Senator Sam Ervin

Source: Jack Holland Spain Papers, Manuscript Collection #1122

Staff Member: Nanette Hardison

Description: This image from 1973 is a portrait of Senator Sam J. Ervin with a written note of appreciation to Jack Spain for his service as the Senator’s administrative assistant.  Senator Ervin served as a North Carolina senator from  1954 to 1974.  During his career as Senator, he was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954 and in participating in the investigation of Watergate in 1972 which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Missouri State Pension for Ex-Confederate Soldiers

Source: Carl Woodrow Thurman, Jr. Collection #15.1.a
Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo

Description: James T. Thurman, aged 72, and still suffering from a Civil War wound to his thigh, “weak lungs” and a “chronic cough”, submitted this pension application, on 18 June 1913, to the Adjutant General’s Office, in Jefferson City, Missouri. After a long life of physical labor, he could do no more.  His physical condition, he said, made it impossible for him “to do manual labor” any more and he needed financial assistance. Like many Confederate soldiers, Thurman was illiterate and required the assistance of Notary Public Hemmit Dale to complete the application form. His “mark” is visible between the J. and T. of his “signature.” The application is marked “approved & service papers returned” and dated 9 July 1913. Thurman’s pension application is accompanied by two documents: a “Memorandum of Service” and an Adjutant General’s certificate authenticating his Civil War service. The documents indicate that Thurman was a resident of Bloomington, Macon County, Missouri and had enlisted as a private in Company B, 5th Missouri Regiment Infantry Volunteers in Springfield, Missouri, on 11 January 1862. Thurman had previously served in Company F, 4th Regiment, 3rd Division of the Missouri National Guard.

The document may be more significant for what is doesn’t say.  It doesn’t say how Thurman served honorably throughout the war until he was paroled after the surrender in April 1865. The 5th Regiment, under the command of Col. James McCown, Lt. Col. Robert S. Bevier, and Maj. Owen A. Waddell, was involved in nearly continuous combat during the war. It fought at Iuka (19 Sept. 1862) and Corinth, Mississippi (3-4 Oct. 1862), Lexington, Tennessee (18 Dec. 1862) and at Pea Ridge [Elkhorn Tavern] Arkansas (7-8 Mar. 1862), where it was part of Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen’s command. Thurman got his thigh wound from a shell fragment at Pea Ridge. It participated in the  simultaneous battles of Grand Gulf (29 April, 3 May 1863) and Port Gibson, Mississippi (30 April – 1 May 1863) while defending Vicksburg.  A few weeks later the regiment fought at Champion’s Hall, also known as Baker’s Creek (16 May 1863).  The 5th was captured en masse, on 4 July 1863, when Vicksburg fell to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s forces and spent several months as prisoners of war.  The harshness of the siege and subsequent captivity can only be guessed.  Gen. Bowen never recovered from the effects and died on 13 July 1863. After an exchange of prisoners, the understrength 5th joined Brig. Gen. Francis M. Cockrell’s Brigade and was consolidated with the 3rd Regiment, and served with General John Bell Hood’s army in Tennessee (Nov. 1864-Jan. 1865) and during the Atlanta Campaign (1 May – 8 Sept. 1864) where it fought at Allatoona (5 Oct. 1864).  Transferred to  to the defense of Mobile (17 Mar. – 12 April 1865) it participated in the Battle of Fort Blakely, Alabama (1-9 April 1865).

The 5th, which mustered 476 men in May 1862, suffered staggering casualties during the war. It lost 6 killed, 62 wounded, and 19 missing at Corinth; 4 killed, 49 wounded and 37 missing at Champion’s Hill;  20 killed and 52 wounded during the siege of Vicksburg; the combined 5th/3rd Regiment lost a total of 128 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Atlanta Campaign (18 May – 5 September 1864) alone. It lost hundreds more by disease and desertion. By the end of the war there were few left to surrender.  The survivors of the bloodbath, including James T. Thurman, then faded from history.

Presidential Candidate John Kennedy

My first thought when viewing this picture was about how the times have changed. This is Presidential Candidate John Kennedy riding in a motorcade on his way to an ECU rally. You would not see that today. Today important people travel in bullet proof limousines. I remember his campaign, and am saddened by what happened to him and his brother. BTW that’s a 1960 Mercury Monterey convertible that he’s riding in, and the car in front is a 1959 Cadillac (note the distinctive “fin” just to the left of center at the bottom).

Children in China

Source: Ola V. Lea Papers, (East Carolina Manuscript Collection #351)

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin


Miss Ola Lea, was a native of Virginia and a Baptist missionary to China and Taiwan for thirty-seven years. In 1925 she accepted her assignment of teaching in China until the outbreak of World War II. These are photographs of children in China, in their padded winter garments.

Rise Stevens

  • Source:  University Archives Yearbook Collection, 1943 (UA50-01-1943-165).
  • Staff Person:  Arthur Carlson
  • Description:  This image from the University Archives features famed opera singer Rise Stevens. Born Rise Steenberg, 11 June 1913 in New York City, she studied at the Julliard School before moving to Vienna, Austria to pursue a career in opera.  In 1938, she made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera where she caught the eye of Hollywood film executives who cast her in The Chocolate Soldier (1941) and Going My Way (1944).  For over two decades, Stevens performed as the Met’s leading mezzo-soprano, earning top billing on many successful productions.  Upon her retirement from the stage, she served as the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Company while also serving as a coach for aspiring opera singers.  This image was taken during her visit to East Carolina during World War II.  Her visit provided some distraction of glitz and glamour to a student body faced with the daily specters of global war in Europe and the Pacific and examinations here on the home front.