Post-World War II: The Civil Rights Era and Beyond
African-American Manuscript Materials
The library holds a good number of materials on black life in the civil rights era. The collection is especially strong in documenting the life and labors of Durham's prominent black middle class.
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- Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Cooperative Reel-to-reel Audio Tapes, ca. 1966-1967.
- Racially integrated cooperative, the purpose of which was to provide food, generic brand medicines, child care; to ensure local employment; and to provide goods and services at nominal cost. Tapes of meetings, interviews, and car trips to Boston and Washington DC, of various directors and committee members of the cooperative. Issues discussed include internal dissension, employment and firings, theft, the cooperative's finances, local violence and gang fights, drugs, students, and black and white division of labor.
- Blunt Family Papers, 1943-1965.
- The correspondence, financial papers, clippings, printed material, and photographs in this collection relate to the Blunt family of Tidewater Virginia, and document the migration of various family members to points North, South, and West. Topics attended to in the correspondence include family relations, health, courtship, financial matters, and domestic issues. Some letters from the family seat detail the workings of the House of Ruth Lodge, a women's benevolent society in which one family member maintained membership after her departure from Virginia. Overall, the papers reveal the strains and stresses of relocation offering insight into how family members, both collectively and individually, smoothed out the exigencies of continuous settlement and resettlement.
- William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection, 1933-1978. 99 items and 28 cassette tapes
- Tapes and transcripts of 71 interviews conducted by William Chafe, professor of history at Duke, in preparation for his book on the civil rights movement in Greensboro, North Carolina: Civilities and Civil Rights. Interviewees include various members of Greensboro black community, including teachers and former students of Bennett College and North Carolina A. and T., and others involved in local sit-ins.
- Griffith J. Davis Papers, 1947-1991.
- Films and photographs of Atlantan Griffith J. Davis, U.S. Technical Assistant to Liberia and agent to the Liberian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Among the negatives, films, and videotapes that form the core of this collection are images of Charlotte Hawkins Brown and the Palmer Memorial Institute, a private junior and senior high school for blacks in Sedalia, North Carolina. Also included are documentary and personal films shot in Liberia in the 1950s; among them a birthday party for the daughter of a middle-class family, a film on Liberian industry and life narrated by Sidney Poitier and funded by the U.S. Point IV program, and shots of Liberian masquerades and stilt dancers. Collection also contains Griffith's recording of William Tubman's presidential inaugural address. Contact sheets feature Liberian masks -- many from the Dan -- and stills of Liberian men and women. (Complemented by the library's George Way Harley Papers and the Duke Museum of Art's Harley collection of Liberian Art.)
- Helen G. Edmonds Papers, 1951-1976.
- Helen G. Edmonds (1911-1995) was a noted educator, historian, and administrator; active in numerous civic and social organizations; and a stalwart in the Republican Party. Most of her career in higher education was in association with North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina, where she worked from 1941 until her retirement in 1977. Edmonds held several positions at NCCU, including professor of history, Chair of the Department of History, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and member of the university Board of Trustees. The correspondence, speeches, and programs in the collection provide insight into her work as a teacher and scholar. Of particular interest are papers relating to travels in Europe and Israel where Edmonds participated in cultural exchange programs, attended conferences, and lectured. The bulk of the collection, however, documents her work with the National Republican Party. Recognition of Edmond's efforts on this front resulted in a number of honors and Presidential appointments, including giving the second nomination of Dwight D. Eisenhower as a candidate for the Presidency; appointments in the Department of State, Department of Defense, National Advisory Council of the Peace Corps; and on several occasions appointments as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations. The correspondence and printed material in the collection illuminate Edmond's political work with the GOP beginning in the 1950s, and culminating in 1970 with her appointment as an alternate delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.
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- Milo Guthrie Papers, 1962-1990.
- The papers of white commercial artist and social activist contains publications from left wing political parties and organizations. Included among them are publications from black activist organizations: The African World (1973), Black Ink (1969), The Black Liberator (1969), and others. The collection contains a three-year run of The Black Panther (1969-1971), the organ of the Black Panther Party.
- Gordon Blaine Hancock Papers, 1928-1970.
- A trailblazer for the modern civil rights movement, Gordon Blaine Hancock (1884-1970) was pastor of Moore Street Baptist Church and professor of sociology, economics and religion at Virginia Union University, both in Richmond, Virginia. In the words of his biographer, Hancock's career highlights "the perils and prospects of Southern black leadership" over the course of the twentieth century, demonstrating how one black intellectual negotiated the political terrain lying between the Jim Crow south and the modern black freedom struggle. The bulk of the collection is comprised of photocopied news clippings of Hancock's syndicated weekly column for the Associated Negro Press, "Between the Lines." The column was published from 1929 to 1968, appeared in 114 newspapers, and spoke to concerns of Black Americans during the period of legalized segregation and the struggle for integration and civil rights. The collection also includes documentation on Hancock's work as one of the founding members of the Southern Regional Council, an interracial organization dedicated to improving southern race relations. There are a few copies of poems, lyrics, sermons, speeches and other news columns written by Hancock. Of interest are items of correspondence relating to voting registration irregularities in Northampton County, North Carolina, a statement on the history of the Richmond Urban League, and notes on the history of the Moore Street Baptist Church.
