The William Cobb Whitfield Papers consists of a class notebook, ephemera found in books belonging to Whitfield, and various other papers ranging from 1873 to 1936. Additionally, notes from a conversation between Miles J. Smith, donor of collection and great-nephew of Whitfield, and Ruth Moskop, from History Collections at Laupus Library.
William Cobb Whitfield was born 1860 August 20 in Lenoir County, North Carolina, to Colonel Nathan Bryan and Betty Green (Cobb) Whitfield. Although he grew up during Reconstruction in the South, his family was able to send him to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the late 1870s. He earned his medical degree in 1884 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. After graduating, Whitfield returned to North Carolina to practice medicine, and immediately joined the North Carolina Society of Medicine. He lived in Seven Springs in 1884, upon his return to North Carolina, and by 1903 lived in Grifton. In 1908, Whitfield served as the President of the Pitt County Medical Society. Whitfield maintained his practice in his home in Grifton. As Grifton was a small, rural community, people could go to his home and know when they could find him, or roughly when he might be back. Quite often, people would wait until he returned.
Whitfield married Annie Watson Barbour in 1888, and they would have Metrah Barber "Jack," Annie Roslyn, and Nathan Samuel Cobb Whitfield. His wife died in 1893, and he married second Rachel Donnell Patterson in 1899. William and Rachel would have one son, William Patterson Whitfield, who would live only a few months. The Whitfield's would take in Mattie Morisey in 1918, after both her parents died.
In the late 1930s, Rachel had heart problems. Dr. Whitfield gave up his practice in Grifton and they moved to Salisbury thinking the higher elevation and lower humidity would help her. Throughout his life, Whitfield was an avid reader, accumulating a very large library. He was a big Mason, Shriner, and Episcopalian, and was very involved in those organizations.
Whitfield died 1938 May 13 in Salisbury, North Carolina, and is buried in Kinston.
The William Cobb Whitfield Papers consists of a class notebook, ephemera found in books belonging to Whitfield, and various other papers ranging from 1873 to 1936. The class notebook includes notes from lectures of Professor Chisolm and Professor Miles, and include topics such as physiology, various aspects of circulation system, diet, cells, digestive system, brain, eyes, and ears. Among the other papers include advertisements, booklets, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, blotter advertisements, photographs, and handwritten drug preparation recipes.
Also included are notes from a conversation between Miles J. Smith, donor of collection and great-nephew of Whitfield, and Ruth Moskop, from History Collections at Laupus Library. Smith saw Whitfield as a grandfather-like figure, as he and his second wife took in Smith's mother after both her parents died. He recalls personal recollections of Whitfield and gives context for his papers and books being donated to Laupus Library.
Gift of Miles J. Smith
Processed by Ashley Williams, 2016
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
Medical Society of the State of North Carolina Photograph and Photocopies (LL 02.31),The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
William Cobb Whitfield Papers (#1179), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.