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Alice Lindsay Tate papers

Identifier: MS0075

Scope and Contents

Composed primarily of Tate's personal correspondence. Documented are her attempts to establish herself as an opera singer in New York in the 1940s and her subsequent disappointment when she failed to succeed at her chosen career. Several folders of material document her deep interest in liberal social causes, such as civil rights and the peace movement. Also documented are her gifts of money and books to UNC Charlotte during the 1960s and 1970s. Includes material about Tate's maternal and paternal relatives dating back to the mid-nineteenth century (The Holt, Lindsay, and Tate families).


  • Creation: 1844 - 1991
  • Creation: 1937 - 1987


Conditions Governing Access

Original audiovisual materials are closed to patron use. Please contact Special Collections to request the creation of use copies for particular items; requests will be accommodated when possible. The remaining materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Alice Lindsay Tate was born in Charlotte, N.C. on November 29, 1916 to Robert Lindsay Tate (1874-1926) and Lois Holt Tate (1882-1968). She had two siblings, Robert Jr. (1908-1915) and Louise (1912-1978).

The Holts were a prominent textile family in North Carolina. In 1837, Tate's great-grandfather, Edwin Michael Holt, established the first cotton mill in Alamance, N.C., and, in 1853, he built the first dyeing plant in the South. Holt's business acumen enabled him to build a thriving textile empire. One of his sons, Thomas Michael Holt (Alice's great-uncle), served as lieutenant governor of North Carolina, 1889-1891, and as governor, 1891-1893. Another son, William Edwin Holt (Alice's grandfather), continued the family textile business, amassing a substantial fortune. This wealth was passed down through his children. The portion of the family wealth inherited by Alice Lindsay Tate provided the trust funds for the gifts she gave to The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte).

The Tate family also had a long-time involvement with the textile industry in North Carolina. During the 1830s, Henry Humphreys built in Guilford County one of the first textile mills in the South to use power looms. Humphreys's son-in-law, Thomas Randolph Tate built, in 1848, the Mountain Island Mill, the first mill in Gaston County, on the Catawba River using the machinery from the Mount Hecla Mill. Tate's sons, F. A. and George K. Tate, assumed operation of the mill in 1872. Alice's father, the son of George K. Tate, owned the Mecklenburg Mill in Charlotte.

Alice Tate spent most of her life in New York City where she had moved in 1937 to study opera. She remained in New York until her death in 1987.

Beginning in 1968, Tate instituted several trust funds in support of UNC Charlotte. Although her earliest gifts were given outright, for the later ones she retained a life-time interest in the trust. By 1989, the worth of her gifts to the university totaled over one million dollars.

In 1968, Tate anonymously established the John Austin Tate-Lindsay Tate Culbertson scholarships for African-American students. In 1969, she established the William Edwin Holt and Robert Lindsay Tate Trust in order to provide additional scholarships. At the same time that she created the Tate-Culbertson scholarships, Tate also provided funding for the Frank Porter Graham endowed professorship in Black Studies (now African-American and African Studies).

In 1972, Tate provided money for the Judaica and Hebraica Library Fund to purchase library materials on the subject at UNC Charlotte. That same year she also established the Judaic Studies Endowment Fund in order to support the Isaac Swift Professorship in Judaic Studies.

In July, 1978 Alice Tate provided funding for symposia on the topic of Japan and its culture. In addition, she donated valuable items such as a collection of Himalayan paintings by Nicholas K. Roerich, other works of art, her grand piano, and her extensive personal library. [For additional information on her contributions to UNC Charlotte, see the University Archives, especially the Chancellor's Subject Files (RG 5-0-1) and the Library Director Subgroup--Major Donor Files (RG 14-1-3).]

In addition to supporting UNC Charlotte, Tate also provided financial and moral support to liberal social causes such as the case of the Charlotte Three, a group of civil rights activists imprisoned for allegedly burning down a riding stable in Charlotte. She had a particularly close connection with T. J. Reddy, one of the defendants. She also provided financial support to civil rights groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Tate's life-long spiritual quest led her from her origins as an Episcopalian to Eastern philosophy and religions. She began studying Buddhism in the 1950s. By the 1960s she became interested in Judaism and in the 1970s she converted to that religion.

Alice Lindsay Tate died in New York City on May 2, 1987 and was buried in Charlotte.


6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Personal and family papers of a Charlotte native who moved to New York City in the 1930s to pursue an operatic career. Includes typescript of the diary (1844-54) of textile mill pioneer Edwin Michael Holt; business and personal correspondence (1873-82) of George K. Tate and his wife, Alice Lindsay Tate; correspondence (ca. 1934-86) of Alice Tate with her mother, friends, and associates; documentation of her operatic career; legal records and correspondence concerning her benefactions to UNC Charlotte; correspondence with T. J. Reddy and the North Carolina Political Prisoners Committee; notes on Buddhism and Judaism; and diaries (ca. 1928-52). Also includes photographs of members of the Tate, Holt, Lindsay, and Peyton families (mid-late 19th century), of Tate's immediate family members and friends, and of the Charles Moody house at 830 Providence Road in Charlotte.


The collection is arranged into the following six series:

Family Background (1844-1986), Holt Family (1873-1987), Subject files, Photographs, negatives and postcards (1800s-1987), Recordings (1939-1954), Interviews (1991)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of estate of Alice Lindsay Tate. 1987 ; Gift of Ed St. Clair of Charlotte, N.C., 1993 ; Gift of Erin Winslow, 1994.

Related Materials

Dean W. Colvard Papers (UNCC Manuscript 141). Tate and Wilson Family Papers (UNCC Manuscript 196). UNC Charlotte Oral History Collection (interviews about Alice Tate). UNC Charlotte University Archives. Edwin Michael Holt Papers, UNC-Chapel Hill, SHC #350. Robert Goodloe Lindsay Papers, UNC-Chapel Hill, SHC #3491. Also the Historic Sheet Music Collection (MS0475)

Physical Description

ca. 10,800 items, including 895 photographs, 40 vinyl disc sound recordings, 5 reel-to-reel sound recordings, and 7 cassette sound recordings

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Winslow, 1992; updated by Randy Penninger, 1994.

Alice Lindsay Tate papers
Finding Aid written by Erin Winslow
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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