Guide to the Muriel Miller Dressler Papers, 1965-2003, undated

Summary Information

Title: Muriel Miller Dressler Papers, 1965-2003, undated
Collection: AC.863
Extent: 4.5 linear feet (2 flat boxes and 4 manuscript boxes, 1 CD box)

The Muriel Miller Dressler Papers is a small collection of Dressler's poetry, photographs and publication drafts. There are also several items and some information and photos of author Earl Hamner.

Creator: Dressler, Muriel Miller

Biographical/Historical Note

Poet Muriel Miller Dressler (July 4, 1918-February 27, 2000) was born in Kanawha County. Both sides of her family went back several generations in the Kanawha Valley. She married Lester Dressler (whose family was from Cabin Creek) in 1936.

Dressler did not complete high school. Her love for literature came, as she was fond of saying, ‘‘at the heels of my mother as we planted or hoed the garden.’’ She could quote long passages of Shakespeare and Chaucer before she learned to read the texts and could not remember when she first began to write poetry. Her first published poem, ‘‘Appalachia’’ (1970), quickly became her signature piece.

Dressler published two collections of poetry. The first, Appalachia, My Land, was published in 1973, and the second, Appalachia, in 1977. Both books gained popularity quickly, and she was invited to read her work at universities throughout the region and beyond, including Harvard, where she was in residence for several days in 1977. In 1975, she met Earl Hamner, creator of the television series The Waltons. He used one of her poems, ‘‘Elegy for Jody,’’ as the centerpiece for a television special, ‘‘Morning Star, Evening Star,’’ in 1986.

Short, curvy, vain, and hyperactive, Dressler remained a popular speaker on the college circuit until the mid-1980s when she suffered a massive heart attack. She spent much of the rest of her life away from the public spotlight.

Written by William Plumley (from West Virginia Encyclopedia website)

Scope and Contents

The Muriel Miller Dressler Papers is a collection which includes Dressler's poetry, correspondence, slides, photos, interviews with Dressler and Earl Hammer, video tape, reel-to-reels, and cassette. There are many photographs, color and black and white, of Ms. Dressler and of her celebrity acquaintances. There are drafts of her book Appalachia, along with copies of several poems.


The Muriel Miller Dressler Papers are divided into four series: Series I: Correspondence and Personal Papers; Series II: Poetry and Publications; Series III: Photographs, Slides and Other Papers; and Series IV: Audiovisual Materials. Within the paper files, the papers are arranged chronologically. The photos from a binder album are kept in their original order. If the photos were separated from a particular envelope in the original inventory, a Separation Sheet was completed and filed with the photo.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

This collection was purchased from Billy C. Plumley, Florida, in 2008. It was accessioned as AC.2008.038.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Virginia Johnson and Anita Elliott, May 2014. This collection was processed 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.863: Muriel Miller Dressler Papers, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina USA.

Container List

Series I: Correspondence and Personal Papers, 1968-2002, undated 

Series Description

Series I: Correspondence and Personal Papers contains letters to and from Muriel Dressler to family, acquaintances, friends, and business representatives. There is an appearance agreement, an interview on her poetry, and program and papers from her funeral.

  Box Folder

Agreement and Vendor Invoice, June 22-July 14, 1983  

1 1

Copryright transfer letter and Permission statement, May 16, 1999-June 25, 2000 

1 2

Correspondence, October 7, 1968-November 2, 1973 

1 3

Correspondence, Muriel Dressler letters to her sister Miriam, 1969 

1 4

Correspondence from Jesse Stuart to Muriel Dressler, September 28, 1970-August 23, 1973 

1 5

Correspondence, January 10, 1974-July 2, 1976 

1 6

Correspondence, February 7, 1974-January 17, 1989 

1 7

Correspondence, March 11, 1977-December 15, 1988 

1 8

Correspondence on Sing Appalacia, August 21-October 29, 2002 

1 9

Correspondence, Paul Cooper, undated 

1 10

Three Christmas cards from Muriel Dressler, undated 

1 11

Funeral Program for Muriel Dressler and Empty envelope with writing, 1999-2000 

1 12

Interview, Muriel Dressler on Making Two Poems, by William Plumley, 1978 

1 13

Series II: Poetry and Publications, 1965-2000, undated 

Series Description

Series II: Poetry and Publications houses fliers of her appearances, clippings about Dressler, several of her poems, and other related papers.

