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Nancy Byrd Turner Collection

Identifier: Ms-2005-009

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials assembled by Beverly Carper Powley in the course of writing a biographical article on Nancy Byrd Turner, a Virginia poet, editor, and lecturer. The collection contains pieces of Turner's correspondence--including a few letters written to Powley and photocopies of letters and postcards sent to others--as well as some newsclippings and samples of Turner's poetry.

The collection also contains Powley's correspondence relating to the research project, as well as related correspondence of Mary Balazs, a VMI English professor who worked in tandem with Powley on gathering materials about Turner (included in Balazs' correspondence is a typescript draft of her paper, "Miss Nancy Byrd Turner: a Reconsideration"). Several drafts of Powley's article, "To Honor Nancy Byrd Turner: a Poet Laureate of Virginia," together with the published version (which appeared in the Spring 1988 issue of the Richmond Quarterly), complete the collection.


  • 1930 - 1988


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note - Nancy Byrd Turner

Nancy Byrd Turner, poet, editor and lecturer, was born on July 29, 1880 in Boydton (Mecklenburg County), Virginia, the eldest child of Rev. Byrd Thornton and Nancy Turner.

After graduating from Hannah More Academy (Baltimore, Maryland) in 1898, Turner accepted employment as a teacher. She had begun writing poetry at an early age; by 1902, her poems were being published regularly in national magazines. By the time she left Virginia for Boston in 1917 to accept a position on the editorial staff of Youth's Companion, Turner's work had appeared in such magazines as Scribner's and the Saturday Evening Post. She served as editor of the children's page for Youth's Companion from 1918 to 1922, then served on the editorial staffs of the Boston Independent, Atlantic Monthly, and Houghton Mifflin.

In 1925, Turner was accepted to the MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, New Hampshire) and retained her membership in the arts colony until 1944. Her first book of poetry, A Riband on My Rein, was published in 1929. She would eventually publish 15 books, largely composed of adult poetry and children's literature, and her writings continued to appear in magazines such as the New Yorker, Good Housekeeping and Ladies' Home Journal. Among other awards, she was the recipient of the New England Poetry Club's Golden Rose Prize in 1930 and the Virginia Writers' Club's poetry prize in 1948.

In her later years, Turner lived in Ashland (Hanover County), Virginia and wrote freelance while lecturing throughout the United States. She died on September 5, 1971.

Biographical Note - Beverly C. Powley

Beverly Carper Powley was born on October 5, 1916. Graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in home economics, she worked for the Hanover County Extension Service from 1938 to 1940. She married George R. Powley, who served on the faculty of the Virginia Tech Electrical Engineering Department, and the couple had four children. In Blacksburg, Beverly Powley was actively involved in several organizations and clubs. She served as state president of Gideons International Auxiliary, and as president of both the Virginia Tech Faculty Women's Club and the Women's Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. She died in Blacksburg on July 26, 1988.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 box)


This collection includes correspondence, newsclippings, poems, and notes assembled by Beverly Carper Powley for a biographical article on Nancy Byrd Turner, a Virginia poet.


The collection is arranged by document type, then chronologically.

Source of Acquisition

The Nancy Byrd Turner Collection was donated to Special Collections in April 2005.

Separated Materials

The following books were transferred to the Rare Book Collection:

Balazs, Mary, The Stones Refuse Their Peace (New York: Seven Woods Press, 1979), call number PS3552.A445 S863 1979 Spec Large.

Balazs, Mary, The Voice of Thy Brother's Blood (New Wilmington, PA: Dawn Valley Press, 1976), call number PS3552.A445 V6 1976 Spec Large.

Trout, William E. III, An Automobile Tour and Field Guide to the North River Navigation ([Lexington, VA]: Rockbridge Historical Society, 1983), call number HE395.V8 T76 1983 Spec Large.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Nancy Byrd Turner Collection by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Nancy Byrd Turner Collection commenced and was completed in April 2005.

Nancy Byrd Turner Collection, 1930-1988
John M. Jackson, Archivist
2005 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US