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Dorothy Carpenter Personal Collection

Dorothy Carpenter Engagement
Engagement Photograph of Dorothy Carpenter, circa 1925

Size: .6 cubic feet

Restrictions: The collection is available to the public upon completion of an interview with the Archives staff.

Preservation: Staples and paperclips have been removed. Materials have been placed in alkaline folders.

Number of boxes: 1 plus other materials

Provenance: This collection was donated to the Archives by Dorothy Carpenter herself.

Biography: (excerpted from Wake Forest Magazine, April 1989, article by Mary Dalton)

For decades, Dorothy Carpenter’s life has been entwined with the medical school. Her late husband, Dr. Coy C. Carpenter, was professor of pathology from 1926-1970, dean of the medical school from 1936-1963, and vice president for medical affairs from 1963-1967. He was instrumental in the medical school’s move to Winston-Salem and the development of the medical center. Throughout it all, Dorothy Carpenter was more than a helpmate – she was half of a team. 

Dorothy Mitten Carpenter was born and reared in a small town in Delaware; she met Coy Carpenter when she was a student at Syracuse University and he was in medical school there.  Wake Forest, North Carolina felt something like home when the couple moved there.  "I entered into the life and activities of the college town to the extent that I directed three plays for the Drama Club of Wake Forest," said Mrs. {Carpenter}. "It was such a small town that if you were having a party and wanted lettuce, you had to order it a week in advance from 17 miles away."

"Life became a merry-go-round with a husband who had one project after another, but it was fun and exciting," she remarked. She says few people remember that it was her late husband who conceived the idea of moving the medical school to Winston-Salem. Dr. Carpenter was found of saying about the school that, "We took a shoestring and built a shoe around it." Mrs. {Carpenter} recalls many nights when her late husband lay awake worrying about finding money to pay faculty salaries. Somehow the money always came through, and the Bowman Gray School of Medicine began to grow.

Mrs. {Carpenter} is as responsible in her own way for the development and success of the school as was Dr. Carpenter. She contributed the intangibles.

The medical school moved to Winston-Salem with a faculty of seven. Mrs. {Carpenter} became a one-woman relocation and public relations firm. She was a real estate agent, babysitter, tour guide.

"My husband was building a school. In the selection of faculty members, my job was to sell Winston-Salem. I showed them the city, the homes, the schools; I got them a cook or anything else they wanted to make them happy. Some stayed with us—some just dined with us. At that time, the Robert E. Lee was the only hotel in town," she said.

In the meantime, Mrs. {Carpenter} had become the walking historianof the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. She kept a scrapbook and managed to stay on top of everything that was happening.  In her "free time," Mrs. {Carpenter} served on the Red Cross Board, the YWCA Board, and the Board of Visitors of Peace College (where she went to boarding school before college.)

As the unofficial Bowman Gray cheerleader and moral booster, Mrs. {Carpenter} organized the faculty wives into what is now called the Medical Center Auxiliary. She wanted to provide services to the medical center and a forum for the faculty to get to know one another. As usual, Mrs. {Carpenter} was working to be sure those around her felt comfortable and included.

Mrs. {Carpenter} now confines most of her activities at Bowman Gray to the Coy C. Carpenter Library and the Dorothy Carpenter Medical Archives. The dedication of the archives last year was an appropriate recognition of the woman who for so many years was the archives and continues to be inexorably linked to the medial school’s success.

She is especially proud of the library – with just cause. The Carpenter Library is one of the strengths of the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. There are over 135,000 volumes, over 3,000 journal titles, completely computerized services, and 10 professional librarians who oversee it.

When she talks about how she feels about Bowman Gray, Mrs. {Carpenter} smiles and admits that the school has been such an integral part of her life that she really does not know anything else. She counts among her finest hours her acceptance as an honorary member of the Bowman Gray Alumni Association in 1986. The alumni had indeed recognized one of their own

Scope of the Collection:  This collection reflects, in part, the history of the move of Wake Forest College from Wake Forest and the lives of the Carpenters as they are involved with the medical school. The collection was donated by Dorothy Carpenter.



3 Scrapbooks:

  • Blue Scrapbook: 1950s photographs of the hospital
  • Black Scrapbook: Photographs of Dorothy Carpenter’s family and home and photographs of Coy Carpenter as a child
  • Brown Scrapbook: Newspaper clippings of the history of the move of the school,   and the lives of Dorothy and Coy Carpenter


File 1: Correspondence, of Dorothy Carpenter

File 2: Honolulu Newspaper D. Carpenter

File 3: Coy C. Carpenter’s death

File 4: Award to Dorothy, June 10, 1948

File 5: Articles, Clippings, and Publications

File 6: Miscellaneous

Quick Reference

Dorothy Carpenter Medical Archives
E Floor - Gray Building

Archives 336-716-3690

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