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Collection Number: 04031

Collection Title: Ernest Seeman Papers, 1930-1975.

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.


expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 6.25 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 450 items)
Abstract Ernest Seeman was president of Seeman Printery, Durham, N.C., 1917-1923; editor of Duke University Press, 1925-1934; writer; and social critic of Durham, N.C., and Unicoi County, Tenn. About half of this collection is composed of versions of writings by Ernest Seeman. There are several versions of "Tobacco Town," some with suggestions and emendations by Mimi Conway, Seeman's editor. Other writings include several unfinished and unpublished novels and about twenty essays. A run of diary-notebooks offers a view of Seeman's radical and independent ideas and activities in the 1930s and 1940s. A series of "Other Papers" includes six folders of scattered correspondence. Although a prolific correspondent, according to Elizabeth Seeman, Ernest Seeman apparently saved few letters. There are sketches in pencil by Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman. A final box of unprocessed material also has been kept with the collection, illustrating the condition of most of Seeman's materials as they were received at the Southern Historical Collection and documenting the way Seeman apparently stored his research materials and other personal records.
Creator Seeman, Ernest, 1886-
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 Ernest Seeman Papers #4031, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Elizabeth Seeman of Erwin, Tennessee, in August 1978, and Mimi Conway of Washington, D.C., in April 1985.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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 Related Collections

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Ernest Seeman (1887-1979), the son of Henry Ernest and Bettie Albright Seeman, was a writer, publisher, and editor who lived in Durham, North Carolina, and in Unicoi County, near Erwin, Tennessee.

Seeman was hired to manage the Duke University Press in 1925 after serving as president of the family business, Seeman Printery Company of Durham, from 1917 to 1923. He helped expand the Press's catalogue of titles and was associate editor of a new psychological journal, Character and Personality. Seeman began writing while at Duke, publishing several essays in general interest and psychology magazines. Known as a campus radical, Seeman was fired in 1934 when he was accused of writing a satire on the Duke administration.

Seeman and his second wife, Elizabeth Brickel Seeman, settled in a primitive cabin in Tennessee in the early 1940s. For the next thirty-five years, Ernest Seeman wrote constantly as he and his wife battled poverty and, sometimes, near-starvation. He worked frequently on his book, Tobacco Town, which was published as American Gold in 1978. He also worked on several other novels and numerous essays. The Seemans founded a lending library for community children in 1965. Seeman died in Tennessee in 1979.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

About half of this collection is composed of versions of writings by Ernest Seeman. There are several versions of Tobacco Town, some with suggestions and emendations by Mimi Conway, Seeman's editor. Other writings include several unfinished and unpublished novels and about twenty essays. A run of diary-notebooks will give researchers a view of Seeman's radical and independent ideas and activities in the 1930s and 1940s. A series of "Other Papers" includes six folders of correspondence. Although a prolific correspondent, according to Elizabeth Seeman, Ernest Seeman apparently saved few letters. There are also sketches in pencil by Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman.

A final box of unprocessed material also has been kept with the collection, illustrating the condition of most of Seeman's materials as they were received at the Southern Historical Collection and documenting the way Seeman apparently stored his research materials and other personal records. About twelve cubic feet (20,000 items) of jumbled and deteriorating scraps of notes and writings, routine correspondence, and other incidental material were discarded during processing.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Writings, 1930-1975 and undated.

About 50 items.

Typed, handwritten, and published versions of novels, short stories, and essays. The writings chiefly reflect Seeman's experience at Duke University, his Tennessee cabin home, and his interests in birds and developmental psychology. Seeman's fiction has a strong autobiographical flavor; he apparently cast himself as John Anders in Tobacco Town and Grasshopper Farm.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Tobacco Town, circa 1941-1975 and undated.

About 20 items.

One apparently complete typed version of the novel, with Seeman's emendations, and many typed fragments and stray chapters, none of which are dated.

Folder 1-4

Folder 1

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder 4

An apparently complete version, pp. 1-696. #04031, Subseries: "1.1. Tobacco Town, circa 1941-1975 and undated." Folder 1-4

Folder 5-16

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

Folder 15

Folder 16

Various incomplete versions and fragments. #04031, Subseries: "1.1. Tobacco Town, circa 1941-1975 and undated." Folder 5-16

Folder 17

Letter and novel synopsis for prospective publishers, undated. #04031, Subseries: "1.1. Tobacco Town, circa 1941-1975 and undated." Folder 17

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated.

About 50 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical by title.

Versions of novels, short stories, essays, and a play concerned with a host of topics. The three unpublished novels, The Bull and the Thrush, Grasshopper Farm, and Tumbling Creek, focus on slavery, Seeman's year living in an Orange County, North Carolina, cabin, and his mountain home in Tennessee, respectively. Published versions of some of the essays are included. Subjects of the essays include American business monopolies, radicalism, ornithology, and child development.

