Collection documents Sonora Carver's career as a diving horse rider and her advocacy work with the Lighthouse for the Blind.
Scope and Contents:
Collection consists primarily of materials relating to Carver's career as a diving horse rider and her advocacy work for the Lighthouse for the Blind. It is arranged into six series. Series one contains biographical information about Sonora Webster Carver and her family and dates from 1924-1994. Series two includes material relating to Carver's career as a diving horse rider on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Series three documents Carver's later life and work on behalf of people with visual impairments dating from 1953-1977. Series four contains material relating to the creation of the Walt Disney Pictures film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken dating from 1990-1993. Series five consists of materials relating to Dr. William Frank "Doc" Carver and the Wild West dating from 1891-1975. Series six contains miscellaneous materials dating from 1962-1991.
The collection is arranged into six series.
Series 1, Biographical Information, 1924-1994, undated
Series 2, Diving Horses Career and Atlantic City, 1924-1986, undated
Series 3, Visual Impairment and Advocacy, 1953-1977, undated
Series 4, Walt Disney Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken Movie, 1990-1993, undated
Series 5, Dr. William Frank "Doc" Carver and the Wild West, 1891-1975, undated
Series 6,: Miscellaneous, 1962-1991, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Sonora Webster was born on February 2, 1904, one of six children, in Waycross, Georgia. In 1923, she became a performer with Dr. William Frank "Doc" Carver's carnival act. Dr. Carver, a trained dentist, acquired target shooting and horseback riding skills that lead to his success as a world-class marksman. By 1924, Sonora began performing a stunt created by Dr. Carver, an act that required her to mount a running horse as it reached the top of a forty-foot tower and lie on the horse's back as it plunged into an eleven-foot-deep pool of water. She and other female performers traveled the country with Dr. Carver eventually settling in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After Carver's death in 1927, his son Albert (Al) Floyd Carver assumed responsibility for the show. Sonora Webster married Albert Carver in 1928. That same year Sonora's sister Arnette Webster French joined the show. It was in 1931 that Sonora's life dramatically changed when she became legally blind as the result of retinal detachment. This condition was caused during one of her dives when she hit the water off balance with her eyes open. Determined to continue with the show, Sonora performed the diving horse act until 1942. Later that year that she and her husband Al Carver moved to New Orleans. She learned Braille and worked as a Dictaphone typist. In 1961, Sonora Webster Carver published her autobiography A Girl and Five Brave Horses. She retired from her position as a Dictaphone typist in 1979. Walt Disney Pictures released the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken in 1991 which was loosely based on Sonora Carver's autobiography. Sonora Webster Carver died at the age of ninety-nine on September 21, 2003 in Pleasantville, New Jersey.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Archives Center Wild West Collection (AC1466)
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
L.F. Foster Wild West Scrapbooks, Photographs, and Copy Negatives (AC1289)
Duncan P. Schiedt Photograph Collection (AC1323)
The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Sonora Carver, 1994.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.