Guide to the Booker T. Washington correspondence, 1903-1916, 1933 and undated
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.
- Collection Number
- Booker T. Washington correspondence
- 1903-1916, 1933 and undated
- Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
- 0.5 Linear Feet, 107 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
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.
Access to the Collection
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.
Use & Permissions
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.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Booker T. Washington Correspondence, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
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.
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.
Lyons agrees to attend conference proposed by Washington.
Miller agrees to participate in conference treating "the situation which confronts our race"; suggests that each participant pay his own expenses.
DuBois regrets that Washington has invited Mr. Fortune to attend conference; proposes that Washington write directly to Mr. Morgan.
DuBois requests a list of conference attendees.
DuBois requests that conference take place in March rather than April.
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.
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.
DuBois approves circular letter and suggests names to be invited.
Miller agrees to attend New York conference; Miller requests that Washington be present at sociological conference in Washington as his presence will be vital.
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.
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
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
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
DuBois declines to give further advice "which will not be followed"; requests to see final list of invitees.
McKinlay met with Carruthers, who now wishes to meet with Washington.
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.
Washington invites Grimke to attend New York conference to be held January 6-8, 1904.
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.
As per Grimke's request, Washington encloses list of conference attendees; he briefly explains how he chose invitees.
Washington justifies decision to invite Lyons and not Pledger to attend conference; also explains reasons for not inviting A.D. Griffin and Gov. Pinchback.
In response to Washington's request, Grimke suggests a few names to invite to conference.
Moton accepts invitation to attend January conference.
Morris not sure he can attend January conference, though expresses desire to aid in any way.
Washington wishes to confirm receipt of list of conference attendees.
Washington stresses importance of Morris's presence at January conference.
Morris will try to rearrange schedule so that he may attend conference.
McGhee reluctant to attend conference due to workload, but will travel to NYC if Washington feels his presence to be necessary.
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.
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.
Letter in reference to Washington's booking of rooms for conference.
Washington, against his own inclination, has followed DuBois's advice and invited Archibald Grimke to conference.
Miller will request that Browne make a copy of proceedings and forward it to Washington; Miller concerned that conferees have broken pledge of secrecy.
Washington asks Fortune to write to Judge and Mrs. Terrell explaining why there were not included in New York conference.
Due to illness, DuBois cannot attend St. Louis conference.
Washington wishes to meet with Manning in person in reference to the latter's recent editorial concerning the New York conference.
Washington reports a satisfactory meeting of the Committee of Twelve, despite DuBois's absence.
DuBois informs Brown that he did not know of July 6th meeting.
Washington confirms knowledge of Grimke's resignation and requests suggestions for his replacement.
Washington requests that Browne inform DuBois about previous notices sent to him and the group's disappointment in him.
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.
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.
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.
Washington supports Browne's idea to have their work reported in newspapers, but suspects nothing will be written until after upcoming election.
Browne reports on those supporting publication of Grimke's article.
DuBois refuses all connections with the Committee of Twelve.
Washington praises Browne's work on circulars; reports that he and Miller have met with Ogden and "other white people" in NYC.
Miller will heed Washington's advice to postpone meeting with religious leaders, though he is in favor of still holding said meeting.
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.
Browne suggests that the Committee of Twelve meet again March 9th in New York.
Browne requests Washington's opinion on enclosure (not included); also requests place and time of day for meeting to be held March 9th.
Washington requests Miller's presence at meeting March 10th.
Washington requests Miller to arrive on earliest train.
Miller responds that he cannot come until Friday night or Saturday morning.
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.
Washington suggests plan to make their work known to a broader audience.
(Signature extremely faded due to water stain.) Washington suggests they postpone Hampton conference.
Browne lists resolutions passed at last meeting of the Committee of Twelve as well as updates on their progress.
Browne wishes Washington to read and approve aforementioned form letter.
Miller agrees to postponement of meeting; inquires as to acceptance of Chesnutt and McGee to join Committee.
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.
Walters reports surprising success of Council and those who attended.
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.
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.
Washington prefers to postpone their meeting with religious leaders until Miller returns from West Indies.
Penn wishes to hold meeting of the Executive committee on January 3rd as planned.
Penn announces change of date for meeting of Executive Committee.
Miller proposes topics to discuss with religious leaders as well as names of certain religious leaders.
Penn has arranged meeting of the executive committee.
Penn agrees to allow a member of the Committee of Twelve to report on their work at his upcoming meeting in Washington, DC.
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.
Grimke accepts proposal to postpone meeting of the Committee of Twelve.
Browne suggests they postpone meeting between the Executive Committee of the Negro Young People's Christian and Educational Congress and the Committee of Twelve.
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).
Miller proposes they send a man to Washington to advise them of congressional activities.
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.
Miller can now remain in town for Committee of Twelve meeting.
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.
Miller will prepare draft of resolutions for next meeting; reference to "Joseph" not serving their people.
Frissell believes Miller is mistaken about a meeting in Hampton of the Committee of Twelve.
Browne comments upon scheduling of meeting between Committee of Twelve along with Northern and Southern white men.
Miller forwards Frissell's letter and suggests they accommodate Buttrick and Frissell.
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.
Washington proposes to send Dudley Woodard to conduct study on African Americans and progress in Jackson, Mississippi.
Washington disagrees with Browne and supports work in Baltimore.
Chestnutt agrees with Committee in seeking Carnegie's support.
Fortune does not object to findings in recent report.
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?
Miller objects to Browne's tone in previous letter; otherwise, he does not object to the publication of Carnegie's address.
Russell reports that he has just found addressee's previous letter; comments upon convict lease system.
Murray sends Russell's report on peonage to Browne.
Murphy, a printer, encourages Washington to hire African American-owned printing firms to print materials issued by the Committee of Twelve.
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.
Chestnutt has no objection to providing Commissioner of Education with names and addresses of the members of the Committee of Twelve.
Coleman requests pamphlet Why disfranchisement is bad.
(Photocopy) Garvey, a native to Jamaica, enlightens Moton on African American and native life in his home country.
(Photocopy) Johnson explains origins of Lift every voice and sing.
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.
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.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Committee of Twelve for the Advancement of the Interests of the Negro Race
- Chesnutt, Charles W. (Charles Waddell), 1858-1932
- Durham, John S.
- Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
- Fortune, Timothy Thomas, 1856-1928
- Garvey, Marcus, 1887-1940
- Grimké, Francis J. (Francis James), 1850-1937
- Grimké, Archibald Henry, 1849-1930
- Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938
- John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
- Lyons, Judson Whitlocke, 1860-1924
- McGhee, Fredrick L., 1861-1912
- Miller, Kelly, 1863-1939
- McKinlay, Whitefield, 1857-1941
- Moton, Robert Russa, 1867-1940
- Russell, Charles Wells, 1856-1927
- Scott, Emmett J. (Emmett Jay), 1873-1957
- Walters, Alexander, b. 1858
- Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
- Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
- African American intellectuals -- Correspondence
- African Americans -- United States
- African Americans -- Civil rights -- History
- African American political activists
- African Americans -- History -- 1877-1964
- African Americans -- Politics and government
- Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century
The Booker T. Washington correspondence was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2002.
Processed by Rubenstein Library staff
Encoded by Jessica Carew and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, May 2014
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2002-0221