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Collection Number: 04611

Collection Title: Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe Papers, 1819; 1836-1842; 1990

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 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 30 items)
Abstract Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe worked in India, 1840-1842, as a cotton culture advisor for the British East India Company. In 1842, Wolfe returned to the United States where he married Maria Bernard Temple of Fredericksburg, Va., and moved to New Orleans where he practiced law until his death. The collection is chiefly long, detailed letters, 1840-1842, from Wolfe relating to his service with the British East India Company in India, containing much description of the land and people of India, particularly those living around Bombay, where Wolfe was stationed. His position as advisor on the growing of cotton afforded him many opportunities to travel about the country and discuss agricultural and other issues with a wide variety of people. His letters include comments on religious practices, the condition of women, the physical beauty of the land, and the general poverty of the people. There is also a diary (circa 40 pp.) that Wolfe kept in 1842 on his journey home. The diary contains detailed observations on sites in Egypt, particularly Wolfe's visits to Cairo, the Sphinx, and the Great Pyramids; it also includes descriptions of Italy, particularly Naples and the surrounding countryside. There are also a speech that Wolfe delivered in 1836 at Louisiana College; two letters, 1836 and 1837, Wolfe wrote from Louisiana College about student and family life; and an 1819 letter written by his aunt in Virginia about her impending marriage.
Creator Wolfe, Thomas Roberdeau, 1819-1856.
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 Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe papers #4611, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Typed, annotated transcriptions of all materials in the collection are available.
Acquisitions Information
Gifts of Helen Wolfe Evans and Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr., of Laurinburg, N.C., in March 1992 (Acc. 92039).
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 Biographical Information

Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe (1819-1856) was the second child and first son of Mary Ann Patten Wolfe (1795-1822) and Dr. Thomas Wolfe (d. 1825). Mary Ann Patten Wolfe, born in Alexandria, Va., was the first child of Mary Roberdeau Patten and Thomas Patten. Dr. Wolfe was the second son of Lewis Wolfe, attorney in Winchester, Va.; state senator, 1804-1811; and trustee of Winchester Academy (est. 1786). Dr. Wolfe was born in Winchester, Va., and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he studied medicine. After working as a doctor in London, he returned to the United States, where he set up a practice in Philadelphia. Later he settled in Winchester and married a Miss Cowan with whom he had four children: Alfred; Addison; Catherine; and Sidney. His first wife having died, on 14 May 1816, he married Mary Ann Patten. He and his family moved to Culpepper Courthouse in 1818. The couple had four children: Mary DeNeale (b. 1817); Thomas Roberdeau; Joseph Lewis (1821-1833); and James Edward (January-July 1822). Mary Ann Patten Wolfe died 23 August 1822, and Dr. Wolfe died 25 December 1825.

Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe was born 7 May 1819 in Culpepper. Orphaned at a young age, he went to live with his maternal uncle, Joseph May Patten, in Lake Providence, La. Wolfe was educated at Louisiana College in Jackson, La. In 1840, at the age of 21, he went to work for the British East India Company as a cotton culture advisor in India. He returned to the United States in 1842, and, on 25 July 1843, married Maria Bernard Temple of Fredericksburg, Va. About the same time, he moved to New Orleans, where he practiced law for thirteen years. The Wolfes had seven children: Robert Temple; Mary Patten; Elise; Charlotte Carter; Maria Temple; Ellen Roberdeau; and Thomas Roberdeau, Jr. He died of consumption at Sharon Springs, N.Y., on 6 July 1856.

(Based on a biographical note in The Collected Papers and Letters of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe by Helen Wolfe Evans, 1990.)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection consists of materials from Wolfe's pre-India days and materials generated during his stay in India and his journey back to the United States. The pre-India materials include a speech on ambition that Wolfe delivered on 28 November 1836 at Louisiana College. The occasion for the speech is unknown. There are also two letters, 1836 and 1837, written by Wolfe while a student at Louisiana College to his uncle, in which Wolfe discussed the progress of his studies and inquired about activities at home. Also included is a letter not directly related to Wolfe, but written by his aunt, Harriet Rozier Patten, in Winchester, Va., 15 January 1819, to her sister, Mary Ann Patten Wolfe, in which she discussed her impending marriage to John W. Miller, a widower with two children.

