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Guide to the Booker T. Washington correspondence, 1903-1916, 1933 and undated

Abstract

American educator, born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. Founder and president of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Collection comprises correspondence and related material concerning the Carnegie Hall conference (January 6-8, 1904) and the subsequent formation of the Committee of Twelve for the Advancement of the Negro Race by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. The letters in the collection document the Committee of Twelve's work, contain commentary on the status of African Americans, and detail Washington's relationships with many of the key African American leaders of his day. The most striking is Washington's correspondence with W.E.B. Du Bois, where the tension and ideological conflict between the two men is clearly demonstrated. Other prominent correspondents include Charles W. Chestnutt, John S. Durham, Thomas Fortune, Marcus Garvey, Archibald Grimké; Francis J. Grimké, James Weldon Johnson, Judson W. Lyons, Fredrick L. McGhee, Whitefield McKinlay, Kelly Miller, Robert R. Moton, Charles W. Russell, Emmett J. Scott, and Alexander Walters. 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
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
Title
Booker T. Washington correspondence 1903-1916, 1933 and undated
Language of Material
English
Extent
.5 Linear Feet, 107 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The collection comprises over 90 pieces of correspondence and related materials concerning the Carnegie Hall Conference (January 6-8, 1904) and the subsequent formation of the Committee of Twelve for the Advancement of the Interest of the Negro Race. The conference was a critical event in the early history of the African American civil rights movement. It was organized by Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, and it brought together many of the most prominent African American leaders in the United States. The Committee broke up in 1905 due to differences between the leaders.

The letters in the collection provide documentary evidence for the Committee of Twelve's evolution and work, as well as commentary on the status of African Americans. They detail Washington's relationships with many of the key African American leaders of his day. The most striking is Washington's correspondence with W.E.B. Du Bois, where the tension and ideological conflict between the two men is clearly demonstrated. Other prominent correspondents include Charles W. Chestnutt, John S. Durham, Thomas Fortune, Marcus Garvey, Archibald Grimké; Francis J. Grimké, James Weldon Johnson, Judson W. Lyons, Fredrick L. McGhee, Whitefield McKinlay, Kelly Miller, Robert R. Moton, Charles W. Russell, Emmett J. Scott, and Alexander Walters.

Other materials in the collection include copies of the pamphlet Why disfranchisement is bad (July 1904); a photocopy of and a copy of the original article, The estimate of an eminent Virginian of the merit of the book THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN; and a poem, The Empty Sleeve.

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

Original correspondence is closed to use; copies are available for access.

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. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.

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

The bulk of the correspondence relates to the Carnegie Hall Conference (January 6-8, 1904) and the subsequent formation of the Committee of Twelve, as well as issues that arose from these events. The letters in the collection provide documentary evidence for these events, as well as commentaries on the status of African Americans. They detail Washington's relationships with many of the key African-American leaders of his day. Additionally, there are a few letters that are unrelated to B. T. Washington, but are specific to other leading figures from the African diaspora in the Americas.

Original correspondence is closed to use. Access copies are available in the collection.

Whitefield McKinlay to Booker T. Washington, 15 February 1903, Washington, DC, 2 pages

McKinlay speaks of his meeting with the President during which they did not reach a compromise; he suggests they force a formal vote in the Senate.

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Judson W. Lyons to Washington, 16 February 1903, Washington, DC, 1 page

Lyons agrees to attend conference proposed by Washington.

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Kelly Miller to Washington, 17 February 1903, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller agrees to participate in conference treating "the situation which confronts our race"; suggests that each participant pay his own expenses.

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W. E. B. DuBois to Washington, 20 February 1903, Atlanta, 1 page

DuBois regrets that Washington has invited Mr. Fortune to attend conference; proposes that Washington write directly to Mr. Morgan.

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DuBois to Washington, 25 February 1903, Atlanta, 1 page

DuBois requests a list of conference attendees.

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DuBois to Washington, 20 March 1903, Atlanta, 1 page

DuBois requests that conference take place in March rather than April.

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Fortune to Washington, 31 October 1903, Red Bank, New Jersey, 4 pages

Fortune encourages Washington to clarify his positions on "industrial and higher education" as well as on "the Southern disfranchising constitutions and our measure of political activity." Fortune also refers to Mr. Scott and a tentative plan for financial support.

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McKinlay to Washington, 2 November 1903, Washington, DC, 1 page

McKinlay will try to arrange the conference and agrees that it should be kept secret; McKinlay supports idea of Washington's delivering an address at the conference.

