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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.
|Size||11.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 8,000 items)|
|Abstract||Bernice Kelly Harris (1891-1973) was an author and playwright, largely on southern topics, and leader in civic, cultural, and religious organizations of Seaboard, N.C. She participated in the W.P.A. Federal Writers' Project, collecting "life histories" of ordinary people in the South. The collection includes correspondence and writings of Bernice Kelly (Mrs. H. K.) Harris including letters from editors, publishers, other writers, and friends; fan mail; and writings. Correspondents include J. O. Bailey, W. T. Couch, Jonathan Daniels, Inglis Fletcher, L. H. Fountain, Harry Golden, Bernadette Hoyle, Sam Ragan, Thad Stem, Gilbert Thomas Stephenson, and Richard Gaither Walser. Also included are seventeen interviews conducted by Valerie Yow in 1996 and 1997 with relatives and friends of Bernice Kelly Harris.|
|Creator||Harris, Bernice Kelly.|
|Curatorial Unit||Southern Historical Collection|
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.
Bernice Kelly Harris (8 Oct. 1891-13 Sept. 1973) was born in Wake County, N.C., daughter of William Haywood and Rosa Poole Kelly. She attended Mt. Moriah Academy and Cary High School. She graduated from Meredith College in 1913. Harris worked briefly as a principal for a school at Beulaville, Duplin County, N.C. She also taught for three years at the South Fork Institute, near Maiden in Catawba County, N.C., an academy for training rural Baptist preachers. In 1917, she went to Seaboard High School in Northampton County, N.C. She taught English there from 1917 to 1927 except for a year in Rich Square (1921-1922).
During this time, Harris continued to pursue her education by attending summer school at the University of North Carolina. She studied playwriting in 1919 and 1920 under Frederick H. Koch. Koch's love for the folk play inspired Harris. She returned to Seaboard determined to spread the "folk gospel," and to do some writing of her own. In May 1926, she married Herbert Kavanaugh Harris, a Seaboard farmer. Marriage did not dull Bernice Kelly Harris's enthusiasm for writing. She was instrumental in organizing the Northampton Players among the younger people, to write and produce plays at home before taking the best material to the state drama festival.
After 1930, began sending human interest stories and feature articles to Raleigh and Norfolk newspapers. Four of her character sketches appeared in These Are Our Lives (1939), a Federal Writers Project book. In 1939, she wrote Purslane, a novel which won the Mayflower Society Cup as the best North Carolina book of the year. Her other novels include Portulaca (1941), Sage Quarter (1945), Janey Jeems (1946), Hearthstones (1948), and Wild Cheery Tree Road (1951). She also wrote two Christmas booklets: The Very Real Truth about Christmas (1961) and The Santa on the Mantel (1964).
In 1961, Harris was president of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. She also served on the boards of trustees of the State Library Commission and the North Carolina Arts Council, was active in the North Carolina Writers Conference and the Reannex-Chowan Group, and taught creative writing classes at Chowan College. From her classes at Chowan came two collections, Southern Home Remedies (1968) and Strange Things Happen (1971), for which she received a Brown-Hudson Folklore Award posthumously from the North Carolina Folklore Society.
Herbert K. Harris died on 13 July 1950. Bernice Kelly Harris died 23 years later in 1973.
[Source: William S. Powell, ed. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Vol. 3 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988): 47-48.]Back to Top
Correspondence and writings of Bernice Kelly (Mrs. H. K.) Harris including letters from editors, publishers, other writers, and friends; fan mail; and writings. Correspondents include J. O. Bailey, W. T. Couch, Jonathan Daniels, Inglis Fletcher, L. H. Fountain, Harry Golden, Bernadette Hoyle, Sam Ragan, Thad Stem, Gilbert Thomas Stephenson, and Richard Gaither Walser. Also included are seventeen interviews conducted by Valerie Yow in 1996 and 1997 with relatives and friends of Bernice Kelly Harris.Back to Top
Letters from publishers, editors, other writers, and a large circle of friends and fans. Letters included invitations to speak, information on literary engagements and honors, and some of Harris's own mail to her family.
Arrangement: roughly by topic.
Newspaper articles and clippings, awards, photographs, publishers' catalogues, and related material by or about Bernice Kelly Harris. The reviews of Harris's are from newspapers in North Carolina, as well as The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, and The New York Herald. Included are reviews by Eudora Welty and Doris Betts.
Image Folder PF-3804/1-2
Arrangement: by title.
Typescripts, galley proofs, draft copies, and revised editions of novels, short stories, and plays by Bernice Kelly Harris.
Galley proofs, rough drafts, and typescripts of unknown works by Bernice Kelly Harris. Included are plays, short stories, and novels.
Tapes, tape indexes, and field notes for seventeen oral histories by Valerie Yow about Bernice Kelly Harris. Dates represent the date of the interview.
Photographs (PF-3804/1-2)Back to Top
This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.Back to Top