Guide to the John Foster West Papers, 1929-2008, undated

Summary Information

Title: John Foster West Papers, 1929-2008, undated
Collection: AC.157
Extent: 7.0 linear feet (6 manuscript boxes, 1 folder in cold storage, 3 oversize flat boxes, 1 framed artwork)

John Foster West Papers contains the working versions of West's books and his poetry, published works, personal items such as his diplomas and awards, and a framed portrait of him by his daughter, Amy Funderburk.

Creator: West, John Foster, 1918-2008

Biographical/Historical Note

John Foster West joined the faculty at Appalachian State University in 1968 and established the school's creative writing program. He is best known for his book “The Ballad of Tom Dula,” which recounts the murder of Laura Foster and the conviction and hanging of Tom Dula. He also wrote “The Summer People,” “Time Was” and “Appalachian Dawn,” and poetry collections including, “High Noon in Pompeii: The Latter-Day Poetry of John Foster West.” He retired from Appalachian in 1991 and died in 2008 at the age of 89.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the working versions with published copies of West's books and his poetry. There are also several awards and certificates, his personalized license plate, diplomas, and a framed portrait of West by his daughter, Amy Funderburk from 1989.


The collection is arranged in five series: Series I: Poetry-Drafts and Final Copies; Series II: Prose-Drafts and Final Copies; Series III: Personal Papers, Clippings, and Ephemera; Series IV: Awards, Plaques, Photographs; and Series V: Published Works. There is a folder in Cold Storage of color photographs and a framed portrait of West by his daughter in the hanging art shelves.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room without restrictions. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

Provenance is unknown for some of the collection, but the majority of his papers, manuscripts and letters was donated by Leah West Killingsworth in 2010. Accessioned separately as MWJ, AC.2010.054, and AC.2012.072.

Processing Information

Processed by Deborah Bell, 1994; Kathryn Staley, 10 September 2002; Encoded by Kathryn Staley, June 2005. Additions processed and finding aid revised by Anita Elliott and Virginia Johnson in 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.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.157: John Foster West Papers, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Container List

Series I: Poetry-Drafts and Final Copies, 1977-1992, undated

Series Description

Series I: Poetry, Drafts and Final Copies contains the handwritten and typed copies of poems. Handwritten editing marks are included.

  Box Folder

Drafts of "This Proud Land", 1977-1992, undated 

1 1

This Proud Land Drafts, undated 

1 2

Series II: Prose-Drafts and Final Copies, 1949-2001, undated

Series Description

Series II: Prose, Drafts and Final Copies includes drafts with edits/comments of several of his published and unpublished works.

  Box Folder

Assorted Poetry, 1950-2001, undated 

1 3

Assorted Poetry, 1985, undated 

1 4

The Ballad of Tom Dula Draft, undated 

1 5

Come to Dust Draft, undated 

1 6

Come to Dust Draft, undated 

2 1

Coming Home to Zion Draft, undated 

2 2

Death In Hemingway (thesis), 1949 

2 3

Generation Draft, undated 

2 4

Going Home Again Draft, undated 

2 5

Going Home to Zion Draft, undated 

3 1

Going Home To Zion Draft pages 1-110, undated 

3 2

Going Home To Darft Pages 111-247, undated 

3 3

Going Home to Zion Draft pages 1-110, undated 

3 4

Going Home to Zion Draft pages 111-230, undated 

3 5

High Noon in Pompeii, undated 

3 6

High Noon in Pompeii, undated 

3 7

John K. West, John North, Jay F. East writings, undated 

4 1

Loose Papers, 1929-1999, undated 

4 2

Love: Time's Fool Draft, undated 

4 3

Multiple drafts, High Noon in Pompeii, undated 

4 4

Notebook, Doppelgamer, with "Nestling" and Untitled writing, undated 

4 5

Poetry and Writing including "Thus Walk I" by John Foster West, From leather notebook, undated 

