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Guide to the Falkener Family Papers, 1893-2001

Abstract

African-American family based in Greensboro (Guildford Co.), North Carolina. Waldo C. Falkener served on the Greensboro City Council from 1959-1963. His wife, Margaret, was also politically active.

The collection primarily documents the political career of Waldo C. Falkener, and comprises minutes and reports from Greensboro City Council meetings. There are also materials from his campaigns for office and items that document his successes as a council member. In addition, there are documents relating to other family members, including photographs, news articles, correspondence, and deeds. Later accessions include clippings, correspondence, and other materials documenting the political careers of the Falkeners. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Falkener family.
Title
Falkener Family papers, 1893-2001
Language of Material
English
Extent
9.0 Linear Feet, 7000 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The collection (1996-0025) (2325 items, dated 1893-1996) primarily documents the political career of Waldo C. Falkener, and comprises minutes and reports from Greensboro City Council meetings. The council minutes include committee reports (finance, public works, transportation, and real estate committees), as well as ordinances, laws, memoranda, and letters. There are also materials from his campaigns for office and items that document his successes as a council member. In addition, there are documents relating to other family members, including photographs, news articles, correspondence, and deeds.

Addition (1996-0180) (75 items, dated 1959-1992) contains clippings, programs, reports, letters, photographs, and notes.

Addition (1999-0482) (4500 items, dated 1893-1996) contains personal, family, and business papers and correspondence documenting the Falkeners' life experiences and careers, as well as those of other family members.

Addition (2001-0099) (50 items, 0.1 linear feet; dated ca. 1959-2001 and n.d.) includes correspondence, obituaries, and newspaper articles further documenting Waldo Falkener's political work and his involvement in the civil rights movement in the Greensboro community. In addition there is correspondence relating to the life of Falkener's father, Henry Hall Falkener, also an active politician and public school teacher (ca. 1961-2001).

Addition (2001-0121) (50 items, 0.1 linear feet; dated 1960-1979) contains correspondence and newspaper articles received by Waldo Falkener or about Falkener during his term as Greensboro City Councilman and his re-election campaign (1960-1961). Also includes newspaper articles about Falkener's civic services and letters of appreciation (1972, 1979), as well as materials related to the successful campaign to name a Greensboro school after Falkener and his father (2001).

Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is restricted. Please consult the Detailed Description below and the Collection Control File.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Accessions 1996-0025 and 1996-0180 are included in this series description. This material includes some RESTRICTED items relating to Waldo Falkener's activities as a bondsman. Please consult the Collection Control File.

The Falkener Family: Portrait of Black Civic Leadership from the Mid-1800s to the Present
Box 1
News articles about the family
Box 1
Prince Hall Masons
Box 1
North Carolina A&T College
Box 1
Deed, 1895
Box 1
Mortgage, 1896
Box 1
News article about her
Box 1
Biographical sketch
Box 1
Correspondence
Box 1
Programs she participated in
Box 1
Bob Jordan for Governor campaign
Box 1
Centennial planning committee
Box 1
Democratic party correspondence
Box 1
1972 Democratic National Convention
Box 1
Finding Funding Conference, Sept. 17-19, 1987
Box 1
Frank Holder Dance Co. 10th Anniversary Gala
Box 1
Greensboro Historic District Commission
Box 1
Greensboro Historical Museum
Box 1
Girlfriends
Box 1
NC Museum of History
Box 1
YWCA
Box 1
Programs, general
Box 1
Photographs
Box 1
In Memorium
Box 1
News articles about him
Box 1
Programs he participated in
Box 1
Awards: Greensboro Men's Club, 1988
Box 1
Name badges
Box 1
Correspondence
Box 1
Greeting cards
Box 1
Campaign materials
Box 1
Campaign materials, 1959
Box 1
Campaign materials, 1961
Box 1
Campaign materials, 1963
Box 1
Campaign materials, 1963, testimonial dinner
(2 folders)
Box 1
Campaign materials, 1965
Box 1
Financial papers--cancelled checks
Box 1
American Federal Savings and Loan Association
Box 1
American Municipal Association, 1959
Box 1
American Municipal Association, 1961
Box 1
American Municipal Congress, 1961
Box 1
American Municipal Congress, 1962
Box 1
Black firefighters
Box 1
Bond maker
(2 folders)
Box 1
Conference of community leaders on Equal Employment Opportunity
Box 1
Door sign
Box 1
Greensboro City Council, 1959-1960
Box 1
Greensboro Planning Board, 1966 (retain street name: Dudley Street)
Box 1
Segregated golf facilities
Box 1
West African visitors, 1961
Box 1
Programs
Box 1
City Council Meeting Agendas

Includes agendas, minutes to be approved, planning documents and proposals, and commission reports for Greensboro City Council meetings. Also included are copies of the United States Municipal News, a newsletter by the U.S. Council of Mayors outlining municipal progress for the period.

