MC 00012 Guide to the William Joseph Peele Papers, 1888 - 1923

This collection is organized into nine folders, namely speech, Peele and Maynard, letters, North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Committee Notes (dated and undated), North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Administrative History, condolences, biographical speeches, and Peele family records. The folders are arranged chronologically.
Portions of this collection have been digitized and made available online.
The entire collection, including materials not available online, may be viewed in the Special Collections reading room in D.H. Hill Library.
Try experimental container filtering.

Experimental feature. Enter text in the search box to filter/search the container list. Please click here to tell us about your experience with this feature. Feedback

Filter/search the container list:clear No Container Results (Check for highlighting of series/subseries below.)


Peele, W. J. (William Joseph), b. 1855


0.5 Linear feet 1 box

General Physical Description note

1 box


For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Special Collections Research Center Reference Staff external link.



Acquisitions Information

Gift of Dr. Preston Edsall, Head of Political Science Department at North Carolina State University, 1953 July 31 and 1967 July 5. Additional donation made by Henry Shaw, 1978 August 23.


Processed by: Caitlin Donnelly;machine-readable finding aid created by: Caitlin Donnelly

Scope and Content Note

The majority of the material in this collection relates to the administrative history of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts between 1897 and 1900. William Joseph Peele's speech, delivered at the laying of the College's cornerstone on 1888 August 22 detailed the efforts to establish the College. Letters received by Peele concerned business of the College, particularly vacant positions and professorships. The committee notes document business conducted in the administration of the College such as salaries, professorships, and the organization of various departments. These documents also contain information submitted by and about administrators and professors at the College, including Daniel Harvey Hill, Wilbur Fisk Massey, Wallace Carl Riddick, Charles Burgess Williams, and William Alphonso Withers. The College history, written by an unknown author, describes William A. Withers' tenure, 1897-1899, as Acting Director of the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. This collection also contains personal material relating to Peele's Raleigh law practice with Ernest Patrick Maynard, biographical speeches presented in honor of Peele, and a letter of condolence received by Elizabeth Bellamy Peele upon her husand's death. Also included is an undated copy of a book documenting marriages, births, and deaths within the Peele family between 1774 and 1916 (bulk within early nineteenth century). Many of the documents in this collection are accompanied by typed transcripts.

Biographical Note

William Joseph Peele was born on 1855 January 31 near Jackson in Northampton County, North Carolina, the youngest of fourteen children of Isaac and Nancy Thompson Cobb Peele. His father was a prosperous farmer, slaveowner, and participant in county government. Financed by two brothers-in-law, Peele became a freshman at the University of North Carolina when it reopened in 1875 after being closed for five years following the Civil War. He studied classics and graduated in 1879. Peele then studied law, obtained his license, settled in Raleigh, and formed a partnership with Ernest Patrick Maynard, a Wake County native and fellow member of the University of North Carolina's class of 1879.

Peele believed his university education had not prepared him to earn a living and therefore became convinced that the state needed to develop industrial education. In May 1884 Peele helped establish the Watauga Club, which promoted various projects, including a statewide topographical survey, under his leadership. The Club's primary goal was the establishment of an industrial school in North Carolina for training manufacturers, mechanics, and farmers. Through the combined efforts of the Watauga Club and Leonidas Lafayette Polk's organized farmers, North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, later North Carolina State University, was established in 1889. Between 1899 and 1901, Peele served on the board of trustees of the College, a position he held at the University of North Carolina between 1891 and 1897.

In 1897 Peele founded the North Carolina Publishing Society to print his Lives of Distinguished North Carolinians. He was also the author of the Index to the Law of Exemptions in North Carolina of Homestead and Personal Property (1892) and Civil Government of North Carolina and the United States (1907). Additionally, Peele remained active in state and community endeavors. He was a member, 1900, of the Monday Evening Club of Raleigh. In 1901 he helped organize the State Literary and Historical Association and served as chairman of the committee to draft its constitution. Two years later Peele wrote the bill and obtained General Assembly support for the establishment of the North Carolina Historical Commission. The governor appointed him one of the Commission's first five members; Peele served as its first chairman and remained a member of the agency until his death on 1919 March 27. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth Bellamy Peele, a native of Raleigh whom he had married on 1909 September 4 after a twenty-one-year courtship.

Access to Collection

This collection is open for research; access requires at least 48 hours advance notice.

For more information contact us via mail, phone, fax, or our web form.


Special Collections Research Center
Box 7111
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7111


(919) 515-2273


(919) 513-1787

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], William Joseph Peele Papers, MC 00012, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Access to Collection

The nature of the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NCSU Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.