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Guide to the Gurney Harriss Kearns Papers, 1913-1970

Collection Overview

The papers of Gurney Harriss Kearns (1872-1962) date primarily during 1913-1962 but include items as late as 1970. There are eight series: Information; Correspondence; Everett, Zane and Muse; American Trust Company; Duke University; High Point College; Miscellaneous; and Crown Hosiery Mills. The collection relates mostly to the operations of Crown Hosiery Mills and to Kearns' real estate investments, membership on the board of directors of High Point College, and his endowment of fellowships at Duke University for graduate study in religion. Numerous references to his immediate family appear in various letters. There are occasional references to the Methodist Church, especially to Wesley Memorial at High Point of which Kearns was a member.

The Information Series contains reference material about Gurney H. Kearns, his family, and Crown Hosiery Mills.

The Correspondence Series (1959 items) contains the incoming letters and copies of the outgoing letters of Gurney H. Kearns during 1923-1963. Most of the correspondence from June, 1927, to April, 1931, is missing, and the quantity declines after 1943. The principal topic is Kearns' personal financial business. References to Crown Hosiery Mills are scarce. During 1923-1927 Kearns' real estate investments are the predominant topic. They include buildings, apartments, rental property, land and related transactions with real estate agents and insurance companies. Activity was considerable in North Carolina, especially in Greensboro and High Point, but also elsewhere, notably in Washington, D.C., and during 1926-1927 in Florida. During 1931-1943 the Depression's effects are evident, as Kearns' business is more concerned with managing debts, loans, and property than with acquisition. After 1943 the letters relate more to personal and family matters. Items of note concern Oak Ridge Institute (1925-1926), Springfield Friends Church (Dec. 18, 1936), Concord Methodist Church in Randolph Co. and Methodist churches in High Point (1937), church indebtedness in the Western N.C. Conference (Nov. 17, 1938), and Christianity and business (May 22, 1938).

The Everett, Zane and Muse Series (450 items) contains their letters to Gurney H. Kearns and copies of his replies during 1932-1952. Everett, Zane and Muse, an accounting firm located in Greensboro, N.C., handled business for both Crown Hosiery Mills and for Kearns personally, and the correspondence represents both interests. There are references to a variety of loan, tax, insurance, property, accounting, and other legal and financial matters. Many of the same transactions can be found in the Correspondence Series.

The American Trust Company Series (196 items) consists of their letters to Kearns and copies of his replies during 1939-1944. The American Trust Company, a bank in Charlotte, N.C., handled business for both Crown Hosiery Mills and for Kearns and other members of his family. The principal topics are loans and related insurance and property matters. These letters are sometimes more informative about transactions than the correspondence with Everett, Zane and Muse. There are occasional references to economic conditions.

The Duke University Series (1066 items), 1931-1965, contains Kearns' incoming and outgoing correspondence, mostly 1935-1962, with faculty, officials, graduate students, alumni, and doctors at the University, and others. The principal topic is the endowment that he established in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for the support of graduate students in religion, especially those preparing to become college and seminary teachers. In 1935 Kearns began the Gurney Harriss Kearns Fellowship in Religion that was expanded in 1951 into the Gurney Harriss Kearns Foundation for Graduate Study in Religion with an endowment of $100,000. At the time of Kearns' death in 1962 there had been 62 Kearns Fellows. The correspondence concerns the founding and development of the endowment, the property supporting it, the Kearns Fellows, the Department of Religion, the Divinity School, Duke University, Kearns' church, and the churches and schools where some of the former Kearns Fellows located. The principal correspondent, 1935-1962, is Dr. H Shelton Smith, James B. Duke Professor of American Religious Thought. Other correspondents include Kearns Fellows, doctors whom Kearns consulted at Duke Hospital, businessmen involved with the endowment property, and various officials of the University, especially President Robert Lee Flowers in the 1930s and 1940s.

The High Point College Series (304 items) concerns this Methodist school where Kearns was a trustee from 1934 until he retired to emeritus status in 1960. The files include primarily letters to and from Kearns and officials of the college and minutes, reports, and memoranda from its board of trustees and subordinate committees. There is considerable information about fund raising, finances, development, and administration. Correspondents include Gideon I. Humphreys, president in the 1940s and a continuing correspondent, Dennis Hargrove Cooke, president in the 1950s, Wendell Melton Patton who assumed the office in 1959, trustees, and occasionally faculty and other persons. The papers are minimal before 1942, limited during most of the 1940s, and relatively numerous during 1949-1959.

