Herbert Clarence Bradshaw papers, 1922-1976

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Bradshaw, Herbert Clarence, 1908-1976
Herbert Clarence Bradshaw (1908-1976) was a white American author, historian, and journalist. This collection documents his personal and professional life through his subject files, which include a great deal of correspondence. A retired editor of the Durham Morning Herald, he was murdered in his home during a series of random shootings in Durham by a single individual in December 1976.
35 Linear Feet (70 boxes.)
Material in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Bradshaw's papers detail his involvement as a member of the NC Commission for the Blind for 18 years, a member of the Advisory Board for the Mary Duke Biddle Art Gallery for the Blind at the NC Museum of Art, President of the NC Society for the Prevention of Blindness, and member of the Board of Directors and President of the Human Betterment League of NC.

Many printed items--rosters, programs, clippings, and photographs--are scattered throughout the files, where they are integral parts of personal or organizational papers. Files on Durham (NC) include histories and correspondence on city and county government (1853-1973), the Chamber of Commerce, civitan and optimist clubs, Merchants Association, Public Library, and School Board; the latter includes a substantial series of folders on race relations and school desegregation. There are printed programs of cultural events held in Richmond, Durham, and Raleigh from 1929-1972, and programs, rosters, histories, minutes, and correspondence on Lions Club activities in Durham and throughout NC from 1922-1974.

Material prepared for the centennial edition of the Durham Morning Herald includes histories of local organizations (1805-1953). Bradshaw kept detailed diaries and correspondence on his Book Page and editorials from 1949-1973. Important among histories of the Civil War is his account of historic events in the Appomattox area, which he wrote for the centennial edition of the Farmville Herald (VA) in 1965; a longer local history account appears in that newspaper's sesquicentennial edition from 1948.

The Duke University files include professor Mason Crum's unpublished manuscript Washington Duke, along with Bradshaw's correspondence with faculty from 1949-1973. Correspondence with Dr. J. B. Rhine from 1963-1972 shows the development of his Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man.

This collection contains voluminous correspondence from 1922-1976, including signed letters from William O. Douglas; Dean Acheson; Dean Rusk; William P. Rogers; J. William Fulbright; NC Governors Luther Hodges, Terry Sanford, and Robert Scott; Senators Henry Jackson and B. Everett Jordan; Norman Mailer; and Douglas M. Knight. There is also correspondence with and the memoirs of Myrta Lockett Avary, author of A Virginia Girl in the Civil War. There is a morgue with hundreds of glossy photographs of contemporary writers.

There is correspondence on the 900-acre Virginia farm that he and his brother managed and his involvement with Hampden-Sydney College (both for 44 years). His writing of the history of the Baptist Church in NC (1805-1973) is included, along with correspondence on the Yates Baptist Association and the Watts Street Baptist Church from 1950-1971. His interest in genealogy led to lengthy correspondence on the genealogies of the Armistead, Bradshaw, Cunningham, Chambliss, Few, Fuqua, Lockett, McGehee, Marshall, Nash, Scarborough, Venable, and Walton families.

Addition 1987-0094 contains correspondence, notes, and printed material for the development of Durham and its commemoration of the US bicentennial in 1976. It also contains information concerning health care in NC and notes from various conferences held by the US State Department for news editors.

Biographical / historical:

Herbert Clarence Bradshaw (1908-1976) was born on 7 November 1908 in Rice, Virginia. He graduated with a BA from Hampden-Sydney College in 1930, an MA in classical languages from the University of Virginia in 1933, and a LittD degree from Hampden-Sydney in 1967.

For twenty years, he taught and served as a principal in Virginia, and he later taught journalism at North Carolina State University. He became a full-time journalist circa 1949 as Sunday Feature Editor of the Durham Morning Herald and was Editorial Page Leader from 1964 until retiring in December 1973. After, he served as Contributing Editor of the Winston-Salem Journal and as a member of the Durham Redevelopment Commission. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Human Betterment League of NC, which promoted eugenics, and was President at the time of his death.

Bradshaw was killed on 22 December 1976 while helping his wife (Mildred Elizabeth Cunningham) wash dishes in their Durham home. James Willie Grace, a Durham native and convicted felon who was likely dealing with untreated schizophrenia, carried out a series of random shootings around Durham from December 10-22 (one other man was killed). He was arrested on 28 December and later convicted on three charges of felonious assault with intent to kill.

Bradshaw is the author of The History of Prince Edward County, Virginia (1955), History of Hampden-Sydney College, vol. I (1976), History of Farmville, VA (1948), Toward the Dawn: History of the First Quarter-Century of the NC State Association for the Blind, 1934-1960 (1961), and fifty articles from 1935-1976 on the histories of the Baptist Church, the Lions organization, and organizations for the blind in NC, and historical pieces on such topics as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and historic houses.

Acquisition information:
The Herbert Clarence Bradshaw papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library as gifts between 1977-1987.
Processing information:

Processed by Special Collections Library staff, 1987.

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller; addition encoded by Ted Holt.

Mention of his murder and involvement with the Human Betterment League of NC added by Zachary Tumlin, August 2023.


The Herbert Clarence Bradshaw papers are arranged alphabetically.

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Access restricted. Addition 1987-0094 is unprocessed and requires additional arrangement, description, and/or screening. Contact Research Services for more information.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Herbert Clarence Bradshaw papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.