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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., 1990-1992.
|Size||2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 975 items)|
|Abstract||John Henderson Cotten was a United States Naval Academy graduate and career naval officer. He commanded a destroyer in the Pacific in World War II and taught at various naval schools in the 1950s. The collection is chiefly weekly letters, 1931-1962, from Elizabeth Henderson Cotten (1875-1975) of Salisbury and Chapel Hill, N.C., librarian at the University of North Carolina, to her son, John Henderson Cotten, concerning work, family, and social matters, but also commenting on such topics as racial integration and the arts in Chapel Hill. Also included are several letters about family matters from John Cotten to his brother, Lyman A. Cotten (1909- ); several photographs of friends and relatives of Cotten; and a few items relating to Cotten's naval experience, including a Japanese map, captured by United States Marines, of Okinawa Island.|
|Creator||Cotten, John Henderson, 1913-1982.|
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.
Elizabeth Brownrigg Henderson was born in Salisbury, N.C., on 4 August 1875, the daughter of John Steele and Elizabeth Cain Henderson. She spent her childhood in Salisbury and in Washington, D.C., while her father served in Congress, 1885-1895. She graduated from St. Mary's School in Raleigh, N.C. Elizabeth Henderson and Lyman A. Cotten, a naval officer from North Carolina, were married in 1908. During Captain Cotten's naval career, Lyman and Elizabeth lived in the United States, China, Turkey, and Japan. While in the United States, Mrs. Cotten was active in the women's suffrage movement. Elizabeth Cotten moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1926, following the death of her husband. In 1932, she began working at the Southern Historical Collection of the University of North Carolina Library. She also served as the first executive secretary of the Friends of the Library. She died on 3 February 1975.
John Henderson Cotten was born in Karulzawa, Japan, in 1913 to Lyman A. Cotten, naval attache, and Elizabeth Henderson Cotten. In 1935, Cotten was graduated from the United States Naval Academy. He served on convoy duty with the United States Navy in the Atlantic until the outbreak of World War II. As commander of the U.S.S. Charles J. Badger, a destroyer, he was involved in the bombardment of the Gilbert Islands, Okinawa, and other Pacific Islands. Cotten was awarded the Bronze Star in 1945. Following the war, Cotten held several assignments, chiefly in Washington, D.C. He served at a number of service schools, including the Armed Forces College in Norfolk, Va. (1952); the Fleet School in Key West, Fla. (1953); and the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. (1956-1957). Cotten acted as naval liaison officer to the Eighth Army in South Korea in 1954. He also saw duty on naval vessels such as the Des Moines (1948-1950); the Compass Island (1959-1960); and the Galveston (1961). Cotten died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1982.
(Elizabeth Cotten information adapted from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, edited by William S. Powell.)Back to Top
The collection is chiefly weekly letters, 1931-1962, from Elizabeth Henderson Cotten (1875-1975) of Salisbury and Chapel Hill, N.C., librarian at the University of North Carolina, to her son, John Henderson Cotten, concerning work, family, and social matters, but also commenting on such topics as racial integration and the arts in Chapel Hill. Also included are several letters about family matters from John Cotten to his brother, Lyman A. Cotten (1909- ); several photographs of friends and relatives of Cotten; and a few items relating to Cotten's naval experience, including a Japanese map, captured by United States Marines, of Okinawa Island.Back to Top
Chiefly letters from Elizabeth Henderson Cotten to her son, John Henderson Cotten.
Elizabeth Cotten wrote her son as often as once or twice a week during most of the forty years covered in this collection. While these letters deal chiefly with family and social matters, Elizabeth Cotten also commented on such public figures as Frank Porter Graham, Harry S Truman, and Winston Churchill, as well as on issues such as race relations and integration, the cold war, and the arts, especially concerts and plays in the Chapel Hill area. There are some references to her work with the Friends of the Library at the University of North Carolina in the 1930s, with the Southern Historical Collection in the 1940s and 1950s, and with the restoration of Tryon Palace in New Bern, N.C., in 1959.
There are also a few letters from individuals other than Elizabeth Cotten. These include letters from John Cotten to Elizabeth Cotten and correspondence with his brother, Lyman Cotten. These letters deal with such matters as health and visits.
A memorandum, 1929, concerning naval insurance; a 1943 clipping relating to a social appearance by John Cotten; a 1953 list of donors to the University of North Carolina library, including Lyman Cotten; items relating to John Cotten's personal property; and a map of Okinawa captured from the Japanese by the United States Marines in 1945. According to Cotten, the map was used throughout the remainder of the operation, April-August 1945, because of its superiority to American maps of Okinawa.
Arrangement: by type.
Chiefly photographs of people, circa 1940s, most unidentified. Two photographs are of a man in uniform, probably John Cotten.
|Image Folder PF-1505/1|
Processed by: Mark Beasley with the assistance of Enola Guthrie, January 1987
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
Finding aid updated in June 2010 by Kathryn Michaelis for digitization.
This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.Back to Top