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Collection Number: 04214

Collection Title: Field Studies in the Modern Culture of the South Records, 1945-1957

This collection has use restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

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.

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Size 6.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 10,700 items)
Abstract Field notes and related items produced between 1945 and 1957 by researchers in a project sponsored by the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina. The notes were made during anthropological field work among residents of Avery County, N.C.; Brewton, Selma, and Camden, Ala.; and York County, S.C. Areas explored included technology, housing, food, labor, religion, community structure, and folklore.
Curatorial Unit Southern Historical Collection
Language English.
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
Publication of names of individuals mentioned in the field notes is forbidden until 1 January 2025.
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 Field Studies in the Modern Culture of the South Records #4214, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Received from Mrs. John Gillin of Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1980. Photographic negatives added by John Reed in April 1992 (Acc. 92053).
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 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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In 1946, the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, received a grant from the Rosenwald Fund to support a series of studies of the contemporary culture of the American South. This project was directed by John Gillin, professor of Anthropology at UNC. The following description of the project is based on Research in Service to Society: The First Fifty Years of the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by Guy Benton Johnson and Guion Griffis Johnson (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1980), pages 153-154.

Five communities, representing five different subcultural areas, were chosen for study. One of these, a North Carolina coastal community on Core Sound, was to be studied by Gillin himself. Doctoral candidates were responsible for the field work in the other communities. Vladimir Hartman studied a North Carolina mountain community, Morton Rubin was responsible for the study of a Deep South plantation community in Alabama, while Charles Peavy dealt with a "piney woods" community in southern Alabama. The fifth area was a textile town in Piedmont South Carolina, to which three scholars were assigned. Kenneth Morland studied the mill community, Ralph C. Patrick, Jr., studied the town itself, and Hylan Lewis, a young black sociologist from Atlanta University, observed the ways of the black people of the town. In addition, Gillin planned to write a summary volume on the culture of the modern South.

Although the whole series was not published as planned, the project resulted in a number of excellent dissertations and in several significant publications. Morton Rubin's Plantation County was published in 1951, Hylan Lewis's Blackways of Kent in 1955, and Kenneth Morland's Millways of Kent in 1958. Hartman's work resulted in his 1957 doctoral dissertation, "A Cultural Study of a Mountain Community in Western North Carolina." Ralph Clinton Patrick's disseration, "A Cultural Approach to Social Stratification," (Harvard University, 1954) was also a result of this work. Gillin's heavy involvement in other researches, particularly his studies of Latin American culture, plus his departure for the University of Pittsburgh in 1959, prevented the completion of the projected summary volume on the culture of the South. A paper that he published in 1951 in collaboration with Emmett J. Murphy, entitled "Notes on Southern Culture Patterns," was indicative of what such a volume would have attempted to do. The article presented the results of the field workers' efforts to delineate the content of the southern subcultures. A checklist headed "Some Characteristic Traits in Areas of the South," covering over two hundred items under such categories as technology, housing, food, labor, stratification, and religion, was used to determine the presence or absence of a given trait in each of the five subcultures. The tentative conclusion was that "it is impossible to say what is distinctively Southern with any degree of finality."

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists almost entirely of notes based on interviews and observations made in the field by six of the seven Modern Culture of the South project researchers. Gillin's own planned field work was never conducted.

Most of the notes apparently were transcribed from recordings made by the researchers at the end of each day's field work. They refer primarily to conversations the researchers had with individuals in the communities being studied. The notes include much detail not included in the works based on them. The actual names of places, institutions, and individuals, for example, are used in the notes but not in the books.

The notes are on 4 x 6 sheets and constitute Series 1 of the collection. Series 2 consists of a travel notes by John Gillin and a few other miscellaneous project-related items. Series 3 consists of 33 photographs made by researchers in York, S.C., and in the area around Selma and Camden, Ala.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Research Notes, 1947-1949.

About 10,000 items.

Researchers divided this material into seven sets of 4 x 6 sheets. These sets have been maintained and are designated subseries 1.1.-1.7. Within each subseries, most sheets are arranged according to the following system of numbered subject categories. Descriptions are taken from a key filed at the beginning of subseries 1.1. Note that interpretation of these categories as well as use of subcategories varied from researcher to researcher.

