The James N. Joyner Papers consist chiefly of correspondence, business and financial papers, and company reports that reveal many aspects of the operations of the British-American Tobacco Company and of the social life of Joyner in China during the 1920s and 1930s. The papers also reveal the important role the British-American Tobacco Company played in Joyner's day-to-day banking and financial affairs.
Joyner's work consisted primarily of managing sales of cigarettes manufactured by the British-American Tobacco Company; most of the business references concern sales of B.A.T. brands and those of their competitors. The collection includes advertising flyers; reports concerning redemption schemes and premiums (Oct., 1931 - Aug., 1933); trade statistics (Sept., 1937); stock and sales reports; profit and loss statements (Sept., 1937); lists of company godowns (warehouses); and estimated shipping times for cigarette stocks via native boat, steamer, and highway around the city of Nanchangfu. A report from a Chinese B.A.T. agent in Tsingtao (Nov., 1934) mentions problems with outlaws in the outlying districts and describes in great detail the counterfeiting of B.A.T. brands using cheap native tobaccos. It also outlines problems with the local authorities, who oftenrefused to enforce registration laws, and mentions required registration of native tobacco rollers. The collection also includes a B.A.T. staff list (June, 1933) and several lists of proposed salary increases for Chinese employees (Dec., 1934).
Correspondence describes Joyner's relationships with his coworkers, company finance and banking procedures, travel procedures, and services for company employees. Of particular importance are Joyner's comments concerning a proposal for B.A.T.'s withdrawal from Changsha, probably because of civil unrest (1927), and his undated draft of a letter concerning his promotion to head of the Kiangsi Division, headquartered at Kiukiang. Joyner describes his job and the company-owned home he lived in. A memorandum (May, 1934) concerns the creation of an alumni club for University of North Carolina alumni in China and includes a list of UNC alumni there. Around November, 1934, B.A.T. was reorganized and renamed Yee-Tsoong Tobacco Distributors, Ltd. Letters written at the time of Joyner's departure from China (Apr., 1935) cite displeasure at the reorganization as his reason for leaving.
Much of the collection provides an interesting picture of Joyner's social life and his day-to-day activities. Numerous letters and notes pertain to his social interactions with Chinese and Occidentals. These include cards and scribbled invitations to dinner, requests for accommodation of visitors, and items of a highly personal nature. Joyner's expenditures are documented by bills and receipts for groceries, utilities, travel expenses, and other items. Included among the business and financial papers are a price list (Apr., 1934) of Kwang Chang Lee Co., of Changsha, and an account book of Foo Chong and Co., of Kiukiang (May, 1934-Apr., 1935), both sellers of general merchandise. Liquor price lists, statements of fees, and regulations of various clubs also reflect the nature of social life among tobacconists in China. Exchange rate memos and other B.A.T. financial material reveal the significant role of the company in the management of Joyner's personal finances.
Most of the photographs in the collection are unlabeled, though some depict Joyner. Exceptions are a portrait of a highborn Chinese woman with bound feet and a shot labeled "Yi Yang, China." Others depict Chinese and Occidental adults and children, buildings, river and mountain scenes, and a caravan of Bactrian camels. Of particular interest are views of Occidentals, including Joyner, at dinner and masquerade parties.
Miscellany pertaining to China includes a Chinese "Passport for Carrying a shooting gun," a map of Shanghai (ca. 1936), and unidentified Chinese documents.
Joyner maintained close ties with his family in North Carolina and corresponded with them regularly. A letter from his brother, William (July, 1931), mentions a run on the Commercial Bank of Raleigh. The undated draft letter mentioned above contains J. N. Joyner's opinions concerning questions of farm finance and mortgage. Letters written after Joyner's departure from China concern an epidemic of infantile paralysis that affectedmost of North Carolina (June, 1935), libelous statements made about James Yadkin Joyner by one Will Parks during the 1936 gubernatorial race (June, 1936), and a request for information about three elderly eastern North Carolina dentists (Aug., 1937). Additional correspondence (1954) deals with the donation of J. Y. Joyner's books to East Carolina College.
Miscellany that is unrelated to China includes Confederate States of America bonds in $500 and $1,000 denominations; a memorial pamphlet concerning William Hesketh Viscount Leverhulme, founder of Lever Brothers (July, 1925); an anti-WPA flyer (1935); a pro-New Deal speech by James A. Farley (1937); and two pamphlets on Ayurvedic pharmacy.