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Collection Number: 00450

Collection Title: William P. McCorkle Papers, 1806-1922

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 Duplication Policy section for more information.

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1993.

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Size 10.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 4500 items)
Abstract William Parsons McCorkle (1855-1933) was an educator and Presbyterian minister in Virginia and North Carolina. The collection includes papers of William P. McCorkle and of his father, Alexander B. McCorkle (1806-1886), Presbyterian ministers, the father primarily in Talladega, Ala., and the son in Martinsville, Va., and several towns in North Carolina, espcially Burlington. Earlier papers are family correspondence, writings, and sermons. After 1910 there are some letters and writings on theological and social problems, with W. P. McCorkle expressing his views on the University of North Carolina, particularly the humanistic ideas of Howard Odum and others; the Mormon Church; Christian Science; and the Communist Party; and church participation in political activity, particularly Prohibition. Also present are papers of the family of Lutie Andrews (Mrs. William P.) McCorkle, daughter of Ezra Harnwood Andrews, a Charlotte, N.C., dentist in Charlotte, N.C., and prisoner at Point Lookout during the Civil War. Volumes include a diary of Lucilla Agnes Gamble (Mrs. Alexander B.) McCorkle, 1846-1860, chiefly concerned with religious and domestic activities. There is a large number of sermons by both ministers.
Creator McCorkle, William P. (William Parsons), 1855-1937.
Curatorial Unit University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.
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 William P. McCorkle Papers #450, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of Southern women and their families in the 19th century, Series A.
Acquisitions Information
Received from W. A. Murphy, before 1940.
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 Processing Information

Processed by: James Eldridge, 1936; Rebecca Hollingsworth, October 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, April 2010

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1993.

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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

William Parsons McCorkle, clergyman and religious writer, was born in Talladega, Ala., the second son and third child of Alexander B. and Lucila Agnes Cambol McCorkle. Alexander (1806 1886) was a native of Rockbridge County, Va., and a descendant of the McCorkle and Glasgow families of that state. A Presbyterian minister, he preached widely in Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama and later helped to found a synodical college for women in Talladega (later the Presbyterian Collegiate Institute and Isabell College). Lucila Cambol McCorkle was the daughter of an Alabama minister.

William McCorkle received his early education in private schools in Alabama, and, in 1870, he entered Washington and Lee University. Although referred to as "Dr. McCorkle" later in life, he was never graduated from Washington and Lee nor did he ever receive a D.D. degree. Rather, according to a eulogizer, "this degree was conferred upon him by those who knew him and his work."

After leaving Washington and Lee, McCorkle taught briefly at private schools in Staunton, Va., and Lenoir, N.C. In 1876, he was licensed to preach by the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and five years later was ordained. In 1879, he married Sarah Tallulah (Lutie) Andrews, a Charlotte writer. From 1881 to 1884, he served as pastor to churches in Beaufort, LaGrange, and Elkin; he then was called to serve in El Paso, Tex. On his return to North Carolina in 1888, he became a minister of the Presbyterian Church and remained so until his death. After a brief pastorate in a rural church near Charlotte (1888-1889), McCorkle served churches in High Point, Jamestown, and Lexington (1889-1891), Shelby (1891-1896), Graham (1896-1901), Savannah, Ga. (1901-1907), Martinsville, Va. (1908-1919), and Burlington, N.C. (1920-1921). From 1921 until his death, he served several churches of the Orange Presbytery in the Burlington area, and, in 1927, he became pastor-at-large for the presbytery.

Although McCorkle was well known among Presbyterians for his preaching and pastoring, he became best known to the public through his many writings. His interest in the relationship of Christianity to science and the modern world led him to publish one book, Christian Science; or, the False Christ of 1866 , and a host of articles in church publications. Particularly during 1925 and 1926, he became a leader of ministerial opposition to the sociologist Howard W. Odum and the Journal of Social Forces at the University of North Carolina. McCorkle wrote frequent articles expressing his views in newspapers in Charlotte, Greensboro, and other Piedmont cities, and he produced a controversial pamphlet attacking Odum and modern science, entitled Anti Christian Sociology as Taught in the Journal of Social Forces During this time, he also was active in mustering the support of Presbyterians for the Poole bill, introduced by Representative D. Scott Poole in 1926 to prohibit the teaching of evolution in the state's schools.

McCorkle continued to preach until his death, becoming involved near the end of his life in efforts to oppose the national unification of Presbyterian, Reformed, and other Calvinist churches. He died and was buried in Burlington. He was survived by his wife; no record exists of any children.

(This biographical note was taken from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography , volume 4.)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists primarily of sermons and related writings by William Parsons McCorkle of Virginia and North Carolina and his father Alexander B. McCorkle of Alabama. Also included are volumes, clippings and printed materials, some correspondence, other writings, and pictures.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1806-1933.

