Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to A. P. Tureaud

Today is the birthday of A. P. Tureaud, prominent civil rights attorney and contemporary of Thurgood Marshall.  Born in New Orleans in 1899, Tureaud grew up acutely aware of the racial segregation which conditioned virtually all aspects of daily life.  Tureaud left New Orleans in his teens, and after shifting around for a few years - between cities including Chicago and New York - he entered Howard Law School in 1922 and received a bachelor of laws degree in 1925.  Tureaud passed the District of Columbia bar exam shortly after graduating, but ultimately decided to return to New Orleans.

Tureaud was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1927, and he served as Louisiana's only active African American lawyer between 1937 and 1947.  Tureaud maintained a long association with the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, and he helped push this group toward playing a more aggressive role in challenging the state's deeply entrenched institutional discrimination.  This activism led to lawsuits challenging pay inequality in Louisiana public schools (Joseph P. McKelpin v. Orleans Parish School Board, for example), as well as segregation in higher education (such as Viola Johnson v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana).  Other suits involved the integration of New Orleans Public Schools, city parks, and other public facilities. 

Tureaud retired in 1971, intending to turn his efforts to writing his autobiography and collecting documents and artifacts to found a museum on Louisiana African American history.  However, a diagnosis of cancer foreshortened these projects. 

The Amistad Research Center houses the personal and professional papers of A. P. Tureaud, reflecting his career as Louisiana's most active civil rights lawyer.  These papers include ligitation records, as well as documents related to desegregation in transportation and municipal facilities.  Other materials include biographical items and collected items pertaining to Tureaud's activities in documenting African American life in Louisiana.  An online guide to this collection can be found here at the Center's searchable archival database.  This database, Archon, reflects a recent initiative at the Center to increase access to collections on the web.  Though only a small percentage of our collections are available on Archon at this time (all presently available are viewable here), this number will increase gradually to eventually include all collections.

Other items relating to Tureaud, including the documentary Journey for Justice, can be found through the Tulane University Libraries catalog

Posted by Andrew Salinas

(From the Alexander Pierre Tureaud papers, Amistad Research Center.  Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

African American School Newspapers Collection: Project Complete!

Amistad staff are pleased to announce the conclusion of a grant-funded project cataloging rare school newspapers and periodicals from the Depression-era South.  Termed the African American School Newspapers Collection, the collection totals 160 titles from 121 African American elementary schools, high schools, community colleges, universities, and law and medical schools.  The collection is especially valuable to those interested in life and education in the Jim Crow South, and it provides a useful resource to alumni groups and genealogists as well.

Due to the social conditions at the time of these materials’ publication, the collecting of African Americana was then widely de-emphasized.  Additionally, resources for HBCU libraries were scant and archival components of HBCU libraries were then virtually nonexistent.  These factors combined make the African American School Newspapers Collection an especially valuable American heritage resource.  Of the 160 titles, 60% are not reflected in the OCLC national catalog, and it can be assumed that for many of these titles the only extant copies are in the Amistad Research Center’s collection. 

To search the collection, go to the Tulane University Library catalog and search with the keywords “African American school newspapers collection.” 

The Center would like to thank the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for their generous support of this project.  
Depicted above is a 1949 issue of The Washington News-Flash of Tulsa, Oklahoma, John Hope Franklin’s alma mater. 

Posted by Andrew Salinas

(From the library collection of the Amistad Research Center.  Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NAACP Turns 101

This Friday marks the 101st anniversary of the NAACP. Founded in 1909 – a hundred years to the day of Abraham Lincoln’s birth – the NAACP launched its official organ in 1910: The Crisis. Deriving its name from James Russell Lowell’s 1844 poem “The Present Crisis,” the publication is among the longest-running African American periodicals. Only occasionally did the official subtitle of The Crisis, “A Record of the Darker Races,” appear on the cover. This subtitle was abandoned altogether in 1997, when the publication was then known as The New Crisis: The Magazine of Opportunities and Ideas. The publication has since returned to its original name and it now published quarterly.  The inaugural issue, shown here, was printed only in 1000 copies.
Numerous manuscripts collections at the Amistad Research Center reflect the work of the NAACP through the years. To cite just two examples, the papers of Daniel Ellis Byrd and Alexander Pierre (A. P.) Tureaud reflect the heroic and indefatigable efforts of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the long fight for equality.

Posted by Andrew Salinas

(From the library collection of the Amistad Research Center.  Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Best Wishes to the New Orleans Saints

The staff of the Amistad Research Center would be remiss if we did not send a little "Who Dat!" cheer to the New Orleans Saints as they prepare for the Super Bowl this weekend. The holiday card below was sent out by the Saints' Bonnes Amies Dancers in 1977 and received by incoming New Orleans mayor Ernest "Dutch" Morial. The card is housed in the Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial Papers at Amistad. We feature the card here as a way to return the well wishes to the Saints.

Posted by Chris Harter

(From the Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial Papers, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Greetings from the staff of the Amistad Research Center. We intend for this blog to act as a space to inform the public about events, exhibits, initiatives, acquisitions, and other news.  This blog will also serve as a more informal forum for showcasing highlights from our rich collections. We welcome any comments or questions about items showcased or our holdings in general.

The Amistad Research Center was founded in 1966 to document the modern civil rights movement and today is the nation's largest independent archives specializing in chronicling America's rich ethnic heritage. The Center traces its earliest roots to the Amistad Committee (a precursor to the American Missionary Association), a proto-Abolitionist group who initially banded together in 1839 to represent the Mende Africans following their rebellion on the Cuban vessel La Amistad. Their case ultimately went to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the captives were represented by
then-former President John Quincy Adams.

Shown here is a May 1841 letter of thanks to Adams, written by some of the Mende Africans. It reads in part:

Dear Friend,
We thank you very much because you make us free because you love all Mendi people. They give you money for Mendi people and you say you will not take it because you love Mendi people. We love you very much and we will pray for you when we rise up in the morning and when we lie down at night. We hope the Lord will love you very much and take you up to heaven when you die. We pray for all the good people who make us free. Wicked people want to make us slaves but the great God who has made all things raise up friends for Mendi people he give us Mr. Adams we write our names for you.

Mr. Adams,
Dear Friend, We write this to you because you plead with the Great Court to make us free and now we are free and joyful we thank the Great God. I hope God will bless you dear friend. Mendi people will remember you when we go to our own country and we will tell our friends about you and we will say to them Mr. Adams is a great man and he plead for us and how very glad we be and our friends will love you very much because you are a very good man and oh how joyful we shall be. Mendi hope the great God will send down His Holy Spirit upon you and have mercy upon you and that our dear saviour Jesus Christ will bless you and give you a new heart. We write this because you plead for us. We give you good love.

Posted by Andrew Salinas

(Letter from the American Missionary Association Archive, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)