The Miscellaneous Series contains a ledger, 1919-1935, for Gurney H. Kearns' personal finances. There is also a folder of letters and printed material, 1939-1960, concerning Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in High Point, including a sermon by its minister opposing the election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency because he was a Roman Catholic.

The Crown Hosiery Mills Series consists of minutes, financial papers, and extensive account books. The minutes (photocopies), 1913-1935, also include records of stock issued, 1913-1929, and dividends, 1916-1931. The financial papers, 1935-1939 and 1947, are varied and not numerous, but they contain some useful data. There are 94 account books including: the ledger, 1913-1917; inventories, 1913-1936; and trial balances, 1921-1933; index and profit and loss accounts 1921-1947; cashbooks, 1913-1921, including trial balances, 1934-1944; cash journals, 1921-1950; time books and payroll, 1913-1934; payroll, 1922-1927; order books for labels, bands, riders, and transfers, 1926-1930; sales commission book, 1937-1949; and voucher records, 1913-1921. These volumes include the earliest ledger and journal. Later ones are absent, but some summary figures can be found in the trial balances and in the profit and loss accounts. The time books and payroll provide names of employees, hours worked, and wages paid during the first two decades of the mill's operation.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Gurney Harriss Kearns papers 1913-1970
Creator
Kearns, Gurney Harriss, 1872-1962
Extent
12 Linear Feet, 4,106 Items
Repository
Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Language
English.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The status of copyright interests in these papers is unknown. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rubenstein Library.

Contents of the Collection

Reference material about Gurney H. Kearns, his family, and Crown Hosiery Mills.

Reference Material
Box 1

Kearns' incoming and outgoing letters primarily relating to his personal financial business, especially real estate. Arranged chronologically.

1923, Jan.-Dec.
Box 1
1924, Jan.-May
Box 1
1924, June-Aug.
Box 1
1924, Sept.-Dec.
Box 1
1925, Jan.-June
Box 1
1925, July-Dec.
Box 1
1926, Jan.-March
Box 1
1926, April-June
Box 1
1926, July-Sept.
Box 1
1926, Oct.-Dec.
Box 2
1927, Jan.-May and 1927
Box 2
1930, Dec.; 1931, May-Dec., 1932, Jan.-Nov.
Box 2
1932, Jan.-Dec.
Box 2
1934, Jan.-Dec.
Box 2
1935, Jan.-Dec.
Box 2
1936, Jan.-Dec.
Box 2
1937, Jan.-June
Box 2
1937, July-Dec.
Box 2
1938, Jan.-June
Box 2
1938, July-Dec.
Box 2
1939, Jan.-Dec.
Box 3
1940, Jan.-Dec.
Box 3
1941, Jan.-Dec.
Box 3
1942, Jan.-Dec.
Box 3
1943, Jan.-Dec.
Box 3
1944, Jan.-1949, Dec.
Box 3
1950, Jan.-1957, Dec.
Box 3
1958, Feb.-1963, June
Box 3
undated
Box 3

Kearns' correspondence with this Greensboro accounting firm concerning both his personal business and Crown Hosiery Mills. Arranged chronologically.

1932, Oct.-1937, Dec.
Box 3
1938, Jan.-June
Box 3
1938, July-Dec.
Box 3
1939, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1940, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1941, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1942, Jan.-1952, June
Box 4

Kearns' correspondence with this Charlotte bank that handled business for him and Crown Hosiery Mills. Arranged chronologically.

1936, Nov.-1938, Dec.
Box 4
1939, Jan.-1940, Dec.
Box 4
1941, Jan.-1944, May
Box 4

Kearns' correspondence about the fellowships that he endowed for the support of graduate study in religion. Includes faculty, officials, graduate students, alumni, and doctors at the University. Arranged chronologically.

1931, May-1937, Dec.
Box 4
1938, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1939, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1940, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1941, Jan.-Dec.
Box 4
1942, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1943, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1944, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1945, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1946, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1947, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1948, Jan.-Oct.
Box 5
1949, May-Dec.
Box 5
1950, Jan.-1951, Dec.
Box 5
1952, Jan.-Dec.
Box 5
1953, Jan.-1954, Dec.
Box 5
1956, Sept.-19-57, Dec.
Box 5
1958, Jan.-April
Box 5
1958, May-Dec.
Box 5
1959, Jan.-Dec.
Box 6
1960, Jan.-Dec.
Box 6
1961, Jan.-Dec.
Box 6
1962, April-1965, March
Box 6

Correspondence, minutes, reports, and memoranda associated with Kearns' work as a trustee. Arranged chronologically.