(19 envelopes, 1 folder)
Box 1
City Council Meeting Agendas, cont.
(54 envelopes, 1 folder)
Box 2
City Council Meeting Agendas, cont.
(35 envelopes, 6 folders)
Box 3
City Council Meeting Agendas, cont.
(12 envelopes, 6 folders)
Box 4
Textile Labor
Box 4
Public Management
Box 4
Popular Government
Box 4
Misc. reports
(4 folders)
Box 4
Handbook on Boards and Commissions of the City of Greensboro, 1961?
Box 4
Misc., 1959
Box 4
Pamphlet No. 7, 1963 Advance Legislative Service to the General Statutes of North Carolina
Box 4
Proceedings of the American Municipal Congress, 1960
Box 4
Columbia University Bulletin 61, No. 7, February 18, 1961, Summer Session 1961
Box 4

The addition (2001-0099) (50 items, 0.1 linear feet; dated ca. 1959-2001 and n.d.) includes correspondence, obituaries, and newspaper articles further documenting Waldo Falkener's political work and his involvement in the Civil Rights movement in the Greensboro community. There is also correspondence relating to the life of Falkener's father, Henry Hall Falkener, an active politician and public school teacher (ca. 1961-2001).

Waldo Falkener and Henry Hall Falkener materials
Folder Acc. 01-099: 1

The addition (2001-0121) (50 items, 0.1 linear feet; dated 1960-1979) contains correspondence and newspaper articles received by Waldo Falkener or about Falkener during his term as Greensboro City Councilman and his re-election campaign (1960-1961). Also includes newspaper articles about Falkener's civic services and letters of appreciation (1972, 1979), as well as materials related to the successful campaign to name a Greensboro school after Falkener and his father (2001).

Waldo Falkener materials
Folder Acc. 01-121: 1

Historical Note

Waldo and Margaret Falkener were descendents from a well-established African-American family based in Greensboro (Guildford Co.), North Carolina. The Falkener family was involved in the Ohio abolitionist and underground railroad movements during the Civil War. Through the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they were active lawyers, teachers, and community leaders.

Waldo C. Falkener, a black civil rights activist in Greensboro, first began lobbying the city for equal rights in the 1940s. His demand for African Americans to have access to Greensboro's public golf courses led to the city's closing the courses in 1949. Falkener was elected to the Greensboro City Council in 1959, and was the only black member of the Greensboro City Council during the 1960 Woolworth's lunch counter sit-ins. While on the council, Falkener pursued better roads, public utilities, recreational facilities, and more public employment. After his second term, Falkener worked as a bail bondsmen and real estate developer. He died in 1992 at age 89.

His wife, Margaret Evelyn Evans Falkener, was born in 1919 to Robert and Lillie Evans of Salisbury, North Carolina. She attended Talladega College in Alabama, graduating in 1940. Margaret and Waldo married on January 23, 1942, and eventually had three children. Along with her husband, Margaret was also politically active in the Democratic Party, and was a member of numerous civic groups in Greensboro, including the AKA Sorority, Greensboro United Way, Greensboro Girl Scouts, Jack and Jill of America, Inc, and The Girlfriends. Margaret Falkener died in 2004.

Waldo Falkener's parents were active community members in central North Carolina. His mother, Margaret Mitchell Falkener, was born in 1870 in Oberlin, Ohio. She attended Oberlin College, moved to North Carolina to teach, and married Henry Hall Falkener in 1892. Henry Falkener was born in Warren City and attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was a schoolteacher in the 1880s. He was elected to the North Carolina State Senate and served from January to March 1889 as a representative of Warren County. Following his term, a new North Carolina law requiring a poll tax and literacy test for all voters went into effect, essentially ending the black vote and any chance for his re-election. (It was 80 years before another black representative was elected to North Carolina's state government.) After 1889, he worked at the newly established A&M College for the Colored Race (now North Carolina A&T) as a bursar, librarian, and English professor. Meanwhile, Margaret Mitchell Falkener founded the music department at A&M College in 1894, where she taught piano. She later became the first woman supervisor of Guilford County's black schools. Margaret was an organizing member of Unified Institutional Baptist Church, a founder of the county's first black garden club, and was a member of the Federation of Colored Women's Clubs of North Carolina. They had five sons, including Waldo.

Margaret Mitchell Falkener's younger brother, George Henry Mitchell, was born in Washington, D.C., in 1875, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended Shaw University for a Bachelor of Laws in 1899, and then went to University of New York for his Master of Laws. He was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1900, and moved to Greensboro in 1902. George Henry Mitchell was the first black attorney in Greensboro, and became the first president of the North Carolina Negro Bar Association. Along with his law career, Falkener was a real estate developer and published a weekly paper, The Carolina Patriot, with William Windsor. He married his first wife, Maude M. Wood, in 1903; they had one son, George Junior. Maude died in 1907. George Mitchell later married Lucy C. Smith, of Chattanooga, and they had five children.

Margaret and George Mitchell's father, George W. Mitchell, was a professor of Latin and Greek at Howard University. He also practiced law. Their mother, Alvira Scott, was the daughter of abolitionist John H. Scott, of Oberlin, Ohio. Scott was active in Oberlin's anti-slavery movement, and at one point had led a protest at a jail to free 15 of Oberlin's black residents who had been called before the U.S. District Court to answer charges of infringment of Fugitive Slave Laws. He also attended Oberlin College.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Falkener Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Falkener Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift, beginning in 1996.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff, 1999

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, December 2010

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.

Accessions in this finding aid: 1996-0025, 1996-0180, 1999-0482, 2001-0099, 2001-0121.