Harry W. Whedbee Papers

Manuscript Collection #272
Whedbee, Harry W., 1872-1926
Physical description
1.3 Cubic Feet, 255 items , papers (1895-1935) consisting of correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, brief book, clippings, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Harry W. Whedbee Papers (#272), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1895-1935) of Greenville attorney, three-term mayor, and judge of the NC Superior Court, 1910-1920, consisting of correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, brief book, clippings, postcards, poems, negatives, standard diary, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Harry West Whedbee was born in Hertford, North Carolina on September 22, 1872 and died January 20, 1926. At an early age, he moved to Greenville to live with his uncle, Col. Harry Skinner. He attended the University of N.C. at Chapel Hill and subsequently studied law. He then entered the law firm of Latham and Skinner and at the death of Major Latham, formed a copartnership with his uncle. During this time, he was elevated to the N.C. Superior Court and served until 1920 when he voluntarily resigned and returned to his law firm. He married Sallie Lipscomb in 1899.

Scope and arrangement

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence. Early letters are primarily between Whedbee and his wife-to-be, Sallie Lipscomb. There are many general brief comments pertaining to life in Eastern North Carolina in the years (1897-1899). These letters pertain to preparations for their wedding, including fittings, choice of preacher and best man, and advice from relatives.

Other early correspondence deals with Whedbee's career as a judge and his political involvement (1910-1914). Letters to his wife comment on his new career as a judge, and correspondence from J. J. Laughinghouse contains what appears to be a thank you note concerning the condition of prison laborers provided by the court (1911). Also of particular interest are letters to Whedbee asking for political support for Judge Owen Guion for Congress and Julien Warren for Solicitor, as well as requests for Judge Whedbee, himself, to run for Congress in the 1st district (1914).

Correspondence deals primarily with the work of the law firm of Harry Skinner and Lewis Cooper, later to revert back to Skinner and Whedbee (1914-1925). This correspondence reflects the activities of the law firm in collecting unpaid bills. Intermingled with legal correspondence are additional letters pertaining to the political dealings of Whedbee, including a plea for Pitt County support from supporters of Cameron Morrison during the 1920 gubernatorial primary and the resignation of T. C. Wade from court clerk position (1918) and correspondence pertaining to recommendations for vacancy. Also included in this is a series of letters pertaining to cases concerning the Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association (1923).

Another series of letters deals with correspondence between a son, William Whedbee, and his parents written from college (1921). In relating his school experiences, William Whedbee gives a vivid description of college life at UNC. Included are commentaries on his schedule, the difficulty of subjects, studying habits, expenses, and campus activities. Also included is a long letter from father to son concerning the pursuit of a career and warnings against social evils which could tempt a youth.

The last portion of correspondence consists of sympathy cards, letters, and telegrams from friends and notable public figures upon the death of Judge Whedbee along with William Whedbee's correspondence pertaining to legal matters and the prospects of a federal government position (1926-1935).

Also included is a substantial quantity of legal papers. An early series consists of typed transcripts of the wills of Harry Skinner's ancestors (1781-1851). Other legal documents include contracts, testimonies, memoranda filed by counsel, summons for relief, briefs, deeds, and handwritten notes on trials.

The last portion of this collection includes the miscellaneous items. Included here are postcards, poems, resolutions composed in memory of Judge Whedbee, speeches for family reunion, pamphlets concerning the prohibition issue, pictures and negatives (negatives removed to metal container in workroom, 27 October 1980), a copy of The Standard Diary (1917), an account book for the Electric Service and Supply Company of Greenville, N.C. (1926-1930), and an elocution notebook for one J. Madeline Douglas (1895). Also included is a descriptive brief book for the Latham and Skinner firm relating pertinent facts on cases.

Oversize documents consist of an appointment signed by Governor T. W. Bickett of H.W. Whedbee to a committee to investigate the alleged assault on a jail in Graham (1920) along with several deeds.

Administrative information
Custodial History

November 11, 1974, ca. 300 items; Papers (1897-1928), of Greenville, N.C. lawyer and judge, including correspondence, reports, testimony, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mrs. Malcolm Thompson, Lexington, Kentucky, and Judge Charles Whedbee, Greenville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Malcolm Thompson

Gift of Judge Charles Whedbee

Processing information

Processed by B. Frye, November 1975

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Whedbee, Harry W., 1872-1926
Corporate Names
North Carolina. Clerk of Superior Court (Pitt County)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill--Alumni and alumnae
Judges--North Carolina--Pitt County
Lawyers--North Carolina--Pitt County
Political campaigns--North Carolina
Practice of law--North Carolina--Pitt County

Container list
Box 1 Correspondence, 1897-1916
Box 2 Correspondence, 1917-1925
Box 3 Correspondence, 1926-1935
Box 4 Folder a-b Legal Papers, 1781-1934
Box 4 Folder c Financial Records
Box 5 Folder a Elocution Book, 1895
Box 5 Folder b Latham & Skinner Brief Book
Box 5 Folder c The Standard Diary (1917)
Box 6 Account book for Electric Service and Supply Company of Greenville, N.C. (1926-1930)
Folder os1 Certificates, deeds, etc