The library contains a good mix of first-and third-person accounts of black life during the age of Jim Crow. Personal memoirs and correspondence, organizational records, and pertinent government material are each represented in the collection. Interviews are also prevalent. See, for example, the material on the Tulsa race riot of 1921 in the papers of the Duke University Oral History Program, and, especially the 1,200 interviews from "Behind the Veil: African-American Life in the Jim Crow South," a project conducted by the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. We hope to supplement these sources with as much personal correspondence, material culture, photographs, business data, educational material, and organizational records as is possible.
As with material listed under other time periods, the collections listed are only representative. Interested parties will profit from consulting the aforementioned collection guides. The library's Rare Book Room, for example, contains a copy of The Negro Directory of Raleigh, Franklinton, Durham, and Henderson, circa 1922. Also, materials listed in this survey as "Post-World War II" are sometimes relevant to the Jim Crow era as well, 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 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 Alabama during the first half of the twentieth century. Beyond that, we know very little about him. The ledgers and correspondence comprising this small collection pertain mostly to religious and civic organizations to which Arthur belonged. There are minute books for the Independent Benevolent Society #28 and the Stone Wall Lodge #65, and account books for the St. Paul's A.M.E. Church. The documents contain the names of officers and members, show monies raised and distributed, and in the process document the efforts of a community to help itself through providing educational benefits and benevolence to families facing illness, death, and financial hard times.
- 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. It seeks to record and preserve the living memory of African-American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s. The collection consists chiefly of interviews recorded on cassette tapes. 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. The 1,260 interviews in this collection cover a number of topics related to African-American life in the 20th century with a focus on the age of southern segregation. The collection includes interviews with people from Albany, Ga.; Fargo, Ark.; Birmingham and Tuskegee, Ala.; Charlotte, Durham, Enfield, New Bern, Wilmington, and Craven County N.C.; LeFlore County, Miss.; Memphis, Tenn.; Muhlenburg County, Ky.; New Iberia and New Orleans, La.; Norfolk, Va.; Columbia, Orangeburg, St. Helena, and Summerton, S. C.; and Tallahassee, Fla. The collection is open for research. Some restrictions on access and use of individual interviews apply.
- Minnie Gribble Donnell Letters and membership ard, 1906-1941.
- This small collection offers a glimpse into the life of Minnie Gribble Donnell. A membership card tells us that in 1941 Donnell was a member in good standing of the North Carolina Negro Teachers' Association. From that same year, four tax assessments from officials in Alamance County note that she owned at least twenty-three acres in the surrounding area. Several letters reveal a little about 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, North Carolina.
- 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.
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- Gordon Blaine Hancock papers, 1928-1970.
- The papers of Gordon Blaine Hancock, clergyman, journalist, educator, and civil rights spokesman, span the years 1928-1970. The collection relates primarily to Hancock's efforts to increase opportunities for African Americans. Among those efforts was a course he organized on race relations at
Virginia Union University in 1922, which is believed to have been the
first course of its kind in America. In the 1930's and 1940's, Hancock
became an outspoken leader in the struggle for racial equality, speaking
at over 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, Georgia. 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. Harris also writes about her trip to Boston in the 1920s, chronicling visits to black churches there. Journal reflects attitudes and community connections of black middle class. Also included are copies of Johnson poems that were published in local newspapers. Some digitized material from this collection can be found here.
- Thaddeus Ellis Harris Papers, 1916-1933.
- Correspondence, legal, and financial papers of attorney in McDowell County, West Virginia. 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).
- African-American coloratura soprano of Philadelphia, Pa. and recipient of Certificate of Proficiency in Music from the University of Pennsylvania. 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.
- Personal and professional papers of Charles N. Hunter of Raleigh, North Carolina (ca. 1851-1931) -- 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. Professional correspondence includes letters from black women seeking employment as teachers. Personal correspondence includes letters home from his daughters while they were attending school. One daughter writes of her academic and social life at Hampton Institute (Hampton, Virginia) during the 1890s. 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, written by its principal, T. S. Imborden, describing the development and improvement of the school.
- William Horton Peace Jenkins Papers, 1845-1925.
- Predominately, collection of public school records for Granville County, North Carolina where Jenkins was Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1881 through 1895. Records provide a wealth of information on conditions in the schools. Teacher and pupil lists, attendance records, teacher salaries, average length of school term, and number of school-aged children broken down by race and gender are some of the data included. There are also written reports and memos by black teachers and superintendents.
- Alice J. Cutright Kaine Papers, 1864-1947.
- Correspondence, writings, printed materials, and photographs chiefly concerning Kaine's administrative work at Tuskegee Institute (Tuskegee, Alabama) during the 1890s. During her tenure at the school, Kaine developed close ties with Booker T. Washington, Washington's wife Margaret, and the couple's children. 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. Also included are letters to Kaine from Margaret Washington after the former's return to Wisconsin, ca. 1900-1910.
- Winfield Henry Mixon Papers, 1895-1932.
- Converted to African Methodism at aged sixteen and licensed to preach soon thereafter, Winfield Henry Mixon (1859- ?) 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 twenty others. Mixon was also one of the founders of the Payne School (later Payne University)--an AME institution established in 1889 in Selma, Alabama. In 1902, he published History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Alabama. Mixon's six-volume diary forms the heart of this collection and documents his work as a district supervisor for the AME church in Alabama. His journals contain details on the condition of churches within his purview, bureaucratic matters relating to his office, information on Payne School, and a report (1892-1895) to his superiors. The collection also contains clippings and papers relating to a conference of AME women held in Nashville in 1895.
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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, Florida. James attended the academy from 1918 to 1920, and his son James Jr. attended in 1946. Other correspondence is between James and his wife Rubie while the former was working at the Binghampton Country Club in Johnson City, New York and Rubie was teaching school in Daytona Beach, Florida. The letters discuss family matters, financial concerns, biblical teaching and activities at the Fressenden Academy. Evidence 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 are evident throughout the collection.
- Magnus L. Robinson Papers, 1888-1914.
- Mangus L. Robinson was editor and co-owner of the National Leader (later the Weekly Leader) of Washington DC and Alexandria, Virginia. 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 nineteenth 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, DC.
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- John K. Smith Papers, 1867-1924.
- John K. Smith was a landowner and preacher in Washington county Virginia, 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. The papers chronicle the activities of American Socialists both within their party and in their contacts with other individuals, organizations, and movements during the 20th century. 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.
- C. C. Spaulding Papers, 1905-1985.
- President of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1923-1952, located in Durham (Durham Co.), N.C. The company is the oldest African-American life insurance company. The collection contains photos, miscellaneous business papers, programs, speeches, clippings related to C. C. Spaulding, black civil rights, and to African-American life more generally (organized by subject), in addition to payroll ledgers and 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, Spaulding's and the company's connection to the community, their pride in that community, and their involvement in African-American issues (local and beyond) and livelihood.
- St. Paul's Church Record Book, 1909-1912, 1934-40, 1958-59.
- In the spring of 1878, former slaves in Rockingham County North Carolina pooled their resources to establish the St. Paul's Methodist Church; by 1909 the members erected a handsome new building near Wentworth, North Carolina. 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). Still's original work embraced issues in African American life and society, and incorporated musical influences from Africa and American jazz as reflected in his compositions Darker America (1924), From the Black Belt (1926), and Afro-American Symphony (1931). 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. The collection relates to the historical and critical study of his music as well as being a valuable source of arrangement and performances. Also in the collection are materials (primarily writings and librettos) created by Verna Arvey, Still's second wife.
- 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 (Atlanta, Georgia) in 1929. Included are student autobiographies and economic surveys of some of Atlanta's black neighborhoods.
Last updated October 2011