  • 10: Basic Data
  • 11: History
  • 12: Total Culture
  • 13: Language
  • 14: Communication
  • 15: Exploitative Activities (farming, etc.)
  • 16: Technology
  • 17: Capital
  • 18: Housing
  • 19: Eating and Food Training: habits; food budget; waste.
  • 20: Drinking: its effects; attitudes toward; aggression and dependency in drinking habit.
  • 21: Dress and Adornment: clothes and sex typing.
  • 22: Routine of Living
  • 23: Labor: working habits; the mill; bossmen; women working; ideas concerning work; children working; division of labor; cliques.
  • 24: Specialization
  • 25: Exchange
  • 26: Finance
  • 27: Transportation
  • 28: Travel
  • 29: Recreation
  • 30: Art: folklore.
  • 31: Numbers and Measures
  • 32: Lore and Learning
  • 33: Reaction to Nature
  • 34: Religion: various types; attitudes toward; ideals; superstitions; afterlife; revivals.
  • 35: Ethics
  • 36: Property and Contract
  • 37: Social Stratification: social status; classes; attitudes toward mill workers; mobility; cultural differences; old-hill-new-hill.
  • 37.1: Recreation: gossip; intra?group antagonisms; money; status of rich; guilt; automobiles; punishments; lying; showers; dreams; aggression.
  • 38: Family: distinct family or individual characterizations.
  • 38.1: Family Activities: routines; responsibilities; cleanliness; quarrels; language; fears; skills.
  • 38.3: Residence: moving of family or children.
  • 38.4: Adoption: attitudes toward; examples of.
  • 38.5: Husband-Wife Relations.
  • 38.7: Parent-Child Relations: discipline.
  • 38.8: Sibling Relations.
  • 39: Kinship: obligations and rivalry.
  • 40: Kin and Local Groups
  • 41: Government
  • 42: Law and Social Control
  • 43: Ingroup Conflict
  • 44: War and Peace
  • 45: Human Organism
  • 46: Sex: attitude toward; education in; language; habits; values; knowledge of.
  • 47: Reproduction: attitude toward having children; illegitimacy; abortions; pregnancies; menstruation; superstitions; taboos; markings; guilt feelings; extramarital sex relations; birth and birth control.
  • 48: Infancy: aggression training; superstitions; infant care; nursing; frightening; crying; birthmarks; sleeping; conception of infancy.
  • 49: Childhood
  • 49.2: Transition from Infancy: weening; oral activity.
  • 49.3: Development of Child: toileting; walking; learning to talk.
  • 49.5: Education: attitudes toward; differentiations in school; beauty contests; rewards and punishments; school officers; techniques; aggression; independence.
  • 49.6: Children's Activities: aggression; quarreling; games; ghost stories; drawing; rivalry; ambitions; dreams; fears; birthday parties; responses and duties.
  • 50: Youth: attitude toward; southern patterns; ideals; responsibilities; sex behavior; recreation; independence.
  • 51: Marriage: boy and girl friends; courtship; marriage; old maids; aggression; engagement; slipping off; sex-typed activities.
  • 52: Adulthood
  • 53: Old Age
  • 54: Sickness: illness; medical care; public health; magical curing; psychosomatic illness; vaccinations; treatment of colds; reaction to injury.
  • 55: Death: funerals; death ceremonies; fatalisms; suicides; attitudes toward death.

Note that some slips probably are not in the proper category due to disordering before receipt at the Southern Historical Collection. Because the proper category is not clear in the case of some slips, their order was left largely unchanged during processing.

Card File CF-4214/1

Field Notes by Vladimir Hartman: Avery County, N.C.

Notes on "the Mountaineer South." The last 400 slips are uncategorized; most constitute a narrative of Hartman's activities and observations in Newland, county seat of Avery County, June-August 1947.

Card File CF-4214/2

Field Notes by Charles Peavey: Brewton, Ala.

Notes on "the Pineywoods South." At the end of the file, there is a 14-sheet speech by Peavey on conditions in the Brewton area.

Card File CF-4214/3

Field Notes by Morton Rubin: Camden and Selma, Ala.

Notes on "the Plantation Country South." The first 49 slips are "personality sketches" of selected citizens of Camden, black and white.

Card File CF-4214/4

Field Notes by John Kenneth Morland: York, S.C.(I)

Notes on mill workers in the community. At the back of this file, there is an alphabetical list of persons interviewed and slips that contain the results of Rorschach tests given to 55 individuals in 1949.

Card File CF-4214/5

Field Notes by John Kenneth Morland: York, S.C.(II)

More notes on mill workers, probably by John Kenneth Morland.

Card File CF-4214/6

Field Notes by Hylan Lewis: York, S.C.

Notes reference the work by Ralph Patrick on town people and by John Kenneth Morland on the mill community.

Card File CF-4214/7

Field Notes by Ralph Patrick: York, S.C.

Notes on town people.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Other Materials, ca. 1945-1957.

Includes one folder containing other items relating to the project. There are also copies of the published versions of three books that derived from the field work of the Modern Culture project, and photographs taken in York, S.C., and Selma/Camden, Ala.

Box 4

Other papers, circa 1945-1957

One folder, containing travel notes by John Gillin, a newspaper clipping, genealogical charts, church programs, a letter from Kenneth Morland to John Gillin, pencil sketches by Morton Rubin of Plantation Country, and other items relating to the project.

Extra Oversize Paper Folder X-OP-4214/1

Two genealogical charts of members of the Adams, Fulcher, Morris, and Robinson families

Box 4

Hyland Lewis, Blackways of Kent, (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1955)

John Kenneth Morland, Millways of Kent, (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1958)

Morton Rubin, Plantation Country, (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1951)

Image P-4214/1-25


























Photographs of mill village scenes (chiefly housing and children, with one photo of snake handlers) in York, S.C., probably made by John Kenneth Morland, ca. 1948. Negatives on file.

Image P-4214/26-33









Photographs of houses and other buildings in the Selma/Camden, Ala., area, probably taken by Morton Rubin, ca. 1948. Negatives on file.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Photographs (PF-4214/1-2)

Extra-oversize papers (X-OP-F/4214/1)

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