1934, June-1945, Dec.
Box 6
1946, Jan.-1947, Nov.
Box 6
1949, June-Dec.
Box 6
1950, Jan.-May
Box 6
1950, June-Dec.
Box 6
1951, Jan.-June
Box 6
1951, July-Dec.
Box 6
1952, Jan.-Dec.
Box 6
1953, Jan.-April
Box 7
1954-1957
Box 7
1958, May-Dec.
Box 7
1959, Jan.-May
Box 7
1959, July-Dec.
Box 7
1960, Jan.-Oct.
Box 7
1961, April; 1970
Box 7

Kearns' personal ledger and material relating to Wesley Memorial Methodist Church.

Gurney Harriss Kearns' Ledger, 1919-1935
Box 7
Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, 1939-1960
Box 7

Ledger, journal, balance sheets, inventories, trial balances, profit and loss accounts, cashbooks, cash journals, time books, voucher records, order book, and sales commission book. Also minutes and financial papers. Volumes arranged chronologically by type.

Minutes, 1913-1935 (Including Stock Issued, 1913-1929, and Dividends, 1916-1931)
Box 7
Financial Papers, 1935-1939, 1947
Box 7
Ledger, 1913-1917
Volume 1
Journal, 1913, July-1921, March
Volume 2
Balance Sheets, 1913, Dec.-1932, Dec.,and Inventories, 1913, Dec.-1936, Dec.
Volume 3
Trial Balances, 1921, Jan.-1933, Nov.
Box 7
Index and Profit and Loss Accounts, 1921-1947
Volume 4
Cashbook, 1913, Aug.-1920, June
Volume 5
Cashbook, 1920, July-1921, March
Volume 6
Trial Balances, 1934, Jan.-1944, Nov.
Box 7
Cash Journal, 1921, Jan.-1922, Oct.
Volume 7
Cash Journal, 1922, Nov.-1925, Oct.
Volume 8
Cash Journal, 1925, Oct.-1927, Aug.
Volume 9
Cash Journal, 1927, Sept.-1929, April
Volume 10
Cash Journal, 1929, April-1930, Sept.
Volume 11
Cash Journal, 1930, Sept.-1932, April
Volume 12
Cash Journal, 1932, May-1933, Dec.
Volume 13
Cash Journal, 1933, Dec.-1935, Jan.
Volume 14
Cash Journal, 1935, Feb.-1937, May
Volume 15
Cash Journal, 1937, June-1939, June
Volume 16
Cash Journal, 1939, July-1941, Feb.
Volume 17
Cash Journal, 1941, March-1942, Sept.
Volume 18
Cash Journal, 1942, Oct.-1944, April
Volume 19
Cash Journal, 1944, May-1945, Dec.
Volume 20
Cash Journal, 1945, Dec.-1947, Aug.
Volume 21
Cash Journal, 1947, Aug.-Nov.
Volume 22
Cash Journal, 1947, Dec.-1948, March
Volume 23
Cash Journal, 1948, March-July
Volume 24
Cash Journal, 1948, July-Nov.
Volume 25
Cash Journal, 1948, Nov.-1949, March
Volume 26
Cash Journal, 1949, April-Aug.
Volume 27
Cash Journal, 1949, Aug.-1950, March
Volume 28
Cash Journal, 1950, March-July
Volume 29
Time Book and Payroll, 1913, Aug.-1914, March
Volume 30
Time Book and Payroll, 1914, March-Dec.
Volume 31
Time Book and Payroll, 1914, Dec.-1915, Sept.
Volume 32
Time Book and Payroll, 1915, Sept.-1916, May
Volume 33
Time Book and Payroll, 1916, May-Dec.
Volume 34
Time Book and Payroll, 1916, Dec.-1917, June
Volume 35
Time Book and Payroll, 1917, June-Dec.
Volume 36
Time Book and Payroll, 1917, Dec.-1918, June
Volume 37
Time Book and Payroll, 1918, June-Dec.
Volume 38
Time Book and Payroll, 1918, Dec.-1919, July
Volume 39
Time Book and Payroll, 1919, July-Aug.
Volume 40
Time Book and Payroll, 1919, Aug.-1920, May
Volume 41
Time Book and Payroll, 1920, May-1921, April
Volume 42
Time Book and Payroll, 1921, May-Nov.
Volume 43
Time Book and Payroll, 1921, Nov.-1922, May
Volume 44
Time Book- and Payroll, 1922, May-Nov.
Volume 45
Time Book and Payroll, 1922, Nov.-1923, May
Volume 46
Time Book and Payroll, 1923, May-Nov.
Volume 47
Time Book and Payroll, 1923, Nov.-1924, June
Volume 48
Time Book and Payroll, 1924, June-Nov.
Volume 49
