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William Gueston Carter papers

Identifier: MS0376

Scope and Contents

The William Gueston Carter, Jr. Papers contain a large assortment of diaries that he recorded from 1975 to 1998, in which he recorded all of his activities, as well as the environmental conditions of Cornelius, North Carolina. His chief interest was the weather, which he recorded every day and also pasted newspaper clippings into the pages, showing the national weather map. He was also interested in biology, botany, geography, geology, history and world cultures. Most of the journals he used were those normally used in financial accounting and were fairly expensive, costing around $30.00 each. Unfortunately, there are significant gaps in this collection. The first diary in the collection is marked "Vol. 5, June 12, 1975" and there are no volumes known to exist between 1978 and 1988. Elsewhere there are volumes missing from the collection. Though Carter carefully recorded the sequential number of each volume, he stopped this practice by January 1994. In addition to his voluminous diaries, this collection also contains a small series of loose papers, including Carter family genealogical notes, his father's funeral service (February 5, 1974), his birth certificates and diplomas. This collection provides the researcher with in-depth insights into the mind of this individual and also tells us a great deal about Cornelius, North Carolina from 1975 to 1998.


  • 1931 - 1998


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is 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

William Gueston Carter, Sr., was born to E. J. Carter and Minnie Caldwell Carter, on July 22, 1904, in Cornelius, North Carolina. At an early age, he joined the Mount Zion Methodist Church and worked at the Johnson Cotton Mill until it closed in 1935. He later worked at the Charlotte Hosiery Mill for thirty-one years as a mechanic. He married Mary Pauline Ware, with whom they had one child, William Gueston Carter, Jr. Late in life, he was diagnosed with cancer and died 1974, at the age of 69. Mary died in 1985. William Carter, Jr., was born in Mooresville, North Carolina on October 4, 1931. He lived in Cornelius (though according to the Post Office, he lived on a Davidson route), graduating from the Cornelius High School on June 9, 1949. From there, he matriculated at Davidson College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1953. He went to Duke University, earning a Master's degree in June of 1955, and a PhD (also from Duke) on September 1, 1960. Afterwards, he pursued a teaching career at Washington & Lee University, and perhaps other institutions. He was what some may have called a "renaissance man," someone who was interested in a wide variety of things, especially in meteorology, geography, geology, botany, oceanography, biology and history. His diaries indicate that he had returned to his parents' house by 1975 at the age of forty-four. According to L. Colin Kelly, his one close confidant, Carter was a brilliant intellectual and certainly must have been a genius. His sole form of exercise was walking, and he walked daily from his house to the post office. He also frequently walked around the acreage of his property, as well as to the local grocery store and restaurants. He was not religious, but was knowledgeable of many different religions and wrote about them in his diaries. His faithfully recorded diary entries indicate that he was obsessed with details. Carter dated his entries according to his own Alpha/Omega system based on the Bible. If he bought a can of soup, he typically recorded the name of the store where he bought it, the price of the merchandise, the percentage and amount of the sales tax, the date and time of the purchase and often even the address of the manufacturer. As time went on, he became increasingly reclusive. By the time he moved back in with his parents he was no longer employed and had no source of income, except for his parents' support. When they died they left him with the house, a few acres around it and an investment portfolio that yielded periodic dividends. With this money, he bought books and magazines-spending thousands of dollars on them each year. He also bought record albums, including classical and pop. It was Colin Kelly who took care of William after his parents' deaths and who knew more about him than anyone else. As he grew older, he neglected his diet and personal hygiene, as well as the physical condition of his house. Unfortunately, Carter suffered a nervous breakdown in the late 1990s and died on August 16, 2001.


9 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The William Gueston Carter, Jr., Papers primarily contain diaries that Carter recorded from 1975 to 1998, documenting in minute detail everything that he did, as well as the weather conditions in Cornelius, North Carolina, where he lived.


The collection is arranged into two series, there are also several items that do not belong in any series. The two series are: Diaries and Photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from Miriam Smith Whisnant, in March 2007.

Physical Description

9 archival boxes

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, April 2007.

William Gueston Carter papers
Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

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 28223 United Stated

About this Site

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