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DuBois to Washington, 3 November 1903, Atlanta, 1 page

DuBois approves circular letter and suggests names to be invited.

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Miller to Washington, 3 November 1903, Washington, DC, 2 pages

Miller agrees to attend New York conference; Miller requests that Washington be present at sociological conference in Washington as his presence will be vital.

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Lyons to Washington, 4 November 1903, Washington, DC, 1 page

Lyons urges them not to make any political mistakes due to upcoming presidential election; agrees to Washington's proposed meeting if it abides by party efforts.

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Washington to DuBois, 5 November 1903, location unknown, 2 pages

Washington requests DuBois's opinion as to whether to invite Bishop Turner or Bishop Holsey to New York conference; he suggests they invite a representative from Texas; Washington is making arrangements for their reception in Chicago.

Published in: Harlan, Louis R. and Raymond W. Smock, eds., The Booker T. Washington Papers. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1977. Vol.7, p. 331-332 NB: Their version includes a postscript not in the Rubenstein Library copy.

Source: TL; W.E.B. DuBois Papers; U of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Washington to Lyons, 8 November 1903, location unknown, 1 page

Washington regrets that Lyons views conference as a danger to their party's success; he would like Lyons to represent their political interests at conference and requests that he confirm his presence or absence at said conference.

Published in: Harlan, Louis R. and Raymond W. Smock, eds., The Booker T. Washington Papers. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1977. Vol.7, p. 338

Source: TLcarbon; BTW Papers; Tuskegee Institute, Alabama

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Washington to DuBois, 8 November 1903, location unknown, 2 pages

Washington requests DuBois's opinions on whom else to invite to New York conference; He also warns that since many blacks live in the South, they must invite Southern men who can speak of the Southern experience firsthand.

Published in: Harlan, Louis R. and Raymond W. Smock, Eds. The Booker T. Washington Papers. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1977. Vol. 7, p. 339

Source: TLS; W.E.B. DuBois Papers; U of Massachusetts, Amherst

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DuBois to Washington (part of signature torn off), 14 November 1903, Atlanta, 1 page

DuBois declines to give further advice "which will not be followed"; requests to see final list of invitees.

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McKinlay to Washington, 16 November 1903, Washington, 1 page

McKinlay met with Carruthers, who now wishes to meet with Washington.

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Washington to McKinlay, 18 November 1903, New York City, 1 page

Washington agrees to meet with Carruthers; he will meet with Hayes and Fortune; he is pleased that McKinlay has met with Dr. Grimke and hopes that the latter will attend January conference.

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Washington to Francis J. Grimke, 19 November 1903, New York City, 3 pages

Washington invites Grimke to attend New York conference to be held January 6-8, 1904.

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Washington to Clement G. Morgan, 19 November 1903, New York City, 3 pages

Neither place nor date indicated on this letter, but its text is exactly the same as that sent to Grimke on 19 November 1903 from New York.

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Washington to Grimke, 22 November 1903, New York City, 2 pages

As per Grimke's request, Washington encloses list of conference attendees; he briefly explains how he chose invitees.

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Washington to Fortune, 22 November 1903, New York City, 1 page (incomplete?)

Washington justifies decision to invite Lyons and not Pledger to attend conference; also explains reasons for not inviting A.D. Griffin and Gov. Pinchback.

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Grimke to Washington, 25 November 1903, Washington, DC, 2 pages

In response to Washington's request, Grimke suggests a few names to invite to conference.

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R.R. Moton to Washington, 25 November 1903, Hampton, Virginia, 1 page

Moton accepts invitation to attend January conference.

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E.C. Morris to Washington, 25 November 1903, Helena, Arkansas, 1 page

Morris not sure he can attend January conference, though expresses desire to aid in any way.

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Washington to Grimke, 26 November 1903, Boston, 1 page

Washington wishes to confirm receipt of list of conference attendees.

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Washington to Morris, 1 December 1903, location unknown, 1 page

Washington stresses importance of Morris's presence at January conference.

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Morris to Washington, 8 December 1903, Helena, Arkansas, 1 page

Morris will try to rearrange schedule so that he may attend conference.

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Frederick L. McGhee to Washington, 22 December 1903, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2 pages

McGhee reluctant to attend conference due to workload, but will travel to NYC if Washington feels his presence to be necessary.

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Hayes to Washington, 22 December 1903, Richmond, Virginia, 1 page

Hayes had hoped to see Washington during his recent trip to NYC; he will attend conference in January; he wishes to meet with Washington in person.

