Frances Renfrow Doak Papers

Manuscript Collection #408
Doak, Frances Renfrow
Physical description
4.56 Cubic Feet, consisting of correspondence, minutes, reports, clippings, photographs, broadsides, pamphlets, press releases, radio scripts, post cards, genealogy, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Frances Renfrow Doak Papers (#408), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access to audiovisual and digital media is restricted. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Papers (1907-(1930)-1965) including correspondence, minutes, reports, clippings, photographs, broadsides, pamphlets, press releases, radio scripts, post cards, genealogy, and miscellany.

Biographical/historical information

Frances Renfrow Doak (1887-1974), native of Nash County, N.C., studied at Littleton College (1901-1903) and graduated from Draughton's Business College in 1905. She began her career as a stenographer in 1906, and from 1909 to 1913 was clerk-stenographer for the firm of Charles B. Aycock and Robert Winston. Between 1928 and 1931 she aired the first radio program by a woman in the South and subsequently became very active in the N.C. Federation of Women's Clubs, serving as state executive secretary (1941-1951). Mrs. Doak campaigned for numerous Democratic candidates, including Senator Frank P. Graham, Terry Sanford, W. Kerr Scott, and John F. Kennedy and became the Democratic Party's vice-chairwoman of the Seventh Precinct (1960). She held various government positions, including assistant to Governor Charles B. Aycock (1909-1913) and an employee of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1934-1941) and the National Youth Administration (1940-1942). She also was a practicing Quaker and very active in Quaker-related activities. Mrs. Doak was married to Charles G. "Chick" Doak, longtime baseball coach and athletic director at N.C. State University.

Scope and arrangement

Correspondence discusses national political issues from the 1920s through the 1960s. Many are issues mentioned in letters to Congressman Harold Cooley and close relatives. In the 1920s and 1930s the major national issues concern the campaign against the repeal of Prohibition (1930-1933), Mrs. Doak's assistance in support of the United States' joining the League of Nations (March 1927), an opinion about the 1928 presidential election and the Democratic candidate Al Smith (Oct. 1928), a brief statement on the revitalization of the court system by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Cooley's support of it (June 1937), and a short statement on the "New Deal." Various congressional bills are mentioned, including the Farm Security Administration Bill (1937), Bloom Bill (1939), and Pool Bill (1927).

Issues discussed in the 1940s correspondence include a letter regarding the possible appointment of Senator Robert Reynolds to the chairmanship of the Senate Military Affairs Committee (April 1941), Cooley's opposition to the Farm Security Administration (1942-1943) with the pursuant investigation of that administration, peacetime conscription and the propagandizing made by the United States Army with taxpayers' money (June 1947), Cooley's opinion of the peacetime draft (Feb. 1945), the Price Control Bill before Congress, and the Republican Party's attempt to capture the "Farm Bloc" vote (Feb. 1942). Other issues concern the United Nations and the support given it by the Americans United for World Government (Nov. 1945), efforts to gain passage of the Fair Employment Practice Commission Bill before Congress (Feb. 1945), and the establishment, goals, and ultimate dissolution of the National Youth Administration (1942-1943).

The threat of communism and the attempt to get peace negotiations started during the Korean War are topics included in the 1950s-1960s correspondence. Several letters written by Mrs. Doak to Secretary of State Dean Acheson appeal for peace negotiations with Peking (Jan. 1951), and a letter written by Algie Newlin concerns India's and Egypt's efforts to bring Peking into the peace process (Jan. 1951). Other correspondence discusses the selling of democracy through the Marshall Plan, the Point IV program, Resolution 70 for education to combat communism, and Resolution 16 which proposed a Select Committee on International Economic Relationships (Jan. 1951).

A few letters deal with the presidential and congressional campaigns of 1952, 1954, and 1960. The 1952 correspondence includes a letter from Senator Estes Kefauver concerning his withdrawal from the presidential race and a letter written by Adlai Stevenson about his defeat in the elections. Correspondence regarding the 1954 U.S. Senatorial elections deals with the political "mudslinging" and "name calling" against W. Kerr Scott by his opponent Alton A. Lennon. Candidates in the 1960 presidential election are also a subject of discussion as is Mrs. Doak's response to the criticism of the Democratic Party platform and John F. Kennedy (Nov. 1960).

Other topics of discussion concern inflation and the possible attempts to reduce it through price controls and rollbacks (July 1951), the "packing" of the Committee on Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives (Jan. 1961), the Supreme Court's segregation ruling and its consequences for the South (May 1954), and the appointment of a woman, Suzie Sharp, to a North Carolina judgeship by Governor W. Kerr Scott in 1949. Also included are two speeches concerning women in politics and their role in the world (June 1955).

