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Call No.: HUM 114
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Simmons, Roscoe Conkling, 1881-1951
Title: Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection, 1917-1951 and undated.
Date(s): 1917-1951 and undated.
Quantity: .17 cubic feet (1 half-document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection provides a glimpse into the political activities of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, African American Republican and advisor to presidents, from 1917 to 1951. Correspondence in this collection illustrates Simmons' demand as a public speaker; photographs reveal Simmons' involvement in political campaigns; and writings and biographical materials highlight the esteem in which Simmons was held in by his contemporaries.
In the Harvard University Archives
- Papers of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, 1904-1951 (HUM 2.xx): includes personal and professional correspondence, speeches and writings, photographs, public announcements and event programs, sound recordings, and news clippings about Simmons.In the Auburn Avenue Research Library, Atlanta, Georgia
- Roscoe Conkling Simmons family papers, ca. 1860s-1950s: includes correspondence, photographs, books from Simmons' personal library, and historical ephemera.
Roscoe Conkling Simmons (1878 or 1881-1951) was an African American Republican, advisor to presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover; and a spokesman for black interests in the United States. He began his career as a reporter for the Pensacola Daily Press (1899); and eventually become a columnist and sales representative for the Chicago Defender (1913). Simmons helped the Defender achieve the widest circulation of any black newspaper in the country. Simmons supported the involvement of African Americans in political leadership positions and was a strong supporter of Theodore Roosevelt's bid for the presidency in 1912. During World War I Simmons traveled to Europe to report on the conditions of black soldiers and to help counter German propaganda efforts designed to undermine African American support for the war. In 1920, Simmons met with delegates from 31 states to organize the Lincoln League of America to promote the voting rights of African Americans, improved educational opportunities, social equality, and to protest against the lynching of African Americans in the South. His oratory skills were widely recognized and Simmons served as Chairman of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee during the presidential election campaigns of 1920, 1924, and 1928. In 1932, Simmons seconded the nomination of Herbert Hoover for the presidency and managed Hoover's campaign among African Americans. In 1936, he led a successful fight to replace an all-white South Carolina Republican delegation with an integrated one. During the 1940s, Simmons was a featured writer for the Chicago Tribune. In his column The Untold Story, Simmons emphasized cooperation among black and white Americans and told stories of successful African Americans.
- Smith, Roland M. "Simmons, Roscoe Conkling." Dictionary of American Biography. Ed. John A. Garraty. Supplement Five 1951-1955. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977. 632-633.
The records are arranged in four series:
The Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection provides a glimpse into Simmons' involvement in Republican Party politics from 1917 to 1951. The correspondence in this collection illustrates Simmons' demand as a public speaker and participant in Republican Party politics; photographs reveal Simmons' involvement in political campaigns and canvassing for votes; and writings and biographical materials highlight the esteem in which Simmons was held in by his contemporaries.
This document last updated 2016 April 8.