The Collection:
WCU Hunter Library Special Collections

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Institution Overview

Western Carolina University (WCU) was founded in 1889 to bring higher education and career opportunities to the western region of North Carolina. A member of the University of North Carolina system, WCU now provides an education to more than 9,000 students from 46 states and 39 countries. Hunter Library serves the University community and contains more than 700,000 books and bound periodical volumes, and one million units of microform. The Library's Catalog can be searched online. The library subscribes to over 40,000 serials, including regional, national, and international newspapers.  Hunter Library also serves as a selective federal and state depository. In addition, the Library maintains an extensive map collection, a curriculum materials center, and a Special Collections unit. The Library also provides access to online indexes and other electronic resources available through the Internet.  For more information about Hunter Library collections, hours, and contacts, please visit their website.

Collection Overview

The Special Collections unit of Hunter Library maintains manuscript collections, books, photographs, and other resources documenting the history of western North Carolina and southern Appalachia, the history of the Cherokee Indians, literary works and papers of authors residing in or native to western North Carolina, the behavior of spiders, and the history of Western Carolina University.  Materials include books and ephemeral publications, letters, diaries, business and financial records, legal documents, literary productions, maps, news clippings, photographs and digital collections. Special Collections is open to the public; visit their website for more information on collections, hours, and contact information.

Collection Descriptions

Regional Photographs Collection
The Regional Photographs collection is an ongoing effort to assemble images documenting the historical and literary heritage of Southern Appalachia.  The Regional Photographs collection contains regional images that primarily feature western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia, and includes both photographs and postcards.  The majority of the items date from the 1890s into the 1960s.  Materials selected for this project include photographs and postcards pertaining to specific locations or cultural groups that provide historical and geographical context for the Craft Revival movement within the western North Carolina region. 

[See items selected from this collection]

Printed Documents Collection
The Printed Documents collection contains ephemeral publications concerning Southern Appalachia.  These materials include brochures, time-limited promotional literature, posters, late 19th and early 20th century regional newspapers, and maps. Materials selected for this project include items pertaining to specific locations that provide historical and geographical context for the Craft Revival movement within the western North Carolina region. 

[See items selected from this collection]

Special Collections Books
Books housed in Special Collections fall into three categories: (1) books relevant to a specific manuscript collection, (2) rare subject collections related to the unit’s areas of collecting interest, and (3) books selected for the Library’s general collections but that would be difficult to replace if damaged or lost.  Books include limited editions, signed copies, rare books, and books of regional interest.  A majority of the materials pertain to regional history and culture, Appalachian wilderness, literary works, and the behavior of spiders.  Materials selected for this project include excerpted items pertaining to specific locations that provide historical and geographical context for the Craft Revival movement within the western North Carolina region. 

[See items selected from this collection]

Margaret Bare Collection
The Margaret Bare Collection consists primarily of photographs of the Axley and Meroney families of Cherokee County, North Carolina, and of the town of Murphy and the Cherokee County area.  Most of the photographs are of individuals or of group or family pictures.  Several images feature schools or social events.  Most of the items are from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Materials selected for this project include items pertaining to specific locations that provide historical and geographical context for the Craft Revival movement within the western North Carolina region.

[See items selected from this collection]

Hazel Scarborough Collection
The Hazel Scarborough Collection contains several groups of correspondence, most of which concern relatives of Hazel Scarborough.  These groups are:  (1) letters of Auyer Cole of Asheville, N.C., to his family during his service in World War I, 1917-1918; (2) letters of William B. Simpson of Weaverville, N.C., to his family during his service in Korea, 1953; (3) letters and papers of the E.C. Cole family of Asheville, 1914-1918; (4) letters and papers of the E.W. Roberts family of Asheville, 1902-1940; (5) letters received by Elizabeth Morgan and Nola Morgan of Candler, N.C., 1941; and, papers of Robert Hamilton (Ham) Hyatt (1884-1963) of Candler.  Hyatt was a major league baseball player in the early 1900s.  In addition, photographs in the collection include pictures in the vicinity of Candler, North Carolina, from the early 1900s.  Materials selected for this project include items pertaining to specific locations that provide historical and geographical context for the Craft Revival movement within the western North Carolina region.

[See items selected from this collection]

John Parris Collection
The John Parris Collection contains papers of journalist and author John A. Parris (1914-1999), including documents relative to his journalistic and historical interests.  Parris served as a war correspondent during World War II and reported from the North African and European theaters.  After the war he became noted for his "Roaming the Mountains" column that was a regular feature of the Asheville Citizen and Asheville Citizen-Times newspapers from the 1950s to the 1990s.  Parris authored several books from 1943 to 1992, most of which relate to the history and culture of western North Carolina. Materials selected for this project include items pertaining to specific locations that provide historical and geographical context for the Craft Revival movement within the western North Carolina region.

[See items selected from this collection]

Horace Kephart Collection
The Horace Kephart Collection contains the papers of Horace Kephart (1862-1931), a noted naturalist, woodsman, journalist, and author.  Kephart was born in 1862 in East Salem, Pennsylvania, but spent much of his youth in Iowa.  Before his death in an automobile accident in 1931, he achieved fame and success in two careers.  Trained as a librarian, Kephart achieved national recognition during his years as director of the Mercantile Library in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1890 to 1903.  In April 1904 Kephart arrived in western North Carolina to begin his life anew.  He chose a simple lifestyle and “nature-as-healer” approach.  He immersed himself in the natural environment and took an immediate interest in the history and culture of the people.  Over the next two decades, Kephart became a recognized authority on both the cultural and natural history of the region.  He wrote hundreds of articles on outdoor activities and about the Southern Appalachian people, but was especially renowned for his books Our Southern Highlanders and Camping and Woodcraft

The Kephart Collection contains:  (1) correspondence from 1907 to 1931; (2) draft articles and speeches by Kephart; (3) magazines containing articles written by Kephart; (4) newspaper clippings of articles by Kephart; (5) hundreds of magazines on outdoor life and camping for the period 1904 – 1931 and hundreds of newspaper clippings of regional interest; (6) 280 photographs of regional scenery, people, homes, and camps; (7) over 400 brochures and booklets on camping and outdoor activities; (8) 179 maps of the Appalachian region; and (9) 27 personal journals that essentially form an “encyclopedia” on all aspects of the physical and human world of Southern Appalachia in the early 20th century. 

Specific materials from the Kephart Collection have not been selected for inclusion in the Craft Revival project’s virtual collection.  However, the Kephart Collection contains considerable historical information about the region, as well as information about handmade items and rural life during the Craft Revival period.  Portions of the Kephart Collection have been digitized in a separate project and can provide additional contextual information for the Craft Revival movement in western North Carolina. See Hunter Library’s web site, Horace Kephart:  Revealing an Enigma.