Guide to the Blunt Family Papers, 1943-1965

Collection Overview

The papers of the Blunt family, an African American family originating in the tidewater region of Virginia, span the years 1943-1965. The collection consists of seven series: Correspondence, Financial Papers, Genealogy, Miscellaneous, Clippings, Printed Material, and Photographs. The Correspondence Series has been divided into subseries by the following addressees:

  • Norma(n) Blunt
  • Barbara Blunt
  • Bertha Blunt
  • Ella Blunt
  • Junior Green
  • Malachi Blunt
  • Marion Jacobs
  • Martha Blunt
  • Mary Blunt
  • Unknown

In the case of Norma(n) Blunt, correspondence has been further divided by addresser. Thus there are also the following subseries:

  • Norma(n) Blunt from Guy Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Annie Wood
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Louise Boone
  • Norma(n) Blunt
  • from Barbara Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Bertha Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Ella Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Elmo Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt
  • from John Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Marion Nash
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Martha Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt from Sarah Blunt
  • Norma(n) Blunt
  • from “Old Pal Chris”
  • Norma(n) Blunt from various and unknown

The collection contains several letters from the Blunt sons to their mother, Norma(n) Blunt. The bulk of the Blunt family papers, however, consists of correspondence between Norma(n) Blunt and her daughters who have left home and moved to various points along the east coast and to the west. In the main, these letters address domestic issues. The letters to the elder Blunt from her daughter Bertha, for example, focus on the problems faced by a young woman who sets up house far from any kin. Taken as a whole, the letters of the Blunt daughters reveal the bonds of exchange and support that tie the women to their mother and to each other even when all are otherwise separated by many miles. When Sarah Blunt makes new starts in new places, for example, she entrusts several of her children to the care her mother. At times, other daughters do the same. And few are the letters between daughters and mother that do not either ask for, offer thanks for, enclose, or alert that future missives will contain money. The Correspondence Series allows insight into the sorts of in-kind and monetary exchanges that sustained various segments of the large and scattered Blunt extended family.

Also emergent in the letters to Norma(n) Blunt are discussions of a number of health issues. Blunt's daughters sometimes refer to their children's health, the trials of pregnancy, and the costs and burdens of health care. In a letter between Norma(n) Blunt and her sister Louise Boone, for example, the former broaches the topic of illegal abortions (May 15, 1962).

Letters to Norma(n) Blunt from her sister Louise Boone detail the workings of a black women's voluntary association, the Household of Ruth Lodge of Branchville Virginia. Norma(n) Blunt was active in the lodge even though she did not reside in Branchville. Through her sister, the elder Blunt kept her dues current and stayed abreast of the lodge's inner workings. The monetary and in-kind exchanges pronounced in letters between the elder Blunt and her daughters are also evident here.

Letters addressed to the Blunt children round out the Correspondence Series. Issues concerning courtship and parent-child relationships emerge from these letters.

Blunt family papers are a collection generated by migration. The letters in the Correspondence Series reveal the strains and stresses of relocation and offer insight into how one African American family managed the exigencies of continuous settlement and resettlement.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Blunt Family papers
1.2 Linear Feet, 400 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Using These Materials

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The status of the copyright interests in the Blunt family papers is unknown. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Special Collection Library's Regulations and Procedures.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], The Papers of the Blunt Family, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1943-1965.
(15 folders)

To Norma(n) Blunt from various family members and others .

Box 1
Correspondence, 1943-1965.
(11 folders)

To Norma(n) Blunt and to others including unknown.

Box 2
Financial Papers, 1955-1964.
(3 folders)

For Norma(n) and Guy Blunt, Steve and Barbara Blunt Ruiz and others: insurance material, credit books, public housing information, bill receipts.

Box 2
Genealogy, 1956.

Material concerning the death of Guy Blunt, husband to Norma(n) Blunt.

Box 2
Miscellaneous, 194?-1965.
(2 folders)

Fugitive envelopes, many with return envelopes.

Box 2
Clippings, undated
(3 Items)

Newsprint photo of baseball player Ernie Banks and photos of two unidentified radio personalities.

Box 2
Printed Material, 1951-1964.
(4 folders)

Numerous greeting cards organized by occasion. Some with inscriptions that clarify relationship of addressee and addresser.

Box 2
Records, including report cards, certificates, et cetera.
Box 2
Miscellaneous material, including contracts, applications, and bus schedules.
Box 2
Photographs, undated
(7 folders)

Numerous photographs, many of unidentified members of Blunt family. Arranged in four subseries: military, portraits, snapshots, children, and picture holder.

Box 3

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The papers of the Blunt family, an African American family originating in tidewater Virginia with segments settled at other points along the east coast and to the west, were purchased by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in the fall of 1993.

Processing Information

Processed by: Alexander X. Byrd; some reprocessing by Lisa Stark

Completed March 6, 1994; some reprocessing by Lisa Stark, June 11, 1996

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller