Tag Archive for 'CCC'

From the Archives: “The Participation of Negroes in Southern Life,” a Sociological Study from the 1930s

This post contains highlights of material from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions. For more on this digitization project, click here.

 Folder 1312: Survey on Discrimination (1938?), Location Unknown: Scan 5

Survey on Discrimination, circa 1930s. Guy B. Johnson Papers, Folder 1312, Scan 5

A former Kenan professor of Anthropology and Sociology at UNC, Chapel Hill, Dr. Guy B. Johnson was a researcher and scholar with strong interests in African American culture and society. Dr. Johnson spent much of his career studying race relations in the American South, and often collaborated with other well known academics, such as Howard Odum and Guion G. Johnson.1 A particularly fascinating study conducted by Johnson during the 1930s distributed questionnaires to African Americans seeking their perspectives on stereotypes, racism, discrimination, and the treatment of Blacks in the South. Hundreds of handwritten responses were collected and contributed to a larger study examining “the Participation of Negroes in Southern Life.” The Guy B. Johnson collection contains hundreds of responses that this survey received. Answers often contain emotional stories of individuals being mistreated, disrespected, and misunderstood, and include details that are arresting and often appalling.

One powerful account from the collection is a narrative written by 20-year-old Onah Belle Hawkins, a junior in college from southern Georgia. As she responded to the questions of the survey, Hawkins described her frustration with the lack of opportunities for blacks in higher education and the daily reminders of racial discrimination present in shops, movie theaters, and restaurants wherever she went. She wrote about segregated trolley cars and how she was always led to the back of the store when trying on shoes, and even how a white debt collector came to her family’s house armed with a revolver and threatened her and her mother. Her candid replies fill the space provided and even continue onto the back of the questionnaire.2

In the 1930s, Dr. Johnson and his colleagues hoped that the information gathered through this study would help “to open the minds of white people of the South.”3 The wealth of information contained within the survey responses can still present a fascinating and revealing resource for researchers today. Survey responses can be found in Subseries 5.8.3, Folders 1311 through 1320 of the Guy B. Johnson Papers.

1. Guy Benton Johnson Papers Finding Aid, Biographical Information
2. Folder 1312: Survey on Discrimination (1938?), Location Unknown: Scan 9
3. Folder 1311: Survey on Discrimination (1938?), Location Unknown: Scan 1

From the Archives: Images for Women’s History Month

This post contains highlights of material from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions. For more on this digitization project, click here.

As we conclude Black History Month and begin a month dedicated to the appreciation of women’s history, we highlight two noteworthy photographs from the Jessie Daniel Ames Papers.

Negro Women attending Interracial Conference at Tuskegee, 1938. Image folder p0375, item 1

Negro Women attending an Interracial Conference at Tuskegee Institute, 1938. JD Ames Papers, Image folder p0375, item 1

The first image features an assembly of celebrated African American women, including Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights activist and educator who founded Bethune-Cookman University; Bethune was a close friend of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt for many years and facilitated the formation of the “Black Cabinet,” a group of prominent African American leaders who advised FDR regarding concerns of the black community. Second from the right is Nannie Burroughs, remembered for helping to establish the National Association of Colored Women and for her  work in the National League of Republican Colored Women. In 1940, she visited university president James E. Shepard at North Carolina Central University. Standing next to Burroughs is Charlotte Hawkins Brown, a well-known North Carolina educator.

In 1938, a joint meeting of two women’s groups was held at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Though they functioned as separate organizations, the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL) and the African American women members of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC) shared a common mission: the battle against racial discrimination and violence in the South.

