This collection is generally arranged as follows:
(1) Print Materials
(2) Audio Visual Recordings
Wilma Dykeman (1920-2006) lived all her life near the French Broad River in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Born in Asheville, Dykeman traced her interest in writing to the stories her parents read aloud to her when she was a child. By the time she was in elementary school, she was making up her own stories, plays, and poems. After graduating from high school and Biltmore Junior College in Asheville, Dykeman attended Northwestern University and received a bachelor’s degree in speech. The summer after her graduation from Northwestern, Dykeman met and married James R. Stokely, Jr., of Newport, Tennessee, a poet and nonfiction writer. The Stokelys, who maintained homes in both Asheville and Newport, raised two sons and collaborated on several books.
Throughout her career as an author, speaker, historian, educator, and environmentalist, Dykeman wrote eighteen works of fiction and non-fiction, gave hundreds of speeches, held the office of Tennessee State Historian for twenty-two years, taught at and served as trustee for multiple colleges, worked tirelessly for the respect of Southern Appalachians, and was a pioneer in bringing national attention to civil and women’s rights and environmental issues. Dykeman’s critically acclaimed novels especially reflect her understanding of people in the North Carolina mountains. The Tall Woman (1966), which, like all of her books, has gone through numerous printings, tells of a determined mother’s fight for education and justice in the years after the Civil War. The Far Family (1966) picks up several generations later and shows how long-lasting her efforts were.
Dykeman’s close relationship with Berea College included serving on its Board of Trustees and speaking and lecturing often at the college. Appointed Goode Professor of Appalachian Studies in 1992, Dykeman taught two courses through the Berea College Department of English and Theatre: ENG 113 (Art of Autobiography) and ENG 284 (Appalachian Literature) and gave campus lectures. Additionally, in 1966, Dykeman published Prophet of Plenty (1966) a biography of W.D. Weatherford, a Southern leader who worked for racial peace and justice and greatly influenced the policies of Berea College (and who was father of Berea’s sixth president, Willis D. Weatherford, Jr.).
Restrictions: Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.
Rights: There are no restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations.
Preferred Citation: [Record/Folder/Box], RG 9/9.16: Wilma Dykeman Papers. Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Berea, KY.
Collection Material Type: Personal Papers