State political issues in the correspondence include letters concerning Governor Charles B. Aycock's political support and his failing health (Mar. 1912), illegal practices by the N.C. state prison commissioner with his support of J. C. B. Ehringhaus for governor and Cameron Morrison for U.S. Senate (June 1932), the Socialist ticket inNorth Carolina, state political candidates of 1932, nepotism in politics (Nov. 1932), support of W. Kerr Scott for governor, and the race-baiting tactics of the Willis Smith supporters during the 1950 U.S. Senate race against Dr. Frank Porter Graham and the political corruption in Iredell County reflected in that campaign (July 1950). Other state issues relate to budgetary and taxation concerns (Mar. 1933); efforts to provide free textbooks to the public schools (Mar. 1933); the campaign to continue Prohibition in North Carolina (Nov. 1933); the possible restoration of Governor Charles B. Aycock's birthplace (Feb. 1941); accusations and denials that the SCHW is a communist front organization (April 1947); an appeal to Governor R. Gregg Cherry to reduce the sentence of a black man convicted of the rape of a white woman (Dec. 1945); and the "Rush Case," where a woman prisoner was killed by four prison guards (Sept. 1954). Minimum wages, compulsory education, and the abolition of the fee system in jail are also mentioned, as is the need for general prison reform (Mar. 1951).

Mrs. Doak's active participation in the N.C. Federation of Women's Clubs constitutes a large part of the collection. Included are letters concerning the business of organizing concert series and touring groups, working with agents and scheduling programs (1939-1943), and directing charitable events sponsored by the club (Mar. 1940). Concerts scheduled include Jeannette MacDonald, Jascha Heifetz, Paderewski, Marion Anderson, and the Trapp Family Singers, as well as other major groups and individual artists of the period. Weekly news bulletins reflect club activities (1945-1951). Women's Club legislative reports pertain to a Juvenile Court Bill, employment of attendance workers, a Guardianship Bill, and minimum wage legislation (June 1953). Reports from the prison committee, shut-in committee, and a committee set up to investigate the management of the club are also included. Minutes of the Women's Club legislature are included as are reports on equal pay legislation (undated), settlement laws (undated), compulsory school attendance (1949), minimum wage and maximum hour legislation for women, and marriage and divorce. The constitution and by laws of the club as well as the club news publication, various financial records and contracts, and the history of the club are also available.

Radio broadcast scripts included in the collection deal with a variety of topics from a radio talk show, "Over the Teacups," to a program on the highlights of N.C. history. A "Radio Talk for Parents" deals with scarlet fever, quarreling children, gardening, modernizing old furniture, and keeping the convalescent busy. Other scripts cover recipes for a Fourth of July feast and salads for Christmas and New Year, women in the Royal Navy, and a program about citizens of Raleigh who made the city a better place to live.

Personal correspondence includes numerous letters concerning conscientious objector status during World War II and the difficulties of registering as a pacifist (Aug. 1941-Dec. 1942). Some letters deal with religion and the justifications for war (May 1942).

International topics from the 1920s-1960s include the successful transatlantic flight of Lindbergh (July 1927), travel in Italy, France, and Great Britain in 1928, efforts to procure a picture of GreatBritain's King Edward for the Hall of History in Raleigh (Nov. 1909), a Royal Navy seaman's first experience with the sea (Oct. 1941), Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker's opinion of the methods of Japanese warfare (May 1944) and a claim that captured Gestapo documents included a list of dangerous Englishmen who would cause trouble if Germany captured Britain (Oct. 1945). A letter written by an American in Germany after the war describes the situation of the refugees and the economy (June 1954).

Subject files pertain to a wide range of political activities and include campaign literature supporting W. Kerr Scott and Terry Sanford, and speeches, election results, and radio talks in support of Frank Porter Graham's U.S. Senate campaign. Also included are reports, resolutions, and bills dealing with education, world federations, prohibition, minimum wages, military appropriations, capital punishment, international relations, and women's rights. Additional materials pertain to Mrs. Doak's involvement in preserving the birthplace of Governor Charles B. Aycock, the career of Charles G. Doak in sports, the Society of Friends and religious issues, and personal employment histories for Mrs. Doak. Genealogical information pertains to the Doak (Guilford County), Renfrow (Nash County), Sorsby (Nash County), Paisley, Breckenridge, and Worth (Ashe County) families. Scrapbooks, photographs, and clippings reflect the primary subject areas discussed.