Folder 18

"Adventures of a Square Peg" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

"Basic Changes Needed in our Monopoly-Military Ruled Government" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 19

Folder 20

"Black Genius" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21

The Bull and the Thrush, 1-174 (1) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

The Bull and the Thrush, 1-174 (2) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 22

Folder 23

The Bull and the Thrush (carbon typescript, 1-159) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 23

Folder 24

The Bull and the Thrush (miscellaneous pages) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 24

Folder 25

"Christmas on Buckwater" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 25

Folder 26

"Come Winter, Come Spring" (1) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 26

Folder 27

"Come Winter, Come Spring" (2) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 27

Folder 28

"Come Winter, Come Spring" (3) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 28

Folder 29

"A Country Boy in a Fish-Eagle's Nest" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 29

Folder 30

"The Cup of Solitude" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 30

Folder 31

Duke University, book about (111-182) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 31

Folder 32

Duke University, book about (182-232) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 32

Folder 33

"The Fetishes We Worship" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 33

Folder 34

"The Flying Carpet" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 34

Folder 35

Grasshopper Farm, 1-325 #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 35

Folder 36

Grasshopper Farm (Chapter 1) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 36

Folder 37

"The Hand of Education in the South" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 37

Folder 38

"A Letter to a Young Person" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 38

Folder 39

"Mountain Murder" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 39

Folder 40

"Minktown" (cover page) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 40

Folder 41

"My Credo" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 41

Folder 42

Play (untitled) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 42

Folder 43

Sir Walter Raleigh, book about (1-94) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 43

Folder 44

Sir Walter Raleigh, book about (fragments) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 44

Folder 45

Slave narrative of James Brown #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 45

Folder 46

"Smiling Dragon: A Look at Duke University." See OP-P-3041/1-2 for a sketch and engraving plate of the frontispiece illustration of this essay. #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 46

Folder 47

"The Smoked Yankee" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 47

Folder 48

"Some Practical People" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 48

Folder 49

"Song of a Jackass" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 49

Folder 50

"Spring Notes from the Mountains" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 50

Folder 51

"Square Pegs" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 51

Folder 52

"Ten Years in a Liberal College by an Ex-Employee" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 52

Folder 53

"That Old Stove in the Willis Store" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 53

Folder 54

"There's History in Your Vegetable Garden" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 54

Folder 55

"This Day and Time" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 55

Folder 56

Tumbling Creek (fragments) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 56

Folder 57

Tumbling Creek (Chapters 2, 4, and 5) #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 57

Folder 58

"The Two White Horses" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 58

Folder 59

Untitled manuscript #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 59

Folder 60

"A Warning About Pellagra" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 60

Folder 61

"What Does Your Boy Want to Be?" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 61

Folder 62

"What's Next?" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 62

Folder 63

"Windy Drizzle" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 63

Folder 64

"Who Defeated Senator Frank Graham?" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 64

Folder 65

"Wind and Smoke, 1925" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 65

Folder 66

"Young Men in Earnest" #04031, Subseries: "1.2. Other Writings, 1928-1975 and undated." Folder 66

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated.

About 65 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical by type.

Miscellaneous items culled from the heterogeneous mass of material originally received at the Southern Historical Collection. (See "Collection Overview.") A description of the contents of each folder follows.

Folder 67

Letters from Elizabeth to Ernest Seeman. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 67

Folder 68

Letters to Ernest Seeman from others, notably one letter from Herbert Aptheker and one from Seeman's only son, Bill. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 68

Folder 69

Letters from Ernest to Elizabeth Seeman. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 69

Folder 70

Letters from Ernest Seeman to unidentified others. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 70

Folder 71

Letters to Elizabeth Seeman from others. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 71

Folder 72

Correspondence between Ernest Seeman and Blanche Ayres Reynolds, 1932. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 72

Folder 73

Deed of gift to Elizabeth Seeman from Ernest Seeman, 1938. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 73

Folder 74

Duke University Press Material. Includes annual reports, 1936-1938; catalog of titles published, 1936-1937; several brief histories of the Press; and memoirs. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 74

Folder 75

Fifty Years: The Seeman Printery, 1885-1935 by E. D. Fowler. Published volume. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 75

Folder 76

A numerical list of subjects of interest to Ernest Seeman. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 76

Folder 77

Master's thesis on Ernest Seeman by Susan Singleton Rose. Provides biographical and family background as well as a close study of Seeman's firing from Duke University. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 77

Folder 78

Royalty statement for Elizabeth Seeman's The Talking Dog and the Barking Man #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 78

Folder 79

"The Story-Tellers Ring," official stationery of a literary group Ernest Seeman helped found. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 79

Folder 80

Description of Tumbling Creek cabin, the Seeman's home in Tennessee. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 80

Folder 81

Tumbling Creek Cabin Library. Printed materials and newspaper articles on this lending library started in 1965. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 81

Folder 82

Who's Who entry for Ernest Seeman, 1932-1933. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 82

Folder 83

Actually a box of miscellaneous scraps of notes, writings, routine correspondence, and other items, all unarranged. This box mirrors both the chaotic condition of the papers before processing and Ernest Seeman's eccentric work habits. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 83

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Notebooks, 1933-1964.