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John S. Durham to Washington, 26 December 1903, Havana, 2 pages

Author regrets that he received Washington's letter too late to write to Morris, but hopes to bring the two men together some day; author refers to his continued work in Havana, the likelihood of Roosevelt as candidate, and a recent agitation at Trinity College as reported in Raleigh's newspaper, The News and Observer.

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Barry to Washington, 2 January 1904, New York City, 1 page

Letter in reference to Washington's booking of rooms for conference.

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Washington to DuBois, 2 January 1904, Tuskegee, Alabama, 2 pages

Washington, against his own inclination, has followed DuBois's advice and invited Archibald Grimke to conference.

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Miller to Washington, 20 January 1904, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller will request that Browne make a copy of proceedings and forward it to Washington; Miller concerned that conferees have broken pledge of secrecy.

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Washington to Fortune, 23 January 1904, location unknown, 1 page

Washington asks Fortune to write to Judge and Mrs. Terrell explaining why there were not included in New York conference.

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DuBois to Browne, 26 January (1904?), Atlantic City, 1 page

Due to illness, DuBois cannot attend St. Louis conference.

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Washington to Manning, 2 February 1904, location unknown, 1 page

Washington wishes to meet with Manning in person in reference to the latter's recent editorial concerning the New York conference.

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Washington to Scott, 8 July 1904, South Weymouth, Massachusetts, 1 page

Washington reports a satisfactory meeting of the Committee of Twelve, despite DuBois's absence.

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DuBois to Hugh Browne, 13 July 1904, Des Moines, 1 page

DuBois informs Brown that he did not know of July 6th meeting.

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Washington to Browne, 15 July 1904, South Weymouth, Massachusetts, 2 pages

Washington confirms knowledge of Grimke's resignation and requests suggestions for his replacement.

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Washington to Browne, 21 July 1904, South Weymouth, Massachusetts, 1 page

Washington requests that Browne inform DuBois about previous notices sent to him and the group's disappointment in him.

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DuBois to Browne, 1 August 1904, Des Moines, 1 page

DuBois resigns from Committee of Twelve.

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Washington to Browne, 14 August 1904, South Weymouth, Massachusetts, 1 page

Washington asks Browne to inform DuBois that no one can accept his resignation; the latter remains a member of the committee until its next meeting; Washington also requests Browne's opinion as to when to hold their next meeting.

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Browne to Washington, 18 August 1904, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne requests that the Committee of Twelve meet in September to appoint the executive committee; he has notified DuBois and Grimke that only the Committee can accept their resignations.

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Miller to Washington, 22 September 1904, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller suggests that Ogden gather support of Southern men; he regrets DuBois's resignation; he congratulates Washington's securing of $200,000 for his institution.

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Washington to Browne, 18 October 1904, Tuskegee, 1 page

Washington supports Browne's idea to have their work reported in newspapers, but suspects nothing will be written until after upcoming election.

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Browne to Washington, 17 November 1904, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne reports on those supporting publication of Grimke's article.

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DuBois to Browne, 17 November 1904, Atlanta, 1 pages

DuBois refuses all connections with the Committee of Twelve.

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Washington to Browne, 28 December 1904, Tuskegee, 1 page

Washington praises Browne's work on circulars; reports that he and Miller have met with Ogden and "other white people" in NYC.

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Miller to Washington, 4 January 1905, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller will heed Washington's advice to postpone meeting with religious leaders, though he is in favor of still holding said meeting.

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Browne to Washington, 7 February 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 2 pages

Browne requests Washington's presence at dedicatory reception at the Institute for Colored Youth; he suggests that the Committee of Twelve meet again in March; he comments upon Washington's kind suggestion and willingness to promote the Institute's summer school for teachers.

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Browne to Washington, 17 February 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne suggests that the Committee of Twelve meet again March 9th in New York.

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Browne to Washington, 22 February 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne requests Washington's opinion on enclosure (not included); also requests place and time of day for meeting to be held March 9th.

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Washington to Miller, 7 March 1905, New York City, 1 page

Washington requests Miller's presence at meeting March 10th.

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Washington to Miller, 8 March 1905, New York City, 1 page

Washington requests Miller to arrive on earliest train.

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Miller to Washington, telegram, 8 March 1905, Washington, 1 page

Miller responds that he cannot come until Friday night or Saturday morning.

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Morris to Washington, 21 March 1905, Helena, Arkansas, 1 page

Morris cannot attend planned conference in July, and suggests they change date to August; requests that Washington speak to the President concerning the difficulties of young black men entering politics.

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Washington to Miller, 31 March 1905, New York City, 1 page

Washington suggests plan to make their work known to a broader audience.

