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Camp Catawba and Vera Lachmann papers

Identifier: AC-214

Scope and Contents

Camp Catawba and Vera Lachmann Papers contains information related to both the operations and history of Camp Catawba as well as the personal life and professional career of its founder, Vera Lachmann. The Camp Catawba materials include paperwork on the operation of the camp such as correspondence with parents and camp counselors, financial information, employee handbooks, teaching materials, and ephemera. Also included are secondary sources detailing the history of the camp and extensive correspondence used by Charles A. Miller to construct his work, A Catawba Assembly. Photographs of the camp feature scenes of campers and of scenery around the camp. The Vera Lachmann materials consist of handwritten and typed poetry, books of poetry, journals of Lachmann's Greek travels, speeches, personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, and Lachman's obituaries. Audiovisual materials include audio cassettes, mini dvs, and compact discs of audio recordings, photographs, and a filmed lecture on Camp Catawba. In the Camp Catawba records, there are a series of letters written by Robert N. Harris to his Camp Catawba friend, Stephen Mayer, in 1964. Harris talks about interests, Camp Catawba, school, and more. Some of Harris' letters contain homophobic and racist language.


  • Creation: 1943-2014, undated



The materials are in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

No interlibrary loan.

Access Restrictions

The materials are open for research in the Dougherty Reading Room.

Historical Note

Camp Catawba, located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, was once a farm owned by the Hodgkins family who had moved to the area in early 1900s. Lachmann bought the property in sections from 1943 until 1953 and repurposed many of the original structures from the farm for the campers. Focused on a balance of recreation and the arts, the summer camp for boys operated from 1944 until 1970. Lachmann's partner, Tui St. George Tucker, joined the staff of Camp Catawba as a music instructor in 1946. The camp was especially influenced by Lachmann's affinity for the classics and each summer ended with the performance of a play. After Lachman's death in 1985, Tui St. George Tucker moved to Camp Catawba where she composed music. Tui sold the site to the Blue Ridge Parkway before she passed away in 2004.

Biographical Note

Vera Lachmann (1904-1985) was born in Berlin, Germany and grew up in a household of German-Jewish heritage. She attended a school for girls directed by Dr. Sigmund Auerbach and began her study of languages, literature, and philology at the Universities of Berlin and Basel in 1923. Lachmann developed an interest in classics and early epics, studying Icelandic Sagas, European literature, and classical civilization. Earning a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in 1931, Lachmann, due to the bias in Germany against women in higher education and at the behest of fellow educators Paulus and Edith Geheeb, sought training in high school instruction. After the Nazi party took control of Germany in 1933, Lachmann used her teaching certificate to found a school for Jewish and Jewish-Christian parented children expelled from public schools. The school continued for five years until closed by the Nazis in January 1939.

Lachmann left Germany in November 1939 and began teaching in the German Department at Vassar College in New York State. Leaving Vassar in 1941, she took a number of education jobs in the northeast before eventually moving south to found Camp Rena in Black Mountain, with the help of Elisabeth and Clemens Sommer of Chapel Hill. After the camp's first season in the summer of 1943, Lachmann taught at Salem College from 1943-1944 before returning north to teach at Brynn Mawr, Yale, City College of New York, and Brooklyn College. The first summer at Camp Catawba, founded by Lachmann in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, began in 1944 and Lachmann would continue to direct the camp until it closed in 1970. In 1946 Lachmann met composer Tui St. George Tucker who became her lifetime companion and partner. She redevoted herself to her study of the classics during the 1950s and 1960s and visited Greece as well as libraries throughout the United States and Europe. Lachmann composed and published poetry in both German and English and kept diaries of her travels abroad.


16.17 Linear Feet (17 boxes)


Materials in the Camp Catawba and Vera Lachmann Papers cover the operation of a summer camp for boys from 1944 to 1970. Also featured are materials related to the camp's founder Vera Lachmann, a poet and educator of German-Jewish background who sought refuge in the United States at the beginning of World War II. The collection contains information on Camp Catawba's history, correspondence with campers and counselors, poetry composed by Lachmann, Lachmann's personal correspondence, and ephemera and sound recordings from Camp Catawba.


Camp Catawba and Vera Lachmann Papers is divided into three series.

Series I: Camp Catawba Records is divided into two subseries. Subseries A: Camp Materials is organized in alphabetical order with photographs and camp artwork listed at the end of the series. Subseries B: A Catawba Assembly is organized alphabetically by last name of correspondents with matted photographs located at the end of the series.

Series II: Vera Lachmann Papers is organized alphabetically with photographs listed at the end of the series.

Series III: Audiovisual is divided into two subseries. Subseries A: Cassettes is organized alphabetically with audiocassettes listed first, followed by Mini DV cassettes. Subseries B: Compact Discs is organized alphabetically.

Acquisitions Information

Charles A. Miller donated the bulk of the collection to the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection on 24 July 2003, 3 March 2004, 28 May 2004, and 26 October 2004, which was accessioned as AC.2003.012. In December 2005, Charles Miller donated images of Camp Catawba taken 7 June 2005 and advertisement of Vera Lachmann's CD set. On 30 December 2005, Charles Miller donated photographs, Vera Lachmann's poetry and translations, correspondence, Camp Catawba materials, and personal items. Additional accessions were received from Charles Miller between 2011 and 2014.

An additional donation came in 2007 from The National Park Service, Blue Ridge Parkway, Jaqueline Holt, Curator. This donation consisted of 5 boxes of Camp Catawba materials, a tape recorder and two music stands.

An additional donation came from Charles A. Miller in 2015. This donation included tapes of Vera Lachmann and one tape of Spencer Holst and Tui Tucker. The latter tape was added to the Tucker collection.

An additional donation came in 2020 from Stephen Mayer; accessioned as AC-2022-060, Robert N. Harris letters.

Processing Information

Processed by Kathryn Staley, August 2008; Encoded by Kathryn Staley, Holly Riddle, August 2008; Transcriptions by J. McTaggart, August 2008. In 2014, the collection was split and Tui St. George Tucker materials were removed to form a separate collection (AC.940: Tui St. George Tucker Papers). The collection was then reprocessed with additions by Trevor McKenzie in September 2014. This collection was reprocessed as part of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant funded extensive processing of the backlog within the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection between 2012 and 2014. Robert N. Harris letters added by Anna Smith, December 2022.

AC.214: Camp Catawba and Vera Lachmann Papers, 1943-2014, undated
Processed by Kathryn Staley, August 2008.
August 2008
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository