ZSR’s Special Collections received an exciting addition to its Southern American literature collections in 2012 with the gift of Jan Hensley’s personal collection of materials by and about North Carolina authors. Mr. Hensley, who attended WFU in the 1960s, is a photographer, author, and collector who has been active in the North Carolina literary world for nearly 50 years. He is best known for his candid photographs of authors, which have been exhibited at Wake Forest and at many other venues throughout the state.
The Hensley Collection will be transferred to SC&A over the next three years. We received the first shipment of materials in December 2012 and have begun cataloging and processing. The first collections are materials by Burke Davis, Robert Watson, and Reynolds Price. Included in the Price collection is a bound volume of The Hi-Times, the student newspaper of Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, NC. Price was chief editor of the paper during his senior year.
The Hensley Collection includes a wide array of print, audio, graphic, and archival materials. Most authors represented are from North Carolina, but a few are from other regions in the South. The collection includes many books, most of them first editions and many of them autographed or inscribed by their authors. But it is the more ephemeral materials in the collection that may prove most valuable to researchers in the long run.
Jan Hensley’s collecting scope included things like small chapbooks, broadsides, journal and serial publications of poems and stories, and posters and flyers advertising author appearances or other events. Mr. Hensley also kept personal notes on his interactions with authors and made audiotapes of readings and question-and-answer sessions. These types of materials can document the early career of an author who went on to later renown, or the changes in literary publishing over several decades, or the interactions between authors and the reading public. Taken as a whole, the Hensley Collection provides not only a wealth of information on individual authors, but also a snapshot of the literary culture of North Carolina over the past half century.