- Rencher Nicholas Harris Papers, 1857-1965 (bulk 1926-1965).
- Papers of Rencher Nicholas Harris (1900-1965), a business executive of Durham, North Carolina who held positions with the Banker's Fire Insurance Company, and who was the first black city councilman as well as the first black member of the local Board of Education. The collection is probably most valuable for those papers related to Harris's career in Durham politics in the 1950s and early 1960s, especially concerning such matters as race relations and civil rights. Of particular interest is his infrequent correspondence with Carla Myerson Eugster, a political activist in the local civil rights movement who appears to have influenced Harris's decision to enter politics.
- Chris D. Howard Papers, 1972-1983.
- Materials collected by Chris Howard while researching his undergraduate honors thesis: "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: The Black Struggle for Civil Equality in Durham, North Carolina, 1954-1963." Material consists chiefly of research notes and interviews with local informants, including Floyd McKissick, Joycelyn McKissick, W. G. Pearson, Vivian McCoy, Mary Trent Semans, and Ruth Dailey.
- J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 (bulk 1930-1969).
- Papers of J. B. Matthews, white Methodist missionary, college professor, and prominent conservative spokesman. The bulk of the collection falls between the 1930s and the 1960s, and includes correspondence, memoranda, speeches, clippings, broadsides, newsletters, and other printed materials. The principal focus of the collection relates to Mathew's work and research in the area of anticommunism after he had completed his tenure as Director of Research for the Special Committee on Un-American Activities. Organizations and personalities touched on in his work include the following: the Black Panther Party, the National Negro Labor Council, the Ku Klux Klan, the Afro-American Research Institute, the Harlem Community Council for Housing, the NAACP, Ralph Abernathy, Jessie Jackson, Coretta Scott King and James Baldwin.
- Gwendolyn M. Parker Papers, 1967-1998.
- An attorney and Wall Street manager before dedicating herself to writing, the novelist and essayist Gwendolyn Parker is celebrated for work exploring the situation of middle-class black America--from the slow demise of enforced racial segregation to the nation's careful embrace, even in corporate America, of a kind of multiculturalism. In her writing, Parker distinguishes herself through demonstrating that the old days have not necessarily supplanted the new but that aspects of both continue to coexist in ways that are sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous, and always telling. Parker was born and raised for nine years in Durham, North Carolina. The city and its institutions figure prominently in her first novel These Same Long Bones (1994) as well as in her memoir Trespassing: My Sojourn in the Halls of Privilege (1997). The correspondence, journals, and draft writings comprising this collection document Parker's development as an author, and the making of her first two books.
- William Gaston Pearson Papers, 1913-1976.
- Durham, N.C. African-American businessman, educator, philanthropist, and civic leader. Scrapbook of clippings and printed material which reflects the business accomplishments and life of William Pearson, who founded the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, the Durham Drug Co., and other businesses in Durham, N.C., primarily in banking, credit, and insurance.
- Fannie B. Rosser Papers, 1860-1973.
- Personal and business papers of Fannie B. Rosser, secretary for the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company in Durham, North Carolina, and property owner in Durham and Lynchburg, Virginia. To the 1950s, the bulk of the papers concern Rosser's business ventures: property maintenance, loans tendered, and investments made. Material from the 1960s tend to be more personal, consisting of Rosser's correspondence with her daughter Mattie and with her niece June. Nevertheless, items from this later period contain scattered references to the NAACP and other civil rights matters.
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- Clydie Fullwood Scarborough Papers, 1919-1984.
- Dedicated to providing effective and healthy day-care for African American children in Durham, especially those from poor families, Clydie Fullwood Scarborough (d. 1989) managed the Scarborough Nursery School for over fifty years. The school was established in 1925 by Clydie's husband, John C. Scarborough Sr., (1877-1972) a prominent businessman and community leader who was founder and president of Durham's Scarborough and Hargett Funeral Home. The Scarborough Nursery School is the oldest licensed, black-owned day care center in North Carolina, and in the main the collection contains correspondence, financial reports, legal and administrative papers, clippings, writings, programs, flyers, and photographs pertaining to the operation of the school. The papers also provide some insight into the Scarborough's civic activities, including information about the North Carolina Daycare Association, the United Fund Agency, and St. Joseph's AME Church. Included are programs and publicity material relating to Hillside High School, Lincoln Hospital Nursing School, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance, and the John Avery Boys' Club. The collection also contains some Fullwood family genealogical papers, biographical information about John C. Scarborough Sr., and materials from Talladega College and Alpha Kappa Alpha (Clydie Scarbourough's alma mater and sorority respectively).
