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Collection Number: P0051

Collection Title: Lyman A. Cotten Photographic and Printed Material Collection, circa 1870s-1960s

This collection has use restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

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.


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Size 34.4 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2,900 items)
Abstract Lyman Atkinson Cotten (1909-1990) graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1936 and from Yale University in 1941. He taught English at the University of North Carolina for 34 years, retiring in 1974. Cotten was a trustee of the Order of the Gimghouls, a secret society at the University, from 1952 until his death. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the Modern Language Association. The collection contains about 2,900 items related to Lyman A. Cotten's family. Included are materials created by or related to his parents, Lyman A. Cotten (1874-1926) and Elizabeth Henderson Cotten; his grandparents, Robert Randolph Cotten and Sallie Southall Cotten; his brother, John Henderson Cotten; and his uncle, Bruce Cotten, and his wife, Edyth Johns Tyson Cotten. Some images relate to the naval careers of members of the Cotten family.
Creator Cotten, Lyman A., 1909-1990.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
For copyright and use restrictions contact the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Lyman A. Cotten Photographic and Printed Material Collection (P0051), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
The Lyman A. Cotten Photographic and Printed Material Collection was a gift of his widow, Patsy White Cotten.
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

Lyman A. Cotten (1909-1990), the son of Lyman A. Cotten (1839-1928) and Elizabeth Henderson Cotten, graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1936 and from Yale University in 1941. He taught English at the University of North Carolina for 34 years, retiring in 1974. Cotten was a trustee of the Order of the Gimghouls, a secret society at the University, from 1952 until his death. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the Modern Language Association.

Lyman A. Cotten (1874-1926), Lyman A. Cotten's father, a diplomat and naval officer, was born in Pitt County, N.C., the son of Robert Randolph Cotten and Sallie Southall Cotten. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1898 and served in the Spanish-American War and in World War I. In 1908, he married Elizabeth Brownrigg Henderson (Bessie). Cotten's commands included the U.S.S. Columbia, the U.S.S. Zafiro, the U.S.S. Nebraska, the U.S.S. Chattanooga, and the U.S.S. Richmond. His naval and diplomatic assignments took him to Cuba, Puerto Rico, South America, the Philippines, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, England, and the eastern Mediterranean. He was fond of naval history and wrote extensively. He died on 14 January 1926 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A naval destroyer was named in his honor.

John Henderson Cotten (1913-1982), Lyman A. Cotten's brother, graduated in 1935 from the United States Naval Academy. In 1945, he was given command of the U.S.S. Badger. He was decorated for services in the Pacific during World War II that included a bronze star for action in the Kurile Islands. He briefly served as a Naval Liaison officer to the United States Army in Korea. In 1964, he worked for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs serving on the Multilateral Force.

Robert Randolph Cotten (1839-1928), Lyman A. Cotten's grandfather, was born on a farm in Edgecombe County, N.C. Prior to the Civil War, he was a prosperous cotton broker in Baltimore. When the conflict erupted, Cotten dissolved his enterprise and returned to North Carolina. After the war, he operated several successful businesses in the state. In 1866, Cotten married Sallie Swepson Sims Southall. He owned two plantations in Pitt County, one of which (Cottendale), was their permanent family residence. A respected member of his community, Cotten served as state representative in both houses of Congress as well as occupying several state and local offices.

Sallie Swepson Sims Southall Cotten (1846-1929), Lyman A. Cotten's grandmother, is best known for her role as a civic leader and work on behalf of the women's suffrage movement in North Carolina. She graduated from Greensboro College in 1863 and then worked as a schoolteacher. In 1866, she married Robert Randolph Cotten and settled into the life of a housewife and mother at their plantation, Cottendale. The couple had nine children. In 1893, she was appointed as a manager of the Chicago World's Fair. Through her research and travels, Sallie Southall Cotten met women from many parts of the country. She became active in the women's movement and was a leader in the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs for 25 years. The organization designated her an honorary president for life. She authored several works including The History of the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs, 1901-1925 (1925), and The White Doe (1901).

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The Lyman A. Cotten Photographic and Printed Material Collection contains about 2,900 items related to Lyman A. Cotten's family. Included are materials created by or related to his parents, Lyman A. Cotten (1874-1926) and Elizabeth Henderson Cotten; his grandparents, Robert Randolph Cotten and Sallie Southall Cotten; his brother, John Henderson Cotten; and his uncle, Bruce Cotten, and his wife, Edyth Johns Tyson Cotten.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Bruce Cotten and Edyth Johns Tyson Cotten Photographs, circa 1870s-1960s.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s.

13.5 linear feet

Arrangement: Original.

Includes materials related to John Henderson Cotten, brother of Lyman A. Cotten.

Flat Box 05

Album 1: Naval Photographs #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 05

Photographic Album

1 album

Flat Box 06

Album 2: Naval Photographs #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 06

Photographic Album

1 album

Flat Box 07

Album 3: Naval Photographs #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 07

Photographic Album

1 album

Flat Box 08

Album 4: Naval Photographs (on U.S.S. Galvenston) #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 08

Photographic Album

1 album

Flat Box 09

35mm Color Slides: Japan, circa 1950s #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 09

Color 35mm Roll Film Transparencies

Includes trays 1-18.

Flat Box 10

35mm Color Slides: 1950s #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 10

Color 35mm Roll Film Transparencies

Includes trays 19-37.

Flat Box 11

35mm Color Slides: Miscellaneous Dated and Identified #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 11

Color 35mm Roll Film Transparencies

Flat Box 12

35mm Color Slides: Miscellaneous Undated and Unidentified #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 12

Color 35mm Roll Film Transparencies

Flat Box 13

35mm Color Slides: Miscellaneous Undated and Unidentified #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 13

Color 35mm Roll Film Transparencies

Flat Box 14

Reel of 8mm Motion Picture Film #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 14

8mm Motion Picture Film

Flat Box 15

Oversized Photographic Prints and Printed Material #P0051, Series: "2. John Henderson Cotten Photographs, circa 1930s-1960s." 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Cotten Family Photographic Material, circa 1870s-1960s.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Unidentified Photographic and Print Material, circa 1870s-1960s.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Patrick Cullom, January 2012

Encoded by: Patrick Cullom, January 2012

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