Guide to the Few Family Papers, 1861-1986 (bulk 1905-1967)
The Few family papers includes correspondence, business and financial papers, clippings, printed material, and genealogical information. The collection was created by a various members of the Thomas and Few families, with the majority being created by Mary Reamey Thomas Few and her husband, Dr. William P. Few. The collection ranges in date from 1861-1986 (bulk 1905-1967).
- Record Group
- Few Family papers
- 1861-1986 (bulk 1905-1967)
- 19.8 Linear Feet, approx. 15,700 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The Few family papers encompass two families: the Few family and the Thomas family. The majority of the collection was created by Mary Reamey Thomas Few and her husband, Dr. William P. Few. The collection is divided into four series: Correspondence, Genealogy, Miscellaneous, and Political Papers of Mary Reamey Thomas Few.
The Correspondence series is broken down into several subseries based on how the correspondence was grouped by the Few family. The majority of the correspondence was written by and to members of the Few and Thomas families, including letters between Dr. and Mrs. Few prior to their marriage as well as letters from Mrs. Few to her parents while she was an undergraduate at Trinity College (Durham, N.C.). Other subjects in the correspondence series include family and business matters and social conditions in Durham.
The Genealogy series includes research notes and information accumulated by Mrs. Few as well as applications for membership in several historical and genealogical societies.
The Miscelleanous series includes financial and business papers, Lyne Starling Thomas' business papers, printed material, clippings, and address/memo books.
The Political Papers series consists of correspondence, memorabilia, pamphlets, clippings, photographs and printed materials amassed by Mary Reamey Thomas Few in her capacity as a leader in the Republican Party.
The collection ranges in date from 1861-1986 (bulk 1905-1967).
Access to the Collection
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 University Archives to use this collection.
Portions of these materials are restricted by donor request.
Use & Permissions
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Few Family Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The family correspondence was sorted and grouped by Kendrick and/or Randolph Few, sons of Dr. William and Mary Few. At processing, the letters were sorted by date within each grouping for easier patron access and use. Each grouping is a sub-series named for the creator of the correspondence, if applicable.
Mary Few's correspondence varies in content, depending on the recipient. The letters to her parents detail her life as an undergraduate at Trinity College in Durham, with references to her classes, professors, friends and social activities. She writes of her visits to Ben Duke's house to visit his daughter Mary and going "automobiling." Some of her social activities included traveling throughout North Carolina with college friends, joining her classmates for dinner at the home of James Southgate (Trinity College trustee), and attending religious meetings and theatrical productions. Of note are Mrs. Few's letters home regarding the 1905 visit of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt to Trinity College. Mrs. Few's letters continue through her time at Columbia University, Southern Seminary in Buena Vista, Va., and finally her return to Durham after her marriage to Dr. Few. The later letters focus largely on family matters, including her sons and Dr. Few's travels.
The letters exchanged between Dr. and Mrs. Few provide some insight into their long-distance courtship but largely focus on family matters. The remaining family-related correspondence also pertains to family matters but also business matters as well. The general correspondence subseries contains letters written mainly to Mrs. Few from various individuals about a wide array of topics, including business ventures and genealogy.
Mrs. Few was an avid genealogist with a strong interest in her family history. This series includes research notes she accumulated as well as applications to several historical and genealogical societies. There is also a folder related to the Kendrick family, who were related to Dr. Few.
This series includes material related to Mrs. Few's membership in several historical and genealogical societies, such as newsletters. It also includes printed material, clippings, poems/writings, legal and financial papers, photographs, and the business papers of Lyne Starling Thomas. Thomas was the father of Mary Few and was a lawyer in Martinsville, Va.
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Few became active in the affairs of the Republican Party. She served as Republican national committeewoman for North Carolina from 1944-1956 and as a member of the Republican National Executive Committee. She was a member of the Platform Committee and the Commmittee on Arrangements for the Republican National Convention in 1948 as a delegate-at-large and Platform Committee for the Convention in 1952, where she supported Dwight D. Eisenhower for the presidential nomination.
This series consists of the correspondence, memorabilia, pamphlets, clippings, photographs, and printed materials amassed by Few in her capacity as a leader in the Party. Items include materials concerning N.C. state politics, campaign strategies, political support, the New Deal and other issues; photos of Philadelphia hotels; a copy of Eisenhower's 1955 State of the Union Address; cards from prominent Republicans; and Republican Party news releases. Printed matter highlights the national conventions, and includes such items as hand-outs, souvenir volumes, buttons saying "I LIKE IKE," "I'M DAFT ABOUT TAFT," and "IT'S TIME FOR NIXON," and documents on the workings of a presidential campaign.
Mary Reamey Thomas Few was born on July 12, 1885 in Martinsville, Va. to Lyne Starling and Elizabeth Sheffield Thomas. Educated by private tutors throughout her childhood, she entered Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) in 1902 and graduated magna cum laude in 1906. While at Trinity College, Mrs. Few as a member of the first staff of The Chronicle and also served on the staff of The Archive. Additionally, Mrs. Few was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority. In 1907, she earned a M.A. in English from Columbia University. She taught at the Southern Seminary in Buena Vista, Va. until the end of the 1910 session. On August 17, 1911, she married Dr. William Preston Few.
Born in Greenville, S.C. on December 29, 1867, the son of Benjamin Franklin and Rachel Kendrick Few, William Preston Few attended Wofford College, Spartanburg S.C. (A.B., 1889), and Harvard University (A.M., 1893; Ph.D., 1896). Dr. Few came to Durham in 1896 as Professor of English at Trinity College. He was named Dean of the College in 1902, and President in 1910, succeeding John C. Kilgo. Dr. Few was President of Trinity College/Duke University from 1910-1940.
President and Mrs. Few had five sons: William Few (1/4/1912-12/9/1979), Lyne Starling Few (10/18/1913-12/19/2004), Kendrick Sheffield Few (8/1/1917-7/27/1996), Randolph Reamey Few (10/6/1920-10/14/2008), and Yancy Preston Few (1922-1939). Dr. Few died on October 16, 1940. Mrs. Few died on January 8, 1971.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Few, W. P. (William Preston), 1867-1940
- Few, Mary Reamey Thomas
- Few family
- Few family
- Republican National Committee (U.S.)
- Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- History -- 20th century
- Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- Students -- Social life and customs
- Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- Students, societies, etc.
- Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- Students
- Thomas family
- Thomas, Elizabeth Sheffield
- Thomas, Lyne Starling
- Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- Alumni and alumnae
- Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- Faculty
- Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- History -- 20th century
- Women's Republican Club of America
The political papers portion of the Few Family Papers was received as a purchase in 1978. The rest was received by the University Archives in 1972 and between 1990-1991.
Processed by Kimberly Sims, June 2010
Encoded by Kimberly Sims, July 2010