4 6

Spiral Bound Notebook, Writings undated 

5 1

Time Was-Setting Copy, undated 

5 2

Time Was-Setting Copy, part 2- pages 147-End, undated 

5 3

Untitled Novel, Book I: The Beginning Draft, undated 

5 4

Writings, December 7, 1968-July 29, 1985, undated 

5 5

Writings, undated 

5 6

Writings, undated 

5 7

Writings and Notes, 1980-1985, undated 

5 8

Writings and Photographs, August 15, 1985, undated 

6 1

Writings by John Foster West, undated 

6 2

Series III: Personal Papers, Clippings, and Ephemera, 1942-2008, undated

Series Description

Series III: Personal Papers and Ephemera contains papers of John Foster West such as correspondence, newspaper clippings about him and his work, and newspaper articles about the Old Wilkes County Jail, in which Tom Dula was held prior to his hanging.

  Box Folder

Articles, October 25, 1949-2006, undated 

6 3

Correspondence, April 18, 1952-July 23, 1997, undated 

6 4

Ephemera, 1951-2008, undated 


Newspaper Clippings, 1942-2000, undated 

6 6

Scrapbook Papers: Articles and Correspondence, undated 

6 7

Student Papers, undated 

6 8

Series IV: Awards, Plaques, Photographs, 1937-2007, undated 

Series Description

Series IV: Awards, Plaques, Photography includes two wooden plaques for West's writing and service, his high school and college diplomas, certificates of award, his personalized North Carolina license plate, and an autographed brown leather binder from which a version of "Thus Walk I" was removed. Also in this series are photographs of West's travels, publicity shots, and family events in black and white. The color photographs are found in Cold Storage.


Appalachian Fiction Award to John Foster West, Publications Committee of the Appalachian Consortium, March 19, 1988 


West's Brown Leather, Autographed Binder, undated 


West's College Diplomas: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Master of Arts, both from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1947 and 1949 


West's First Place Ribbon and ID Badge, undated 


West's High School Diploma from Morganton (NC) High School, May 30, 1938 


North Carolina License Tag "Savearth", 2007 


Plaque, wooden, from Appalachian State University Department of English for 22 years of service and inspiration, December 8, 1989 


Plaque, wooden, from St. Andrews College, 12th Annual Fortner Writer and Community Award to John Foster West, December 10, 1997 


Plaque, "Flunk out now - Avoid the rush later", undated 

  Box Folder

Photographs, black and white, John Foster West in most, Travel, Teaching, 1937-1976, undated 

6 9

West's Retirement Certificate from Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, May 11, 1990 


COLD STORAGE: Photographs, color, John Foster West, Travels and Posed Photos, 1972-1989, undated 

Box 2

Hanging Art: Painting of John Foster West by daughter, Amy Funderburk, 1989 


Series V: Published Works, 1951-2002 

Series Description

Series V: Published Works includes several published books by John Foster West, some of which were cataloged and placed in Appalachian Closed Collection, which are: - Warren, Traci ed., Cold Mountain Review, 1987 - West, John Foster, Appalachian Dawn, 1973 - West, John Foster, The Ballad of Tom Dula, 1977 - West, John Foster, High Noon in Pompeii: The Latter-Day Poetry of John Foster West, 2003 - West, John Foster, The Summer People, 2000 - West, John Foster, Tim Was: A Novel by John Foster West, 2000 - West, John Foster, Wry Wine, 1977

Five published works housed with AC.157 collection are: - West, John Foster, The Ballad of Tom Dula, 2002 - West, John Foster, Lift Up Your Head, Tom Dooley, 1993 - West, John Foster, This Proud Land: The Blue Ridge, 1978 (2 copies) - West, John Foster, Up Ego!, 1951 - North Carolina Literary Review, 2000


The Ballad of Tom Dula, Boone: Parkway Publishers, 2002 


Lift up Your Head, Tom Dooley, Down Home Press, 1993 


This Proud Land: The Blue Ridge (2 copies), 1978 


Up Ego!, Payton, Paul Publishing, 1951 


North Carolina Literary Review, 2000