About 800 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence includes include a letter (1846) giving a description of the Hudson River, Niagara Falls, and Quebec, which was called a very dirty, walled city with "fortifications next to Gibralter"; a letter (1861) commenting on Lincoln's "foolish steps" and on "his last act--war with Europe"; a letter (1864) giving some insight into camp life including the writers having to slept on naked board, complaints about lack of food, and the great desire to return to his family; a letter (1872) commenting on the life and customs of Hang Chow, China, and describing to some extent this city and Yokahoma, Japan; letters (1870s) that reveal experiences of a missionary in China and give insight into the character and lives of the Chinese; a number of letters (and papers in series 5) (early 1900s) pertaining to Christian Science; and a letter (1897) by Edward Everett Hale giving an account of Mary Baker Eddy's way of life and the services in her Christian Science Church in Boston.

There are also letters containing discussions of the First World War with comments on events leading up to the entrance of the United States into the conflict and descriptions of camp life and scenes from the war area.

After the war, correspondence includes letters (and papers in series 5) (circa 1924) on modernism and fundamentalism; letters concerning criticisms of the Journal of Social Forces; letters (1927 and 1929) criticizing the McNair lectures and one (1927) with information relating to John Calvin McNair; letters (and papers in series 5) (1927 and 1932) pertaining to communism, activities of radical organizations, the Sacco-Vanzetti case, and alleged atheistic teachings at the University of North Carolina; and letters (and sermons in series 2, clippings in series 4, and papers in series 5) (1909, 1930-1932, and other dates) discussing temperance, prohibition, and the participation of the Presbyterian Church in politics with particular reference to the proposed prohibition amendment and the Alabama constitutional amendment.

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January-September 1931

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October-December 1931

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January-August 1932

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September-October 1932

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November-December 1932

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1933 and undated

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Sermons and Other Writings, 1847-1925 and undated.

Arrangement: chronological.

Sermons, notes, and addresses. Sermons are of at least two different ministers and delivered at Talladega, Ala., and vicinity, El Paso, Tex., Lexington, High Point, Shelby, and Graham, N.C., and Martinsville, Va., from 1907 through the 1920s. There are sermons (and letters in series 1, clippings in series 4, and papers in series 5) (1909, 1931-1932 and other dates) on temperance, strong drink, prohibition, and the participation of the Presbyterian Church in politics with particular reference to the proposed prohibition amendment and the Alabama constitutional amendment.

Addresses include "Christian Science, or the False Christ of 1866"; "David Livingston--the Man and his Work" (1913); "Pastor Russel and his Gospel" (1916); "A Word as to the Mecklenburg Declaration" (1917); "State Education in its Relation to the Churches"; "Ecclesiastical Censorship of the Press"; "Education and the Growth of Skepticism"; and "Education and Religion."

Among other writings are "Some War-Time Stories--General Sherman in Savannah" (1917), an account of the treatment accorded by Sherman and his army to the city of Savannah on its capitulation, and of the generosity of certain Northern cities to the poor people of the South near the close of the war; a manuscript "Cast Among Thorns" (1932), detailing McCorkle's experiences as a temperance preacher; "Walthall--A Story of Life in the New South"; "The Real John Calvin"; "The Life Work of John Calvin"; "Debt of the World to Puritanism"; "Mary Slocumb"; "Onslow Fifty Years Ago and Now"; "The Puritan Parson of New England"; and "An American Poet (Poe) Prophet of Science."

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January-August 1901

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September-December 1901

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January-May 1902

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June-November 1902

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December 1902

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Folder number not used

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January-May 1904

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June-October 1904

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November-December 1904

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January-June 1905

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July-December 1905

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January-April 1906

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May-September 1906

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October-November 1906

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December 1906

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January-May 1907

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June 1907

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July-August 1907

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September-November 1907

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December 1907

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January-March 1908

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April-May 1908

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June-August 1908

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September-November 1908

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December 1908

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January-March 1909

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April-May 1909

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June-August 1909

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September-October 1909

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November-December 1909

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January 1910

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February-March 1910

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April-May 1910

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July-December 1910

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January-April 1911

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May-July 1911

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September-October 1911

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November-December 1911

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January-April 1912

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May-June 1912

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July-August 1912

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September-October 1912

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November-December 1912

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January-March 1913

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April-May 1913

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June-July 1913

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August-September 1913

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November-December 1913

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January-February 1914

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March-April 1914

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May-June 1914

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July-August 1914

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September-October 1914

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November-December 1914

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January-March 1915

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April-May 1915

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June-August 1915

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September-October 1915

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November-December 1915

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January-February 1916

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March-May 1916

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June-September 1916

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October-December 1916

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January-May 1917

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June-September 1917

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October-December 1917

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January-March 1918

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April-June 1918

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July-December 1918

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January-April 1919

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May-December 1919

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January-July 1920

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August 1920

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September-October 1920

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November-December 1920

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January-March 1921

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April-June 1921

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July-September 1921

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October-December 1921

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January-March 1922

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April-June 1922

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July-October 1922

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November-December 1922

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January-March 1923

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April-May 1923

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June-October 1923

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November-December 1923

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January-April 1924

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May-December 1924

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January-August 1925

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September-December 1925

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January-August 1932

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September-December 1932

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Folder 96-158

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Volumes.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.1. Diaries of Lucila Agnes McCorkle, 1846-1860 and 1901-1907.

