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Collection Number: 04359

Collection Title: Mary E. Mebane Papers, 1970s-1980s

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 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 700 items)
Abstract Mary E. Mebane (1933-1992) was an African American woman writer, born in Durham County, N.C., the daughter of a farmer and a factory worker. She received her B.A. in English and music from North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) in 1955 and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught English and composition classes at North Carolina College, South Carolina State College, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is best known for two autobiographical volumes: Mary (1981), which discusses growing up in the South during segregation and her struggles with her family and the black community around her, and Mary, Wayfarer: an autobiography (1983), which recounts her years as a high school teacher, college instructor, Ph.D. candidate, and professor. The collection contains correspondence, writings, and other papers of Mary E. Mebane. Correspondence primarily relates to the publication and success of Mebane's books. Among the correspondents is Harrison E. Salisbury, editor of the op-ed page at the New York Times to which Mebane was a frequent contributor. Writings are published and unpublished works by Mebane, including articles that were intended for publication in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly publications; short stories; works on singer Millie Jackson; and several incomplete writings. The collection also contains Mebane's will; two photographs of her; items relating to book tours, readings, and writers' workshops she attended, including Yaddo; awards she received, including the Coretta Scott King award; biographical information; applications for fellowships; class and teaching materials; typescripts of short works by others; and other items.
Creator Mebane, Mary E., 1933-
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 Mary E. Mebane Papers #4359, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Robert Byrd of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, in 1984 and from Mary E. Mebane in 1988 (Acc. 83114, 84106, 84108, 84158, 88084, 88093).
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

Mary E. Mebane (1933-1992) was an African American woman writer, born in Durham County, N.C., the daughter of a farmer and a factory worker. She received her B.A. in English and music from North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) in 1955 and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught English and composition classes at North Carolina College, South Carolina State College, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is best known for two autobiographical volumes: Mary (1981), which discusses growing up in the South during segregation and her struggles with her family and the black community around her, and Mary, Wayfarer: an autobiography (1983), which recounts her years as a high school teacher, college instructor, Ph.D. candidate, and professor. In 1982, she was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, writings, and other papers of Mary E. Mebane. Correspondence primarily relates to the publication and success of Mebane's books. Among the correspondents is Harrison E. Salisbury, editor of the op-ed page at the New York Times to which Mebane was a frequent contributor. Writings are published and unpublished works by Mebane, including articles that were intended for publication in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly publications; short stories; works on singer Millie Jackson; and several incomplete writings. The collection also contains Mebane's will; two photographs of her; items relating to book tours, readings, and writers' workshops she attended, including Yaddo; awards she received, including the Coretta Scott King award; biographical information; applications for fellowships; class and teaching materials; typescripts of short works by others; and other items.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1981-1988.

About 200 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence primarily relates to the publication and success of Mebane's books. Among the correspondents is Harrison E. Salisbury, editor of the op-ed page at the New York Times to which Mebane was a frequent contributor. There is also a letter to Perry Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd. on 1 July 1983 concerning a proposal for a novel to be called "Lizbeth."

Folder 1

Correspondence, 1981 #04359, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1981-1988." Folder 1

Folder 2

Correspondence, January 1982-July 1982 #04359, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1981-1988." Folder 2

Folder 3

Correspondence, August 1982-December 1982 #04359, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1981-1988." Folder 3

Folder 4

Correspondence, 1983 #04359, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1981-1988." Folder 4

Folder 5

Correspondence, 1984 #04359, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1981-1988." Folder 5

Folder 6

Correspondence, 1988 and undated #04359, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1981-1988." Folder 6

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Writings.

About 300 items.

Writings are published and unpublished works by Mary E. Mebane. Included are articles intended for publication in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly publications, and short stories, including "Irene," "Melted Silver," and "Two Sundays," in addition to other titles. Mebane researched extensively on the career of singer Millie Jackson; included are Mebane's article "Millie Jackson in Perspective" and an interview with the singer conducted by Mebane. There are also incomplete works, including "Mosaic: People in Time, Place, and Landscape" and "Phoenix: The Ordeal and Rebirth of Mary Mebane An Autobiography, Vol. III," and notes, notebooks, and unidentified writings of Mebane.

Folder 7

"Chicago: Summer, 1978" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 7

"Fortune's Favorite: Musician-Songwriter Dura Reginald Hale" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 7

"Ingrid Bergman" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 7

"Irene" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 7

Folder 8

Mary #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 8

Photocopy of the first volume of Mary E. Mebane's autobiography.

Folder 9

Millie Jackson #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 9

Folder 10

"Melted Silver" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 10

"Milwaukee Scenes" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 10

"Miriam Makeba in Milwaukee" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 10

Folder 11

"Missy" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 11

From "Mosaic: People in Time, Place, and Landscape" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 11

"Neighbors" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 11

"The Old Lady" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 11

"The Other Side of His Face--Walter Mondale in Milwaukee" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 11

Folder 12

"Phoenix: The Ordeal and Rebirth of Mary Mebane An Autobiography, Vol. III" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 12

Folder 13

"Scenes from Four Lives" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 13

"The Soul Ladies: Classic Rhythm and Blues Singers" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 13

"A Sweet" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 13

"Two Sundays" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 13

"Vietnam: A Black Woman Remembers" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 13

"Yadoo" #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 13

Folder 14

Notes and notebooks kept by Mary E. Mebane #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 14

Folder 15

Unidentified writings by Mary E. Mebane #04359, Series: "2. Writings." Folder 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers.

About 200 items.
Folder 16

Will of Mary E. Mebane #04359, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 16

Folder 17-19

Folder 17

Folder 18

Folder 19

Professional activities #04359, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 17-19

Includes two photographs of Mary E. Mebane; items relating to book tours, readings, and writers' workshops attended, including Yaddo; awards received, including the Coretta Scott King award; biographical information; applications for fellowships; class and teaching materials; and other related items.

Folder 20

Writings by others #04359, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 20

Contains typescripts of short works by Gerald Duane Coleman, Marlam Karnish, and Elizabeth Wheatley.

Folder 21-23

Folder 21

Folder 22

Folder 23

Printed materials #04359, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 21-23

Magazines, newspaper clippings, photocopied articles, and other printed items.

Folder 24

Other items #04359, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 24

Includes receipts, brochures, lists, fragments of notes, envelopes, and other items.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jennifer Thompson, July 2009

Encoded by: Jennifer Thompson, July 2009

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