Guide to the John Zeigler Papers, 1927-2013 (bulk 1942-1946)
Poet and book store owner in Charleston, SC. Collection predominantly contains World War II-era correspondence between lovers/partners John Zeigler and Edwin Peacock and their close friend George Scheirer, along with Zeigler's correspondence with his family. After the war, Zeigler and Peacock co-founded of a bookstore in Charleston, S.C., while Scheirer lived most of his adult life in Washington, DC. Recipients of Zeigler's correspondence and names mentioned in letters throughout the collection include family members of all three men, as well as friends, including Carson McCullers. Other materials include some documentation of Scheirer's work as a bookbinder; selected copies of Zeigler's writing and publications; photographs of all three individuals; and official military documents relating to Zeigler's and Peacock's service during WWII.
- Collection Number
- John Zeigler papers
- 1927-2013 (bulk 1942-1946)
- Zeigler, John
- 2.2 Linear Feet, 1010 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The John Ziegler correspondence spans the dates 1927-2013, with the bulk of the material consisting of World War II-era correspondence between lovers/partners John Zeigler and Edwin Peacock and their close friend George Scheirer, although there is also extensive correspondence between Zeigler and his family present. After the war, Zeigler and Peacock co-founded of a bookstore in Charleston, S.C., while Scheirer lived most of his adult life in Washington, DC. Recipients and names mentioned in letters throughout the collection include family members of all three men, as well as friends, including Carson McCullers. Other materials include documentation of Scheirer's work as a bookbinder; selected copies of Zeigler's writings and publications; photographs of all three individuals; and official military documents relating to Zeigler's and Peacock's service during WWII.
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], John Zeigler Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Correspondence between John Zeigler and Edwin Peacock focuses primarily on day-to-day life at their respective military posts; books they are currently reading; music, either on the radio or on records; movies playing at the local theater; the scenery of the region, in particular the flora. John Zeigler additionally writes about the local village and Indian tribes and military social events such as dances. Edwin Peacock often adds his culinary adventures. The letters of 1944 increasingly talk about the possibility of a coinciding leave, and the frustrations about its achievement. While on leave from June to August of that year, the letters are free from military censorship and therefore more genuinely express the emotions Ziegler and Peacock felt toward each other. Ziegler sometimes uses the name "Martha" as an affectionate reference to Edwin. Letters from John Zeigler to Edwin Peacock while touring with the U.S.S. Dickens also discuss his hospitalization. Letters from Edwin Peacock to John Zeigler while Ziegler was on the Dickens were not saved because of his hospital stays and lack of personal storage space. The activities of Peacock during those years are revealed in his letters to George Scheirer. The majority of the letters are signed “Your Cousin.”
Correspondence between George Scheirer, John Zeigler and Edwin Peacock focuses primarily on similar themes included in the exchanges between John Zeigler and Edwin Peacock. Additionally the letters from Peacock include excerpts from literature and amusing anecdotes he had recently heard, as well as his attempts to get Zeigler's writing published. The letters from Ziegler during 1942 discuss life before the draft, the choice to join the Naval Reserve and subsequent training. During the war years letters occasionally include poems written by Zeigler; letters from Peacock convey a deep concern about the well being of his friends. The postwar letters deal with Ziegler and Peacock's business, the Book Basement, in addition to music, books, movies and general personal matters. The majority of the letters from Peacock are signed “Affectionately.”
Military events mentioned in the men's letters include war bonds, the fall of Tunis, the taking of Amchitka, possibilities of invasion on French coast, the capture of Rome, V-E Day, Eisenhower's visit to Washington and report to Congress, V-J Day, and the battles of Saipan, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. There are two detailed letters dated March 20, 1945 that pertain to John Ziegler's involvement in battle, located in the folders titled “From John to Edwin, 1945,” and “From John to George, 1945.”
Names mentioned in the letters (in addition to the individuals listed in family member folders) include: Marjorie Davis, Tony Falsone, Carson McCullers (friend of Peacock's), Leon Scheirer, Nellian Scheirer (George Scheirer's sister), Frank Schwermin (POW), and Joe Tucker.
