Finding Aid of the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers, 1680 - 2002, PC.1859


Finding Aid of the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers, 1680 - 2002, PC.1859


Ruth Peeling Barbour (1924-2014), newspaper editor and author, daughter of Lucien C. and Hilda (Leckley) Peeling of York, Pennsylvania, was educated in Syracuse University (BA, magna cum laude, 1946) and Florida State University (MA, 1953) where her major areas of study were history and journalism. Mrs. Barbour's papers include general and special correspondence and clippings relating to the newspaper and to local and regional matters; correspondence, research notes, and drafts relating to her historical novel, Cruise of the Snap Dragon and a projected sequel to it; copies of six of her historical dramas, and a few representative articles written by her.

Descriptive Summary

Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers
Call Number
Barbour, Ruth P.
1680 - 2002
5.00 fibredex boxes, 13.00 folders
State Archives of North Carolina

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], P.C.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in the fibredex boxes according to the following three series: General Files; ; and Articles and Plays


Ruth Peeling Barbour (1924- ), newspaper editor and author, daughter of Lucien C. and Hilda (Leckley) Peeling of York, Pennsylvania, was educated in Syracuse University (BA, magna cum laude, 1946) and Florida State University (MA, 1953) where her major areas of study were history and journalism. While at Syracuse she was managing editor of the campus newspaper, , during the academic year of 1945/46. After graduation she became editor of , published at Beaufort, N. C., and continued as editor after merger of that newspaper in 1948 with the (Morehead City, N. C.) to form the . She commenced writing a weekly column for the paper in 1952, and continued doing so for a quarter of a century after her retirement as editor in 1975. Miss Peeling, who married J. 0. Barbour, Jr., in 1970, was selected as by the Raleigh for its issue of March 31, 1968.

Contents of the Collection

1. General Files,1949-2002


A substantial amount of Mrs. Barbour's general correspondence (1949-2002) relates to editorials or to special articles she wrote for the concerning local and regional issues (though the editorials and column clippings are not present in the collection) and letters from readers in response to them. Some of the letters were written in connection with her support for conservancy issues and efforts by admirers to secure for her recognition as a conservationist. Letters from the 1980s and 1990s relate more generally to community affairs and to Mrs. Barbour as a writer.

Two small sets of special files follow the general correspondence. The first relates to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, and the second relates to the International Longshoreman's Association and efforts to establish a closed-shop union among employees of the North Carolina Ports Authority. The former includes xerox copies of editorials and articles written by Mrs. Barbour (then Ms. Peeling) at a time when it-appeared unlikely that the state of North Carolina would actually acquire the land necessary to transfer to the United States in order to create the Cape Lookout National Seashore (authorized by act of Congress in 1966). In the end, a 1969 act of the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the state to proceed by way of condemnation in order to acquire the necessary land, and until then, Mrs. Barbour used the to sound the clarion and to make her readers aware of the problem. In addition to the xerox copies of newspaper clippings, there is also a reference file of materials relating to the national seashore and to acquisition in 1976 of land on Core Banks in order to extend its area.

In the matter of the efforts of the International Longshoreman's Association to negotiate a closed-shop union for workers at the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City, Mrs. Barbour assumed a strong stance against the union, and supported the principle of . Though some of the correspondence dates to 1975, the greater part of it dates from 1978, as do the newspaper clippings on the subject of the threatened port strike. While some of the correspondence is addressed to public officials, the majority of it was carried on between Mrs. Barbour and the National Right to Work Committee at Washington, D.C.

General Correspondence
Box 1859.1
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1949-1968</unitdate>, 1949-1968
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1970-1979</unitdate>, 1970-1979
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1980-1988</unitdate>, 1980-1988
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1991-2002</unitdate>, 1991-2002
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Newspaper Clippings,1968-1977
Reference Files
N.C. State Ports Authority
ILA Labor Contract, 1975
ILA Strike (Correspondence),1978
ILA Strike (Clippings),1978

2. <emph render="italic">Cruise of the Snapdragon</emph>,1814-1990


Three fibredex boxes contain materials connected with the historical novel written by Mrs. Barbour (published in 1976), based on the career of Captain Otaway Burns (1775-1850) and his privateer, , during the War of 1812. Six of the folders contain correspondence with her publisher, John Fries Blair (1903-1986) and another four folders contain correspondence with a retired seaman, John Stewart MacCormack (1908-1982) to whom she turned as an expert technical advisor in the writing of the novel. The correspondence with Blair (and with his firm following his death) contains communications relating to the publication and marketing of the novel, and to the possibility of publishing a sequel to the novel. The correspondence with MacCormack shows the care Mrs. Barbour took to understand and use the correct technical phrase, nautical term, sailing instruction, or seaman's phraseology in writing about the cruises of the privateer. Both series of correspondence shed considerable light on the whole process entered into by authors and publishers in the revision and preparation of a manuscript novel for publication. Other files relating to publication of the novel include correspondence on marketing, a draft appendix, publicity, and reviews.

