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Archives & Special Collections (ASC)

African American Life in Louisville: Manuscript Collections

Manuscript Collections (in alphabetical order)

Charles W. and Victoria McCall Anderson Papers
12.25 linear feet
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Son of a Frankfort, Kentucky physician and well-known school teacher, Charles Anderson graduated from Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute (Kentucky State University) and Wilberforce University before earning a law degree from Howard University in 1933. Quickly rising in Louisville political circles, Anderson, a Republican, was elected in 1935 to the Kentucky House of Representatives, as the first African-American state legislator in the entire South except under post-Civil War Reconstruction. Serving six consecutive terms, he successfully guided historic bills through the House, becoming a watchdog for Kentucky’s Black citizens during a time of blatant racial segregation. The collection includes personal scrapbooks/newspaper sheets, honoraria, diplomas, photos, family papers, political and social publications, and legal, legislative and business files belonging to Charles W. Anderson, Jr. and Victoria McCall Anderson as well as clippings and condolence materials associated with Charles Anderson's death.


Harvey W. Carman World War II Scrapbook
.375 linear foot
A scrapbook created by Harvey W. Carman, a member of the 302nd Fighter Squadron (part of the Army Air Forces 332nd Fighter Group), documenting his experiences in the European Theatre. The 332nd Fighter Group, along with the 477th Bombardment Group, were segregated African American units, and were also known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The 332nd Fighter Group was nicknamed the "Red Tails"; a brief typescript history of the 332nd Fighter Group is included with the scrapbook. The scrapbook includes well-identified photographs of military personnel as well as airplanes and scenery. Of particular interest is a photograph of a plane named "Strange Fruit." An image of a worship service highlights Carman's lifelong religious faith. Mr. Carman was orphaned, and was a resident student at the Lincoln Institute in Shelby County, Kentucky, graduating in 1937. Carman served in the Army from 1941 to 1945, rising to the rank of sergeant.


LaVal T. Duncan Papers
.5 linear foot
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LaVal T. Duncan (1907-1979) was born in Louisville and after attending Simmons and Ohio State Universities, he joined the staff of Mammoth Life Insurance Company in 1934. Through the years he held the positions of field auditor, cashier, assistant Treasurer, Treasurer and Vice President-Treasurer. These papers document the time he served on the Board of the Red Cross (later Community) Hospital.


Emmanuel Baptist Church Records, 1904-1983
1 reel microfilm
Emmanuel Baptist Church was established in 1887 as Gladstone Baptist Church; the name was changed in 1904. It was located on Tenth Street for many years before moving to 3515 West Broadway in 1962. The microfilm contains copies of a membership list from 1898 to 1939; photographs; anniversary guides from 1969 and 1983; legal documents; and two minute books covering the years 1904 to 1965.


Fifth Street Baptist Church Records, 1842-1972
6.25 linear feet
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The institution that ultimately became the Fifth Street Baptist Church was founded by the First Baptist Church of Louisville in 1815 as the "First Baptist African Mission." In 1829 the mission was allowed to be a separate organization with limited autonomy. In April 1842 the mission was organized as a completely distinct and separate church and took the name "The Colored Baptist Church of Louisville." During its history the church has had a relatively small number of ministers, each serving for a long period of time. These are the Fifth Street Baptist Church records, primarily minute books, of one of Louisville's oldest African American congregations. A "Historical Sketch of The Fifth Street Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky," written by George A. Hampton in 1969 is included in collection. Due to the condition of most of the collection, microfilmed copies are available for use.


Green Street Baptist Church Records, 1844-1994
3.1 linear feet
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Green Street Baptist Church, one of Kentucky's oldest African American churches, was founded in 1844 by George Wells as an offshoot of the First Baptist Church. The church originally bore the name Second African Church and then Second Colored Church. The present name was adopted around 1860. The collection contains minutes documenting membership, policy changes, disciplinary methods, letters, newspaper clippings, and photographs. Minutes of the building committee from 1924 to 1929, the choir's minutes, ledger, and attendance from 1935 to 1938 are present, along with later documentation such as a sesquicentennial celebration book and calendar, 1844 to 1994, and programs noting other anniversaries. The history of Green Street Baptist is outlined in a six-page unpublished historical sketch, "The Building of a Sanctuary," by Raoul Cunningham.


