John Egerton Papers
Scope and Contents
The John Egerton Papers, 1950s-2003, include correspondence, manuscripts of writings, speeches, research materials, publication materials, publicity for books, reviews, legal and financial documents, memorabilia, clippings and photographs, programs from cultural events, scrapbooks and periodicals on race relations and school desegregation, and audio and video tapes. The ninety-one boxes of this collection cover approximately 38 linear feet. Major topics include civil rights, desegregation, race relations, Southern history, and Southern food. The collection is arranged in chronological order, beginning with Egerton’s early writings in the army and in public relations while in graduate school at the University of Kentucky and continuing through his extensive work as a free-lance writer and author of many books. These papers offer a fascinating insight into the career of a non-fiction writer in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Approximately thirty-two boxes of the collection contain materials relating to Egerton’s work as a writer for periodicals and as a participant in many conferences and projects concerned with civil rights and desegregation. These materials include the manuscripts and the extensive research for his articles on subjects such as civil rights, labor relations, education reform and equality of opportunity, Southern history, and Southern food. Especially important are the manuscripts and materials for the major articles he wrote for American Heritage and The New York Times Magazine. These boxes also contain correspondence related to the articles, highlights being letters from James Earl Ray, John Popham, Claude Pepper, Alex Haley, and Will Campbell.
The most extensive part of the collection is the material for Egerton’s books. Included are the manuscripts, research materials, correspondence, photographs, and publicity materials for A Mind to Stay Here, The Americanization of Dixie, Visions of Utopia, Nashville: The Faces of Two Centuries, Side Orders, Unfinished Business, and Shades of Gray. There is also a copy of the manuscript for Nashville: An American Self-Portrait, but the materials related to this book are deposited with the Metro Nashville Archives.
Perhaps the most significant part of the collection is the material related to his books Generations, Southern Food, and Speak Now Against the Day. The nine boxes containing Generations are comprised of manuscripts, including the Japanese edition, and extensive research materials. There are taped interviews as well as the transcripts of the tapes, much publicity material, many photographs, most taken by Egerton,and voluminous correspondence, especially with the Ledford family. The materials for Southern Food is in six boxes and contains multiple copies of the manuscript, reserach materials, correspondence, photographs, and publicity materials. The seventeen boxes of materials for Speak Now Against the Day include the tapes and tape transcripts constituting part of the research for the book and contributed to the University of North Carolina’s Southern Oral History Project. Additional tapes contain interviews with Robert Penn Warren, Gene Graham, and Studs Terkel. There are copies of the manuscript and eight boxes of extensive research materials and correspondence, including letters from Wilma Dykeman, John Popham, C. Vann Woodward, Alexander Heard, and John Hope Franklin. Two boxes contain photographs, photostats, and photocopies of footage from March of Time newsreels.
Subject Files contain many issues of Integrated Education: Race and Schools, Report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Inequality in Education. There are also scrapbooks of newspaper clippings pertaining to education issues in 1950-1951, especially in California.
Biographical Note - John Egerton
John Egerton was born in Atlanta, Georgia, June 14, 1935, the son of William G. Egerton, a traveling salesman, and his wife, Rebecca White Egerton. The family soon settled in Cadiz, Kentucky, where John Egerton remained until leaving to attend Western Kentucky University, 1953-1954. From 1954 until 1956, he served in the United States Army. He earned a B.A. at the University of Kentucky in 1958 and an M.A. in 1960. In 1957 he married Ann Elizabeth Bleidt, and the couple have two sons.
Between 1958 and 1960, Egerton was with the Public Relations Department of the University of Kentucky, and from 1960 to 1965, he was the Director of Public Information for the University of South Florida. He was a staff writer for Southern Education Report, 1965-1969, and for Race Relations Reporter, 1969-1971.
In 1971, Egerton began his career as a free-lance reporter. He was a contributing editor for Saturday Review of Education (1972-1973), Race Relations Reporter (1973-1974), and Southern Voices (1974-1975). From 1973-1975, he was a writer for Atlanta’s Southern Regional Council. In 1977-1978, he was journalist-in-residence at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Egerton has written or edited eleven non-fiction books and contributed over two hundred articles to periodicals. He has also been a participant in and writer for many projects or conferences dealing with desegregation and civil rights.
38.63 Linear Feet (91 Hollinger boxes)
Language of Materials
The John Egerton Papers, 1950s-2003, include correspondence, manuscripts of writings, speeches, research materials, publication materials, publicity for books, reviews, legal and financial documents, memorabilia, clippings and photographs, programs from cultural events, scrapbooks and periodicals on race relations and school desegregation, and audio and video tapes.
Special Collections & Archives
- Finding Aid for the John Egerton Papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
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Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States