Time Book and Payroll, 1924, Nov.-1925, March
Volume 50
Time Book and Payroll, 1925, March-June
Volume 51
Time Book and Payroll, 1925, June-Oct.
Volume 52
Time Book and Payroll, 1925, Oct.-1926, Jan.
Volume 53
Time Book and Payroll, 1926, Jan.-April
Volume 54
Time Book and Payroll, 1926, April-July
Volume 55
Time Book and Payroll, 1926, Aug.-Nov.
Volume 56
Time Book and Payroll, 1926, Nov.-1927, Feb.
Volume 57
Time Book and Payroll, 1927, Feb.-May
Volume 58
Time Book and Payroll, 1927, May-Aug.
Volume 59
Time Book and Payroll, 1927, Aug.-Nov.
Volume 60
Time Book and Payroll, 1927, Nov.-1928, Feb.
Volume 61
Time Book and Payroll, 1928, Feb.-May
Volume 62
Time Book and Payroll, 1928, May-July
Volume 63
Time Book and Payroll, 1928, July-Oct.
Volume 64
Time Book and Payroll, 1928, Oct.-Dec.
Volume 65
Time Book and Payroll,1929.Jan.-April
Volume 66
Time Book and Payroll, 1929, April-June
Volume 67
Time Book and Payroll, 1929, July-Sept.
Volume 68
Time Book and Payroll, 1929, Sept.-Dec.
Volume 69
Time Book and Payroll, 1929, Dec.-1930, Feb.
Volume 70
Time Book and Payroll, 1930, Feb.-May
Volume 71
Time Book and Payroll, 1930, May-Aug.
Volume 72
Time Book and Payroll, 1930, Aug.-Nov.
Volume 73
Time Book and Payroll, 1930, Nov.-1931, Feb.
Volume 74
Time Book and Payroll, 1931, March-June
Volume 75
Time Book and Payroll, 1931, June-Sept.
Volume 76
Time Book and Payroll, 1931, Sept.-Dec.
Volume 77
Time Book and Payroll, 1931, Dec.-1932, March
Volume 78
Time Book and Payroll, 1932, March-July
Volume 79
Time Book and Payroll, 1932, July-Oct.
Volume 80
Time Book and Payroll, 1932, Oct.-1933, Jan.
Volume 81
Time Book and Payroll, 1933, Jan.-April
Volume 82
Time Book and Payroll, 1933, April-Aug.
Volume 83
Time Book and Payroll, 1933, Aug.-Nov.
Volume 84
Time Book and Payroll, 1933, Nov.-1934, Feb.
Volume 85
Time Book and Payroll, 1934, Feb.-July
Volume 86
Payroll, 1922, July-1925, May
Volume 87
Payroll, 1925, May-1927, Oct.
Volume 88
Order Book for Labels, Bands, Riders, and Transfers, 1926-1930
Volume 89
Sales Commission Book, 1937-1949
Volume 90
Voucher Record, 1913, March-1915, Sept.
Volume 91
Voucher Record, 1915, Oct.-1917, Oct.
Volume 92
Voucher Record, 1917, Nov.-1919, Oct.
Volume 93
Voucher Record, 1919, Nov.-1921, March
Volume 94

Historical Note

DateEvent(s)
1872Gurney Harriss Kearns born Sept. 12 on family farm in Guilford County near High Point, N.C.
1890sAttended Trinity College, later Duke University
1900Associated with brother Oscar E. Kearns to establish Kearns Furniture Co., High Point
1906Married Katherine Whittier Ragan of High Point
1913Founded Crown Hosiery Mills at High Point
1934Became trustee of High Point College
1935Initiated Gurney Harriss Kearns Fellowship in Religion at Duke University for graduate study
1951Endowment at Duke University increased to $100,000 as the Gurney Harriss Kearns Foundation for Graduate Study in Religion
1960Became trustee emeritus of High Point College
1962Died November 19 at High Point

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], The Papers of Gurney Harriss Kearns, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The papers of Gurney Harriss Kearns, a textile manufacturer, were a gift to the Rubenstein Library in 1977 by Crown Hosiery Mills, High Point, N.C.

Processing Information

Processed by: Duke University Special Collections Staff

Completed ca. 1977

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.