During the Civil Rights Era, collaboration between organizations was a common method of sharing resources, ideas, and enthusiasm. An initiative from a 1934 CIC staff meeting showed both the importance of such collaboration and the value placed on women activists when it stated that “One of the most important pieces of work to be developed is securing closer cooperation between Women’s Organizations and the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.”1

Attendees of the joint meeting of the ASWPL & African American members of the CIC at Tuskegee Institute, 1938. Image folder p0374, item 1

Attendees of the joint meeting of the ASWPL & African American members of the CIC at Tuskegee Institute, 1938. JD Ames Papers, Image folder p0374, item 1

Jessie Daniel Ames, who served as the director of the CIC’s Women’s Committee in 1929 before founding ASWPL in 1930,2 is pictured in the front row of the second image, second from the right. In the beginning, ASWPL constituted a small group of women; Ames’ initial membership goal was to have at least one representative from every Southern state. Many of these women were pastors’ wives and other well-connected upper and middle class ladies who could help in the recruitment of local and state officials to the anti-lynching cause. Over time, this small association grew to become one of the most effective social programs in the US, with a total of over two million members.3

Through the mission of community education, the efforts of these Southern women had tremendous effects. Between 1922 and 1938, the number of lynchings in the South decreased by fifty percent. Many lynchings  were prevented by sheriffs and community leaders whose vocal support had been enlisted by ASWPL.3

At the time, a common justification of lynching was that the practice existed primarily as a necessary response to sexual attacks against white women. ASWPL was a strong opponent of this concept of lynching, and through the course of their research, ASWPL discovered that almost 80% of lynchings occurred over interracial conflicts unrelated to charges of sexual assault on white women.4 ASWPL was “profoundly convinced that lynching is not a defense of womanhood or of anything else, but rather a menace to private and public safety . . . [In addition] lynching tends inevitably to destroy all respect for law and order. It represents the complete breakdown of government and the triumph of anarchy.”5  With this message, ASWPL played a key role in effecting the decline of lynchings in the US. And in the process, the organization became extremely influential in changing traditional perceptions of gender in the South.


1. Excerpts from the Staff Meeting, 1934. Commission on Interracial Cooperation, 1920-1963.

2. Wormser, Richard. Jim Crow Stories: Jessie Daniel Ames. The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. Educational Broadcasting Corporation (2002).

3. Nordyke, Lewis T., “Ladies and Lynchings,” Survey Graphic, 28 (November 1939).

4. Barnes, R.L., Jessie Daniel Ames and the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, 1930-1942. US History Scene, October 2011.

5. Resolutions, Conference of Southern White Women, Atlanta, GA. November 1, 1930.

CCC Progress Update: Jessie Daniel Ames Papers now online

Series 1 of the Jessie Daniel Ames Papers has been digitized by TRLN’s Content, Context, and Capacity project and is now available online through the collection’s finding aid. This collection of documents focuses on Ames’ work for racial justice and women’s rights, particularly related to her involvement in the Atlanta Commission on Interracial Cooperation and the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching.

Photo of Jessie Daniel Ames, 1941. J.D. Ames Papers, Folder 15, item 4.

After becoming a widow at the age of 30, Jessie Daniel Ames went on to not only raise three children on her own, but also lead an extremely active life as a civil rights activist and the founder of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL). Through ASWPL, Ames rallied Southern women in small towns, focusing on church groups and other women’s clubs, to join her in standing against a hideous practice, which was often falsely touted as “necessary for the protection of southern women.” 1

The ASWPL’s primary mission was one of education, emphasizing the need for justice to be carried out through legal processes rather than by violent means. The organization also intervened in specific cases, and was kept informed of potential lynchings throughout the South by its network of concerned women covering 13 states. Much of the extraordinary life of Jessie Daniel Ames is preserved within this collection, and we invite you to learn more by exploring its contents.

1. http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/03686/id/2440/rec/4

From the Archives: A Study on Population Problems in the South

This post contains highlights of material from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions. For more on this digitization project, click here.

Population Problems in the South, 1937. Guy Benton Johnson Papers, Folder 1288, Item ID: 03826_1288_0034

In 1937, the Conference on Education and Race Relations in Atlanta, Georgia, produced a study on “Population Problems in the South.” Referring to the South’s current state of racial discord and inequality, the publication of the study’s findings quotes Thomas Nelson Page, a noted Southern writer, who said that “In dealing with this question in the past, nearly every mistake that could possibly be made has been made.” From the immorality of the practice of slavery, to the tragedy surrounding the Civil War, to a flawed period of Reconstruction, to the lack of social justice education in schools, the problems and mistakes in the history our Southern society have been far from few.