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Washington to Miller, 17 May 1905, location unknown, 1 page

(Signature extremely faded due to water stain.) Washington suggests they postpone Hampton conference.

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Browne to Committee, 24 May 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 3 pages

Browne lists resolutions passed at last meeting of the Committee of Twelve as well as updates on their progress.

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Browne to Washington, 25 May 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne wishes Washington to read and approve aforementioned form letter.

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Miller to Washington, 3 June 1905, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller agrees to postponement of meeting; inquires as to acceptance of Chesnutt and McGee to join Committee.

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Browne to Washington, 8 August 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne would like to set meeting to see Washington; he has forwarded him twenty copies of the pamphlet What a Colored Man Should Do to Vote.

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Alexander Walters to Washington, 6 September 1905, Jersey City, New Jersey, 2 pages

Walters reports surprising success of Council and those who attended.

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Browne to Washington, 23 September 1905, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page (incomplete)

Browne reports on several business matters: he encloses proceedings from previous meeting of the Committee of Twelve (see below); Grimke's letter is ready; names have been collected as suggested by Chestnutt; he will call meeting for religious group; he will meet with Maryland people concerning disfranchisement.

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I. Garland Penn to Washington, 4 October 1905, Atlanta, 2 pages

Penn writes concerning the last meeting and future meeting of the Negro Young Peoples' Christian and Educational Congress; he requests Washington's support of their program.

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Washington to Miller, 7 October 1905, location unknown, 1 page

Washington prefers to postpone their meeting with religious leaders until Miller returns from West Indies.

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Penn to Washington, 25 November 1905, Atlanta, 1 page

Penn wishes to hold meeting of the Executive committee on January 3rd as planned.

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Penn to Washington, 9 December 1905, Atlanta, 1 page

Penn announces change of date for meeting of Executive Committee.

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Miller to Washington, 15 December 1905, Washington, DC, 2 pages

Miller proposes topics to discuss with religious leaders as well as names of certain religious leaders.

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Penn to Washington, 26 December 1905, South Atlanta, 1 page

Penn has arranged meeting of the executive committee.

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Penn to Washington, 29 December 1905, South Atlanta, 1 page

Penn agrees to allow a member of the Committee of Twelve to report on their work at his upcoming meeting in Washington, DC.

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Morris to Washington, 5 January 1906, Helena, Arkansas, 2 pages

Morris can meet with Committee of Twelve in February; suggests holding meeting of religious leaders in August; Morris reminds Washington of his pledge to assist as liaison between National Baptist Convention and the President.

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Grimke to Washington, 5 January 1906, Washington, DC, 1 page

Grimke accepts proposal to postpone meeting of the Committee of Twelve.

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Browne to Washington, 18 January 1906, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 2 pages

Browne suggests they postpone meeting between the Executive Committee of the Negro Young People's Christian and Educational Congress and the Committee of Twelve.

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Browne to Washington, 18 January 1906, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne writes to inform Washington of Frederick McGhee's refusal to join Committee of Twelve; he has enclosed McGhee's letter to that effect (not included).

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Miller to Washington, 19 January 1906, Washington, DC, 2 pages

Miller proposes they send a man to Washington to advise them of congressional activities.

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Miller to Washington, 28 January 1906, Washington, DC, 2 pages

Miller cannot remain in New York to meet with Committee of Twelve; Miller and McKinlay have just met with Sen. Dolliver concerning railroad travel measures.

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Miller to Washington, 31 January 1906, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller can now remain in town for Committee of Twelve meeting.

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Miller to Washington, 6 February 1906, Washington, DC, 2 pages (part of page 2 missing)

Miller and Grimke have engaged H.W. Blair to "watch every move" concerning the railroads rate bill in Congress; Miller requests a check for $150 to pay him.

Published in: Harlan, Louis R., Raymond W. Smock, and Geraldine McTigue, eds., The Booker T. Washington Papers. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1979. Vol. 8, p. 517-518.

Source: TLS representation Copy; BTW Papers; Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.

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Miller to Washington, 6 October 1906, Washington, DC, 1 page

Miller will prepare draft of resolutions for next meeting; reference to "Joseph" not serving their people.

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Frissell to Miller, 25 October 1906, Hampton, Virginia, 1 page

Frissell believes Miller is mistaken about a meeting in Hampton of the Committee of Twelve.

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Browne to Washington, 26 October 1906, Cheyney, Pennsylvania, 1 page

Browne comments upon scheduling of meeting between Committee of Twelve along with Northern and Southern white men.

