When one works on a project for two decades, it becomes a collective enterprise rather than an individual effort. In 1983, I signed a contract with the North Carolina Division of Archives and History to continue their Zebulon Vance Papers publication project. I hoped to edit the remaining three projected volumes in the series while preparing myself to write a biography of North Carolina's Civil War governor. After many eventful and fruitful detours along theway, Ihavefinallycompleted the contemplated biography.
The first change in plans was imposed from the outside. Finding it difficult to prepare a volume of the Vance Papers while teaching a full load of classes at Western Carolina University, I applied to a number of funding agencies for sufficient support to allow me to work on the project full time. The National Historical Properties and Records Commission made me a counteroffer: it would give me a one-year grant if I would prepare a microfilm edition of the entire body of Vance Papers. With the support of the people at the Division of Archives and History, I accepted the offer. When I started on the project, I soon realized that I could not do it alone. Fortunately, Richard McMurry, then at North Carolina State University and a former colleague of mine at Valdosta State University, agreed to be coeditor. Richard did an outstanding job, and the work proceeded smoothly. University Publications of America published our guide and thirty-nine reels of microfilm in 1987.
Only the support of many individuals at several institutions allowed the two of us to finish the massive project in a timely manner. Carolyn Wallace of the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, Mattie U. Russell at Duke University, and David Olson and Ed Morris at the North Carolina Archives provided us with complete access to the Vance Papers and other assistance as we needed it. My colleagues at Western Carolina University, including Max Williams, Tyler Blethen, Curtis Wood, Theda Perdue, Bill Anderson, and Alice Mathews, supported my efforts and created a stimulating atmosphere in which to work. Archivist George Frizzell and the Hunter Library staff at Western Carolina were also of great assistance and willingly purchased a copy of the microfilm edition to assist me with my later research.
After the publication of the microfilm, I resumed work on the volumes of the letterpress edition. That project ended abruptly in 1989, when I ac
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Publication information: Book title: Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader. Contributors: Gordon B. Mckinney - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 2004. Page number: xiii.
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