Why I give items to Pack Library’s NC Room

Last week we received this email that Catherine O’Shea wrote to her Westall cousins and copied to the North Carolina Room.

“We are indebted to one of our Wiley cousins in Charlotte for noting this great post on Pack’s “HeardTell” blog.


As you all may recall, almost all the girls in the Westall-Wiley clan of our parents’ generation–Mother, the two Wiley sisters, Eleanor Sale, and also Anne Westall (I think)–went to Camp Dellwood.  Mother died some 80 years later still possessing a raft of autograph books, letters, and photo albums dealing with the camp.

About three years ago, I got all this stuff organized and toted it to Zoe Rhine, keeper of the NC (history) Room collections at Pack.  She asked a skilled volunteer [Laura Gaskin, previous Head of Special Collections, who, after retiring, volunteers in the N.C. Room twice a week] to cull it and turn it into the attached blog post.

Thus, in about four steps–my organizing and toting, Zoe’s accessioning and the volunteer’s creating–we turned a lot of useless stuff slowly falling apart in my cellar into a wonderful, fun study of camp life in the 1920s, now available for hordes of folks to see, study and enjoy.

Mother and the other “girls” would, I think, be absolutely thrilled by this.

I have found the North Carolina Room staff to be knowledgeable, skilled, pro-active, and enthusiastic about the family materials I have sorted and annotated for their collections.  As you can see–unlike other collections, which are giving us fits–they actively work with these materials, carefully incorporating them into the broader history of Asheville, and helping to show our clan’s roles in that history.  But the biggest plus is that they work every day to make all of these collections easily and intelligently available to anyone with an interest in what makes Asheville tick.

For all these reasons, if you have “stuff” needing a home when our generation is no longer around to safeguard it, I encourage you to sort it, “explain it,” and offer it to the North Carolina Room ASAP.  You’ll be glad you did.  (And you’ll avoid getting a scold from Aunt Annie, which she will give you if you let this stuff disappear instead of going to “her” library!)”


[Catherine’s reference to “Aunt Annie” is Annie Westall (1895-1984) who was the daughter of James M. and Minnie White Westall. She served as chairman of the board of trustees of the city of Asheville libraries from 1945 to 1959 and was a member of the board until 1969. She was a founder of the Friends of the Library and one of the originators of the bookmobile.]


Catherine O’Shea donates Westall Family Bible to the Thomas Wolfe Collection at Pack Memorial Library. The Bible belonged to Major Thomas Casey (T. C.) Westall (1830-1902) and his wife Martha Ann Penland Westall (1833-1899), the father and mother of Thomas Wolfe’s mother Julia Westall Wolfe [Eliza Gant of Look Homeward, Angel]. The Bible was passed down to Julia’s brother J. M. Westall, and finally to his great-granddaughter Catherine O’Shea. L to R: Ann Wright, former head of the NC Collection, donor Catherine O’Shea, Ed Sheary, former director of Buncombe County Public Libraries and Mrs. O’Shea’s husband Art Wetstein. Photograph by library staff Tammy Silver, August 2007.

Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian North Carolina Room

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