Edward Flud Burrows Papers, 1930-1999
| Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Front Page 2007 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |
A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2007
"Edward Flud Burrows proved that when it comes to bravery, warriors and pacifists are close cousins. Both accept risks and the ugly consequences." So wrote Jim Schlosser in a tribute to Burrows entitled "College to Remember Ex-professor," appearing in the Greensboro News & Record on 23 January 1999. One and a quarter linear feet of items, including correspondence, diaries, appointment books, and a typescript for his autobiography, "Flud," document the life of Edward Flud Burrows (1917-1998). Much of the collection demonstrates Burrows’ grappling with the fundamental questions of religion and government in wartime. | Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
Born 17 August 1917 in Sumter County, South Carolina, a son of Stanyarne Burrows (1879-1953) and Julia Ashby Richardson Burrows (1881-1962), Edward was the third boy and sixth child in a family of eight. The family was Episcopalian but Burrows attended a Presbyterian Sunday School as a youth. Several pieces of his juvenile writing present in the collection evidence his early Christian faith which would guide him throughout life. A 1935 graduate of Sumter High School, Burrows attended Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he was a member of the Peace Group, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1939.
Beginning with the onset of war in Europe, daily diary entries shed light on the development of Burrows’ pacifist beliefs, the influence of family life in rural Sumter County, his reaction to graduation from Washington & Lee, and his first year of graduate studies in Southern history at Duke University. Regular diary entries end when his duties as a rural school teacher at Gable, South Carolina (1940-1941), began to monopolize his time. It was during this period that he wrote a personal statement, on 8 September 1940, at his parent’s home in Oswego, South Carolina, that stated, in part: "I Edward Flud Burrows, have become opposed to war and the methods of force and a supporter of peace and the way of Christlike love…. I do not believe war to be inevitable nor a necessary expression of human nature." Burrows completed his master’s thesis, "The Literary Education of Negroes in Ante-bellum Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia with Special Reference to Regulatory and Prohibitive Laws," and graduated from Duke in the spring of 1941.
In August 1941, Burrows was drafted as a conscientious objector into Civilian Public Service. He first lived and worked at Camp #19, Buck Creek (Marion, North Carolina), which was operated under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee. There he participated in the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In April 1942, upon his request, he was transferred to Camp #27 (Crestview, Florida), run under the sponsorship of the Brethren Service Committee to work on the project to eradicate hookworms through building sanitary facilities. During his time in Florida, Burrows kept a journal that he called "Thoughts from time to time" in which he agonized over whether to leave the C.P.S. camp and accept prison as a more sincere act of conscience. Though he felt that the work was worthwhile, he could not reconcile himself with government forced conscription, and on 4 February 1943, Burrows walked out of camp in protest. In 1991, Burrows would commit to paper his "Recollections of Buck Creek (North Carolina) and Crestview (Florida) Civilian Public Service (CPS) August 1941-February 1943," a detailed memoir of his time at both camps in which he wrote: "I do not regret my 17+ months spent in Civilian Public Service. Yet, if faced with the draft today, I think I would refuse to cooperate with conscription from the very beginning."
During his tenure at the C.P.S. camps, Burrows corresponded with conscientious objectors and others of like mind throughout the country. Several interesting letters written in the autumn of 1942, one from sociologist of religion Allan W. Eister, mention nutritional experimentation on conscientious objectors at Ward D-11, Welfare Hospital, New York City. Another letter from Eister, bearing no date, opposes the involvement of the Society of Friends in the C.P.S. movement. Lt. Nancy Jones, a nurse serving during World War II, wrote to Burrows on 29 March 1943 to defend her own war service: "I took an oath once in which I pledged myself to take care of people who needed such care. It is not mine to question how they happen to need it, any more than I would refuse a treatment to a siphilitic on the grounds that he caught his disease through sinful living and did not deserve treatment." She recognized, however, that Burrows was destined to travel a "different road, a rougher one, but higher and closer to heaven," and hoped that one day everyone would "quit arguing over the nationality of Washington’s cherry trees and see a Japanese as another man. Perhaps we will even forget the carpetbagger days and Sherman’s march through Georgia, and Yankees, Southerners and Negroes will live as political and social equals, judged not by their color, but by how much they have on the ball."
On 3 May 1943 Burrows was sentenced to serve three years in a Federal Penitentiary for opposition to conscription. He was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida, where he stayed, working in the prison hospital, until his release on 23 August 1945. He had first been granted parole effective 1 July 1944 but because he would not agree to carry a draft registration card, the parole board was unwilling to release him. After his release, Burrows spent time working and teaching on a cooperative farm, Sky Valley Farm, at Zirconia, North Carolina.
From 1946 to 1947 he served as a Rosenwald Scholar at the Social Science Institute, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. In his personal statement in 1940, Burrows had written: "I am particularly interested in the racial problem of the South and am determined to cooperate with others in the study and alleviation of it." He was professor of history at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, from 1948 to 1979. In 1955, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin after completing his dissertation, "The Commission on Interracial Cooperation, 1919-1944, a Case Study in the History of the Interracial Movement in the South." As a professor at Guilford College, he was part of a faculty group that pressured the administration and trustees to admit black students.
After his retirement in 1979, Burrows began seriously working on the manuscript for "Flud," an autobiography that would be published a decade later. The annotated typescript in the collection covers Burrows’ early life, his experiences during World War II, and his professional career, and reveals his lifelong struggle with his homosexuality. Burrows described the two underlying themes of his life: "Sometime during my college years, I conceived two ideas that have greatly influenced my life. Both, I believe, came as a result of my religious growth. One was the idea of the way of love as an alternative to physical force….The other idea was that I should devote my life to the education of Negroes." Edward Flud Burrows died 17 December 1998 and donated his body for medical research.