Menu

Guide to the Bassett Affair Collection, 1903 - 2003

Abstract

The Bassett Affair is a celebrated case that helped establish the concept of academic freedom in higher education in the United States and is a benchmark incident in race relations in the South. John Spencer Bassett, a Trinity College professor, published a series of articles in the South Atlantic Quarterly (1903) that praised the accomplishments of African Americans and offered views on how to improve race relations. A campaign to remove Bassett from the faculty was thwarted by a vote of support for Bassett from the University's Board of Trustees on Dec. 2, 1903. The collection contains essays, articles, clippings, correspondence, reminiscences, and other published and unpublished matter including Bassett's article, Stirring Up the Fires of Race Antipathy (1903); a scrapbook, 1903-1904, kept by Trinity College officials with newspaper clippings documenting national coverage the case received; copies of letters by Theodore Roosevelt to Owen Wister (1906) commenting on the case and on Trinity; manuscripts of My Recollections of the Bassett Trial, by Robert Lee Durham (1936), The Bassett Affair: A Play in Six Acts, by Baird Straughan (1975), and Crisis at Trinity a play by John Merritt (1989); lists of related materials in other collections; various shorter articles and speeches including comments by Richard L. Watson and an address to the Academic Council by Terry Sanford; and materials from the centennial celebration of the Bassett Affair, collected by University Archives staff.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Bassett Affair collection, 1903 - 2003
Creator
Duke University. University Archives.
Extent
2.0 Linear Feet , 300 Items
Repository
University Archives, Duke University
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Language
English.

Collection Overview

The collection contains essays, articles, clippings, correspondence, reminiscences, and other published and unpublished matter including Bassett's article, "Stirring Up the Fires of Race Antipathy" (1903); a scrapbook, 1903-1904, kept by Trinity College officials with newspaper clippings documenting national coverage the case received; copies of letters by Theodore Roosevelt to Owen Wister (1906) commenting on the case and on Trinity; manuscripts of "My Recollections of the Bassett Trial," by Robert Lee Durham (1936), "The Bassett Affair: A Play in Six Acts," by Baird Straughan (1975), and "Crisis at Trinity" a play by John Merritt (1989); lists of related materials in other collections; various shorter articles and speeches including comments by Richard L. Watson and an address to the Academic Council by Terry Sanford; and materials from the centennial celebration of the Bassett Affair, collected by University Archives staff.

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

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

No restrictions.

warning Use Restrictions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

John S. Bassett, Stirring Up the Fires of Race Antipathy, South Atlantic Quarterly, Oct. 1903, (copy)
Box 1 Folder 1
Description of the John Spencer Bassett papers at the Library of Congress, 1995
Box 1 Folder 2
Bassett Affair Scrapbook, 1903-1904, (copies)
Box 1 Folder 3-5
Robert Lee Durham, My Recollections of the Bassett Trial, 1936
Box 1 Folder 6
E.C. Perrow, Report on the meeting of the Board of Trustees held on Dec. 1, 1903
Box 1 Folder 7
Baird Straughan, The Bassett Affair: A Play in Six Scenes, [1975]
Box 1 Folder 8
John Merritt, Crisis at Trinity: A Play in Two Acts, 1989
Box 1 Folder 9
Theodore Roosevelt's letters to Owen Wister, 1906, (copies)
Box 1 Folder 10
Harry Jackson's Reason Against Racism: A Primer on Academic Freedom, [1978], (manuscript)
Box 1 Folder 11
Correspondence and speeches
Box 1 Folder 12
Clippings
Box 1 Folder 13-14
Related material
Box 1 Folder 15
Centennial Celebration, 2003

The centennial celebration of the Bassett Affair included a number of events held on the Duke University campus. This folder includes material collected by University Archives staff. It includes an article from the Herald Sun; a five part series of articles published in the Chronicle; a calendar of events; and speakers' notes from Robert Durden and William Chafe, who were part of a panel discussion entitled "The Bassett Affair After a Century," sponsored by the History Dept.

Box 1 Folder 16
Scrapbook of clippings related to the Bassett affair, 1903-1904, 62 pages
Box 2

Historical Note

The Bassett Affair is a celebrated case that helped establish the concept of academic freedom in higher education in the United States and is a benchmark incident in race relations in the South. John Spencer Bassett, a Trinity College professor, published a series of articles in the South Atlantic Quarterly (1903) that praised the accomplishments of African Americans and offered views on how to improve race relations. A campaign to remove Bassett from the faculty was thwarted by a vote of support for Bassett from the University's Board of Trustees on Dec. 2, 1903.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • John Spencer Bassett Papers. (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.)
  • John Spencer Bassett Papers. (University Archives, Duke University. )
  • B.N. Duke Papers. (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. )
  • John C. Kilgo Papers. (University Archives, Duke University. )
  • James Southgate Papers. (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. )

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Bassett Affair Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Bassett Affair Collection was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1979 (A79-39), 1996 (A96-2). University Archives staff added material about the centennial celebration of the Bassett Affair in 2003.

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Daniel

Completed July 21, 2003

Encoded by Linda Daniel, July 21, 2003

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.