- Asa And Elna Spaulding Papers, 1909-1997.
- Nationally acclaimed and internationally recognized businessman, Asa T. Spaulding Sr. (1902-1990), was president of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company--one of the premier black-owned financial concerns in the United States and a keystone among the institutions that established Durham as the "Black Wall Street" during the early decades of the twentieth century. Spaulding was a leader in the insurance industry and was the first black actuary in the United States. He was an advocate for African American economic development and served as an officer in various business and insurance associations. In national politics, he was an advisor to Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson and Carter--advocating for civil rights and economic development for black Americans. He participated in several White House conferences and was appointed to a number of presidential committees. Notably, he was a member of U. S. delegations to the UNESCO conference in New Delhi, India in 1956, and to the inauguration of Liberian President William V. S. Tubman in 1957. On the local level Spaulding was a civic leader and devoted member of the White Rock Baptist Church.
The Spaulding papers are comprised of personal and professional correspondence, speeches, photographs, clippings, awards, printed material, and business and legal papers relating to Asa Spaulding's numerous business, religious, civic, educational and political interests. The collection is particularly rich in documentation about political and community development in Durham, North Carolina.
Complementing the materials on Asa Spaulding is material concerning his wife, Elna Bridgeforth Spaulding. A civic leader in her own right, Elna Spaulding founded and served as president of Women-In-Action for the Prevention of Violence and Its Causes, a community development and charitable organization in Durham. She was elected to two terms on the Durham County Board of Commissioners, served on numerous boards, and was active in such organizations as the Durham Day Care Council, Lincoln Community Health Center, Duke Medical Center, North Carolina Central Museum of Art, and local chapters of The Links, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the National Council of Negro Women. The Spaulding papers also contain genealogical materials about the Bridgeforth and Spaulding families, and include information about the Spauldings' family life with their five children.
- Earl E. Thorpe Papers, 1942-1990 (bulk 1965-1982). 1,225 items.
- Earl E. Thorpe (1924-1989), historian, educator, and ordained minister, was a key player in the Black Studies Renaissance of the 1970s. Thorpe joined the faculty of the history department at North Carolina Central University in 1962 and served as its chair for ten years. He was also a visiting professor at Harvard and Duke universities during the 1970s and early 1980s. Much of the Thorpe papers focus on his teaching career and duties as a faculty member and administrator. Of interest are the letters between Thorpe and Ewart Gunier, chair of the black studies program at Harvard University, discussing the challenges in developing a viable Afro-American studies program. Thorpe was involved in several history associations including the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH). The collection documents some of his involvement in ASALH as chair of the program committee for the 1979 annual meeting and as president in 1980. The bulk of the collection consists of Thorpe's professional correspondence, but personal correspondence with family and students, and material reflective of Thorpe's life in the ministry are scattered throughout.
- The Leroy T. Walker Africa News Service Archive, 1952-1998.
- The archive is an extensive resource file of clippings, press releases, newsletters, brochures, and reports assembled over a twenty-five year period by Africa News Service. Many of the materials are ephemeral and difficult to find elsewhere, including publications of non-governmental organizations and grass roots groups from all over the world. The collection documents a broad array of topics about mid-to-late twentieth century African history, with emphases on foreign and internal relations, economic trends, independence and other political movements, as well as cultural developments, women's issues, health, education, and environmental concerns. Africa News Service is a non-profit U. S. news agency based in Durham, North Carolina.
- Women-In-Action For The Prevention Of Violence and Its Causes , Inc. Durham Chapter Records, 1968-1998.
- Women-in-Action for the Prevention of Violence and Its Causes is a bi-racial community development and charitable organization in Durham, North Carolina. Civic leader Elna B. Spaulding founded the organization after attending a 1968 national conference on "What Women Can Do to End Violence in America." In 1970, Women-in-Action played a prominent role in smoothing the way for court-ordered school desegregation in Durham. Presently, the organization acts as clearinghouse for social services information, and offers financial assistance to impoverished and down-on-their-luck Durham families. The organization also strives to attend to the recreational and cultural needs of the city's disadvantaged youth. The collection is comprised of correspondence, by-laws, meeting agendas and minutes, budgets, articles of incorporation, photographs, videos tapes, certificates and news articles documenting the organization's activities and structure.
Last updated January 2011
Last modified January 31, 2012 2:07:52 PM EST