Administrative information
Custodial History

April 22, 1980, 4 items, copies, genealogy, lecture, and resolutions

January 5, 1981 ca. 1,350 items; Papers (1907-1962), including correspondence, minutes, reports, clippings, photographs, political literature, radio scripts, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous

December 3, 1985 2 cubic feet; Papers (1907-1965), including correspondence, clippings, radio scripts, press releases, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mrs. E. Douglas Safran, Fayetteville, N.C., and the children of Mrs. E. Douglas Safran, Raleigh, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. E. Douglas Safran

Gift of the children of Mrs. E. Douglas Safran

Processing information

Processed by C. Stevenson; M. Boccaccio, May 1986

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
Aycock, Charles B. (Charles Brantley), 1859-1912
Cooley, Harold D. (Harold Dunbar), 1897-1974--Correspondence
Doak, Frances Renfrow, 1887-1974
Corporate Names
Democratic Party (N.C.)
North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs
Political campaigns--North Carolina
Prohibition--North Carolina
Radio broadcasters--North Carolina
Women--North Carolina--Social life and customs--20th century
Women--Political activity--North Carolina
North Carolina--Genealogy
North Carolina--Politics and government--20th century

Container list
Box 1 Folder b Correspondence 1915-1930
Box 1 Folder c Correspondence 1931
Box 1 Folder d Correspondence 1932
Box 1 Folder e Correspondence 1933
Box 1 Folder f Correspondence 1934
Box 1 Folder g Correspondence 1935-1938
Box 1 Folder h Correspondence 1939
Box 1 Folder i Correspondence 1940
Box 2 Folder a Correspondence 1941
Box 2 Folder b Correspondence 1942
Box 2 Folder c Correspondence 1943
Box 2 Folder d Correspondence 1944
Box 2 Folder e Correspondence 1945
Box 2 Folder f Correspondence 1946
Box 2 Folder g Correspondence 1947-1948
Box 2 Folder h Correspondence 1949-1950
Box 2 Folder i Correspondence 1951
Box 2 Folder j Correspondence 1952-1953
Box 3 Folder a Correspondence 1954-1955
Box 3 Folder b Correspondence January-April 1956
Box 3 Folder c Correspondence May-December 1956
Box 3 Folder d Correspondence 1957-1963
Box 3 Folder e Correspondence undated
Box 3 Folder f Correspondence undated
Box 3 Folder g Correspondence undated
Box 3 Folder h Subject Files
Box 3 Folder i Subject Files
Box 4 Folder a Political Subject File
Box 4 Folder b Political Subject File
Box 4 Folder c Prison Subject File
Box 4 Folder d Women's Club File - Finances
Box 4 Folder e Women's Club File - Legislative Council
Box 4 Folder f Women's Club File - Legislative Council
Box 4 Folder g Women's Club File - Minutes and Reports
Box 4 Folder h Women's Club File - Concert Series
Box 4 Folder i Women's Club File - Miscellaneous
Box 4 Folder j Women's Club File - Miscellaneous
Box 5 Folder a Women's Club - News Bulletin 1914-1942
Box 5 Folder b Women's Club - News Bulletin Sept. 2, 1945-Sept. 7, 1947
Box 5 Folder c Women's Club - News Bulletin Sept. 14, 1947-Oct. 10, 1948
Box 5 Folder d Women's Club - News Bulletin Oct. 24, 1948-Dec. 25, 1949
Box 5 Folder e Women's Club - News Bulletin Jan. 1, 1950-Oct. 1951
Box 5 Folder f Women's Club - History
Box 6 Folder a Radio Scripts
Box 6 Folder b Radio Scripts
Box 6 Folder c Radio Scripts
Box 6 Folder d Doak Genealogy
Box 6 Folder e Biography
Box 6 Folder f School Records
Box 6 Folder g Poems and Clippings
Box 6 Folder h Conscientious Objector
Box 6 Folder i Society of Friends
Box 7 Folder a Department of Agriculture
Box 7 Folder b Personal Miscellaneous
Box 7 Folder c Charles G. Doak
Box 7 Folder d List of Classes 1893-1935
Box 7 Folder e Clippings - Women's Club
Box 7 Folder f Clippings - Women's Club
Box 7 Folder g Clippings
Box 7 Folder h Scrapbook pages
Box 7 Folder i Clippings
Box 8 Folder a Clippings
Box 8 Folder b Clippings
Box 8 Folder c Clippings
Box 9 Folder a Charles Brantly Aycock Scrapbook
Box 9 Folder b Sports Scrapbook, 1910-1920
Box 9 Folder c Charles Doak
Box 9 Folder d Miscellaneous
Box 9 Folder e Charles Doak 1914-1960
Box 10 Folder a Miscellaneous
Box 11 Photographs
Box 12 Scrapbook
Box 13 Scrapbook