  Box Folder

Booklet by Jesse Stuart signed by Muriel Dressler and W-Hollow Harvest Kentucky Writers' Guild, May 1968-October 7, 1971 

2 1

Fliers and Newspaper clippings, 1965-2000 

2 2

I Didn't Cry Poem and notes, 1999 

2 3

Living and Dying, Appalachia My Land, Muriel Dressler's Poetry and Sections of her books, undated 

2 4

Materials Catalog on Appalachian Culture, 1965 

2 5

Partial Manuscript on envelope and full poem Dogwood on a Spree, August 1975 

2 6

Poems from binder, undated 

2 7

Program for Appalachia in the Round, undated 

2 9

Three Drafts, Appalachia, by Muriel Miller Dressler, with Cover Pages of Sing, Appalachia, circa 1977, undated 

Box 3

Series III: Photographs, Slides and Other Papers, 1967-2003, undated 

Series Description

Series III: Photographs, Slides and Other Papers includes much about the author, Earl Hamner of the television show, The Waltons. There are signed book plates, interviews with Dressler and Hamner, photographs and collages of the two of them plus others, and many photographs of Dressler, some autographed.

  Box Folder

28 Book plates signed by Earl Hamner, undated 

2 9

Earl Hamner interview with Muriel Dressler on her poetry, undated 

2 10

Guest Book for Dressler, 1973 

2 11

Interview with the creator of "The Waltons", 1976 

2 12

Black and White photos of Earl Hamner and his wife, signed, undated 

2 13

Black and White photograph of Muriel Dressler reading her first published poem with Lucy Snyder, 1970 

2 14

Black and White Photograph of Will Geer kissing Muriel Dressler, undated 

2 15
  Cold_Storage Folder

Photographs, Color, undated 

Box 6 1

Photographs and negatives from binder-album, black and white and color, undated 

Box 6 2

Photographs of Muriel Dressler, Jesse Stuart, and Richard "John Boy" Thomas, undated 

Box 6 3

Slides, Appalachian Poetry, Part 1, with Muriel Miller Dressler on her poetry, undated 

Box 6 4

Slides, Appalachian Poetry, Part 2, with Muriel Miller Dressler on her poetry, undated 

Box 6 5

Slides, Appalachian poetry with Muriel Dressler on her poetry, undated 

Box 6 6

Copies of Color Collage Posters (56) of Dressler with Plumley, Hamner, Will Geer, Richard Thomas, Autographed by Earl Hamner, 2003 

Box 4

Correspondence to Bill Plumley (original folders) re: Dressler's Poetry and Book, 2002 

Box 4

Photograph Index Pages, black and white, from A Rose for Alice Production, 1986 

Box 4

Photographs, black and white, Dressler, 1967-1973 

Box 4

Script Copy, written by Paul Cooper, A Rose for Alice, in honor of Dressler, 1986 

Box 4

Series IV: Audiovisual Materials, 2002, undated 

Series Description

Series IV: Audiovisual Materials contains an original and copied reel-to-reel tape of an interview of Dressler with Bill Plumley on her book, Appalachian Poetry, along with a cassette copy. There is also a VHS tape of A Rose for Alice by Warner Brothers.


Original Reel-to-reel, Interview of Dressler with Bill Plumley, on her book, Appalachian Poetry, undated 


Copy of Reel-to-reel, Interview of Dressler with Bill Plumley, on her book, Appalachian Poetry, undated 


Cassette copy of Interview of Dressler with Bill Plumley, on her book, Appalachian Poetry, undated 


VHS Originial, A Rose for Alice, by Warner Brothers, 2002 


User and Archival CD Copies of Reel-to-reels, Cassette and VHS Interviews, circa 2002, undated