Grace James M.D. Papers, 1942-1989
21 linear feet
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This collection contains the personal papers of Grace James (1923-1989) an African American physician in Louisville, documenting her career as a pediatrician in practice from 1950 until her death in 1989. James was the first African American woman to obtain membership in the Jefferson County Medical Society, and the first African American woman to be appointed to the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Much of this material concerns the operation of the West Louisville Medical Center, which James founded. There is also information relating to medical and civic organizations in which she participated, particularly the Teen Awareness Project, which sought to address issues relating to young people.


Hill Street Baptist Church Records, 1894-1981
1 reel microfilm
Hill Street Baptist Church was an outgrowth of Green Street Baptist Church, one of Kentucky's oldest African American churches. It was originally located on Hill Street between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets. The church moved to 412 South Twenty-fourth Street in 1941. The microfilm contains two volumes of membership registries and monthly congregational minutes dating from 1908 to 1937.


Jefferson County (KY) Education Consortium Project Files, 1939-1980, bulk 1974-1979
2.5 linear feet

This is a study of the impact of desegregation on student enrollment and residential patterns in Jefferson County, Kentucky, public school district for the years 1976 to 1979. The files include statistical information, articles and news clippings, and other reference material in addition to the grant proposal. There are also interim reports and the final report to the granting agency, the National Institute of Education. George Cunningham, a professor with the University of Louisville School of Education, wrote the report in cooperation with William Husk, another UofL professor.


Lyman T. Johnson Papers, 1930-1995
23.5 linear feet
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The Lyman T. Johnson family and professional papers contains biographical and topical reference files on subjects of interest to a Louisville African American educator and civil rights leader largely from the 1950s to the early 1990s.  The files contain funeral programs, clippings, event programs, personal correspondence, mailings, brochures and other items.   Clipping scrapbooks containing similar kinds of material date back to early 1940s. Finally, personal correspondence, family genealogy and photos, school yearbooks, audio visual materials, honorific items, and a few books are also found.


Kean Family Papers, circa 1926-1938
1.5 linear feet
These papers include correspondence among parents William and Alice Kean and their sons William L., Daniel Garner, and Henry A. Kean, and daughter Olne Kean Boone; some unidentified photographs; miscellaneous fraternal and social records; athletic scorebooks; religious notes; a sewing sample book; and a 1934 autograph book belonging to Lincoln Institute freshman Arnita Louise Young, daughter of Whitney M. Young, Sr., then dean at Lincoln and soon to be head of the school.


Lincoln Institute of Kentucky, 1904-1971
1 reel microfilm
The Lincoln Institute, located near Simpsonville, Kentucky, was founded in 1909 by the trustees of Berea College (Berea, Kentucky) as a school for African Americans in response to the passage of the Day Law (1904), which prohibited black and white students from attending school together. From its founding to its closing in 1966, the school provided secondary vocational and college preparatory training for black students. The Lincoln Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 1947 to manage the school's assets and continue the mission of advancing black education, holds the originals of these records. The collection consists of two large scrapbooks and a photograph album assembled by successive administrators at the Lincoln Institute.


Barbara Simmons Miller papers. 1915-1995
1.25 linear feet
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The Barbara Miller Papers include biographical and genealogical materials, professional papers documenting her library work and service on several community boards, and a few items documenting the lives of her husband, Rowland Miller, and mother Vivian Simmons. There are extensive narratives and photographic materials chronicling her trip to the Soviet Union and a lesser amount on her trip to Europe. Both the slides and accompanying script for her lecture on William H. Sheppard are also found along with several unframed awards and diplomas. Finally, there are a goodly number of photographs of Miller, her husband Rowland, friends, and family members (including the Rabb family) spanning nearly eighty years.


Frank L. Moorman, Sr. Scrapbook, 1879-1976
1 reel of microfilm
Frank L. Moorman, Sr., grandson of a slave, was born in Daviess County, Kentucky. He established the Central Drug Company at the corner of Sixth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) in Louisville with Dr. J.C. McDonald in 1932. They also opened the F&M Service Station at the corner of Eighth and Walnut Streets in 1937. The station eventually became Frank's Super Station as a franchise of Standard Oil Company.
The microfilm is of an eighty-seven page scrapbook that included photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence. The bulk of the material concerns Moorman's business career and property ownership in Louisville, African American life in Louisville from the 1930s to the 1970s, and the Urban Renewal Project for the West Walnut St. area in the early 1960s. There is also some family information and correspondence about Moorman's grandmother, Dora Moorman, claimed to be the founder of the Buckhorn Community in Daviess County.


Lois Morris Papers, 1920-1988
10.75 linear feet
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Lois Morris (1919-1989) African American educator, social leader, civil right activist and political leader, served three terms on the Louisville Board of Aldermen for the twelfth ward from 1969 to 1975, and was a 1977 mayoral candidate in the Democratic primary. Morris, a native of Mississippi, came to Louisville with her husband, Dr. Ralph Morris, from New York City. She had earned an A.B. from Clark College in political science and an M.A. from Catholic University in Washington D.C. and had taught at the high school and college level. Morris was founder and executive director of the National Black Women for Political Action; charter member of the Louisville Urban League's Women's Committee; founder and president of the Louisville chapter of the National Council of Negro Women; vice-president of the Kentucky state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and secretary of the Southern Black Political Caucus. She was appointed to Louisville's first Human Relations Commission, Kentucky's first Insurance Regulatory Board, and to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Lois and Ralph Morris were noted for their annual Derby parties, which were written up in the Courier-Journal and the New York Times. Celebrated for her style as well as her substance, in 1963 Lois Morris was named one of the twenty-one best-dressed women by Ebony magazine.


Charles Henry Parrish, Jr. Papers, 1891-1983 (bulk: 1922-1945)
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13 linear feet, 1 reel microfilm
Charles Henry Parrish, Jr. (1899-1989), the son of Simmons College president Charles Henry Parrish Sr., was an educator and sociologist, who was also known for his participation in the civil rights movement and community work. This collection is a rich resource for African American studies and contains correspondence, printed material, literary productions, financial documents, and maps. Included are personal and professional correspondence from 1950 to 1970; manuscripts and published articles from 1954 to 1967, including notes and drafts; personal records from 1928 to 1965; records and working files of local and national agencies of which he was a member; Charles Henry Parrish Sr. and Mary V. Cook Parrish materials from 1904 to 1945; Francis Parrish materials from 1949 to 1967; Ursula Parrish West materials from 1956 to 1965; and family photographs. Also included are class notes taken by Parrish at the University of Chicago in the 1930s, and miscellaneous material. The latter includes letters, memoranda, notes, brochures, and other materials dating ca. 1930 to 1975. Parrish possibly used the Chicago class notes later to prepare lecture notes for his own classes.


Victor K. and Peggy Perry Papers, 1940s-1960s
3 linear feet
Victor K. Perry (ca. 1905-1996) taught physics at Central High School from the 1920s to the 1950s, as well as coaching the football team and his wife Peggy worked for the Defense Mapping Agency. These papers include letters, class notes, clippings, honors, and ephemera from civic and social organizations.


Presbyterian Community Center Records, 1893-1973
12 linear feet
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Founded in 1898 by seminarians as Hope Mission Station, a summer Sunday school for African American children, the center evolved into a settlement house for the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville and was joined in the task by Grace Mission. Financial support came from sponsoring churches, friends, and the Community Chest. In 1955 the name was changed to the John Little Presbyterian Center in honor of the center's founder and first director. In 1965 the name was changed again to the Presbyterian Community Center. Records contain annual reports, minutes, audit reports, programs, brochures, scrapbooks, and photographs; together with correspondence, reports, and a historical sketch of the mission. The collection also includes a biographical sketch of the Rev. John Little (1874-1948), founder and director for fifty years. The collection provides rich documentation on the center's activities and its role as and outpost in the federal government's war on poverty.


Progress in Education Records, 1972-1978
6 linear feet
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Progress in Education was a Louisville civil rights organization formed in 1972 to express support for racial integration in Louisville public schools and for the federal courts' plan for busing as a means to that end. The group also sought to protect African American students and their parents from violence. The group's guiding spirit and records-keeper was civil rights activist Anne Braden, who had long played an important role as a local organizer in racial struggles. The group's organizational records include correspondence, committee files, project files for rallies, workshops, marches, and membership lists. In addition there are drafts of testimony delivered in public hearings, written by Braden and others. A large topical file consisting of clippings from local and national newspapers and other materials treat major figures such as Judge James F. Grayson, and local politicians, as well as the Ku Klux Klan, "white flight," integration attempts in other cities, and the lawsuit that resulted in the order to bus Louisville students.


Earle E. Pruitt Papers, 1902-1955
2 linear feet
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Earle E. Pruitt, a prominent Louisville African American was employed as a Pullman car porter for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad for many years. He also graduated from Simmon's University Law Department with an L.L.B. in 1931 and took additional classes at Louisville Municipal College in 1934 and 1935. During the 1930s and 1940s Pruitt was active in several local charitable causes, including the War Fund, the Red Cross, and the March of Dimes. In the late 1930s Pruitt became manager of Beecher Terrace for the Louisville Municipal Housing Commission. He then went to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1944, traveling to Great Britain, France, and Germany as part of his duties. In 1945 he returned to work for the housing commission in Louisville. Pruitt was appointed by the governor to serve on the Colored Welfare Board (1937); The Veterans Reemployment Rights Committee (1949), and the Board of Regents for Kentucky State College (1952), the Governor's Commission on Education Desegregation, and the Advisory Commission on the Division of Library Extension. In 1956 he was awarded an honorary L.L.D. from Monrovia (Liberia) College and Industrial Institute.
This collection contains personal and official papers that document Pruitt's work with Louisville public housing, African Americans in Louisville, and UNRRA service.


Red Cross (Community) Hospital Records, 1907-1976
45.5 linear feet, plus 1 reel microfilm
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The Red Cross Hospital was founded in 1899 by a group of African American physicians in order to have a place to treat African American patients in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. In 1972 it was renamed Community Hospital. Due to financial difficulties, the hospital closed in 1975 and filed for bankruptcy in 1976. The collection contains correspondence, minutes of the board of directors and its committees, minutes of medical staff meetings, financial records, and patient records. Additional material relates to administration, fund drives, professional achievements of staff, and the eventual integration of Louisville hospitals. Community Hospital social service records contain files from 1973 to 1975, including out-patient referrals and services, patient folders, Mini-Home Project patient forms, lists of social workers and their addresses, volunteer work, River Region Elk Center patients' files. Also included is one reel of microfilm documenting the period from 1945 to 1952. Scrapbooks contain clippings and some correspondence, as well as documentation of fund drives in 1945 and 1948 and dedicatory exercises for a new addition to the hospital in 1951.


Maurice F. and Jewel Rabb Collection, 1954-1983
2.375 linear feet
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Maurice F. Rabb, M.D. (1902-1982), a native of Mississippi, attended Fisk University and Meharry Medical College. He was a civil rights crusader in Kentucky, first in Shelbyville in the late 30s and 40s, and later in Louisville where he practiced medicine. Rabb broke the color barrier in many areas of medical practice including the integration of the Jefferson County Medical Society and the medical staff of the Louisville General Hospital. Jewel Rabb, the widow of Maurice F. Rabb, moved from the 800 Building at Fourth and York Streets in Louisville in 2001 to live in Chicago where her son and grandsons reside. This collection contains plaques, awards, and other honors bestowed upon Maurice and Jewel Rabb. The Oral History Center housed at the University Archives and Records Center also has an audiotape and transcript of a 1977 interview with Dr. and Mrs. Rabb.


Simmons University Records, 1869-1971 (bulk: 1880-1920)
5.5 linear feet
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Simmons University originated in 1873, when the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky opened the Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute in Louisville. In 1884 the name changed to State University. In 1919 the name changed again, this time to Simmons University. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Simmons offered a variety of manual and academic programs. In 1930 it reorganized as Simmons Bible College limiting curriculum to religious training. This archive includes school catalogs, yearbooks, promotional literature, scrapbooks, and photographs; together with minutes and other publications of the school's sponsoring agency, General Association of Kentucky Baptists, formerly the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky. Also present is material on Central Law School and Louisville National Medical College, affiliates of the college, and on the history of the General Association and black Baptists in Kentucky, African American elementary, secondary, higher, and professional education in Kentucky, African Americans in Louisville, Kentucky's Day Law (1904), and Louisville Municipal College. Represented in the papers are William J. Simmons (1849-1890), and Charles Henry Parrish Sr., president from 1918 to 1931. Also included is historical material from Simmons University including two scrapbooks, a 1926-1927 yearbook, and one 1928 unsigned diploma.


Smith-McGill Family Papers, 1897-1978
9.25 linear feet
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James Edward Smith (1883-1969) and his family were influential members of Louisville's African American community. James Edward, co-founded the Domestic Life and Accident Company in 1920 and served as president of the National Negro Insurance Association. Upon retiring in 1962, he founded a loan company, the Fidelity Industrial Plan. He was a member of the Falls City Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Politically active, he served on the Jefferson County Kentucky Democratic executive committee, as a delegate to the 1964 Democratic national convention, and as State Representative from Kentucky's 42nd District (in Louisville) from 1964 to 1968. Like her husband, Verna Smith (1889-1966), was an active member of the Louisville community. She served in the Democratic Party on the local and national levels as an alternate delegate to the 1944 presidential convention, as the first black president of a local Democratic club, and the first black woman co-captain of a precinct.

Charlotte Smith McGill ([1919]-1988) shared her parents' participation in government and politics. She graduated from Howard University and earned a Master's degree from Indiana State University. Her husband, Hughes McGill served in the Kentucky State Legislature and upon his death in 1970, she agreed to serve out his unexpired term. In 1971, she was elected to the first of her own three full terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives. For many years she was vice-chair of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee.

This collection of family papers includes personal and business correspondence, financial and legal documents, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs dating from 1879 to 1978 that document the family's commitment to their church and community. James Edward Smith's papers are the strongest portion of the collection, with information about his personal and business interests.


Frank L. Stanley Papers, 1936-1974
41.75 linear feet
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Frank L. Stanley, Sr. (1906-1974) was editor, general manager, and publisher of the African American newspaper, the Louisville Defender for thirty-eight years. He was also involved with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, and twice inspected troop conditions overseas for the U.S. government. This collection consists of Stanley's personal papers while he was editor of the Defender, as well as the office records of the newspaper, including his correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, and memorabilia. The 25,000 photographic images from this collection are preserved at the Photographic Archives.


Walls Family Papers, ca. 1866-1979
3.17 linear feet
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Murray Atkins Walls (1900-1993) was active in the integration struggle in Louisville and a leader in the open housing campaign and the effort to integrate the Louisville Free Public Library. Her husband John H. Walls was a prominent Louisville physician who established well baby clinics in Louisville's African American neighborhoods. He also served on the governing board of Louisville Red Cross Hospital and on the board of the National Association of Colored People. Sixty photographs and two tintypes (preserved at the Photographic Archives) document various members of the Atkins and Walls families and some of the activities of Murray A. Walls. The papers reflect Murray Walls' involvement in the civil rights movement in Louisville. A smaller portion deals with her husband's professional and civic interests. Also included are records and memorabilia concerning Murray Walls' father, Calvin R. Atkins, an Indianapolis physician.


Thomas Washington, Jr. Photographs, 1940s-1980s
.375 linear feet
Approximately 200 photographs taken by Thomas Washington, Jr., a Louisville Defender photographer, with newspaper clippings and other associated material. Subjects of photos include Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Sammy Davis Jr., the 1963 March on Washington, 1964 World’s Fair, Kentucky Derby race finishes, and various musicians and performers.


George D. Wilson Papers, 1923-1982
2.75 linear feet
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African American educator George D. Wilson (1898-1992) served as dean of the West Kentucky Industrial College in 1930 before coming to the Louisville Municipal College, where he served as a professor of education from 1934 to 1951. Wilson then became professor and head of the department of education at Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University), holding these positions until 1964. His papers document his teaching career, including publications of the Kentucky Negro Education Association and the Kentucky Teachers Association, reports of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and correspondence and audits for the Red Cross Hospital in Louisville dating from 1965 to 1970.


Linda L. Wilson Collection of Louisville Municipal College Memorabilia, 1930-1999
7.75 linear feet
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This collection is made up of memorabilia of Louisville Municipal College (LMC) collected by Linda L. Wilson. There are scrapbooks, yearbooks, football programs, issues of the student newspaper, photographs, a sweater, a jacket, a beanie, banners, and obituaries for deceased alumni. This collection includes a series of oral history interviews conducted by Linda Wilson; these interviews have been transcribed. There are also some items from an exhibit on African American soldiers.


Frederick Woolsey Papers, 1946-1980
.5 linear feet
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Frederick W. Woolsey was a reporter for the Louisville Times from 1955 to 1965, writing on civil rights and race relations. Later as a staff reporter for the Sunday Magazine of the Courier-Journal, he wrote on African American history and leadership in the community. His papers consist of correspondence, copies and drafts of articles, reporter's notes, newspaper clippings, and reference material on African Americans in Kentuckiana.