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Eartha M. White Collection.

Oriental American Opera Company,

Photograph. Eartha White is seated in the center, the third person from the left.

University of North Florida. Special Collections, Thomas G. Carpenter Library. Jacksonville, Florida.

The University of North Florida, part of the State University System of Florida, opened in 1972. The Thomas G. Carpenter Library, named after the University's founding president, has grown to a collection of over 600,000 volumes and over 1,000,000 microforms materials, and is housed in a building opened in 1980. The Special Collections section contains University Archives, Rare and Protected Books, and the manuscript collections of Eartha M. M. White, Arthur N. Sollee, and John E. Mathews, Jr.

Eartha M. White Collection. Oriental American Opera Company, 1892. Photograph.

Mr. Graffe, a millionaire from Syracuse, New York, wanted to prove to the world that Negroes could sing opera music as well as folk songs and financed for one year a company known as the Oriental Opera Company. Madam Plato and Sidney Woodward were the star singers and Mr. J. Rosemond Johnson was the musical director. Miss Eartha M. White, a lyric soprano from the National Conservatory of Music, was accepted as a singer. They opened at the Palmer Theater on Broadway in New York City and proved to be so successful that they traveled for one year in the United States and Europe.

Eartha Mary Magdelene White was born on November 8, 1876, in Jacksonville Florida. She was the thirteenth child of Clara English White, a former slave. The previous twelve children all died before Eartha was born, the oldest living only until the age of ten. Eartha attended the Stanton School, the Divinity School, and Cookman Institute. In New York City she attended Madam Hall's Beauty Culture School, and at the National Conservatory of Music she was tutored by Harry T. Burleigh and J. Rosemond Johnson.

Over the years Eartha White operated a department store, a taxi service, and a steam laundry, and was licensed as a real estate broker, a census taker and a social worker. Known as the Angel of Mercy for her lifetime of humanitarian and civic service, Eartha White served the sick during the Spanish American War, was the only woman member of a sixty-member inter-racial War Camp Community Service Conference during World War I, served as a member of President Wilson's White House Conference, and functioned as Colonel of the Women's National Defense Program under Mary McLeod Bethune during World War II. In Jacksonville, she re-organized the Union Benevolent Association and established the Clara White Mission to assist the less fortunate members of her community.

The University of North Florida acquired a portion of the estate of Eartha M. White in 1975, with the assistance of Dr. Daniel L. Schafer, a professor in the History Department. The Eartha M. White Collection includes letters, photographs, books, and scrapbooks relating to black history and the history of Jacksonville.

Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut. The daughter of Lyman Beecher, pastor of the local Congregational Church, Stowe did not escape the influence of religious upbringing. In 1824 she attended the Hartford Female Seminary, a school established by her sister, Catherine. She accompanied the family to Cincinnati in 1832, where she began a writing career (1834) and a marriage to Calvin Ellis Stowe (1836). Six of her seven children were born in Cincinnati, a place where personal and financial hardships proved commonplace. The year 1850 saw the Stowes move to Maine, where Calvin accepted a position at his alma mater, Bowdoin College. Here, Harriet Beecher Stowe began serial publication of the now famous saga, Uncle Tom's Cabin. In 1851, she published the first of fifty installments, and the book appeared in 1852 to a eager public.

The cumulative effects of life's trials left Stowe searching for a more attractive living situation and by 1866 she seriously considered Florida. "My plan of going to Florida," she wrote to her brother, "as it lies in my mind, is not in any sense a worldly enterprise..." Her son, Frederick, preceded her, and he moved to an old plantation, Laurel Grove, on the St. Johns River, near Orange Park. Her 1867 visit there was unsatisfactory, until a short boat trip introduced her to the town of Mandarin. She ultimately purchased thirty acres on a bluff overlooking the river, and her home became one of the most photographed residences in the region. Other family members followed shortly thereafter and orange crates headed for northern cities bore the label, "Oranges from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mandarin, Fla."

Palmetto-Leaves. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. Illustrated. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company (Late Ticknor & Field, and Fields, Osgood, & Co.), 1873.

The press of continuing financial obligations led Stowe to produce a series of sketches she entitled Palmetto Leaves. Here was certainly one of the first unsolicited promotional writings on the State of Florida. The volume includes a detailed portrait of her life in Florida, a region described as a tropical paradise.

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Old Home, Mandarin, Fla. Postcard. [n.p., n.d.]

The Old Oak Drive, Mandarin, Fla. Home of the Late Harriet Beecher Stowe (Near Jacksonville). Postcard. [n.p., n.d.]