Correspondence and Other Papers, 1818-1952, undated

Scope and content:

James Sprunt had very extensive correspondence files, of which only a small portion has survived. A year's letters were subdivided alphabetically and included both the incoming originals and the outgoing copies. The years represented by a sizeable body of papers are 1904, 1906, 1909-1910, and 1919-1921, but they are probably quite incomplete. All of the papers have been arranged chronologically. The series also contains "other papers," which cannot be identified with their original files. Most of the material came from James Sprunt's files.

The series represents a variety of Sprunt's personal and professional interests. Business operations, the cotton market, and domestic and foreign economic conditions are constant concerns. There was frequent communication between Sprunt and his relatives and business associates in Liverpool. His work as vice consul for Great Britain and Germany appears occasionally. Prominent among his activities and charities is the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., the southern body of the Presbyterians. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and assisted other congregations in Wilmington and Chapel Hill, where he financed the remodeling of the church as designed by architect Hobart Upjohn. He made substantial contributions to the mission in Kiangyin, China. The interdenominational Laymen's Missionary Movement and its general secretary, John Campbell White, are also prominent in the papers, along with the southern Presbyterian part of of that organization. Sprunt was a principle mover in the arrangements for a statue of George Davis, Confederate attorney general and native son of Wilmington, and there is much correspondence about it, including that with Francis Herman Packer, the sculptor. Sprunt was a trustee of the University of North Carolina and a benefactor of Davidson College, and there are communications between him and the schools' students and officials. Other educational institutions represented include Columbia Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, the antecedents of North Carolina Central University, and other colleges and academies in the South, including several historically black colleges. River and harbor improvements at Wilmington are noted. Scattered political correspondence includes references to state elections, the N.C. Supreme Ct., and the U.S. District Court for Eastern N.C., and the Wilmington riots of 1898. There are several letters about the N.C. Literary and Historical Association and the N.C. Folklore Society, and about other episodes of state history, such as blockade running during the Civil War, President Taft's visit to Wilmington in 1909, Governor Benjamin Smith, and the monument for the Revolutionary battle at Moore's Creek. Correspondence with and about Woodrow Wilson mainly concerned a Carnegie pension for Henry Elliot Shepherd, an educator, but there are a few minor items of a political nature. Sprunt communicated with Senators Lee Slater Overman and Furnifold Simmons about various matters.

Several close relatives of James Sprunt had distinguished careers and are also represented by letters and references: his brother Alexander Sprunt (1852-1937), a Presbyterian clergyman at Charleston, S.C.; Kenneth Mackenzie Murchison, an architect in New York who was a brother-in-law; Edward Jenner Wood, a nephew and physician who was a pioneer in the campaign against pellagra; and Joseph Austin Holmes, another brother-in-law who was a geologist, chief of the technological branch of the U.S. Geological Survey in charge of the investigation of mine accidents, 1904-1907, and the first director of the Bureau of Mines established in 1910.


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