Guide to the Mattie Underwood Russell Papers, 1949 - 1988
Mattie Underwood Russell (1915-1988) was Curator of the Duke University Manuscripts Department from 1952 to 1985. During these years, Russell became a nationally-recognized archivist, and increased the number of collections, implemented a cataloging system, and encouraged researchers to use the materials in the Manuscripts Department. The Mattie Underwood Russell Papers include correspondence, reports, writings, subject files, memoranda, and other materials related to Russell's career at Duke University. Major subjects include archival administration, archival education, American history, southern history, the Duke University administration, and the Nixon presidential library controversy at Duke University. English.
- Record Group
- Mattie Underwood Russell papers
- 1949 - 1988
- Russell, Mattie U.
- 5 Linear Feet, 2000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
The Mattie Underwood Russell Papers include correspondence, reports, writings, subject files, memoranda, and other materials related to Russell's career at Duke University. The collection is divided into five series. The first series, Correspondence, includes both personal and professional materials. In arranging the correspondence, Russell included genealogy, printed material, and other material she felt were pertinent to the correspondence. The series is arranged chronologically. The second series, Subjects, is arranged alphabetically, and includes information about Russell's professional interests as well as biographical and other personal information. Course Materials, the next series, includes information collected during Russell's teaching career in the School of Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The materials are arranged alphabetically by subject. The fourth series, Writings, includes addresses, articles, and other pieces written by Russell. The series is divided into "Addresses and Lectures" and "Writings," and materials are arranged alphabetically into these categories. The last series is the Nixon Presidential Library series, which includes a proposal, correspondence, reports, and committee materials.
Access to the Collection
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the office of origin and the University Archivist is required for use. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist.
In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
Records, such as search committee files or others pertaining to employment where individuals are identified, are closed for 70 years.
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], Mattie Underwood Russell Papers, University Archives, Duke University.
On the first folder of this series, Mattie Russell noted, "In 1969 I decided to go through the small amount of personal correspondence I had saved and decide what I should like to have become part of a collection in the Manuscript Department of Perkins Library under the title, Mattie Underwood Russell Papers. To this correspondence, I added genealogy, miscellany, clippings, and printed material. My plan is to add to this file consistently during the remainder of my life."
Recommendations are restricted.
The donor has placed a restriction on these materials. Please contact the University Archives about using these records.
Mattie Underwood Russell was born on May 14, 1915, in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. She grew up on her parents' farm, the youngest of 12 children. She attended the University of Mississippi, earning a bachelor's degree in 1939 and a master's degree in 1940, both in history. Russell worked from 1937 to 1943 teaching high school in rural Mississippi, earning her academic degrees during the summer. In 1943, she moved to Durham to attend a summer session for teachers at Duke University, then moved to Mars Hill, North Carolina to teach as a faculty member at Mars Hill College. In 1946 she returned to Durham as a fulltime Ph.D. student and worked in the library at the circulation desk.
While she completed her Ph.D., Russell became Assistant Curator of the Manuscript Department in 1948, and in 1952 she became Curator. In 1956, she completed her Ph.D. degree in history, with a disseration on William Holland Thomas, a white chief of the Cherokee tribe, but it was archives and manuscripts to which she devoted her life's work. As Curator, a position she held until 1985, she improved the scope of the collections exponentially. During her tenure the Manuscript Department grew from approximately 1 million items to over 7 million items. Russell encouraged her staff to provide better access to the collections for researchers through the implementation of a cataloging system. She also mentored new members of the profession through her work at Duke and her teaching. From 1969 to 1978, Russell taught a course on archives and manuscripts at the School of Library Science at the University of North Carolina.
Russell was a member of many professional organizations, including the American Library Association, the Society of American Archivists, the Historical Society of North Carolina, the Southern Historical Association, and the South Atlantic Archives and Records Conference. She served as a representative of the Southern Historical Association on the National Archives Advisory Council from 1977 to 1983. She was named a fellow in the Society of American Archivists in 1979. In 1981, Russell was the only non-faculty member appointed to the Academic Council's committee to study the possibility of locating Richard Nixon's presidential library on the Duke campus. In addition to her professional and university committments, Russell also published many articles in history and library journals.
Upon her retirement in 1985, her colleagues donated money to create the Mattie Underwood Russell Endowment Fund, used to purchase manuscript collections pertaining to the history and culture of the Americas, particularly the United States. Following her death on May 4, 1988, a bequest from Russell's estate to the Endowment was one of the largest contributions Duke has ever received from an employee.
- Committee Against the Nixon-Duke Library (CANDL) Records (Duke University Archives)
- Library Administration Records (Duke University Archives)
- Nixon Library Controversy Collection (Duke University Archives)
- Photograph Collection (Duke University Archives)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Duke University -- Administration
- Duke University. Library. Manuscript Dept
- Duke University -- Employees
- Duke University. Library
- Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
- Russell, Mattie U.
- Russell, Mattie U.
- Archives -- Administration
- Archivists -- Training of -- United States
- Manuscripts -- Collectors and collecting
- Presidential libraries -- United States
The Mattie Underwood Russell Papers were received by the University Archives as gifts in 1985, 1988, and 1989.
Processed by Mattie Underwood Russell in 1988 and 1989, prior to donating her papers to the University Archives. This order has been maintained. The collection was described by Valerie Gillispie in October 2004.
Encoded by Valerie Gillispie, October 26, 2004