After publication of the novel, Mrs. Barbour planned a sequel to it to be entitled, and continued to turn to MacCormack as her technical advisor in a run of letters dating from 1977, 1978, and 1979. The collection includes a partial unpublished draft entitled, . Mrs. Barbour's research files for the novel include research notebooks and notes, extracts of published primary sources, copies off miscellaneous documents, and photographs relating to Otway Burns and the .

Box 1859.2
John F. Blair,1967-1990
John S. MacCormack,1973-1982
Marketing, 1976-1987
Box 1859.3
<emph render="italic">Captain From Carolina</emph>(Unpublished)
MacCormack Correspondence
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1977</unitdate>, 1977
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1978</unitdate>, 1978
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1979</unitdate>, 1979
<emph render="italic">Third Cruise of the Snap Dragon</emph> (Unpublished draft)
Research Notebooks
Box 1859.4
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1974</unitdate>, 1974
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1901</unitdate>, 1901
<unitdate type="inclusive" calendar="gregorian" era="ce">1905</unitdate>, 1905
Miscellaneous Research
Miscellaneous Research Notes
Snap Dragon
Log Book,1814
Miscellaneous Documents

3. Articles and Plays,1959-2001


There are but few items in the collection to represent Mrs. Barbour as a columnist, and one of those is actually a monograph, rather than an article (although it began its life in serial form in issues of the from March 11 to April 15, 1992). It is a history of Open Grounds Farm, Inc., which grew out of a 1920s effort to reclaim for farming purposes nearly 45,000 acres of shrub bog in eastern Carteret County, republished as a 35-page monograph by the Carteret County Historical Society in 2001.

A long time member of the Carteret Community Theater, Mrs. Barbour wrote and locally produced six plays between 1959 and 1985 based on local history and local historical personages. Her earliest, , written in 1959, centered on a local Civil War heroine, Emeline Jamison Pigott (1836-1919), who is traditionally said to have engaged in espionage on behalf of the Confederate States of America, and who was certainly arrested and briefly imprisoned at New Bern by the United States Army early in 1865 after having been bodily searched for contraband. Her second play, was produced in 1962, and was quickly followed in 1963 with one based on the career of the pirate, Edward Teach (1680-1718), . Three of Mrs. Barbour's historical dramas were commissioned for specific events: (1976) in commemoration of the bicentennial of the American Revolution; (1878) in commemoration of the two hundredth anniversary of the Ann Street United Methodist Church in Beaufort, N. C.; and , written in connection with efforts of the state sanctioned America's Four Hundredth Anniversary Committee to commemorate the anniversary of transatlantic voyages sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh between 1584 and 1587 to explore the outer coastal plain of North Carolina and to colonize it. Several of the playscripts are accompanied by programs, tickets, or publicity materials. One of them, , includes a set of 24 color slides to be used in conjunction with the production of the drama.

Box 1859.5
<emph render="doublequote">The Forgotten War</emph>,1987
<emph render="italic">Open Grounds</emph> (Monograph),2001
<emph render="doublequote">Otway Burns</emph>,2001
<emph render="doublequote">Outer Banks</emph>,1977
<emph render="doublequote">Pride of Baltimore</emph>,1980
<emph render="doublequote">What Happened to the Snap Dragon</emph>,1980
<emph render="doublequote">The Best of All</emph>,1978
<emph render="doublequote">Blackbeard: Raider of the Carolina Seas</emph>,1963
<emph render="doublequote">Bonnie Blue Sweetheart</emph>,1959
<emph render="doublequote">Captain Otway Burns Firebrand of 1812</emph>,1962
<emph render="doublequote">It Happened Here</emph>,1976
<emph render="doublequote">On These Shores</emph>,1985

Subject Headings

  • Blair, John Fries, 1903-
  • Burns, Otway, 1775-1850--Fiction.
  • MacCormack, John Stewart, 1908-1982.
  • Pigott, Emeline Jamison, 1836-1919--Drama.
  • Teach, Edward, d. 1718--Drama.
  • Pigott, Emeline Jamison, 1836-1919
  • Ruth Peeling Barbour, 1924-2014
  • Ann Street United Methodist Church (Beaufort, N.C.)
  • Carteret County News-Times (N.C.)
  • North Carolina State Ports Authority.
  • Open Grounds Farm, Inc. (Carteret County, N.C.)
  • Snap Dragon (Schooner)
  • Community theater--North Carolina--Carteret County.
  • Historical drama.
  • Historical fiction.
  • Journalists--North Carolina--Beaufort.
  • Nature conservation.
  • Newspaper editors.
  • Ports
  • Women authors.
  • Privateering
  • Women Newspaper Editors
  • Women Novelists
  • Cape Lookout National Seashore (N.C.)
  • North Carolina--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775--Drama.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Drama.
  • United States--History--War of 1812--Fiction.
  • United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations.
  • Beaufort
  • Carteret County (N.C.)
  • Morehead City
  • Acquisitions Information

    Gifts from Mrs. Barbour, 1997, 2003

    Processing Information

  • Processed by George Stevenson, September 24, 2004
  • Encoded by Dietra Stanley, November, 2005
  • Additional encoding by Ashley Yandle, May, 2006