Menu

Guide to the Ella Fountain Pratt Papers, circa 1850-2008

Abstract

Ella Fountain Keesler Pratt (1914-2008) was a Duke University employee for almost thirty years. Ms. Pratt was also a patron of the arts and community organizer in Durham, North Carolina. This collection contains documents, records, photographs, and notes that document her life as a Duke employee and Durham arts organizer. Items include personal notebooks, photographs of family and events, art exhibition catalogs, and audio recordings of performances at Duke University. The collection materials range in date from circa 1850 to 2008.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Ella Fountain Pratt papers
Creator
Pratt, Ella Fountain
Extent
18.0 linear feet, 13,000 items
Repository
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
Material in English

Collection Overview

The Ella Fountain Pratt Papers contain materials pertaining to Pratts's personal life and professional accomplishments. A majority of the collection is comprised of personal correspondence, records, and news clippings that document Ella's education, her participation in the Durham Arts scene, and her experiences as a longtime employee at Duke University. Newer accessions also include photographs (largely unidentified and undated) of both Ella and her husband as well as their sons and Mr. Pratt's family as well as genealogical information, Mr. Pratt's correspondence, and materials pertaining to his education and work at Duke University, in addition to his service in the U. S. Navy during World War II. Of note is a letter signed by Richard Nixon soon after he was defeated in the 1960 election. The collection also includes notable autographs of the various artists Ella Fountain Pratt encountered during her lifetime. Items in the collection range from circa 1850-2008, with the bulk from 1960-2000.

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

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.

Collection is open for research.

warning Use Restrictions

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.

