Guide to the William Watts Ball papers, 1778-1952 and undated
Newspaper editor and author. Collection houses personal and political correspondence, financial and business papers, speeches, editorials, notes, printed materials, account books, a diary, photographs, and scrapbooks, documenting William Watts Ball's activities as editor of several South Carolina newspapers, including The State and the News and Courier, both of Columbia. Topics referred to include American and South Carolina politics in the 20th century; the South Carolina textile industry; African Americans in the South; the Great Depression and the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration; newspapers and the newspaper business; education in South Carolina; conditions and problems stemming from both World Wars; prohibition; states' rights; South Carolina social life and customs; Roman Catholicism in South Carolina; international issues; and business and family matters. Correspondents include J. J. McSwain, D. C. Heyward, John Gary Evans, John Hays Hammond, M. F. Ansel, David D. Wallace, James C. Hemphill, Ambrose E. Gonzales, Thomas R. Waring, Nathaniel B. Dial, James F. Byrnes, Ulrich B. Phillips, Josephus Daniels, Bernard M. Baruch, Warrington Dawson, Ellison D. Smith, Max Fleischman, Nicholas Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, Frederick H. Allen, and Archibald Rutledge.
- Collection Number
- William Watts Ball papers
- 1778-1952 and undated
- Ball, W. W. (William Watts), 1868-1952
- 31 Linear Feet, Approx. 26,000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
Collection consists of personal and political correspondence, diaries, business papers, speeches, editorials, notes, printed matter, personal account books, memorandum books, photographic materials, and scrapbooks. The papers document a long period in Southern history, and reflect Ball's activities as editor of several newspapers, including The State, of Columbia, S.C., and the News and Courier, also of Columbia, S.C. The main group is concerned with national and South Carolina history for the first half of the 20th century. Topics referred to include American politics; the South Carolina textile industry; African Americans in the South; the depression and the F. D. Roosevelt administration; newspapers and the newspaper business; education in South Carolina; conditions and problems stemming from both World Wars; prohibition; states' rights; South Carolina social life and customs; Roman Catholicism in South Carolina; international issues; and general business and family matters.
A substantial portion of the papers consists of family correspondence containing information on school and college life; Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s; social life and customs in Laurens, Charleston, and Columbia, South Carolina; and England, the Italian battlefront, and a journey across the Atlantic during World War II. Other letters come from editors, publishers, educators, politicians, financiers, and industrialists, principally from South Carolina, although some national figures are found. These correspondents include J. J. McSwain, D. C. Heyward, John Gary Evans, John Hays Hammond, M. F. Ansel, David D. Wallace, James C. Hemphill, Ambrose E. Gonzales, Thomas R. Waring, Nathaniel B. Dial, James F. Byrnes, Ulrich B. Phillips, Josephus Daniels, Bernard M. Baruch, Warrington Dawson, Ellison D. Smith, Max Fleischman, Nicholas Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, Frederick H. Allen, and Archibald Rutledge.
Ball's financial papers, scattered throughout the collection, generally relate to real estate investments, stock holdings in textile mills, and the Depression as it affected his financial situation. A major part of the correspondence pertains to state and national politics. Letters discuss Tillmanism and Bleasism; the state primary system and election reform; state and national elections; opposition to the New Deal and the formation of the Southern Democratic Party; and other local, state, and national issues.
Material on race relations begins as early as 1916, but is particularly abundant from the 1930s onwards. Involved with the issue of states' rights versus federal control, the "Negro problem" includes the anti-lynching movement, enfranchisement and control of the African American vote, racial unrest, segregation, and other matters. The papers reveal Ball's interest in education, especially the development of schools of journalism, the expansion of the state-supported college system, the University of South Carolina, and the South Carolina School for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind.
Other papers relate to Ball's editorship of various South Carolina newspapers, principally The State and the News and Courier, and to his publishing efforts. There is also material on the textile industry in South Carolina, labor unrest and unionization, prohibition, women's suffrage, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, recollections by Ball and others of social life, customs and politics during the 1870s through the 1890s, the economic and industrial development of South Carolina, genealogy of the Watts and Ball families, and drafts and copies of speeches and editorials.
The photographic items include 34 black-and-white photographs (ca. 1840-1940), chiefly consisting of group and individual portraits of W. W. Ball's family, friends, and colleagues in journalism. There are several views of the Ball family's ancestral plantation home in Laurens, S.C. Volumes include family account books, 1911-1942, a memorandum book beginning in 1901; scrapbooks, 1893-1951; a digest of the military service of Frank Parker, 1894-1945; and Ball's diaries, 1916-1952.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], William Watts Ball Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Selected pages with Ball's annotations were photocopied. Arranged in rough chronological order by date of publication.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Ansel, Martin F., 1850-1945
- Allen, Frederick Harold, 1890-
- Ball, W. W. (William Watts), 1868-1952
- Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965
- Byrnes, James F. (James Francis), 1882-1972
- Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948
- Dial, Nathaniel Barksdale, 1862-1940
- Evans, John Gary, 1863-1942
- Fleischmann, Max C. (Max Charles), 1877-1951
- Gonzales, Ambrose Elliott, 1857-1926
- Hammond, John Hays, 1855-1936
- Hemphill, J. C. (James Calvin), 1850-1927
- Heyward, Duncan Clinch, 1864-1943
- Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell, 1877-1934
- Rutledge, Archibald, 1883-1973
- Smith, Ellison DuRant, 1866-1944
- Willkie, Wendell L. (Wendell Lewis), 1892-1944
- Waring, Thomas R.
- Wallace, David Duncan, 1874-1951
- Education -- South Carolina
- Journalism -- South Carolina
- Journalists -- United States
- Newspaper publishing -- South Carolina
- News and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)
- Textile industry -- South Carolina
- The State (Columbia, S.C.)
- World War, 1914-1918 -- United States
- World War, 1939-1945 -- United States
- Laurens (S.C.) -- History
- South Carolina -- Race relations
- South Carolina -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
- South Carolina -- Social life and customs
- United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century
- United States -- Foreign relations -- 20th century
The William Watts Ball papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as gifts from 1954 to 1986.
Processed by Rubenstein Library staff, September 2011
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, Matthew Warren and Paula Jeannet, May 2012 and March 2013
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 48-1767, 48-1862, 48-1585, 48-1900, 56-386, and 95-112