The bulk of the papers are letters from Wolfe, 1840-1842, relating to his service with the British East India Company in India. The earliest letters were written home as Wolfe journeyed first to England and then on to India; the last letters were written on his return journey. Most of these letters were composed over a period of days, sometimes weeks, and record in great detail all that Wolfe did and saw. There is much description of the land and people of India, particularly those living around Bombay, where Wolfe was stationed. His position as advisor on the growing of cotton afforded him many opportunities to travel about the country and discuss agricultural and other issues with a wide variety of people. His letters include comments on religious practices, the condition of women, the physical beauty of the land, and the general poverty of the people.

Also included is a diary, about 40 pages, that Wolfe kept from February through April 1842, documenting a portion of his journey home. The diary contains detailed observations on sites in Egypt, particularly Wolfe's visits to Cairo, the Sphinx, and the Great Pyramids. It also includes descriptions of Italy, particularly Naples and the surrounding countryside.

There is also a typed, annotated transcription of all materials in the collection that was prepared by Helen Wolfe Evans in 1990 and bound together as The Collected Papers of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe, 197 pages.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Pre-India Materials, 1819-1837.

4 items.

A speech on ambition that Wolfe delivered on 28 November 1836 at Louisiana College, occasion unknown; two letters, 1836 and 1837, written by Wolfe while a student at Louisiana College to his uncle, in which Wolfe discussed the progress of his studies and inquired about activities at home; and a letter written by Wolfe's aunt, Harriet Rozier Patten, in Winchester, Va., 15 January 1819, to her sister, Mary Ann Patten Wolfe, in which she discussed her impending marriage to John W. Miller, a widower with two children.

Folder 1

Louisiana College #04611, Series: "1. Pre-India Materials, 1819-1837." Folder 1

Folder 2

Patten, Harriet Rozier #04611, Series: "1. Pre-India Materials, 1819-1837." Folder 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. India Materials, 1840-1842.

About 25 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Letters Relating to India.

Letters, 1840-1842, relating to Wolfe's service with the British East India Company in India. The earliest letters were written as Wolfe journeyed first to England and then on to India; the last letters were written on his return journey. Most of these letters were composed over a period of days, sometimes weeks, and record in great detail all that Wolfe did and saw. There is much description of the land and people of India, particularly those living around Bombay, where Wolfe was stationed. His position as advisor on the growing of cotton afforded him many opportunities to travel about the country and discuss agricultural and other issues with a wide variety of people. His letters include comments on religious practices, the condition of women, the physical beauty of the land, and the general poverty of the people.

Folder 3

1840 #04611, Subseries: "2.1. Letters Relating to India." Folder 3

Folder 4

1841 January-June #04611, Subseries: "2.1. Letters Relating to India." Folder 4

Folder 5

1841 July-December #04611, Subseries: "2.1. Letters Relating to India." Folder 5

Folder 6

1842 #04611, Subseries: "2.1. Letters Relating to India." Folder 6

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Diary, 1842.

1 item.

Diary, about 40 pages, that Wolfe kept from February through April 1842, documenting a portion of his journey home. The diary contains detailed observations on sites in Egypt, particularly Wolfe's visits to Cairo, the Sphinx, and the Great Pyramids. It also includes descriptions of Italy, particularly Naples and the surrounding countryside.

Folder 7

Diary, 1842 #04611, Subseries: "2.2. Diary, 1842." Folder 7

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. The Collected Papers of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe, 1990.

1 item.

A typed, annotated transcription of all materials in the collection that was prepared by Helen Wolfe Evans in 1990 and bound together as The Collected Papers of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe, 197 pages. The volume includes photocopies of photographs of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe and Maria Bernard Temple Wolfe and of a painting of Dr. Thomas Wolfe. There is also a brief biographical sketch and description of the contents. The volume consists of the following transcriptions:

Pages 4-7 Louisiana College speech

Pages 8-11 Letters from Louisiana College

Pages 12-14 Harriet Rozier Patten letter

Pages 15-160 Letters relating to India

Pages 161-197 Diary

Folder 8-10

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

The collected papers of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe, 1990 #04611, Series: "3. The Collected Papers of Thomas Roberdeau Wolfe, 1990." Folder 8-10

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, March 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Materials have been kept in the order in which they appear in the typed transcriptions provided by the donor.

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