The Jim Crow Era

One of the cornerstone collections from this era is "Behind the Veil: African American Life in the Jim Crow South," a project conducted by the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies that includes 1,200 interviews. In addition, materials listed in this survey as "Post-World War II" are sometimes relevant to the Jim Crow era — most notably the Fannie B. Rosser Papers, the Clydie Fullwood Scarborough Papers, the Asa Timothy Spaulding Papers and the Gordon Blaine Hancock papers.

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African American Photograph Collection, ca.1890-1930 and n.d.

Chiefly single portraits of African American adults, with a few images of children. Images document African American life, particularly dress and hairstyles for various time periods in American history.

African American Theater and Minstrel Show Advertisements, 1888 and n.d.

Mostly advertisements for minstrel shows, plays and musicals. With few exceptions, black actors and actresses comprise show casts.

Andrew Arthur papers, 1904-1951

Andrew Arthur was a farmer and church worker in Dallas County, Ala., during the first half of the 20th century. The ledgers and correspondence comprising this small collection pertain mostly to religious and civic organizations to which Arthur belonged.

Anson County (N.C.) Tax Lists, 1903-1906

Tax records for towns in Anson County list county, state, school and road taxes paid by whites and blacks. Full data entered in separate columns comprise a 4-year series, 1903-1906.

"Behind The Veil: Documenting African American Life in The Jim Crow South," 1940-1997 (bulk 1993-1997)

The "Behind the Veil" oral history project was undertaken by Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies between 1993 and 1997. The collection consists chiefly of 1,260 interviews recorded on cassette tapes of African American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s. The printed materials with the collection include biographical information about informants, interview agreement forms, proper names sheets, brief summaries on the interviews and transcripts of approximately 90 interviews.

Michael Francis Blake photographs, 1912-1934. (digitzed content)

Michael Francis Blake was one of Charleston, S.C.'s first African American studio photographers. The Michael Francis Blake Photographs Collection consists of 117 photographs of men, women and children that were taken between 1912-1934.

Cowherd Family photographs, ca. 1900-1922

Early 20th-century photographs of an African American family from the Ohio River valley. Primarily featured are the women in the family in a range of settings, from informal poses around the house to formal, and sometimes, elaborate studio portraits. Individuals in photos are largely unidentified.

Davis Family papers, 1876-2004

The collection includes photograph albums, loose photographs and writings documenting the history of the African American Davis family in Hampton, Va., from the 1930s to the 1950s as well as family members at later points. It also includes materials related to family history and genealogy that span the period from 1876 to the 1920s.

Minnie Gribble Donnell letters and membership ard, 1906-1941

This small collection offers a glimpse into the life of Minnie Gribble Donnell, a member in good standing of the North Carolina Negro Teachers' Association. Several letters reveal family relationships and concerns — indicating that her family was active in the First Efland Presbyterian Church and that she had a son on the faculty of Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black college in Charlotte, N.C.

Duke University Oral History Program Collection

Audio cassette tapes (approximately 325) and transcripts, chiefly concerning the civil rights movement in North Carolina during the 1950s and 1960s, including sit-ins in Durham. Other tapes focus on race relations in Oklahoma during the Tulsa race riot of 1921. Interviews conducted between 1973 and 1978.

Dykes Family Papers, 1942-1945

Collection comprises 69 items, primarily regular letters mailed to Lawyer and Hattie Dykes by their brothers, Leo Dykes and Benjamin J. Peavy, from their military posts during World War II. Subjects common to both sets of letters include the weather, often hotter than both men are accustomed to in Ohio; pay and the recognition of the stability it affords; leave and plans for it; entertainment offered at the base; each man's war fatigue; and family news and greetings.

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Gordon Blaine Hancock papers, 1928-1970

The papers of Gordon Blaine Hancock — clergyman, journalist, educator and civil rights spokesman — relates primarily to Hancock's efforts to increase opportunities for African Americans. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hancock became an outspoken leader in the struggle for racial equality, speaking at more than 40 black and white colleges and universities. He launched a one-man crusade under his "double-duty dollar" philosophy in 1933, contending that blacks should create an economy within their own communities, thereby providing jobs and better economic opportunities.