The study looks at population statistics, standard of living inconsistencies, wages, health issues, and public schools, among other topics, in a thorough examination of the current inequalities between blacks and whites in the South. Taking all of this information into consideration, the study identifies two overarching civic problems: “(1) That of doing justice to a minority group, and (2) that of serving the best interests of all.” The writers go on to propose the difficulty of approaching these problems: “the American people would like to do both, of course. Is it possible to do both at the same time, or must we sacrifice one to accomplish the other?”

The data and reflections reported in the study findings constitute an interesting resource and a fascinating glimpse of 1930s perceptions of race relations. The “Population Problems in the South” publication is part of the Guy Benton Johnson collection and has been digitized through the CCC grant. See the entire document here.

From the Archives: Women for the Future

This post contains highlights of material from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions. For more on this digitization project, click here.

Speech, Helen G. Edmonds. June 9, 1977. Helen G. Edmonds Papers, Folder 243, Item ID: 50003_0243_0002

At the Annual Continuing Education Conference for the Women of Maryland on June 9, 1977, Dr. Helen G. Edmonds gave a speech on the “Roles of Women in the Future.” A well-known professor of history at North Carolina Central University, Edmonds looks at activism from a historian’s perspective in her lecture and applauds the women in the audience for “making giant strides in some areas of American life.” Going on to describe the 1970s as the belated dawn of women activists in the US and the celebrated arrival of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Edmonds gives a broad overview of earlier “revolutionary movements” from the recent history of activism across various minority groups in the US: Mexican Americans, Native Americans, blacks, students, and women (who were surely minorities in representation if not in number).

Looking to the future, Edmonds envisions great improvements in the lives of women and tremendous changes to their roles within society. In her speech she outlines fundamental goals regarding political action, where she hopes women will take on higher and more numerous government positions; employment conditions, where America needs to strive for “equal opportunity and treatment of women workers”; the health and nutrition of American women and families; and the collection and analysis of reliable research data on women.

Photograph, Helen G. Edmonds. NCCU Faculty and Staff Photograph Records, Image folder 80, Item ID: 50007_pf0080_0027

The words of Helen Edmonds reconfirm her as an inspirational speaker and a true visionary and offer the opportunity to learn more about this remarkable woman and scholar. Her 1977 speech can be read in full here, as part of the Helen G. Edmonds Papers online, digitized by the CCC grant. The photograph of Edmonds is from the NCCU Faculty and Staff Photograph Records.

From the Archives: Greensboro Demonstrates

This post contains highlights of material from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions. For more on this digitization project, click here.

Newspaper Clipping, from the Durham Morning Herald, May 17, 1963. Floyd B. McKissick Papers, Folder 7013, Item ID: 04930_7013_0009

In May of 1963 the Greensboro downtown area was filled with protesters campaigning for an end to segregation in city businesses, and close to 240 students, many from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (now University), were arrested in a single day on trespassing charges. The demonstrations were staged largely due to the unwillingness of four major Greensboro establishments, S&W Cafeteria, Mayfair Cafeteria, the Center Theater, and the Carolina Theater, to change their segregation policies despite both community protests and the urging of two Greensboro business groups.

These two groups, the Greensboro Merchants Association and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, responded to anti-segregation reports from the Mayor’s Committee on Human Relations by encouraging businesses throughout the city to cease all practices “which deny rights or services to any citizen.” Even after this plea, Boyd Morris, the owner of the Mayfair Cafeteria, one of the restaurants targeted by Greensboro protesters, remained firm in his resolution against integrating his business, pledging that he would not change company policy until “the US Supreme Court rules against ‘the rights of an individual to operate his business as he wishes.’”

You can read more about these turbulent times in a May 17, 1963, article from the Durham Morning Herald. This article was digitized as part of the TRLN CCC grant; find it here in the Floyd B. McKissick Papers.

From the Archives: Struggling for Its Place — Duke’s Black Studies Program Appeals to President Terry Sanford

This post is the 12th in a series from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions.  For more on this digitization project, click here.