Contents of the Collection

Container List

18 boxes
Pre-College School Papers, 1920-1975
Box 1
MSCW, 1932-1936 (6 folders)
Box 1
Diploma from MSCW, 1936
Box 1
Sullins College Programs, 1936-38
Box 1
Scrapbook Materials, 1930-1936 (2 Folders)
Box 1
Lanier Pratt Scrapbook, circa 1940-1956 (2 Folders)
Box 1
Travel Papers and Documents, circa 1955-1995
Box 1
Personal Papers, Notes, Programs and Ephemera, circa 1965-2004 (5 Folders)
Box 1
Duke Student Union Records, 1956-1980 (2 Folders)
Box 1
Duke Student Union Records, 1956-1980 (2 Folders)
Box 2
Duke Artists Series, circa 1970-1990 (2 Folders)
Box 2
Duke Artists Series Programs, 1972-2005 (5 Folders)
Box 2
Student Union Art Collection, 1964-1968 (2 Folders)
Box 2
Duke Acquisitions Procedures, 1965-1966
Box 2
Mailing Lists for Exhibitions and Catalogs, 1963-1969 (2 Folders)
Box 2
Visual Arts Committee Correspondence, 1968-1969
Box 2
Visual Arts Committee Insurance, 1967-1970 (2 Folders)
Box 2
North Carolina Arts Council Records, 1978-1979
Box 2
NEA Internship Info, 1972-1978
Box 2
Program and Notes for Bernstein's "Mass", 1978
Box 2
Art Exhibitions Brochures, Flyers, and Catalogs, circa 1963-1980 (4 Folders)
Box 2
Art Exhibitions Brochures, Flyers, and Catalogs, circa 1963-1980 (3 Folders)
Box 3
Lecture Programs and Bulletins, 1952-1982
Box 3
Town and Campus Club Celebrates 65 Years, circa 1981
Box 3
Friday Morning Music Study Club, undated
Box 3
Durham Arts Council, circa 1967-2008 (4 Folders)
Box 3
Triangle Opera Programs and Papers, 1986-2000 (4 Folders)
Box 3
Miscellaneous Arts Programs and Papers, circa 1980-1997
Box 3
Robert Ward Celebration Documentation, 1987 (2 Folders)
Box 3
Durham Cultural Master Plan, 2002
Box 3
Miscellaneous Professional Papers and Programs, circa 1967-2001
Box 4
Fanfare and Events Honoring Ella Fountain Pratt, circa 1984-2000
Box 4
Fanfare Notes for Ella, 2000 (2 Envelopes)
Box 4
Journals and Personal Notebooks, circa 1940's-2006 (11 Envelopes, 2 Folders)
Box 4
Correspondence, circa 1930-2008 (15 Folders)
Box 5
Clippings, 1928-2008 (5 Envelopes)
Box 5
Clippings, 1928-2008 (23 Envelopes
Box 6
Black and White Photographs, circa 1930-2000 (9 Folders)
Box 7
Black and White Promo Photographs, 1970-1990 (6 Folders)
Box 7
Color Photographs, circa 1960-2008 (2 Folders)
Box 7
Color Photographs, circa 1960-2008 (2 Folders
Box 8
Durham Arts Council's Photographs, circa 1980-1990
Box 8
Durham Friday Morning Music Study Club Photos, circa 1985-2000
Box 8
Photo Negatives, circa 1930-2008
Box 8
DVDs of Scanned Images, circa 1930-2008
Box 8
Slides, circa 1960-1975
Box 8
Thad Sparks at Duke University Slides, 1975
Box 8
"Mass" Performance Slides, 1978
Box 8
Harper Jr. High Slides, 1977
Box 8
The Duke Endowment [book]
Box 8
Hero by the Hour [play/book]
Box 8
Seventeen [book]
Box 8
Little Women [play/book]
Box 8
Meh Lady, 1933 [MSCW yearbook]
Box 8
Meh Lady, 1934 [MSCW yearbook]
Box 8
Meh Lady, 1935 [MSCW yearbook]
Box 8
Meh Lady, 1936 [MSCW yearbook]
Box 8
The Sampler, 1940 [Sullins College yearbook]
Box 8
Book of Appreciation from Duke University Union, 1984 [book]
Box 8
Audio cassette of Bernstein's "Mass" performance at Duke University, 1978
Box 9
Audio cassette of Reynolds Price at Duke University, undated
Box 9
Audio cassette of Leontyne Price performance at Duke University, 1975
Box 9
Audio cassette of Lazar Berman performance at Duke University, undated
Box 9
Audio cassette of John Pierre Rampal [i.e., Jean-Pierre Rampal] at Duke University, 1980
Box 9
Audio cassette of Raphael Hillyer at Duke University, 1976
Box 9
Audio cassettes of undetermined origin (50 tapes)
Box 9
Wooden Dagger, undated
Box 10
Letterman Jacket Letters, undated
Box 10
Felt Pennant, undated
Box 10
Nametags, Badges, and Buttons, undated
Box 10
Scraps of Fabric, undated
Box 10
Oversized Photographs, undated
Box 10
Oversized Print Materials, undated
Box 10
The Pohl of Memories, 1967
Box 10
Mounted Promotional Photo of Edith London, undated
Box 10
Ella Fountain Pratt Commemorative Binder, #1
Box 11
Ella Fountain Pratt Commemorative Binder, #2
Box 12
Autographed Photograph of Bella Davidovich
Box 13
Autographed Photograph of Itzhak Perlman
Box 13
Autographed Photograph of Leontyne Price
Box 13
Autographed Photograph of Sam Sander
Box 13
Mounted/Matted Promotional Photographs
Box 13
Performance Poster for "Lost Eden" at Duke Chapel, 1982
Box 13
Performance Poster for "Abelard and Heloise" at North Carolina Opera, 1982
Box 13
Performance Poster for "Raleigh's Dream" at North Carolina British-American Festival, 1984
Box 13
North Carolina Association of Art's Councils Certificate of Outstanding Acheivement, 1984
Box 13
Wooden Sorority Paddle, circa 1935
Box 13
Wooden Block painted with Skull and Crossbones, circa 1935
Box 13
Correspondence, circa late 1920's, 1938-1939
Box 14
Correspondence, 1941-1943
Box 14
Correspondence, 1950-1967
Box 14
Correspondence, 1973-2006, undated
Box 14
World War II History of Lanier W. Pratt, 1949 Oct. 12
Box 14
Personal History of Lanier W. Pratt, 1949 Sept. 6
Box 14
Duke University - Payroll Deduction for Purchase of Series E Defense Savings Bond, 1942
Box 14
Lanier W. Pratt: Miscellaneous
Box 14
Lanier W. Pratt: Thesis Materials, 1936-1940 (3 folders)
Box 14
Day Planner, 1997-1998
Box 14
Music Study Club, 1990-1991
Box 14
Notebook, undated
Box 14
Genealogy: Pratt, Hicks, Lanier, Keesler Families (includes correspondence) (2 folders) (see also Box 17)
Box 14
Letters of Condolence: Ella Fountain Pratt, 2008
Box 14
Letters of Condolence: Rev. Charles H. Pratt, 1950 Jan.-Feb.
Box 14
Memorial: Rev. Charles H. Pratt, 1950
Box 14
Wedding Gift Book: Ella and Lanier Pratt, 1936
Box 14
Duke Artists Series Program and Thank You Note (signed by Leontyne Price), 1974, 1996
Box 14
Met Centennial Program (signed by Michael Best), 1983
Box 14
Poems (written by Elizabeth Pratt Hayer), undated
Box 14
Programs for Performances
Box 14
Miscellaneous
Box 14
Postcards
Box 14
Scrapbook, 1926-1929 (Lanier Pratt, incomplete)
Box 14
Photographs, undated (7 folders)
Box 14
Photographs, 1959, undated
Box 14
Photographs, circa 1850-1959
Box 14
Photographs, circa 1920's-1959
Box 14
Photographs, circa 1920-1960
Box 14
Photographs, circa 1940-1965
Box 14
Photographs, circa 1950's
Box 14
Photographs, 1978, 1986, 1988, undated
Box 14
Photographs, 1986, 1997, 2003
Box 15
Photographs, 1988
Box 15
Photographs, 1994, undated (2 folders)
Box 15
Photographs, 1999, undated
Box 15
Photograph Album, 1966, undated
Box 15
Photographic Negatives: Duke Student Art Show, [circa early 1960's?]
Box 15
Photographic Negatives: Ella and Lanier Pratt in Boston, [1943?]
Box 15
Photographic Negatives, undated
Box 15
Photographic Negatives, undated (2 folders)
Box 16
Clippings, 1943-2008, undated (see also Box 17)
Box 16
A.R.C. Life-Saving Service Patch
Box 16
Third Place Medal for 120 yard High Hurdles, 1933 and Third Place Ribbon for Pole Vault (Field Day), 1935 (Mt. Berry School for Boys)
Box 16
Two Charms: Duke University [probably related to the Student Union], one has initials JAV on the back, undated
Box 16
Photographs, undated (oversize)
Box 17
Print of Duke Chapel in the Snow, 1986 (reproduction of original by Alan Cheek) (oversize)
Box 17
Condolence Book, 2008 (presented by the Durham Arts Council)(oversize)
Box 17
Clippings about Sidney Lanier, undated (oversize)
Box 17
Oversize Materials