Elizabeth Johnson Harris memoir, ca. 1922

Memoir of Elizabeth Johnson Harris, born in 1867 of ex-slave parents in Augusta, Ga. The memoir provides information on the black community in Augusta as connected to the Rock of Ages Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (C.M.E.) and the Church of the Good Shepherd, a white church that provided Sunday school instruction for black children.

Rencher Nicholas Harris papers, 1926-1965 (digitized content)

Rencher Nicholas Harris (1900-1965) was an African American businessman and civic leader of Durham, N.C. The Rencher Nicholas Harris Papers span the years from 1851 to 1980, with the bulk dating from 1926 to 1965. The collection consists mainly of materials relating to Harris' work in political and educational affairs in Durham in the 1950s and early 1960s as a member of the Durham City Council and the Durham School Board; his career in banking, insurance, and real estate as an official of the Bankers' Fire Insurance Company; and his civic activities.

Thaddeus Ellis Harris papers, 1916-1933

Correspondence, legal and financial papers of attorney in McDowell County, W.Va. Legal and financial papers include insurance policies, deeds, receipts, promissory notes and petitions for divorce and parole. There are also several warm and affectionate letters from Ellis's wife Mary which include references to the couple's teenage daughter, as well as domestic chores and community relations.

Viola Hill papers, 1909-1948 and n.d. (bulk 1916-1928)

Viola Hill was an African American coloratura soprano of Philadelphia, Pa. and recipient of Certificate of Proficiency in Music from the University of Pennsylvania. The collection includes correspondence, recital programs, sheet music, clippings, business cards, notes, music tablets, publicity materials, bills and receipts and pedagogical materials.

Charles N. Hunter papers, 1818-1931 (digitzed content)

Personal and professional papers of Charles N. Hunter of Raleigh, N.C., educator and editor who was prominent in the effort to provide better educational facilities for black students and who was instrumental in winning the construction of several schools for black children. In addition to correspondence concerning Hunter's family life and personal finances, the collection includes 17 scrapbooks containing clippings and other items on race relations and the social, political and economic affairs of black Americans. Included, for example, is material on temperance and the challenges faced by blacks following the Civil War.

Thomas S. Imborden Mimeograph of a typescript, 1934

History of the Brick School, Bricks (Halifax Co.), N.C., a school for blacks, whose benefactress was Mrs. Joseph Keasby Brewster-Brick of New York. The history was written by its principal, T. S. Imborden, describing the development and improvement of the school.

William Horton Peace Jenkins papers, 1845-1925

Predominately a collection of public school records for Granville County, N.C., where Jenkins was superintendent of public instruction from 1881 through 1895. Records provide a wealth of information on conditions in the schools.

Alice J. Cutright Kaine papers, 1864-1947

Correspondence, writings, printed materials and photographs chiefly concerning Kaine's administrative work at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala., during the 1890s. Kaine's letters home to Milwaukee describe Washington's management style and educational philosophy, Kaine's interaction with the Washington children and her numerous forays into the homes and churches of Tuskegee.

Lincoln Hospital Records, 1901-1988

Lincoln Hospital was a Durham hospital established in 1901 by Dr. Aaron Moore, Dr. Stanford Warren and John Merrick to serve African Americans in the area. The Lincoln Hospital Records primarily comprise the institution's administrative and medical files. The collection as a whole documents the bi-racial cooperation that was involved in establishing, running and maintaining the institution and outlines the collaboration between Lincoln Hospital, Watts Hospital and the Duke University School of Medicine.

Hugh Mangum photographs, 1890-1922 (digitized content)

The Hugh Mangum Photographs collection dates from approximately 1890 to 1922 and contains 689 glass plate negatives of portrait photographs taken by Hugh Mangum as he traveled a rail circuit through North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia and taken in photography studios he and partners established in Virginia and North Carolina. The images are composed chiefly of individual portraits and group portraits of residents in those areas. The majority are white but there are a substantial number of African American portraits. Please note: The original glass plate negatives are closed to research use. Print and digital images are available for viewing.

Winfield Henry Mixon papers, 1895-1932

Converted to African Methodism at age 16 and licensed to preach soon thereafter, Winfield Henry Mixon developed into a prominent figure in the national African Methodist Episcopal church. In his home state of Alabama he was among the most able AME preachers and administrators, pastoring at least nine churches and organizing more than 20 others. Mixon was also one of the founders of the Payne School (later Payne University) — an AME institution established in 1889 in Selma, Ala.

