Cornelia Petty Jerman Papers

Manuscript Collection #155
Jerman, Cornelia Petty, 1874-1946
Physical description
0.43 Cubic Feet, 51 items , consisting of correspondence, scrapbooks, pamphlets, clippings, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Cornelia Petty Jerman Papers (#155), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1911-1967) consisting of correspondence, magazine, scrapbooks, pamphlets, clippings and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

Cornelia Petty Jerman was born in Carthage, N.C., on December 1, 1874, the daughter of William Cary and Emma Virginia (Thagard) Petty. She graduated from Oxford College (N.C.) in 1892 and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1898 she married Thomas Palmer Jerman of Raleigh, N.C. She moved to Raleigh and immediately became active in the social life there. She was a charter member of the Women's Club of Raleigh, serving as president from 1909 to 1911 and as chairman of the building committee during the construction of the first and second club houses. She subsequently became president of the N.C. Federation of Women's Clubs and served as a trustee of the General Federation of Women's Clubs.

Mrs. Jerman led the fight for women's suffrage. She organized the Raleigh Equal Suffrage League, and in 1920 she fought for suffrage at a special session of the General Assembly, which considered, and rejected, ratification of the 19th Amendment. In 1921 she led a movement to organize the State Legislative Council to sponsor constructive legislation in the fields of health, education, labor, and corrective institutions. She served as president of the Council from 1922 to 1933. She also led an effort to organize the Raleigh League of Women's Voters and served as the president of the Wake County league.

In 1924 and 1928 Mrs. Jerman served as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention and was appointed to the National Democratic Committee in 1928. She campaigned actively for both Al Smith in 1928 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. In 1934 she was appointed assistant collector of the Internal Revenue for North Carolina. This appointment required her resignation from the Democratic National Committee and her relocation in Greensboro, N.C., from 1934 until 1939 when she returned to Raleigh.

In June, 1943, Mrs. Jerman was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Women's College in Greensboro. Mrs. Jerman also was a member of the Fortnightly Review Club, the St. Cecilia Music Club, the Women's National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C., and was director of the Wake County Savings Bank until its merger with the First Citizen's Bank and Trust Company.

Mrs. Jerman died on February 4, 1946, in Raleigh.

Scope and arrangement

The correspondence in this collection deals with the period 1926 through 1933, with special emphasis on the year 1928. The early letters deal with women's suffrage and urging women to exercise their right to vote and hold public office. Those for the year 1928 concern the appointment of Mrs. Jerman to the Democratic National Convention in Houston, her election to the Democratic National Committee, and her campaign for Alfred E. Smith for President. Cordell Hull wrote thanking her for the North Carolina delegation's support for him during the Convention. Several letters are from Josephus Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer. They solicit Mrs. Jerman's advice on supporting Smith, a Catholic running on a platform to repeal Prohibition. The letters also discuss the split in the Democratic Party caused by Smith's nomination. A telegram and letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Mrs. Jerman pertain to campaign funds available and appreciation for work done. Another letter gives a reaction to Mrs. Jerman's support of Smith for President.

The bulk of the collection contains newspaper clippings dating from 1911 to 1967. Most of the clippings pertain to Mrs. Jerman's activities as an advocate of women's suffrage, her work with the Women's Club of Raleigh and the Federation of Women's Clubs, her service to the Democratic Party from 1928 to 1933, and her work as assistant collector of Internal Revenue for North Carolina. One section of the clippings deals with a controversy over the unquestioned support given to the policies of the National Federation of Women's Clubs by the state groups. Other articles concern the awarding of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Mrs. Jerman by Women's College at Greensboro, N.C., in 1943, and the placing of Mrs. Jerman among the outstanding women in North Carolina, and obituaries written by Josephus Daniels and others announcing the death of Mrs. Jerman.

Miscellaneous papers include train schedules for the Women's Club's tour of the western states on its way to the Biennial Convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs held in June, 1924, in Los Angeles. There are also programs for the Memorial to John Young Du Pré, MD, who died in 1900, for the 29th Annual Conference of Florida Federation of Women's Clubs in 1923, for the Commencement of the University of North Carolina in 1928, and the memorial litany for Mrs. Jerman read in May, 1946.

The collection also includes the Mid-Week Pictorial Magazine for June 26, 1924 which gives pictures of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Administrative information
Custodial History

January 29, 1971, 45 items, 2 volumes; Correspondence, scrapbooks, pamphlets, clippings, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mr. T. Palmer Jerman, Pinehurst, N.C.

February 22, 1971, 6 items; Newspaper clippings (1946, 1967) and memorial litany. Gift of Mrs. John P. Cooper, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. John P. Cooper

Processing information

Processed by L. Hardy, October 1971

Edited by Jennifer Overstreet February 2020

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
Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948--Correspondence
Hull, Cordell, 1871-1955--Correspondence
Jerman, Cornelia Petty, 1874-1946
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962--Correspondence
Corporate Names
Democratic National Committee (U.S.)
General Federation of Women's Clubs
North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs
Raleigh Woman's Club
United States. Constitution. 19th Amendment
Meeting Names
Democratic National Convention (1928 : Houston, Tex.)
Internal revenue--North Carolina
Presidents--United States--Election--1928
Women civic leaders--North Carolina
Women in politics--North Carolina
Women--North Carolina--Societies and clubs
Women--Suffrage--North Carolina
North Carolina--Politics and government--20th century

Container list
Box 2 Scrapbook, 1924-1943