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Collection Number: 04996-z

Collection Title: J.B. Willis Papers, 1874-1877

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 1 volume (205 p.)
Abstract J.B. Willis (b. 1851), a native of Delaware, was a Methodist minister and teacher at New Orleans University, an African-American school in New Orleans, La., and at a normal school in Huntsville, Ala. J.B. Willis's diary, 1874-1877, describes his daily activities while he was teaching at New Orleans University, an African-American school in New Orleans, La., and at a normal school in Huntsville, Ala., and also his activities and observations during trips to Texas and Mexico. Willis's diary records his observations of New Orleans weather, social life, and public events, including parades, Mardi Gras, sessions of the Louisiana state legislature, and religious revivals. Willis described the evangelism in New Orleans of Maggie Newton Van Cott (b. 1830), the first woman licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. The diary also describes traveling by wagon, flatboat, steamer, and railroad to Texas in 1874, and people, animals, and landscape along the way. In Huntsville, Ala., Willis recorded his observations of the natural world as well as people, church services, and revivals during the year he administered a new normal school and taught a theological class. In Mexico, in December 1876, Willis described Tampico, Tuxpan, Vera Cruz, and Mexico City. In Mexico City, he reported on social occasions, tours, and day trips, including visits to Chapultepec, the Baths of Montezuma, the Guiterraz marble factory, the lava fields near Pedregal, "a very ancient pyramid of adobe bricks," gardens, churches, private mansions, museums, and the unfinished public library.
Creator Willis, J.B., b. 1851.
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.
Provenance
Received from Terry Alford in September 1999 (Acc. 98467).
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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J.B. Willis (b. 1851), a native of Delaware, was a Methodist minister and teacher at New Orleans University, an African-American school in New Orleans, La., and at a normal school in Huntsville, Ala.

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Diary, 1874-1877, of J.B. Willis (b. 1851). In the diary, Willis describes his daily activities as a teacher at New Orleans University, an African-American school in New Orleans, La., and at a normal school in Huntsville, Ala.), and also his activities and observations during trips to Texas and Mexico. Willis's diary records his observations of New Orleans weather, social life, and public events, including parades, Mardi Gras, sessions of the Louisiana state legislature, and religious revivals. Willis described the evangelism in New Orleans of Maggie Newton Van Cott (b. 1830), the first woman licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. The diary also describes traveling by wagon, flatboat, steamer, and railroad to Texas in 1874, and people, animals, and landscape along the way. In Huntsville, Ala., Willis recorded his observations of the natural world as well as people, church services, and revivals during the year he administered a new normal school and taught a theological class. In Mexico, in December 1876, Willis described Tampico, Tuxpan, Vera Cruz, and Mexico City. In Mexico City, he reported on social occasions, tours, and day trips, including visits to Chapultepec, the Baths of Montezuma, the Guiterraz marble factory, the lava fields near Pedregal, "a very ancient pyramid of adobe bricks," gardens, churches, private mansions, museums, and the unfinished public library.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Diary, 1874-1877.

1 volume (205 p.).

Diary, 1874-1877, of J.B. Willis (b. 1851), Methodist minister and teacher at New Orleans University and at a new normal school in Huntsville, Ala. An inscription in the front of the diary notes that the volume was given to Willis on 14 December 1873 as "a gift from the President of the New Orleans University, the Rev. I. S. Leavitt, to be used as my Diary, for the year 1874." In the diary, Willis recorded his daily activities while he was teaching and also on trips to Texas and Mexico.

Willis's diary records his observations of New Orleans weather, social life, and public events. In it, he reported on the New Year's Eve parade, the celebration of Mardi Gras, and sessions of the Louisiana state legislature. He also described a religious revival in New Orleans in 1874, including his own preaching at several black Baptist or Methodist churches and the activities of Maggie Newton Van Cott (b. 1830), a woman evangelist, who was the first woman licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.

Traveling by wagon, flatboat, steamer, and railroad to Texas in 1874, Willis described hotels, travel accommodations, people, animals, and the landscape. In Louisiana, he encountered "immense tracts of prairie country with occasional plantations of sugar cane and rice, with some little corn ... Grand forests of moss laden cypress, with tropical jungles of cane and brushwood ... " and, in Texas, "broad prairie country with frequent tracts of timber ... and the finest crops of corn, cane and cotton ... and huge droves of cattle as far as the eye could reach on the prairie--also a herd of deer and lots of prairie chickens." Willis visited Galveston, Houston, Columbus, La Grange, Austin, San Antonio, Cuero, and Indianola. In San Antonio, he reported on the Alamo, ox teams gathered around the market, the large number of Mexicans, a visit to the Conception Mission, and unusual animals.

Willis recorded little of his return to New Orleans and trip through Memphis and Cincinnati to his home in Delaware, nothing of his two-month stay in Delaware, and little of his journey from there to Huntsville, Ala. He resumed a more detailed diary when he arrived in Huntsville. There he administered a new normal school and taught a theological class. His diary records his observations of the natural world in Alabama as well as people and church services. In describing a religious revival in Huntsville in March 1875, he noted, "The meetings develop all that wildness peculiar to the people and some features are much to be regretted, but God seems willing to suit himself to the mental capacities and instruction of every one and we must have the greatest charity for all while we condone the degrading."

Willis wrote only a few pages between July 1875 and December 1876. On 1 December 1876, he resumed making regular entries, beginning with descriptions of his preparations for a trip to Mexico and continuing during his travels. In Mexico, Willis recorded observations of Tampico, Tuxpan, Vera Cruz, and Mexico City. In Mexico City, Willis met Dr. Butler, leader of the local Methodist community; Dr. Skelton, the American consul; and Col. John W. Foster of Indiana, the U.S. Minister. With them, he attended social occasions, tours, and day trips, including visits to Chapultepec, the Baths of Montezuma, the Guiterraz marble factory, the lava fields near Pedregal, "a very ancient pyramid of adobe bricks," gardens, churches, private mansions, museums, and the unfinished public library. Willis devoted several pages to describing "Don Carlos' Wall of Art," where he saw art work dating back to 1610.

Willis recorded in his diary that he left Vera Cruz on 4 January 1877 aboard the City of Merida. After stops in Progresso, seaport of Merida, and Havana, he reached New York on 15 January, New Haven on 16 January, and Boston on 17 January 1877, at which point the diary ends.

Folder 1

Diary #04996-z, Series: "Diary, 1874-1877." Folder 1

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