3 volumes.

Diaries kept by Lucila Agnes (Cambol) McCorkle, mother of William Parsons McCorkle, 1846-1860 and 1901-1907. Entries, 1846-1860, are long and introspective, primarily concerning Lucila McCorkle's religious views, prayers, and meditations; she also wrote of her family, her husband's activities, church services and their Sunday school work, the activities and amusements of her children, friends, neighbors and visitors, and of the synodical college for women in Talladega, founded by her husband Alexander B. McCorkle. As political affairs became more agitated, Lucila made a few references to them, mentioning an attempted slave insurrection in Talladega that led to the arrest of some of the slaves of the town, including the McCorkles' boy Dave (he was proved innocent and freed, though a number of others were hanged). In general, however, the diary is concerned with home life and religious life. Entries, 1901-1907, are shorter and less religious in tone, with greater emphasis on mundane family matters. In all three volumes, there are gaps between entries ranging from days to months in duration. Also included (in volume 2) is the daybook of John P. Davidson & Co., a general merchandise business in Talladega, Ala., 12 January 1835-20 October 1835.

Folder 159

Volume 1 (formerly v. 19) 1846-1858

Folder 160

Volume 2 (formerly v. 20) 1858-1860 (and daybook, 1835)

Folder 161

Volume 3 (formerly v. 6) 1901-1907

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.2. Commonplace Book of Mildred W. McCorkle, 1876-1877.

1 volume.

Mostly poetry (some original, by members of the McCorkle family) and some literary excerpts. The passages were presumably chosen by Mildred W. McCorkle, sister of William P. McCorkle (her name is written on the flyleaf).

Folder 162

Volume 4 (formerly v. 2)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.3. Pocket Diaries of William P. McCorkle, 1822-1832.

8 volumes.

Eight pocket diaries containing miscellaneous notes, including many quotations from books and magazines.

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Volumes 5-12 (formerly v. 8-15)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.4. Sermons and Related Notes, 1894-189?.

3 volumes.

Two volumes of complete sermons, one begun at Shelby, N.C., on 3 August 1894, and the other begun at Graham, N.C., on 1 May 1896; and one volume of notes, quotations, and fragments. All three volumes were presumably written by William P. McCorkle.

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"Sermons and Notes By Wm P. McCorkle Begun at Shelby, N.C. Aug. 3/94," Volume 13 (formerly v. 3)

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Volume 14 (formerly v. 4)

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Volume 15 (formerly v. 5)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.5. Notes on Greek Studies.

2 volumes.

One volume of notes on the grammar and vocabulary of the Greek language and one volume of notes on the Greek text of the Bible, possibly written by William. P. McCorkle.

Folder 167

Volume 16 (formerly v. 1)

Folder 168

Volume 17 (formerly v. 18)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.6. Miscellaneous Volumes.

3 volumes.

Two writing tablets containing rough drafts of chapters for a novel ("Walthall," author unknown), and a scrapbook probably compiled by Lucila Agnes McCorkle.

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Volume 18 (formerly v. 16) "Walthall"

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Volume 19 (formerly v. 17) "Walthall"

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Volume 20 (formerly v. 7) scrapbook

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Clippings, 1789-1932.

Arrangement: chronological.

Clippings and other printed material on such topics as Christian Science, temperance and prohibition, Joseph Smith and Mormonism, and other subjects of interest to McCorkle. Included are pamphlets on church, religious, temperance, and prohibition subjects: "Rowan (N.C.) Records--Early Settlers" (1914); "Should Churches Engage in Politics" (1914); "Historical Sins of Omission and Commission" (1915); "So-Called Fundamentalism" (1923); a pamphlet (1932) concerning criticisms of the University of North Carolina's admitting radical lecturers; and a pamphlet (1932) that allegedly corrects false historical records and accounts of the attitudes of Virginia leaders toward slavery and secession.

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January-May 1916

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June-December 1916

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Other printed material

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Other Papers.

Among these papers are a copy of the will of John Calvin McNair (1857); papers pertaining to Christian Science (early 1900s); papers on modernism and fundamentalism (1924 and other dates); papers on fundamentalism and liberalism in religion; papers on communism, activities of radical organizations, the Sacco-Vanzetti case, and alleged atheistic teachings in the University of North Carolina (1927 and 1932); papers on temperance and prohibition (1909, 1930-1932, and other dates); and papers on Sidney Lanier's career.

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Other Papers

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 6. Pictures.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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