[OASIS] Harvard University Library
OASIS: Online Archival Search Information System
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:RAD.SCHL:sch00160View HOLLIS Record   Frames Version
Questions or Comments   Copyright Statement

Brown, Charlotte Hawkins, 1883-1961. Papers, 1900-1961: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe College
April 1984

© 1984 Radcliffe College


Call No.: A-146/M-92
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Title: Papers, 1900-1961
Quantity: 1 carton, 1 1/2 file boxes, 4 oversize folders, 2 folio+ folders, 4 reels of microfilm (M-92)
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, etc., of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, educator and founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: April 1984
By: Bert Hartry

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 781, 1071, 1096
The papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, educator and founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute, were given to the Schlesinger Library by her niece, Maria Cole, in July 1964 and December 1966, and by Wilhelmina M. Crosson, President Emerita, Palmer Memorial Institute, in October 1966. The microfilming of the papers was funded partly by the Friends of the Schlesinger Library and partly by the Historic Sites Section, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-92.


Charlotte Hawkins Brown (June 11, 1883-January 11, 1961) was born in Henderson, North Carolina, the daughter of Caroline Frances Hawkins and Edmund H. Hight. The family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the late 1880's, where CHB attended public schools. During her senior year of high school Alice Freeman Palmer, formerly president of Wellesley College, encouraged her to attend the State Normal School at Salem and provided financial support. In 1901 CHB accepted a job as teacher in a one-room school in rural Sedalia, North Carolina. It was this school that CHB transformed, with the help of many contributors, into an accredited school and junior college and renamed Palmer Memorial Institute (PMI). In 1911 CHB married Edward S. Brown, also a teacher; they had no children and were later separated. CHB became a nationally recognized educator and received honorary doctorates from Howard, Tuskegee and other universities. She was active in the National Council of Negro Women, the N.C. Teachers Association, and many other organizations, and she was the first black woman to serve on the national board of the Young Women's Christian Association. She lectured and wrote about Negro women, education, and race relations. CHB remained president of PMI until 1952. She died of heart failure in Greensboro, N.C., in 1961.

For additional biographical information, see #1-29 in this collection, and the article about CHB in Notable American Women (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), which includes a list of additional sources.


This collection provides information about CHB's life and activities, about PMI, and particularly about CHB's continuing struggle to enlarge the school, the financial problems she encountered, and her constant fund-raising efforts. It is arranged in three series:
Series I, Personal and biographical, contains biographical material by CHB and by others, including an incomplete draft of an unpublished biography of CHB by Ceci Jenkins. There are also speeches (some are excerpts and reports by others) and writings by CHB, certificates, awards and honorary degrees received by CHB, and photographs of her and others. Of her speeches CHB said, "For the most part [they]... are along social lines of uplift and general educational practice" ("The Quest of Culture," 1929, in #14). The writings and speeches included here are mainly about race relations and Negro women and were delivered on such occasions as meetings, anniversaries, memorial services, graduations, and on receiving honors. The series begins with the biographical papers, followed by CHB's speeches and writings, her awards and honors, and photographs.
Series II, Correspondence, contains mainly letters to and from CHB (most CHB letters are typescript carbon copies). Many of those to CHB are letters of congratulation. Much of the correspondence deals with PMI: fund-raising, expansion, and events. Dated correspondence (see "Microfilm of Collection") is arranged chronologically. No attempt was made to reconstruct the chronology of the undated letters, which follow the dated correspondence and are arranged in two alphabetical groups: from CHB and to CHB. There is one folder of letters from others to others. An Index of Correspondents follows the inventory. Researchers should refer to this index, as there is also correspondence in the other series, particularly Series III.
Series III, Palmer Memorial Institute, is divided into two sections: Administration and Students, each arranged chronologically. The first contains copies of the charter (1907) and the constitution and by-laws (1908), various CHB reports to the Board of Trustees, reports by the staff to CHB, some financial and fund-raising records, brochures, press releases, programs, scrapbooks and photographs. The second section includes documents about student activities, publications, and essays about PMI. Such items as the scrapbooks, photographs, and clippings document both the administration of PMI and its students.


A card for each of the following appears in the card catalog:
American Missionary Association
Anthony, Susan B II, 1917-
Baldwin, Maria Louise, 1856-1922
Bethune, Mary (McLeod), 1875-1955
Bright, J S
Brooks, Louise Winsor
Burroughs, Nannie H 1879-1961
Cogswell, Theodora Bates
Comfelt, Una S
Comstock, Ada Louise, 1876-1973
Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1979
Deering, Grace L
De Priest, Oscar, 1871-1951
Dillard, James Hardy, 1856-1940
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, 1868-1963
Ehringhaus, John Christopher Blucher, 1882-1949
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1923
Eliot, Samuel Atkins, 1862-1950
Ely, Joseph Buell, 1881-1956
Gallagher, Buell Gordon, 1904-
Graham, Frank Porter, 1886-1972
Grinnell, Mary R
Guthrie, Frances A
Harlow, S Ralph, 1885-1972
Hayes, Roland W 1887-1977
Heathfield, Laura I
Hobgood, Frank P Jr., 1872-
Hoey, Clyde Roark, 1877-1954
Hope, John, 1868-1936
Horton, Mildred (McAfee), 1900-
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
Hutchins, William J 1871-1958
Jenkins, Ceci R
Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938
Jones, David Dallas, 1887-1956
Kimball, Helen F
Low, Seth, 1850-1916
McIver, Lula V (Martin)
Macmahons, Elizabeth W
Marks, Jeannette, 1875-1964
Miller, Kelly, 1863-1939
Ovington, Mary White, 1865-1951
Palmer family
Palmer Memorial Institute
Peabody, George Foster, 1852-1938
Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor (Roosevelt), 1884-1962
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 1882-1945
Roosevelt, Sara (Delano), 1854-1941
Rosenwald, Julius, 1862-1932
Schneiderman, Rose, 1884-1972
Slowe, Lucy Diggs, 1885-1937
Spaulding, Charles Clinton, 1874-1952
Stone, Carrie Morton, -1945
Stone, Galen Luther, 1862-1926
Talbert, Mary Burnett, 1866-1923
Vickery, Annie L
Walker, Madame C.J., 1867-1919
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, 1856-1915
Washington, Margaret James (Murray), 1865-?
Wharton, Edward P
Woolley, Mary Emma, 1863-1947
Work, Monroe Nathan, 1866-1945
Congres International des Femmes, 1945--Paris
Educational fund raising
National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women
North Carolina--Education
Speeches, addresses, etc.
United States–Race Relations



For a list of the contents of A-146, see the inventory that follows. When requesting portions of the collection on microfilm, please use the microfilm number and the reel number.
A-146, folder M-92, reel
#1-29 1
#30-41 2
#42-55 3
#56-76 4