About 20 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly writing notes by Seeman and some diary entries. In some notebooks, Seeman also included newspaper clippings that interested him. Quoted titles are those that Seeman gave particular notebooks. Note that many of these notebooks are embrittled and very fragile. An addition, a photocopy of "A Review of American Gold by Ernest Seeman with a Biography of the Author" by Susan Singleton Rose (1979), was included in Box 6.

Folder 84

1933 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 84

Folder 85

October 1934 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 85

Folder 86-88

Folder 86

Folder 87

Folder 88

1934 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 86-88

Folder 89

October 1935-January 1936 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 89

Folder 90

"Trauma notes," 1936 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 90

Folder 91

"Trauma notes," October 1938-1939 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 91

Folder 92

May 1937-March 1939 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 92

Folder 93

"Mountain lore," 15 October 1940-February 1941 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 93

Folder 94

"Trauma notes," 10 May 1941-October 1941 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 94

Folder 95

"Trauma notes," 3 October 1941-1 January 1942 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 95

Folder 96

"Trauma notes," 3 January 1942-10 March 1942 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 96

Folder 97

"Trauma notes," 10 March 1942-September 1942 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 97

Folder 98

"Trauma notes," 16 September 1942-23 May 1943 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 98

Folder 99

"Trauma notes," 24 May 1943-1 November 1943 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 99

Folder 100

"Trauma notes," 1 November 1943-26 April 1944 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 100

Folder 101

"Trauma notes," April 1944-December 1946 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 101

Folder 102

July 1948-November 1948 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 102

Folder 103

16 October 1950-November 1950 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 103

Folder 104

April 1964-October 1964 #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 104

Folder 105

"Cane Creek Notebook," undated #04031, Series: "3. Notebooks, 1933-1964." Folder 105

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Pictures, circa 1907-1970 and undated.

About 200 items.

Photographs of Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman, plus photographs of Ernest Seeman's early Durham, North Carolina, friends, circa 1907. Sketches and drawings by both Seemans, apparently from the time they were in Tennessee, are also included. Elizabeth Seeman worked during this time as a freelance illustrator.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.1. Photographs.

Image P-4031/1-22

P-4031/1

P-4031/2

P-4031/3

P-4031/4

P-4031/5

P-4031/6

P-4031/7

P-4031/8

P-4031/9

P-4031/10

P-4031/11

P-4031/12

P-4031/13

P-4031/14

P-4031/15

P-4031/16

P-4031/17

P-4031/18

P-4031/19

P-4031/20

P-4031/21

P-4031/22

Photographs of Ernest Seeman, mostly in poses in and around the Tumbling Creek cabin, Tennessee, circa 1952-1972. The earliest photograph of Seeman in the collection, taken circa 1925-1934, is P-4031/20. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/1-22

Image P-4031/23-27

P-4031/23

P-4031/24

P-4031/25

P-4031/26

P-4031/27

Photographs of Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman, in and around the Tumbling Creek cabin and elsewhere. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/23-27

Image P-4031/28-29

P-4031/28

P-4031/29

Photographs of Ernest Seeman and unidentified others around the Tumbling Creek cabin from the 1960s and 1970s. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/28-29

Image P-4031/30-39

P-4031/30

P-4031/31

P-4031/32

P-4031/33

P-4031/34

P-4031/35

P-4031/36

P-4031/37

P-4031/38

P-4031/39

Photographs of Elizabeth Seeman in and around the Tumbling Creek cabin, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/30-39

Image P-4031/40-52

P-4031/40

P-4031/41

P-4031/42

P-4031/43

P-4031/44

P-4031/45

P-4031/46

P-4031/47

P-4031/48

P-4031/49

P-4031/50

P-4031/51

P-4031/52

Three photographs of Julia Henry Seeman, Ernest Seeman's first wife, and other women and girls of Durham, 1907. The location of these pictures is downtown Durham. Researchers may be interested in the picture backgrounds and dress of these women. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/40-52

Image P-4031/53-55

P-4031/53

P-4031/54

P-4031/55

Photographs of various members of the Explorers' Club in various outdoor scenes surrounding Durham, in 1933. Seeman helped found this club. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/53-55

Image P-4031/55a

Photograph of the Tumbling Creek cabin, undated. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/55a

Image P-4031/56-67

P-4031/56

P-4031/57

P-4031/58

P-4031/59

P-4031/60

P-4031/61

P-4031/62

P-4031/63

P-4031/64

P-4031/65

P-4031/66

P-4031/67

Photographs of unidentified people, some involved in protests, undated. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/56-67

Image P-4031/68-76

P-4031/68

P-4031/69

P-4031/70

P-4031/71

P-4031/72

P-4031/73

P-4031/74

P-4031/75

P-4031/76

Unidentified outdoor photographs, probably taken in the Tennessee mountains near Tumbling Creek, undated. #04031, Subseries: "4.1. Photographs." P-4031/68-76

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.2 Drawings.

Drawings by Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman, chiefly of people and animals. In a separate sleeve are several sketches by Elizabeth Seeman. These drawings are unnumbered; they are filed following the photographs.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Chuck Israel, October 1988

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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