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Miller to Washington, 28 October 1906, Washington, DC, 1 page (left margin missing)

Miller forwards Frissell's letter and suggests they accommodate Buttrick and Frissell.

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Chestnutt to Browne, 21 November 1907, Cleveland, 2 pages

Chestnutt refers to Carnegie's address and tells of his own disgust with Southern politics and their depriving the black man the right to vote.

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Washington to Browne, 26 May 1908, Tuskegee, Alabama, 1 page

Washington proposes to send Dudley Woodard to conduct study on African Americans and progress in Jackson, Mississippi.

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Washington to Browne, 8 September 1908, Tuskegee, Alabama, 2 pages

Washington disagrees with Browne and supports work in Baltimore.

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Chestnutt to Browne, 23 October 1908, Cleveland, 1 page

Chestnutt agrees with Committee in seeking Carnegie's support.

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Fortune to Browne, 6 November 1908, New York City, 1 page

Fortune does not object to findings in recent report.

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Miller to Browne, 19 December 1908, Washington, DC, 7 pages

Letter refers to "Mr. Taft's policies regarding the Negro." As there are numerous handwritten corrections, perhaps this was a copy given to Washington to edit?

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Miller to Browne, 29 December 1908, Washington, DC, 2 pages

Miller objects to Browne's tone in previous letter; otherwise, he does not object to the publication of Carnegie's address.

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Charles W. Russell to Daniel Murray, 1 February 1909, Washington, DC, 1 page

Russell reports that he has just found addressee's previous letter; comments upon convict lease system.

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Murray to Browne, 5 February 1909, Washington, DC, 1 page

Murray sends Russell's report on peonage to Browne.

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Murphy to Washington, 8 February 1909, Baltimore, 2 pages

Murphy, a printer, encourages Washington to hire African American-owned printing firms to print materials issued by the Committee of Twelve.

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Washington to Murphy, 19 February 1909, Tuskegee, 1 pages

Washington agrees with Murphy's suggestion and encourages him to correspond directly with the Committee's secretary, Browne; he adds that so far they have been unable to find an African American-owned firm capable of printing vast quantities with good quality.

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Chestnutt to Browne, 26 February 1909, Cleveland, 1 page

Chestnutt has no objection to providing Commissioner of Education with names and addresses of the members of the Committee of Twelve.

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C.A. Coleman to Browne, 30 April 1910, Toano, Virginia, 1 page

Coleman requests pamphlet Why disfranchisement is bad.

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Marcus Garvey to Major R. Moton, 29 February 1916, Kingston, Jamaica, 8 pages

(Photocopy) Garvey, a native to Jamaica, enlightens Moton on African American and native life in his home country.

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James Weldon Johnson to Alice Marie Jones, 23 January 1933, Nashville, 1 page

(Photocopy) Johnson explains origins of Lift every voice and sing.

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Natalie Curtis to Browne, 21 May (year unknown), New York City, 2 pages

Curtis requests copy of pamphlet on "Negro question."

Box 1

Mainly contains printed material such as pamphlets and articles that deal with racial issues in the early 20th century. There are also two items specific to the Committee of Twelve.

Pamphlet: Why disfranchisement is bad by Archibald H. Grimke, Atlantic Monthly (original), 1904 July
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Pamphlet: Why disfranchisement is bad by Archibald H. Grimke (photocopy), 1904 July
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Poem: The empty sleeve, undated
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Preface to Why disfranchisement is bad by Archibald H. Grimke, undated
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Program from conference, New York, undated
Box 1
Suggestions for Committee of Twelve, undated
Box 1
The estimate of an eminent Virginian of the merit of the book 'The White Man's Burden' (original), undated
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The estimate of an eminent Virginian of the merit of the book 'The White Man's Burden' (photocopy), undated
Box 1

Historical Note

Booker Taliaferro Washington, American educator, civil rights advocate, author, writer, and orator, was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia, April 5, 1856. Founder and president of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama (1881), Washington was a spokesman for the post-Reconstruction conservative viewpoint among African Americans who favored self-improvement, industrial education, and acquiescence to segregation, rather than agitation for more extensive civil and political rights. W.E.B. DuBois criticized this stance and called Washington "The Great Accommodator." Among Washington's written works are My life and work (1900), and Up from slavery (1901), The man farthest down (1912), and many articles and speeches. Following a sudden health crisis in New York City, Washington died in Tuskegee, Alabama on November 14, 1915, at the age of 59.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Booker T. Washington Correspondence, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Booker T. Washington correspondence was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2002.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff

Encoded by Jessica Carew and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, May 2014

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2002-0221

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

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant