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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: 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.

 

Sources:

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.

From the Archives: Terror in Anson County with the Integration of the Morven City Schools, 1966-1967

This post is the 11th 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.

UNC, NC Council on Human Relation records, folder 519, scan 35

Late one Friday night in September 1966 in Anson County, NC, a bomb exploded about twenty feet outside the home of Clyde Owens. Just weeks before, his two eldest children had been among the first African Americans to attend Morven, the formerly all-white school in the county. This began a string of terrorism that lasted throughout the 1966-1967 school year. Documents from a civil action lawsuit documenting these events can be found in the North Carolina Council on Human Relations Records, which were recently digitized as part of the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s large-scale digitization grant.

That same night, a poolroom that had recently opened its doors to African Americans was also bombed. A couple weeks later in the early morning hours of Monday, September 12, two more bombs were detonated at the homes of African American families with children attending Morven. At about 1:00 a.m. that same night, a third bomb was thrown at the home of another African American resident, Lula Liles. The explosion shattered every window and mirror in her house. Her son, Larry, had chosen to attend Morven as part of a new freedom of choice plan that permitted parents and students to choose which school children would attend. A fourth bomb exploded on September 12 under the family car of Ellis Brodie, destroying the car and most of the windows in her house. As of the filing of the civil action brief in January 1968 that details these events, no one had been arrested or prosecuted for the bombings.
Continue reading ‘From the Archives: Terror in Anson County with the Integration of the Morven City Schools, 1966-1967’

From the Archives: An NCCU President Resists Pressure to Discourage Student Participation in Civil Rights Action

This post is the 10th in a series from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing more than 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions.  For more on this digitization project, click here.

Alfonso Elder Papers, Folder 215, speech: scans 2-9

When North Carolina Central University President Alfonso Elder was asked to address a regional meeting of the National Student Association at Duke University on 25 February 1962, the administration hoped he would dissuade students from participation in local civil rights protests while he lectured those gathered on the “proper form of student commitment to an ideal of racial justice” and the “proper relationship of the university to its donors and legal owners” [1]. The speech that Elder gave, titled “The Responsibility of the University to Society (With Special Emphasis on Student Involvement in Extra-Class Affairs),” was not the lecture on passivity that some may have hoped for. Instead, Elder clearly articulated his heartfelt belief in the multi-faceted roles and responsibilities of the academic community and the indisputable right of students, faculty, and employees to display their “loyalty to the ideal of social justice” [1].

Continue reading ‘From the Archives: An NCCU President Resists Pressure to Discourage Student Participation in Civil Rights Action’

CCC Progress update: digitization complete for N.C. Council on Human Relations Records

Example content: "Federal Fair Employment Law: summary and analysis of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act"

TRLN’s “Content, Context, & Capacity” grant has recently finished digitizing a portion of the North Carolina Council on Human Relations Records and digital content is now freely available online through the collection finding aid. The North Carolina Council on Human Relations (NCCHR) was an interracial organization seeking solutions to racial problems and concerns in North Carolina between 1954 and 1969. Research and communication were the primary methods employed by the organization to further its goals, and the results of these efforts make up the material preserved in this collection. Through the CCC grant, more than 280 folders of the collection were digitized including reports, correspondence, proposals, newsletters, and speeches relating to the work of NCCHR. This collection represents a variety of rich and diverse material, including reports on the racial violence at a Greensboro High School in 1969, articles and bulletins produced and collected by an anti-capital punishment group in North Carolina, and a speech delivered by President Lyndon B. Johnson at Howard University in June of 1965. Digital content can be accessed through the collection finding aid.

By Emily Bowden, CCC Graduate Research Assistant at UNC-Chapel Hill

From the Archives: A Culinary Lens to Segregation

This post is the 9th in a series from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing more than 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions.  For more on this digitization project, click here.

Rencher Nicholas Harris Papers, Box 4, Folder 4, scan 71: Durham City Schools – Cafeteria System, Revenue and Expense, Year Ended June 30, 1959 (rnhms01004071).

Rencher Nicholas Harris was Durham’s first African American city councilman as well as a member of the Board of Education and the Secretary for the Board of Directors of Lincoln Hospital.  His papers, collected at the Rubenstein Library and now digitized through a collaborative TRLN large-scale digitization project, cover the scope of his civic efforts from public health to transit planning. The document shown here from the Harris collection is a budgetary analysis of Durham school cafeterias in 1959, yet it is also a prime example of how civic documents demonstrate racial realities.

At first glance, the document lists the budgets of all of the public school cafeterias in Durham, separated into white and “negro” categories.  Examine the figures more closely and the depth of racism in the school segregation policy becomes clear.  For example, compare the operation expenses of white Durham High and African-American Hillside High ($68,475.27 to $39,346.22, respectively).  In addition, the white schools show a net income of $6,205.02 versus the net monetary loss of the African American schools of $4,638.23.  These statistics present a strong quantitative case against the “separate but equal” doctrine that legally supported Jim Crow laws.  One must remain cautious at overusing the figures given above without further contextual evidence.  Fortunately, such context is provided in the digitization of the Rencher Nicholas Harris papers. With Harris’ entire collection online, researchers now have the opportunity to determine the full significance of these statistical witnesses to inequality.

By Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Research Assistant at Duke

From the Archives: Alfonso Elder on the Pursuit of Excellence in a Changing World

This post is the 8th in a series from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing more than 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions.  For more on this digitization project, click here.

Alfonso Elder, NCCU President (1948-1963)

President of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) during the height of the civil rights era, Alfonso Elder was placed in an ideal position to observe student activism and the role that young adults played within the civil rights movement. He was an adamant supporter of such student involvement and strongly believed that one of the best ways for youth to contribute to the cause was the serious pursuit of their studies. [1]

Elder, the second president of NCCU, served from 1948 to 1963 at a time when the institution was known as the North Carolina College at Durham. However, Elder’s history at NCCU began two decades before his presidency, when he worked as a professor of Education and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1924 to 1943. [2] In 1925, soon after Elder’s arrival, NCCU became the nation’s first state-supported liberal arts college for African Americans. [3] As both an educator and a university president, Elder was fiercely dedicated to his students and to the field of higher education.

Continue reading ‘From the Archives: Alfonso Elder on the Pursuit of Excellence in a Changing World’