D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

William T. Kirkman Photograph Collection

Summary Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
William T. Kirkman Photograph Collection
Date [inclusive]
3.5 Linear feet
Physical Description
Contains 4 boxes with photographic slides, photographic prints, 35mm negatives, documents, newspaper clippings, and articles.
Located in Special Collections, row 10, section 1

Preferred Citation

William T. Kirkman Photograph Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804

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Biographical Information

Born William Thomas Kirkman September 15, 1912 in Asheville, NC, Mr. Kirkman spent most of his life in western North Carolina. His father, Frederick Edward Kirkman, a native of High Point, NC, was the manager of the National Biscuit Company's wholesale unit in Asheville. His mother Anne Patton Cooper of Murphy, NC, came to Asheville to work as a secretary and met his father there. His parents were married On February 4, 1911.

While living in the Biltmore Village area of Asheville, Kirkman's family experienced the 1916 flood. The flood resulted in a move of the family to the Montford area. In 1920 the family moved again to 37 Ravencroft, Asheville, and William's father left the National Biscuit Company for a job with several shoe companies. In 1921 the family left Asheville and moved their home to Murphy, NC for a brief time. They returned to Asheville in the summer of 1921 and took up residence on Spruce Street across from the Old Kentucky Home, the famous Wolfe family boarding house. Several other moves ensued and the family finally settled in 1925 in their first home since the 1916 flood. It was located at 5 Woodley Avenue.

William attended the College of the City of Asheville, located on the ground floor of the Asheville High School. This series of classrooms soon became the Biltmore College and later Asheville-Biltmore College. After graduation he went to Cecil's Business College. His first job at the beginning of the Depression was as a bank clerk with Wachovia Bank, one of the few banks that survived the Depression. Later jobs included work in a flower shop, as a CPA, and again with several Asheville banks.

In 1941 he joined the Carolina Mountain Club and was among the earliest members of that club. By March of that year he had been called into the conflict of WWII. He worked as a staff typist at the Fort Bragg Reception Center. The following year he applied for Officer Candidate School and was accepted for training at the Army Administration School at the University of Florida at Gainsville. Upon graduation as a second lieutenant he was assigned to the Air force Regional Hospital at Coral Gables, Florida.

In December of 1945 William's father died and in 1948 he returned to Asheville after the war's end. He was employed by the Dave Steel Company. He quickly resumed his association with the Carolina Mountain Club. During the 1950's and 1960's he wrote fondly of the many friends he made while a member of the Club.

In 1977 he retired from Dave Steel and worked for an additional 12 year with the Asheville Contracting Co. in their finance office and also for the Inn On the Plaza as a financial assistant. Part-time work as a CPA also gave him employment in his later years. He remarked that at 81 he was in "fairly good health" and participating in the Hiking Club's outing.

A volunteer for the Central Methodist Church, treasurer for the Board of Friends of the Library System and an active officer in the Carolina Mountain Club, Mr. Kirkman stayed actively involved with his community and with his friends. Mr. William Thomas Kirkman died June 6, 2000.

An extended version of his life may be read in the "Autobiography of William Thomas Kirkman."

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Scope and Contents

The William T. Kirkman Photograph Collection contains over 3000 photographs, 35mm slides, and negatives that document hiking and trail work outings by the Carolina Mountain Club, as well as photographs of Western North Carolina landscapes and flora. The earliest photographs are from the 1930s, while the latest ones date from the 1990s. In addition to photographs, there are also documents, news clippings, an autobiographical sketch, and other materials related to Kirkman and his 50+ years as a member of the Carolina Mountain Club.

Digitized Photographs: Over 100 black & white photographs can be viewed on this page.

Over 200 color photographs can be viewed on this page.


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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504


The collection is open for research. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Custodial History

Donated in 2002 by Ann B. Dowis, William Kirkman's niece

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections staff in 2002; updated finding aid 2014 (GH)

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Subject Keywords

William Thomas Kirkman ; Carolina Mountain Club ; hiking ; mountaineering ; environmentalism ; photography

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Collection Inventory

Box 1: Assorted documents and photographs 

Folder 1: Assorted photographs, including CMC trail maintenance in 2000 

Folder 2: Autobiography of William T.Kirkman 

Folder 3: Newspaper photograph showing Black Mountain range with identified peaks 

Folder 4: "Seeing the Smokies: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park," 1946 publicity booklet published by the Stephens Press, Asheville 

Folder 5: Booklet: "Land of Waterfalls," text and photographs by E. Douglas DePew and Bob Tinsley, 1954, Asheville. 

Folder 6: CMC Quarterly News Bulletin, 1991, honoring Kirkman for 50 years' membership ( 

Folder 7: Photographs from the 1960s 

Folder 8: Photographs from the 1970s 

Folder 9: Photos from the 1980s 

Folder 10: Snow and seasonal photos 

Folder 11: Various snow and group hiking photos 

Folder 12: Photos of Max Patch (1983), Rumbling Bald (1984), Cumberland, GA 

Folder 13: Trail work photos circa 1980s 

Folder 14: Trail and shelter work, mostly 1987-88 

Folder 15: Trail and shelter work, mostly 1988-89 

Folder 16: CMC photos, 1990s 

Folder 17: CMC materials: Kirkman anniversary, photographs, "History of the CMC 1923-93" by Peter M. Steurer, hike leaders' reports, several issues of "Let's Go!" 

Folder 18: CMC photos 1980s 

Folder 19: CMC documents about Max Patch 

Folder 20: CMC photos 1970s 

Folder 21: CMC - various articles about CMC 

Folder 22: CMC photos 1960s 

Folder 23: "A Brief History of the Carolina Mountain Club" (40th anniversary, 1923-63), assorted articles and maps, hike reports 

Folder 24: CMC photos and hike leaders' reports - 1950s 

Folder 25: CMC photos 1940s 

Folder 26: Materials (photocopies) related to Dr. Chase P. Ambler (builder of "Rattlesnake Lodge"): "Who's Who and Why in Asheville" (1928); obituary (1923), articles about Rattlesnake Lodge 

Box 2: Photographs - 6.5" x 15" box containing photographic prints in sleeves 

Box 3: 35mm slides 

1) Contains 12 boxes of 35mm slides (dates range from 1939-81), most slides are labeled. 

2) One Kodak slide carousel tray filled with slides 

3) 22 slide sleeves containing mostly floral images 

4) Folder of assorted negatives and prints 

Box 4: 35mm slides 

Contains 13 boxes of slides, most slides are labeled