Recipients and names mentioned in letters include Nellian Scheirer, George's sister; Detie, Marie Alicia Elfe, Zeigler's unmarried aunt; Virginia Goodwin, sister of Edwin Peacock; Peggy, Marguerite Elfe Erckmann, John Ziegler's married aunt; and Mrs. Zeigler, his mother. A few letters from Ziegler to these same individuals may be found in other folders of correspondence, but the bulk of them are located here in these folders. Topics include Zeigler's life at college and in the military, his writing projects, family news, and his relatioships with Scheirer and Peacock.
Topics include books published or writing projects, condolences sent to Zeigler following Peacock's death, and Zeigler's ongoing contact with authors. There are mainly letters addressed to Zeigler, although there are several letters either written by or to Edwin Peacock and George Scheirer.
Consists of a journal maintained briefly by Zeigler during the first quarter of 1944. Although the entries are short, they include some account of his time at Yakutat, and convey the development of his career as a writer.
Chronology for John Asbury Zeigler, Jr.
|1912 Feb. 5||
Born in Manning, South Carolina
Founded and was editor of The Shako, The Citadel school newspaper.
Graduated with a B.A. in English from The Citadel.
|1942 Apr. 7||
Enlisted in Naval Reserve
Stationed at Yakutat, Alaska
Naval correspondent for the army newspaper Glacier Gazette
Toured with the U.S.S. Dickens
|1945 Nov. 1||
|1946 Feb. 19||
Co-founded The Book Basement in Charleston, South Carolina
Published Alaska and Beyond, a collection of poems
Publication of Jeb and Dash: A Gay Life, 1918-1945, taken from diaries narrating a gay relationship, originally written by Carter Bealer, and edited by his niece Ina Russell. The names were fictionalized in the published version; John Zeigler appears as "Nicky," a major character in the diaries.
Publication of The Edwin Poems
Chronology for Edwin Davis Peacock
|1910 Jan. 2||
Born in Thomasville, Georgia
|1942 Apr. 7||
Enlisted in Naval Reserve
Stationed at Cape Chiniak (Naval Air Station), Kodiak, Alaska
|1945 June 1||
|1946 Feb. 19||
Co-founded The Book Basement in Charleston, S.C.
Chronology for George Albert Scheirer
|1895 June 14||
Born in Elmira, New York
Suffered from spinal affliction
Graduated from Elmira Business Institute
|1916 Dec. 14||
Accepted a Civil Service appointment in the Surgeon General's office
Opened "Rabbit Hutch" bindery in Washington
Elected chairman of the Commitee on Industrial Arts of the Arts Club of Washington
Declined an invitation to be Master Binder for Folger Shakespeare Library
Joined the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society in Washington
|1948 Dec. 31||
Retired from Surgeon General's office as Managing Editor of The Army Medical Bulletin
Moved to Bethesda, Maryland with his sister Nellian
|1959 June 30||
Suffered a fatal heart attack in Bethesda, Maryland
|1979 Apr. 22||
Nellian Scheirer passed away
- Carson McCullers Papers, 1941-1995 and undated, bulk 1945-1970 (Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
- Edwin Peacock Papers, 1915-1997 and undated, bulk 1940s-1997 (Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
- James Sears Papers, 1917-2008, bulk 1950-2004 (Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Citadel, the Military Academy of South Carolina
- McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967
- Peacock, Edwin, 1910-1989
- Scheirer, George
- Zeigler family
- Zeigler, John
- Zeigler, John
- Book trade -- Southern States
- Gays -- Correspondence
- Gays in the military -- United States
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Correspondence
The John Zeigler Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 2008-2013.
Processed by Ted Holt, June 2008
Encoded by Ted Holt and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, June 2008
Updated by Meghan Lyon to include Acc. 2009-0002, January 2009; 2009-0087, March 2009
Accessions 2008-0097, 2008-0177, 2009-0002, 2009-0087, 2009-0182, 2011-0060, 2012-0085, 2013-0019 and 2013-0082 are described in this finding aid.
Updated by Alice Poffinberger to include Accession 2009-0182, September 12 and 17, 2009
Updated by Alice Poffinberger to include Accession 2011-0060, June 2011
Updated by Alice Poffinberger to include Accessions 2012-0085 and 2013-0019, February 2014
Reprocessed by Alice Poffinberger, to include all unprocessed additions and Accession 2013-0082, September 2014