Joseph C. Wetherby papers, 1930 - 1976

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Wetherby, Joseph C., 1910-1976
Joseph Cable Wetherby served as Associate Professor of English at Duke University from 1947-1976. The papers consist of correspondence, printed matter, speeches, clippings, minutes, memoranda, teaching aids and other teaching materials, student papers, photographs, research notes, and writings. Major subjects include the teaching of English to international students at Duke, broadcasting and the development of the WDBS radio station at Duke University, and the Duke University Debate Team, which Wetherby coached for over 20 years. English.
4.6 Linear Feet
5500 Items
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates > 02 -- Individuals


Scope and content:

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.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
Born 2 May, Bellingham, Washington
Student, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; B.A., Speech, 1934; M.A., Speech, 1936
Married Carol Van Sickle
Assistant Professor of Speech, Oklahoma State University
Active Duty, U.S. Navy, as Lieutenant
Director of Radio, Wayne State University
Associate Professor of English, Duke University
Published "In the Realm of Radio", in Southern Speech Journal
Regional Governor, Delta Sigma Rho Tau Kappa Alpha (forensic honorary), reelected 1976
Graduate study in Speech and Psychology, University of Florida
Summer, Guest Professor of Speech, Wake Forest University
President, Southern Speech Association
Temporary Action Duty, U.S. Navy, as Lieutenant Commander; Head of English Dept., U.S. Naval Preparatory School, Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program
Published "Academic Status Seekers", in Southern Speech Journal
Published "Debate 1984", in The Speaker
Director Producer for Durham Savoyards Ltd. (Gilbert and Sullivan Shows): Iolanthe (1967); Gondoliers (1974)
April: Debate Team wins National Championship
Distinguished Service Award of Delta Sigma Rho Tau Kappa Alpha
Died 12 October, Duke University

Wetherby was active in many professional organizations during his career, including the Speech Association of America, Educational Theatre Association (Honorary Life Member), Southern Speech Association, Delta Sigma Rho Tau Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Eta (Speech and Hearing Honorary), American Forensic Association, North Carolina Speech Association (President), and Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Acquisition information:
The Joseph C. Wetherby papers were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1977.
Processing information:

Processed by G. Edwin Southern, Jr. in July 1980 and updated by Jill Katte in July 2002.

Encoded by Jill Katte, July 2003

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Joseph C. Wetherby Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.