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A Negro Camp-Meeting, ca. 1900

Manuscript reminiscence entitled "A Negro Camp-Meeting." The anonymous white author visited an outdoor religious meeting of African Americans in Maryland around 1900. Includes descriptions of participants' clothing and physical appearance, their modes of religious expression and the words to verses of spirituals.

Pruden Family Letters, 1906-1946

This small collection is comprised of correspondence between the family and friends of James Pruden while he was attending the Fressenden Academy and Industrial School in Jacksonville, Fla. James attended the academy from 1918 to 1920, and his son James Jr. attended in 1946. The letters discuss family matters, financial concerns, biblical teaching and activities at the Fressenden Academy. Evident throughout the collection are proof of the monetary and in-kind exchanges necessary to maintain a far-flung family and the swapping of stories and ideas that worked to shorten the distance between relatives.

Magnus L. Robinson papers, 1888-1914

Mangus L. Robinson was editor and co-owner of the National Leader (later the Weekly Leader) of Washington D.C. and Alexandria, Va. In addition to publishing one of the nation's most radical black papers, Robinson was prominent in the Odd Fellows fraternal organization and active in the Afro-American convention movement of the late 19th century. This small collection contains letters to Robinson about politics, fraternal affairs and the newspaper business. Of note are the letters that discuss the 1888 meeting of the Afro-American Press Association and letters about Robinson's role as chief marshal for the 1889 Odd Fellows parade in Washington, D.C.

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John K. Smith papers, 1867-1924

John K. Smith was a landowner and preacher in Washington County, Va., near Meadowview. The financial papers in the collection document insurance investments, rental contracts and the extent of the Smith family's land holdings. Smith held an insurance policy with the Southern Aid Society of Virginia and a death benefit with the Sons of Zion Benevolent Society. Letters in the collection touch upon issues relating to emigration, long-distance courtship and itinerant labor.

Socialist Party Records, 1900-1987

Correspondence, minutes, speeches, convention proceedings and organizers' reports of the Socialist Party of America. Beginning in the 1930s, with the party's organization of the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union — a biracial, sharecropper's organization — there is consistent overlap and interaction between the Socialist Party and the Civil Rights Movement. The work of black activists Baynard Rustin, A. Phillip Randolph, Norman Hill and Arthur Parker emerges from the collection at various points. The party had state chapters that were involved in activities organized by local civil rights groups.

Charles Clinton (C.C.) Spaulding papers, 1905-1985

Charles C. Spaulding was the president of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company from 1923-1952. The collection contains photos, miscellaneous business papers, programs, speeches and clippings related to C. C. Spaulding, civil rights and to African American life local and nationally, in addition to various publications created by and related to North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. These papers document the growth of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and Spaulding's and the company's connection to the Durham community.

St. Paul's Church Record Book, 1909-1912, 1934-1940, 1958-1959

In the spring of 1878, former slaves in Rockingham County, N.C., pooled their resources to establish the St. Paul's Methodist Church. By 1909, the members erected a handsome new building near Wentworth, N.C. This record book contains a list of members and their financial contributions and memoranda about church and Sunday School services. There is also a brief history of the church, along with a photograph and drawing of the same.

William Grant Still papers, 1877-1992

Trained in classical music at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, William Grant Still (1895-1978) was the first black person to conduct a professional symphony orchestra in the United States (The Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1936). The William Grant Still Papers contain chiefly photocopies of music, writings, correspondence, diaries, pictures, printed material, clippings and recordings, which primarily document his work as a composer.

Amber Arthun Warburton papers, 1917-1976 (bulk 1947-1963)

Papers and records of Amber Arthun Warburton (1898-1976) — teacher, librarian, New Deal administrator and executive secretary and director for research for the Alliance for Guidance of Rural Youth. Her records include documents generated while teaching economics at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., in 1929. Included are student autobiographies and economic surveys of some of Atlanta's black neighborhoods.

Booker T. Washington papers, 1913-1916

Collection comprises correspondence and related material concerning the Carnegie Hall conference (January 6-8, 1904) and the subsequent formation of the Committee of Twelve. The letters in the collection provide documentary evidence for these events, as well as commentaries on the status of African Americans. 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.