Letter, Walter W. Buford to Terry Sanford, April 7, 1971.  Department of African and African-American Studies Records, Box 2, Folder 51, file ID daams02051013

Letter, Walter W. Burford to Terry Sanford, April 7, 1971. Department of African and African-American Studies Records, Box 2, Folder 51, file ID daams02051013

This blog post examines a letter sent in 1971 to Duke President Terry Sanford by professor Walter Burford of Duke’s Black Studies Program. This and other letters from professors Burford and William C. Turner, Jr., found in the Department of African and African-American Studies Records, provide a rough timeline of the Black Studies Program’s struggles for recognition and support.

President Terry Sanford first rose to statewide prominence in the 1960 N.C. gubernatorial campaign when he dispatched a segregationist challenger in the Democratic primary.  While in office, Sanford mandated statewide school integration. When Sanford arrived at Duke in April 1970, the university had recently experienced its own racial turmoil.  In February 1969, sixty members of the Afro-American Society occupied the Allen Building — home of Duke’s administration — with twelve demands, including the establishment of the Black Studies Program.  Although the occupying students peaceably exited the building, police engaged with students outside the building and fired tear gas upon them.  The university responded to the takeover by forming a committee that in May 1969 officially proposed the Black Studies Program.  (The records of the Allen Building Takeover will also be digitized in the coming years as part of the CCC Project.)

The letter shown above is the first sent to Terry Sanford by professor Burford, who wrote it contemporaneously to Sanford’s inauguration. Burford refers first to Sanford’s interest in Black Studies at Duke, indicating that Sanford likely asked Burford for this update as part of his orientation to the current issues facing the university. Burford then lays out a reasoned case as to why Black Studies deserved more recognition, funding, and professors. Burford uses the phrase “the ‘boy’ status” in describing his perception of how the Duke community perceived Black Studies. One could contend that Burford’s phraseology carried a double meaning, referring both to the newness of Black Studies as compared to other academic programs and the well-known use of “boy” as a denigrating term segregationists used in referring to African Americans.

Unfortunately, the records digitized for the CCC Project do not contain Sanford’s response to this or any of the other letters contained in the departmental records.  What we can gather from the subsequent letters is that, while some improvement occurred, progress was neither rapid nor easy.  In an April 1972 letter, Burford criticized the “weak support from the Administration” for Black Studies, going on to write the following strong rebuff:

I trust there is not a systematic disregard for such crucial matters as enumerated, for not only does such compromise the status of all Blacks at this Institution, but poses difficulties insurmountable to all seeking a relevant education.

The stern words must have initiated some progress; letters dated 1974 discuss transforming the Black Studies Program into a fully functioning department. We encourage you to peruse the records that are now available online to better understand the story of how the Black Studies Program at Duke transformed into the Department of African and African-American Studies.



Biography of Sanford from UNC-TV:  http://www.unctv.org/biocon/tsanford/timeline.html

Allen Building Takeover:  http://library.duke.edu/uarchives/exhibits/allen-building/page5.html

CCC progress update: Four new digital collections from NCCU

More digitized primary sources are now freely available online with the completion of four full collections at NCCU by the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s collaborative digitization grant. The collections of two of NCCU’s most prominent presidents — the James E. Shepard Papers and the Alfonso Elder Papers — reveal the challenges and achievements of the first state-funded liberal arts college for African Americans in the United States. Letters, speeches, writings, newspaper clippings, photographs and other material document Shepard’s lifelong dedication to higher education, Civil Rights activism, and community involvement. The Shepard collection also features a series of photographs from Shepard’s professional and family life. The Alfonso Elder Papers include many reports and documents relating to the development and growth of NCCU. Capturing a more personal image of NCCU’s second president are Elder’s correspondence with many faculty and staff members, including Floyd H. Brown and Helen G. Edmonds, and numerous speeches on the topic of higher education which were frequently given to student audiences.

Also complete is digitization of the Sarah M. Bell-Lucas North Carolina Alumni and Friends Coalition (NCAFC) Records. Sarah M. Bell-Lucas was the committee chair of the NCAFC Banquet and Publicity Committee and an alumna of NCCU. Her dedication to the university drew her back to the school to serve as director of undergraduate academic advising, and through her position with the NCAFC, she helped promote black higher education in North Carolina. The collection contains NCAFC meeting notes, program bulletins, and correspondence often relating to fundraising banquets.

