#9014 O. Henry Book Club Collection

O. Henry Book Club Collection

MSS #9014

June 1995

Abstract: Minutes, scrapbook, and miscellaneous papers of the O. Henry Book Club of Salisbury, N.C. (1922-1979). A woman's club having as its object "the mutual interest and benefit of its members along literary lines." Minutes note program topics, books read, and current events discussed. The scrapbook primarily contains clippings about O. Henry.

Online catalog terms:

Book clubs--North Carolina--Salisbury

O. Henry Book Club (Salisbury, N.C.)

Henry, O., 1862-1910

Women--North Carolina--Salisbury--History

Women--North Carolina--Salisbury--Societies and clubs

Size: Approximately two linear feet.

Provenance: Given by the O. Henry Book Club.

Access: No restriction.

Copyright: Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Introduction

The O. Henry Book Club of Salisbury, N.C. was founded February 15, 1922 at the home of Miss Alice Slater Cannon (Mrs. W. Gettys Guille). Charter members included Gaither Pearson, Rebekah Marsh, Mrs. William E. Hennessee, Mrs. Barrett Taylor, Jr., Mrs. Walter Blackmer, Jr., and Alice Slater Cannon. Named for the noted North Carolina author, a copy of the club's constitution from the 1920's states that the object of the club was the mutual interest and benefit along literary lines of its members. The first regular meeting of the club was on March 8, 1922 and included a reading of O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi" and a piece on the author's life. The O. Henry Book Club became a member of Salisbury Federated Women's Club in May of that same year. Originally, the club met every two weeks in alphabetical rotation at the home of members. An early club constitution barred members from gossip, relegating conversation along personal and social lines "until after adjournment." It also called for hostesses to provide social entertainment of the "simplest nature" and suggested that refreshments were at her discretion. Three consecutive absences, without good excuse, was considered a resignation--and social engagements were not considered good excuses as all members were expected to consider the book club meeting "of first importance." All votes for membership had to be unanimous, and it was asked that there be no discussion of club business outside of the club. Over the years, members discussed books assigned at the beginning of a "series." During the May 20-November 4, 1930 series, the club read and critiqued Phillips Russell's Emeroon, Sir Hugh Clifford's Prisoners of the Forest, Julian Green's The Dark Journey, Lady Hosie's Portrait of a Chinese Lady, Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, Ethel Mayme's Lady Byron, Warwick Deeping's Exile, Nora Holt's The Closing Hour, William Stearns Davis' Whirlwind, William Bolitho's Twelve Against God, Katherine Brush's Young Man of Manhatten, Jonathon Daniels' Clash of Angels, and Judith Clark's Arrows of Desire. The series beginning in February 1953 contained among its list of eleven works to be considered The Giant, Giacomo, Steamboat Gothic, and Tallulah. The minutes record the book discussion of an October 1925 meeting with this statement: "With one exception, the books received favorable comments; the exception was Benoui by Kurt Hansen, a story which Mrs. Dungan reported is "unduly fishy and has a bad ending--two good reasons why this book must offend the discriminations of the O. Henry members." The minutes of the February 17, 1953 meeting note: "It is always interesting, as we take turns, to see how various members like or dislike the same book." In addition to the books and authors under consideration at each meeting, members were expected to bring another item of interest to be read or discussed. On April 19, 1922 such items included newspaper and magazine articles on the "much criticized Margot," the "marvelous possibilities of radio," an annual singing of the Messiah by citizens of a Kansas town, the Huntington Library's rare book collection, a description of a Shakespeare folio, a sketch of Lady Astor, closing with a description of the "habits and manners of the chimpanzee." Fifty-seven years later, on February 6, 1979, the reading and discussion centered around an article on "the normal habits and reactions of aging women" and another concerning "Mamie Eisenhour, her retirement and her interests in Gettysburg as the widow of her famous husband." There were also more formal programs occasionally with the frequent topic of these being travelogues. Membership in the organization was fairly stable over the decades with members returning year after year to continue their conversations and book discussions. Longtime members included Mrs. D.C. Dungan, Mrs. Clyde Gooch, Mrs. Gettys Guille, Mrs. W. H. Hambley, Mrs. John Hanford, Mrs. William Hennessee, Mrs. Mildred Seaber, and Mrs.William Snider. This collection is primarily comprised of minute books with one scrapbook, and a few loose, miscellaneous papers.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Minutes

1922-1979

Arrangement: chronological

Minutes of the O. Henry Book Club. Fourteen bound ledgers record the activities of the club: books read, attendance, votes taken, etc. There are some newspaper clippings of club notices and activities scattered throughout along with memorial resolutions and obituaries of members. Minute book XII contains black and white photographs of the club's thirty-fourth anniversary party.

Folder List:

Box 1.

Folder 1. Constitution and Bylaws

Folder 2. Minutes Feb. 15, 1922-Oct. 1923; Book I

Folder 3. Minutes Dec. 1923-April, 1925; Book II

Folder 4. Minutes Oct. 1925-Aug. 28, 1928; Book III

Folder 5. Minutes Aug. 28, 1928-Nov. 1930; Book IV

Folder 6. Minutes Nov. 8, 1930-April 5, 1932; Book V

Folder 7. Minutes April 5, 1932-May 14, 1932; Book VI

Box 2.

Folder 8. Minutes May 28, 1935-April 13, 1937; Book VII

Folder 9. Minutes April 26, 1937-April 9, 1940; Book VIII

Folder 10. Minutes April 30, 1940-March 16, 1942; Book IX

Folder 11. Minutes March 30, 1942-May 25, 1948; Book X

Folder 12. Minutes June 8, 1948-Feb. 3, 1953; Book XI

Folder 13. Minutes Feb. 1953-April 9, 1957; Book XII

Box 3.

Folder 14. Minutes April 23, 1957-May 18, 1962; Book XIII

Folder 15. Minutes Sept 1962-March 20, 1979; [Book XIV]

Series II. Miscellaneous Papers

1920s-1970s

Arrangement: chronological

Newspaper clippings, notes of acceptance to membership, and thanks to the club from members for flowers or memorial gifts. There are also some letters from former members, a "resume" of the club's first year, and a bibliography of O. Henry's writings. There is also one file folder with material from the national Civil War Centennial Commission.

Folder List:

Folder 15. 1920s-1930s

Folder 16. 1940s

Folder 17. 1960s-1970s

Folder 18. Undated

Folder 19. Civil War Centennial Commission materials

Series III. Scrapbook

Scrapbook maintained by the club. Newspaper articles pertaining to O. Henry predominate. There is also a copy of the special O. Henry issue of the Mentor, signed by O. Henry scholar C. Alphonso Smith, a letter to the club from Smith, as well as a photostatic copy of a letter concerning O. Henry written by Theodore Roosevelt to Smith.