Several oversized paper items--including a decorative poster-sized map of Greenwood, MS and several photographs.

Oversize-box 59
Oversize-folder 1
Lanier Ward Pratt Scrapbook of Mt. Hermon School, Massachusetts, 1926-1929 (DVD-R) (Disc will not read)
Box 18
Ella Fountain Pratt Reception, 2008 Aug. 09 (CD-R) (Disc will not read)
Box 18
"A Service of Witness to the Resurrection and Thanksgiving for the Life of Ella Fountain Kessler Pratt," First Presbyterian Church (Durham, NC), 2008 Aug. 09 (CD)
Box 18
Oral History of Ella Fountain Kessler Pratt by Alicia J. Rouverol
1999 Aug. 19: 2 CD's, 2 Audio-cassettes
Box 18
1999 Sept. 7: 2 CD's, 2 Audio-cassettes
Box 18
1999 Sept. 14: 2 CD's, 1 Audio-cassette
Box 18
1999 Sept. 17: 4 CD's, 2 Audio-cassettes
Box 18
Undated: 2 CD's, 1 Audio-cassette
Box 18
1993 July 27: 1 CD, 1 Audio-cassette
Box 18
Oral History of Ella Fountain Keesler Pratt by Iris Tillman Hill, 1992 Dec. (2 CD's, 1 Audio-cassette)
Box 18
"Ella Fountain Pratt: Defying Gravity," produced by the Durham Arts Council, copyright 2010 (DVD-R)
Box 18
Scanned Images of Ella Fountain Keesler Pratt (14 CD-R)
Box 18
Scanned Images of Lanier W. Pratt (4 CD-R)
Box 18
Scanned Images of Sam and Lanny Pratt (1 CD-R)
Box 18
Scanned Images from Nitrate Negatives
Box 18
DVD Discs 1-5
Oral History of Ella Fountain Keesler Pratt by Alicia J. Rouverol
1999 Aug. 19
Box 18
CD Discs 1-2
1999 Sept. 7
Box 18
CD Discs 1-2
1999 Sept. 14
Box 18
CD Discs 1-2
1999 Sept. 17
Box 18
CD Discs 1-4

Historical Note

Ella Fountain Keesler Pratt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1914. After graduating from high school, she attended Mississippi State College for Women (now known as Mississippi University for Women) from 1932-1936, where she frequently took part in theatre, dancing, and art-related activities. After graduation, Ella studied dance in New York City and taught classes in Mississippi and at Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia. Ella married her sweetheart, Lanier W. Pratt, in 1938 and the couple moved to Durham, North Carolina in 1940 where Mr. Pratt was a graduate student at Duke University. Lanier taught in the Classics department after graduation, eventually rising to the rank of Professor and then Dean. Illness caused Mr. Pratt's untimely death in 1956. That same year, Duke University hired Ella Fountain to help develop an arts program for the recently formed Student Union.

From 1956 to 1984, Ella Fountain helped shaped the arts community at Duke University by expanding the Student Union's art collection, helping organize exhibitions and artist talks, as well as enticing world famous performers like Itzhak Perlman, Leontyne Price, and Jean-Pierre Rampal to perform as part of the Duke Artists Series. Upon her retirement from the University, hundreds of letters of love and support flooded in from Duke students, alumni, faculty members, and administrators. But Ella's work with the arts was not done.

Over time, Ms. Pratt became a vital member of the Durham arts scene, contributing her ideas and experience to the Durham Arts Council. During her tenure as a DAC executive, she managed a grant program for Emerging Artists, helped paved the way for the American Dance Festival's relocation to Durham, and made possible a host of memorable performances including many concerts a folk festival featuring Pete Seeger, and several performances by the Triangle Opera. In 2002, a grand gala was given to celebrate her life's work with the arts and her accomplishments as a member of the Duke and Durham communities.

Ella Fountain Pratt died in 2008 at the age of 94.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ella Fountain Pratt Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Ella Fountain Pratt Papers were received by the University Archives as a gift in 2009 and 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Rosemary K. J. Davis, March 2012; Kimberly Sims, February 2013

Encoded by Rosemary K. J. Davis, March 2012

Updated by Kimberly Sims, February 2013

Accessions UA2009-0041, UA2012-005, and UA2013-0002 are described in this finding aid.