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Mrs. Oscar Colditz Letter to Richard B. Davis

Identifier: MS-1145

This collection contains two letters and three weaving drafts. The first of these letters was sent to University of Tennessee English Professor Richard B. Davis from Leta Oscar Colditz of Allardt, TN, on February 20, 1950. Accompanied with Colditz’s letter are three weaving patterns that are handwritten. In her letter to Davis, Colditz mentions that she found these patterns hidden in "the cracks of an old mountain cabin" in Fentress County, Tennessee. All of the patterns are signed by the name "Sarah Heath," and the one that details the Snowball pattern is dated July 17, 1852. In addition to this letter and these patterns, the collection also includes a letter from Marian G. Heard, Professor of Craft Design at the University of Tennessee, to Davis. Heard’s letter is addressed May 3, 1950 and discusses different aspects of the weaving documents from Colditz, including the originality of the particular patterns shown.


  • 1950 February 20


The material in this collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Manuscript and University Archives collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 24 hours is needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


This collection contains two letters and three weaving drafts. One of the letters is from Leta Smith Colditz to Professor Richard B. Davis at the University of Tennessee informing him of her discovery of the three weaving drafts in the "cracks of an old mountain cabin" in Fentress County, Tennessee. The other letter is from a professor of craft design at UT, Marian G. Heard, to Davis providing an appraisal of the originality of the three weaving drafts, which she says are "familiar to this area."

Biographical/Historical Note

Leta Smith Colditz was born in 1905 and graduated from Cumberland Mountain School in 1924. She was married to Oscar Colditz, son of German immigrants. Leta Colditz was an elementary school teacher and lived in Allardt, TN. She was the co-author of "Cumberland Homesteads: As Viewed by the Newspapers" with Helen Bullard. This work was originally published in 1977 by the Crossville Chronicle. She showed a deep interest in mountain lore as well. Colditz died on September 3, 1908.

Richard Beale Davis was born on June 3, 1907 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He attended Randolph-Macon College where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1927. Davis obtained both his masters (1933) and doctoral degrees (1936) from the University of Virginia. After college he taught at several universities including Virginia, Mary Washington College, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Davis, emeritus Alumni Distinguished Service Professor of American Literature, joined the University of Tennessee faculty in 1947. From 1961 to 1974, he served as director of graduate studies in the UT Department of English. Davis won the 1979 National Book Award for history for his three-volume work about the colonial South, Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763. He died on March 30, 1981 in Knoxville.

Marian G. Heard, born in 1908, was a Professor of Craft Design in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Agriculture and Home Economics. She led the first summer craft workshop for the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in 1945, which later named their Resource Center in her honor. She died in Knoxville on January 29, 2003.


This collection is in one folder.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA