Gertrude Beal Papers

1950s-1998 [bulk 1960-1980]. 1 box (17 folders), 52 items. MSS. COLL. #253

NOTE:  The numbers cited in parentheses, e.g. 1:5, refer the researcher to the Series#:Folder# in which that name/topic will be found.


The Gertrude Beal Papers consist primarily of printed materials and vinyl recordings from Gertrude’s youth in the 1960s and 1970s. A lifelong Greensboro resident, she was raised a Quaker and worked at Guilford College for most of her career. This collection provides a glimpse of her early years through her course of study at local public schools and activities as part of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls (Rainbow Girls), a Masonic organization, as well as through reading material, musical recordings, and event programs. Also included are items relating to the U.S., Guilford County, and Battle of Guilford Courthouse bicentennials.

Arrangement: This collection is organized into three series and arranged within series by document type or subject. The series are: Photograph, 1972; Printed Material, 1956-1998; and Vinyl Recordings, 1950s-1971.

Provenance: This collection was donated by Gertrude Beal in September 2021 and assigned the accession number 2021.10.1.

Processing: This collection was organized and the finding aid was completed by volunteer Ann Koppen in June 2023.


Margaret Gertrude Beal grew up in Greensboro, the daughter of Margaret Alice Sampson (1919-2006) and Franklin Dauphinee Beal (1920-1987), who worked as an executive chef at area country clubs. Born in the Guilford College area, her mother was a lifelong member of New Garden Friends Meeting and a volunteer docent at the Friends Historical Collection at Guilford College. Both her parents were active in the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic-affiliated organization, and at age 18 Gertrude became “Worthy Advisor,” the highest leadership position in the Rainbow Girls, a junior version of the Order of the Eastern Star. Gertrude attended Lindley Elementary School, Kiser Junior High School, and both Grimsley and Smith senior high schools during the early years of desegregation. Bussed to Smith her sophomore year, she elected to remain there and graduated in 1973. She then attended St. Andrews Presbyterian College (later St. Andrews University) in Laurinburg, North Carolina, graduating in 1977 with honors, and earned an M.A. in history from UNC Greensboro. In 1977, Gertrude was a summer intern at the Greensboro Historical Museum. She was Assistant to the Curator of Education from 1978 to 1980 before moving full-time to Guilford College, where she worked until her retirement in 2017, holding several positions in the Hege Library and the Advancement and Admission offices.

Biographical Sources: The biographical information was acquired from a biographical sketch drafted by the Curator of Collections and then edited and expanded by the donor. Additional details about her parents were obtained from and her mother’s obituary (News & Record, September 26, 2006).


This collection consists primarily of vinyl recordings and printed materials ranging from calendars and menus to pamphlets and books. One formal photograph of Gertrude Beal is also included. The bulk of the collection reflects her early life in Greensboro during the 1960s and 1970s, either through the music, reading material, and sporting events she enjoyed or through mementos of historic events, such as the U.S. Bicentennial. A detailed and comprehensive fourth grade unit plan on the history of Guilford County in honor of its bicentennial may be of interest to educators and historians. Items most specific to the time period and Gertrude’s experience are her high school curricular booklets and materials from the Rainbow Girls, a Masonic organization for youth. Also of note are a Greensboro Community Theatre 50th anniversary program and a Habitat for Humanity newsletter from the 1990s.


1. Photograph.  1 folder (1 item).  1972.

This formal portrait of Gertrude Beal as a senior in high school was used in a newspaper article about her election to lead officer of the Rainbow Girls (2:12), and another copy of the photograph can be found in that folder.

2. Printed Material.  13 folders (39 items).  1956-1998.

This series consists of a variety of materials, including books, calendars, menus, magazines, and directories, that are primarily but not exclusively related to Greensboro in the 1960s and 1970s. Several items focus on the cluster of bicentennials, from Guilford County’s in 1970 (2:2) to the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 (2:3) and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1981 (2:1). Materials relating to the U.S. Bicentennial include an abridged history of women in North Carolina and a companion book to WFMY-TV’s series of 60-second programs commemorating the role of North Carolina in the development of the United States. A program for a play about the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and a history of the battle comprise that bicentennial’s souvenirs, while a fourth-grade lesson plan on the history of Guilford County represents that bicentennial. The magazines American Girl and Pastimes, “onboard amusement” provided by Eastern Airlines, and a few children’s books – two Barbie books, My First Book to Read, and a book on telling time – represent period children’s and young adult reading material. More specific to Gertrude Beal’s experience are materials from her high school years (2:7), such as a planning handbook for her course of study and a full curriculum guide, and a directory and program from the Rainbow Girls, a Masonic organization for youth (2:12). The directory also provides a history of the organization and its purpose. Also of note are several menus from the Starmount Forest Country Club, where Gertrude’s father was chef, as well as programs and other items from local theatre and sporting events, such as the daily pairing and starting times for the Greater Greensboro Open golf tournament in 1969. A 50th anniversary program for the Community Theatre of Greensboro provides a history of that organization and is autographed actor Stephen Hale.

3. Vinyl Recordings.  3 folders (12 items).  1950s-1971.

The children’s records (3:1) feature stories, such as Davy Crockett, Wizard of Oz, Popeye, and Sleeping Beauty, and a few musical recordings, including a collection of party songs. Also included are one Andy Griffith 78 (3:2) and four LPs of Kiser Junior High School and Grimsley Senior High School band concerts (3:3).


11Photograph-- Beal, Gertrude (1972)
21Printed Material-- Bicentennial, Battle of Guilford Courthouse (1981)
2-- Bicentennial, Guilford County -- Fourth grade unit plan (1970)
3-- Bicentennial, U.S. (1976)
4Printed Material-- Booklet -- History of women in North Carolina (1976)
5-- Books, Juvenile (1956-1964)
6-- Community Theatre of Greensboro (1998)
7Printed Material-- Greensboro senior high schools (1968-1973)
8-- Magazines (1965, 1971)
9-- Menus (1961-1970s)
10Printed Material-- Miscellaneous (ca. 1970s)
11-- Newsletter -- Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro (1993)
12-- Rainbow Girls (1968-1972)
13-- Sporting events (1969, 1984)
31Vinyl Recordings-- Children’s (1950s-1960s)
2-- Griffith, Andy (ca. 1954)
3-- School band concerts (1969-1971)