The Wyatt T. Dixon Papers span the 1850s to 1987, although the bulk of the material dates from 1918 to the 1960s. The collection consists of diaries, vintage photographs, photomechanical prints, postcards, clippings, correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, printed materials, forms, military records, leaflets, and maps. The Photographs Series comprises the largest portion of the collection. The collection documents the history of Durham, N.C., the Dixon family, activities of the United States Army, American Expeditionary Forces, 30th Division, 113th Field Artillery Unit, Battery C, from 1917 to 1919; Durham, North Carolina; and Dixon's career as a journalist.
The World War I Series chronicles the activities of the American Expeditionary Forces, 113th Field Artillery Unit, Battery C, which consisted primarily of men from Durham, N.C. Dixon's diaries chronicle the unit's movements and activities in the United States and Europe including England, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Battery C was involved in the Saint Michiel offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. The diaries describe camp life in the United States and Europe, including daily routines; camp conditions; outbreaks of measles and other medical situations; and the soldiers' personal recreational activities. The journey by ship to Europe is also described in detail, including the sale of food to the soldiers and the conditions on board. Civilian responses to the soldiers as they visited or traveled through towns and cities in America, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg are noted throughout the diaries. Dixon mentions a unit of African-American soldiers was at Mont Dore, France. There are some snapshot photographs of Battery C which Dixon probably created with his Kodak camera and some formal panoramic photographs of the entire unit. Letters written by Dixon and his family while he was in the Army are found in the Writings Series.
The Writings Series contains some personal correspondence and a diary, but the bulk of the series documents Dixon's career as a writer for newspapers published by the Durham Herald Company in Durham, N.C. In his column "How Times Do Change," Dixon described life in Durham and the surrounding area and the manner in which cityscapes and social life had changed over the past decades.
The Photographs Series consists primarily of photographs and documents social life and cityscapes in Durham, N.C. Images include buildings such as banks, businesses, cemeteries, churches, court houses, dams and power plants, hospitals, hotels and inns, plantations (abandoned), post offices, schools, and tobacco warehouses and factories. There are street scenes and aerial views. Many of these local images appear to have been collected by Dixon to illustrate his articles. Pictures of people include portraits of family members and friends, and candid scenes of groups engaged in social activities. There are images of events such as holiday celebrations and parades. Transportation, including trolleys, buses, fire fighting equipment and train depots, is also documented.
The Durham Printed Materials Series and the Miscellaneous Series include information about the City of Durham and Durham County, genealogical information about Dixon's family, and the minutes book of a social club for young men.