The Wetherby Papers contain printed material (including pamphlets, brochures, flyers, programs, speeches, and clippings), correspondence, minutes, memoranda, teaching aids and other teaching materials, student papers, photographs, research notes, writings, and other papers. Inclusive dates for the collection are ca. 1930 to 1976, with the bulk of material from 1947 to 1976.
These papers chiefly reflect Wetherby's interest in three major areas: teaching English as a foreign language, broadcasting, and debating. In the first category falls material on grammar and enunciation (including numerous exercises, tests, and other teaching aids), speech and hearing pathology, and a small number of administrative papers dealing with the teaching of English to international students at Duke University. In the area of broadcasting, there are clippings, course descriptions, lecture material, and printed material on the history of radio and television; its methods, principles, and policies; legal status; government policies affecting broadcasting; and audience and market research. Wetherby also kept clippings, printed matter, and copies of speeches on communications and broadcasting in general, as well as on specialized topics such as TV violence and cigarette advertising.
Files concerning the history of Duke University include materials on a proposed FM station for the campus (1957-1968), as well as selected student papers on such topics as broadcasting at Duke, the Vigil of 1968, and the Associated Students of Duke University in a conflict with WDBS. There are also a number of selected student papers on various aspects of communications, broadcasting, and the persuasive speaking.
There is a card file on members of the Debate Team with their records by opponent and tournament, and a small amount of material (correspondence, records, circulars, a telegram) on the West Point National Tournament for 1962 to 1964.
Useful information regarding a significant incident early in Wetherby's tenure as debate coach will be found in William King, "Not fit to debate? National debate topic on Communist China gets hackles up," in the Duke Alumni Register, vol. 65, no. 2, Nov.- Dec. 1978. The article deals with Wetherby's defense of the right of collegiate debaters to argue this sensitive topic in 1954, at the height of the McCarthy era. Wetherby appeared on the "See It Now" program of Edward R. Murrow on CBS Television.
Wetherby coached three teams from Duke University which appeared on national television on the "College Bowl" series, in 1955, 1960, and 1968. Some materials in the collection deal with the logistics of these teams' travel and appearances, and on the operation of the telecasts.
Gathered in separate folders as well as scattered throughout the collection is a large amount of printed material in the form of brochures, handbooks, pamphlets, newsletters, and copies of speeches. Included is material from organizations like the National Association of Broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission, the Southern Speech Association (later the Southern Speech Communication Association), and the Speech Communication Association. The collection from the Southern Speech Association and its successor organization includes a consecutive run of programs for annual conventions from 1951 to 1976. The material on the Speech Communication Association includes consecutive issues from 1968 to 1976 of Free Speech, a newsletter of this organization's Commission on Freedom of Speech.
During the 1960s, Wetherby frequently was sent to regional high schools to promote Duke University to prospective students.