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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||6.25 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 450 items)|
|Abstract||Ernest Seeman was president of Seeman Printery, Durham, N.C., 1917-1923; editor of Duke University Press, 1925-1934; writer; and social critic of Durham, N.C., and Unicoi County, Tenn. About half of this collection is composed of versions of writings by Ernest Seeman. There are several versions of "Tobacco Town," some with suggestions and emendations by Mimi Conway, Seeman's editor. Other writings include several unfinished and unpublished novels and about twenty essays. A run of diary-notebooks offers a view of Seeman's radical and independent ideas and activities in the 1930s and 1940s. A series of "Other Papers" includes six folders of scattered correspondence. Although a prolific correspondent, according to Elizabeth Seeman, Ernest Seeman apparently saved few letters. There are sketches in pencil by Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman. A final box of unprocessed material also has been kept with the collection, illustrating the condition of most of Seeman's materials as they were received at the Southern Historical Collection and documenting the way Seeman apparently stored his research materials and other personal records.|
|Creator||Seeman, Ernest, 1886-|
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.
Ernest Seeman (1887-1979), the son of Henry Ernest and Bettie Albright Seeman, was a writer, publisher, and editor who lived in Durham, North Carolina, and in Unicoi County, near Erwin, Tennessee.
Seeman was hired to manage the Duke University Press in 1925 after serving as president of the family business, Seeman Printery Company of Durham, from 1917 to 1923. He helped expand the Press's catalogue of titles and was associate editor of a new psychological journal, Character and Personality. Seeman began writing while at Duke, publishing several essays in general interest and psychology magazines. Known as a campus radical, Seeman was fired in 1934 when he was accused of writing a satire on the Duke administration.
Seeman and his second wife, Elizabeth Brickel Seeman, settled in a primitive cabin in Tennessee in the early 1940s. For the next thirty-five years, Ernest Seeman wrote constantly as he and his wife battled poverty and, sometimes, near-starvation. He worked frequently on his book, Tobacco Town, which was published as American Gold in 1978. He also worked on several other novels and numerous essays. The Seemans founded a lending library for community children in 1965. Seeman died in Tennessee in 1979.Back to Top
About half of this collection is composed of versions of writings by Ernest Seeman. There are several versions of Tobacco Town, some with suggestions and emendations by Mimi Conway, Seeman's editor. Other writings include several unfinished and unpublished novels and about twenty essays. A run of diary-notebooks will give researchers a view of Seeman's radical and independent ideas and activities in the 1930s and 1940s. A series of "Other Papers" includes six folders of correspondence. Although a prolific correspondent, according to Elizabeth Seeman, Ernest Seeman apparently saved few letters. There are also sketches in pencil by Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman.
A final box of unprocessed material also has been kept with the collection, illustrating the condition of most of Seeman's materials as they were received at the Southern Historical Collection and documenting the way Seeman apparently stored his research materials and other personal records. About twelve cubic feet (20,000 items) of jumbled and deteriorating scraps of notes and writings, routine correspondence, and other incidental material were discarded during processing.Back to Top
Typed, handwritten, and published versions of novels, short stories, and essays. The writings chiefly reflect Seeman's experience at Duke University, his Tennessee cabin home, and his interests in birds and developmental psychology. Seeman's fiction has a strong autobiographical flavor; he apparently cast himself as John Anders in Tobacco Town and Grasshopper Farm.
One apparently complete typed version of the novel, with Seeman's emendations, and many typed fragments and stray chapters, none of which are dated.
Arrangement: alphabetical by title.
Versions of novels, short stories, essays, and a play concerned with a host of topics. The three unpublished novels, The Bull and the Thrush, Grasshopper Farm, and Tumbling Creek, focus on slavery, Seeman's year living in an Orange County, North Carolina, cabin, and his mountain home in Tennessee, respectively. Published versions of some of the essays are included. Subjects of the essays include American business monopolies, radicalism, ornithology, and child development.
Arrangement: alphabetical by type.
Miscellaneous items culled from the heterogeneous mass of material originally received at the Southern Historical Collection. (See "Collection Overview.") A description of the contents of each folder follows.
Actually a box of miscellaneous scraps of notes, writings, routine correspondence, and other items, all unarranged. This box mirrors both the chaotic condition of the papers before processing and Ernest Seeman's eccentric work habits. #04031, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1936-1970 and undated." Folder 83
Chiefly writing notes by Seeman and some diary entries. In some notebooks, Seeman also included newspaper clippings that interested him. Quoted titles are those that Seeman gave particular notebooks. Note that many of these notebooks are embrittled and very fragile. An addition, a photocopy of "A Review of American Gold by Ernest Seeman with a Biography of the Author" by Susan Singleton Rose (1979), was included in Box 6.
Photographs of Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman, plus photographs of Ernest Seeman's early Durham, North Carolina, friends, circa 1907. Sketches and drawings by both Seemans, apparently from the time they were in Tennessee, are also included. Elizabeth Seeman worked during this time as a freelance illustrator.
Drawings by Ernest and Elizabeth Seeman, chiefly of people and animals. In a separate sleeve are several sketches by Elizabeth Seeman. These drawings are unnumbered; they are filed following the photographs.
Processed by: Chuck Israel, October 1988
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top