NCCU’s Durham Fact-Finding Conference Records document the 1929 and 1930 meetings of the Durham Fact-Finding Conference, a congress of African American leaders in business, education, and religion held at NCCU. The collection also documents the 1942 Southern Conference on Race Relations and the 1944 Durham Race Relations Conference.  The names of many well-known individuals appear throughout the correspondence, speeches, and articles that make up the collection, such as W.E.B. DuBois, Hugo L. Black, Frank Porter Graham, Charles S. Johnson, Walter White, William Hastie, Langston Hughes, A. Philip Randolph, E. Franklin Frazier, Alain Locke, P.B. Young, Gordon B. Hancock, Claude A. Barnett, and George E. Haynes. NCCU president James E. Shepard presided over the conferences.

Visit the online finding aids for all of these collections to learn more about their contents and explore the fascinating digital material they contain.

CCC progress update: two new digital collections from Duke and NCSU

The Triangle Research Libraries Network’s collaborative large-scale digitization project, CCC, has completed digitization of two new collections from NCSU and Duke. These collections are now freely available online through the collections’ finding aids.

The first series of Duke’s Women-In-Action For the Prevention of Violence and its Causes, Inc. (WIAPVC) Records has been digitized. WIAPVC was an interracial community organization dedicated to service outreach in the Durham community that began in 1968. Some of the issues addressed by the group included working towards peaceful school integration in the city of Durham, creating programs for disadvantaged youth, and aiding racial reconciliation in the South. In addition to a fantastic series of photographs from WIAPVC meetings and events, the collection features reports on their many programs and local newspaper clippings related to the work of founder Elna Spaulding and WIAPVC’s other members.

The second series of NCSU’s North Carolina Extension and Community Association Records has also been digitized and is freely available online. The North Carolina Extension and Community Association was formed by local home demonstration clubs that promoted continuing education in home economics and related subjects throughout their communities. Digitized content includes the majority of the NCECA’s Administrative Records series, a robust collection of material such as extension agent packets (used as “field guides” by personnel), agendas and notes from agriculture and home economics meetings as far back as 1916, and yearbooks documenting the activities of the organization between 1932 and 1995. Also of interest are the records from the African American component of the organization established on a statewide level in 1940, which was known as the “State Federation of Negro Home Demonstration Clubs.” In 1966 the two associations were integrated and renamed the North Carolina Extension Homemakers Association, which continues to operate today.

CCC progress update: W.C. George Papers and NCCU Faculty and Staff Photograph Records now online

Portions of two archival collections have been digitized by TRLN’s “Content, Context & Capacity” project: UNC’s W.C. George Papers and NCCU’s Faculty and Staff Photograph Records. Content is available online through the collections’ respective finding aids. These two collections offer unique perspectives on the Long Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina.

Wesley Critz George was a professor in the Medical School at UNC from 1920 to 1961 who served as head of the Department of Anatomy. Outside of his teaching, he was very active in the Patriots of North Carolina, a group working to prevent racial integration and maintain existing social structures. In addition, he was a well-recognized researcher on the genetics of race, and he developed his own theories regarding genetic components of “racial inferiority.” He published and spoke often on this topic, as well as on other aspects of what he termed “the race problem.” George was and remains a controversial subject in Tar Heel history.

In strong contrast to the W.C. George Papers, the NCCU Faculty and Staff Photograph Records provide a glance at the diverse and distinguished individuals who helped to build NCCU’s reputation as an outstanding black university in the South. Faculty portraits and more casual photos of gatherings and events help create a sense of the school as it grew and evolved during the course of the 20th century. Photographs feature professors such as historian John Hope Franklin, novelist Zora Neale Hurston (author of Their Eyes Were Watching God), photojournalist Alex M. Rivera, and Marjorie Brown (one of the first two African-American women to earn a PhD in Mathematics).

The collections can be accessed through the finding aids for the W.C. George Papers and the NCCU Faculty and Staff Photograph Records.