Dudley brings local expertise to festival

Published 12:23 am Thursday, February 10, 2011

Contributing Writer

Jack Dudley does not consider himself a writer. He prefers to be known as a “documentarian.”
The retired Morehead City dentist is working on his 12th book about North Carolina’s coastal heritage.
Dudley brings his work to the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships in Washington this weekend.
Dudley provided some insight into his research-and-writing process in a recent interview.
He related one anecdote about what initially spurred his interest in the subject matter of his books.
Dudley worked to refurbish the boat.
Dudley worked some with Swansboro historian Tucker Littleton in the mid-1970s after completing his schooling and settling back in Morehead City. Littleton had done an immense amount of research on Swansboro and the White Oak River area for the years before 1900. Together, they worked to make the subject matter appealing to the public.
The two men began to look for Swansboro subjects and artifacts to photograph and put into program form. They amassed a collection of 3,000 images, mostly vintage photographs. Many photographs had left the area years ago, and they located Swansboro and other North Carolina coastal images from as far north as Maine and as far west as Kansas.
Dudley briefly stopped his work in 1983 when Littleton died. But he picked it back up again when there was a renewed interest in decoy carving and collecting along the East Coast.
Dudley said that his work built off itself and even provided an offshoot.
Dudley has received help with his work from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and the Carteret Historical Society for books on Morehead City, Beaufort, Ocracoke, Down East, Bogue Banks and Newport.
Dudley said the late Francis Meekins, editor of Manteo’s Coastland Times, informed him of the Aycock Brown collection of photographs in the Outer Banks History Center. This could provide the material for future books.
All and all, Dudley said his work has been a blessing