Hubert H. and Leona T. Hayes papers, 1891-1983, bulk 1925-1975

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Access note. Collection contains fragile audiovisual formats that need to be reformatted before use. Contact Research Services for access. Access note. Collection contains some fragile material in...
More about accessing and using these materials...


Hayes, Leona T. and Hayes, Hubert, 1901-1964
Hubert H. and Leona T. Hayes were actors, authors, and partners in the founding and production of the Mountain Youth Jamboree music and dance festival in Asheville, N.C. (1940s-1973). Collection comprises personal and business correspondence; plays, stories, articles, and minstrel scripts written by Hubert Hayes and others, as well as publicity, ephemera, production records, and photographs relating to the Asheville, N.C. Mountain Youth Jamboree (1940s-1973), to programs at Asheville's City Auditorium; and to the production of Hayes' outdoor drama about Daniel Boone, Thunderland, and plays such as Tight Britches. There are also photographs, chiefly black-and-white, of family and friends, actors in blackface, the Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) football team in 1922 or 1923, author Thomas Wolfe, 1937, and entertainers of the time. Other materials include a photograph album of Hubert's youth (1920s), and many scrapbooks documenting Humbert and Leona's theater and entertainment work, and Leona Hayes's career and her close association with Duke University Libraries and its director, Benjamin Powell. The materials speak to the history of Asheville, N.C., western N.C. life and social customs, and Appalachian and African American cultures as expressed in popular entertainment of the 1920s-1960s.
21 Linear Feet (37 boxes)
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Collection comprises the papers of Hubert H. and Leona T. Hayes of Asheville, N.C., dating from the mid-1920s through 1983. Contents chiefly comprise correspondence; photographs of family, friends, authors, and entertainers of the time; drafts and scripts of many plays, short stories, blackface and minstrel shows, and radio scripts by Hubert Hayes, 1930s-1950s; materials related to the staging and production by Hubert Hayes of plays, shows, and conventions in Asheville; and many papers and audio recordings documenting the production and direction of the Mountain Youth Jamboree (1948-1973), also in Asheville. Other papers relate to Leona Hayes' writings, her civic engagement, and her career with Delta Airlines. A small series of writings by other authors, including a few Hollywood in-house screenplay scripts, rounds out the collection.

These personal and professional records reveal the culture of Appalachia seen through regional literature and arts of the 1920s-1960s, as well as the business and logistical side of putting on large-scale entertainment, and its effect on the local citizens and communities of mid-century Buncome County, North Carolina. The materials also speak to Asheville, N.C.'s entertainment and business history, social customs in mid-20th century western North Carolina and the Appalachian Region in general, and Appalachian and African American cultures in popular entertainment, including material for minstrel shows scripted by Hubert Hayes.

Other papers document the writing and production of Hayes' outdoor drama, "Thunderland", about Daniel Boone, and "Tight Britches", a play about an Appalachian mountain family, and other shows. There are also many folders of publicity, correspondence, production notes, financial papers, photographs, and other items relating to programs at Asheville's City Auditorium, managed by Hubert Hayes.

Photographs found throughout the collection are of family and friends, entertainers of the time, authors and producers, blackface performers, Billy Graham, the Trinity College football team in 1922 or 1923, and Thomas Wolfe, 1937. There is a photo album of Hubert's high school and college years.

Scrapbooks compiled by Leona Hayes relate to her career as an actor and as a manager for Delta Airlines, her work with the National Folklife Festival, and her close assocation with Duke University Libraries and its director, Benjamin Powell, to whom she donated the Hayes papers.

Biographical / historical:

Hubert Harrison Hayes was an actor, author, producer, promoter, and folklorist born in Asheville, North Carolina. From 1922-1923 he attended Trinity College (now Duke University), Durham, where received an athletic scholarship in football. Retuning to Asheville, he wrote a number of plays, managed the City Auditorium (1945-1954), and became a producer of his own plays and those of others. The first of his plays, written in collaboration with John Tainter Foote, was Tight Britches, which portrays life among the mountain people; it was first produced in Asheville in 1933 and appeared on Broadway the following year. Hayes's outdoor drama, Thunderland, about Daniel Boone, was produced during the summers of 1952 and 1953 in the amphitheater built expressly for the dramatic production. He also wrote and produced short plays, minstrel show scripts, and radio scripts.

In 1948 he founded the Mountain Youth Jamboree, a program to promote folk culture and train children to perform on stage. In cooperation with his wife, Leona Trantham Hayes, whom he married on 9 June 1934, he produced the jamboree annually until his death. Leona Hayes continued it through its twenty-fifth and final anniversary performance in 1973.

As a tribute to his endeavors, Leona Hayes gave the Hubert Hayes Memorial Cabin, along with his portrait and bust, to Western Carolina University.

Leona Trantham Hayes, actor, author, producer, and businesswoman, was born in Asheville, N.C. in 1913 and died there in 1989. She married Hubert H. Hayes in 1934, shortly after they met during casting for Hayes's play, "Tight Britches." She worked for the Asheville office of Delta Airlines for several decades. Together with her husband, she directed and organized the Mountain Youth Jamboree from its founding in 1948 through the 1950s, taking on almost all responsibilities during his serious illnesses in the late 1950s until his death in 1964; after his death, she continued directing the Jamboree until its last show in 1973. She donated the Hayes papers to Duke University in 1966, and bequeathed Hubert's Mountain Youth Jamboree Memorial Cabin to Western Carolina University before her death in 1989.

Acquisition information:
The Hubert and Leona Hayes papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 1975, 1980, and 1988.
Processing information:

Initially processed and described by library staff, 1970s and 1980s.

Fully processed and described by Paula Jeannet, Zoe Finiasz, and Prakruti Kumar, January 2023.

Accessions described in this collection guide: 66-73 to 88-073.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Access note. Collection contains fragile audiovisual formats that need to be reformatted before use. Contact Research Services for access.

Access note. Collection contains some fragile material in the form of a scrapbook slated for Conservation review. Contact Research Services with questions.

Terms of access:

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 & Manuscript Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Hubert and Leona T. Hayes papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.