folder 23

Folder 24

1928 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 23-24

Folder 25-26

Folder 25

Folder 26

1929 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 25-26

Folder 27-28

Folder 27

Folder 28

1930 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 27-28

Folder 29-30

Folder 29

Folder 30

1931 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 29-30

Folder 31-32

Folder 31

Folder 32

1932 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 31-32

Folder 33

1933-1946 #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 33

Undated #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 33

Folder 34-36

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

Undated speeches and writings #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 34-36

Folder 37a-37c

Published articles #00417, Series: "1. Chronological Series, 1886-1946 and undated." Folder 37a-37c

Includes published copies of articles by George W. Lay on public health and sanitation; scientific language; and religion and education.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Genealogical Series

The genealogical series consists chiefly of correspondence and notes and studies compiled by Henry C. Lay Junior in the 1880s, but includes also genealogical papers of other members of the Lay family and from various sources.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Genealogical Correspondence, 1877-1972.

Arrangement: chronological.

Includes letters, 1877-1888, recieved by Henry C. Lay Junior in response to his requests for family data on the Atkinson, Lay, Withers, Burwell, Carter, Randolph, Grammer, and allied families. Later items are scattered correspondence of George W. Lay regarding genealogy, some letters have genealogical data attached.

Folder 38

1877 #00417, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical Correspondence, 1877-1972." Folder 38

Folder 39

1882 #00417, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical Correspondence, 1877-1972." Folder 39

Folder 40-43

Folder 40

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

1883-1897 #00417, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical Correspondence, 1877-1972." Folder 40-43

Folder 44

1905-1932 #00417, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical Correspondence, 1877-1972." Folder 44

1972 #00417, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical Correspondence, 1877-1972." Folder 44

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Genealogical Data

Arrangement: alphabetical by family name.

Folder 45

Atkinson #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 45

Folder 46

Atkinson and allied families #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 46

Folder 47

Atkinson-Mayo-Lay #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 47

Folder 48

Atkinson, Poythress, Pleasants, Jones, Fitzhugh, Harrison #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 48

Folder 49-50

Folder 49

Folder 50

Lay #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 49-50

Folder 51

Mayo-Atkinson #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 51

Folder 52

Tiffany, Evelyn May Bayly, pedigree #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 52

Folder 53

Withers #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 53

Folder 54

Withers-Atkinson #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 54

Folder 55

Papers from H. C. Lay Collection #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 55

Folder 56

Miscellaneous #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 56

Folder 57

Clippings: biographical and miscellaneous #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 57

Folder 58

Pictures #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 58

Coat of arms #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 58

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Lay, George William, circa 1887 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/1

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Lay, George William, 1890s #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/2-4

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Lay, George William, circa 1931 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/5

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Lay, George William with Anna Balch Lay, circa 1931 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/6

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Group photographs #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" OP-P-417/7-19

Includes group photographs from St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H., 1903 and undated, and St. Mary's School, Raleigh, N.C., 1914 and undated.

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Lay, George William with other clergy, 1930s #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/20

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Lay, Anna Balch and children, 1890s-1930s #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/21-30

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Atkinson, Anne Pleasants and roger, photographs and colored sketches, undated #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/31-32

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Balch, Grace, undated #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/33

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Lay, Beirne, 1890s and undated #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/34-39

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Lay, Bessie Fitzhugh, 1892 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/40

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Lay, Louisa, undated #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/41

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Sears, Frances, circa 1892 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/42

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Sears, Frederick Edmund Junior, circa 1910, 1923, 1927 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/43-45

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St. Paul's School scenes, Concord, N.H., circa 1905 and undated #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/46-73

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Trip to rural Maine, 1906 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/74-92

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Beirne house, 1910 #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/93

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Churches #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/94-99

Includes photographs of Old Blandford Church, Petersburg, Va., undated; Old Bridge Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., undated; St. Paul's Church, Richmond, Va., undated; and St. Peter's Chapel, Vallejo, Calif., undated.

Image P-417/100-105

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Ship launching #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" P-417/100-105

Folder 59

Clippings: genealogy and heraldry #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 59

Oversize Paper Folder OPF-417/1b

Extra Oversize Paper Folder X-OPF-417/1a

Oversize papers #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Opaperfolder OPF-417/1b, Xopaperfolder X-OPF-417/1a

Includes diplomas, certificates, and a family tree as drawn by George William Lay.

Folder 60

Volume 1: Genealogical notebook #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 60

Folder 61

Volume 2: Genealogy of Eliza W. Lay #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 61

Folder 62

Volume 3: Genealogy of Eliza W. Lay #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 62

Folder 63

Volume 4: Reminiscences, Anna Booth Balch Lay #00417, Subseries: "2.2. Genealogical Data" Folder 63

Reminiscent journal, dictated by Anna Booth Balch Lay, which contains memories of her life at the United States Naval Academy when her father, George Beall Balch, was superintendent of the Academy, 1878-1881. The journal contains descriptions of her travels, especially a trip she made with her family to California in 1881 (?), which included crossing the Isthmus of Panama by train, and a trip she and her husband took to Europe shortly after they were married in 1894. There are also descriptions of life at St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H., 1888-1907.

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, October 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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