Rev. James A. Felton: Montford Point Marine, Grassroots Organizer, Educator, and Family Man

[Today we feature the life and work of Reverend James A. Felton of Hertford County, North Carolina. The Southern Historical Collection is proud to be the repository that preserves a small collection of papers from the Felton family (the James A. and Annie V. Felton Papers, Collection #5161, finding aid). The following biographical note comes from the finding aid for the Felton Papers.]

James Andrew Felton was born on 6 July 1919 in Hertford, Perquimans County, N.C. After spending almost three years in the United States Marine Corps, he earned his B.S. from Elizabeth City State Teachers College (now Elizabeth City State University) and his M.A. from North Carolina College at Durham (now North Carolina Central University). He taught in the Greene and Hertford County school systems for 20 years, and, in 1965 he published “Fruits of Enduring Faith,” a story that dramatizes the human issues behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the mid-1960s, Felton and Reverend John L. Scott of New Ahoskie Baptist Church formed the People’s Program on Poverty, an African American organization created to study and fight poverty on the grass-roots level. Through his work in this program, Felton founded the first Family Training Center in the United States. During this time, he was also actively involved in organizations such as the President’s Commission on Rural Poverty, the North Carolina Family Life Council, and a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1980, Felton established the C. S. Brown School Auditorium Restoration Association to restore Brown Hall, a building that had been part of the campus of Chowan Academy, an African American school founded in 1886 by Calvin Scott Brown. The C. S. Brown Regional Cultural Arts Center and Museum in Winton, N.C., opened in 1986.

James A. Felton married Annie Vaughan on 3 August 1947. They had six children: James Andrew, Jr., Keith, Maria, Sharon, Michele, and Camilla. James A. Felton died in Winton, N.C., on 6 October 1994.

[To learn more about the contents of the SHC’s Felton Papers collection, please see the finding aid].

Creator of the Month… Guion Griffis Johnson

[Each month we feature a “creator” or one of the SHC’s manuscript collections. In archival terms, a creator is defined as an individual, group, or organization that is responsible for a collection’s production, accumulation, or formation.]

Guion Griffis Johnson of Chapel Hill, N.C., was a professor, author, scholar, journalist, women’s advocate, and general civic leader. Johnson held a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina. She published three books: A Social History of the Sea Islands (1930), Antebellum North Carolina (1937), and Volunteers in Community Service (1967). Her husband was Guy Johnson, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the 1920s and 1930s, Johnson and her husband worked together at the Institute for Research in Social Science at University of North Carolina. Continue reading “Creator of the Month… Guion Griffis Johnson”

Tickets to the 1937 Inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Following yesterday’s festivities in Washington, D. C., we felt it might be nice to share with you a piece of presidential inaugurations past. Shown below is a ticket to the 1937 inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his second inauguration, and the accompanying invitation to meet with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

From the Frank A. Daniels Papers (SHC Collection #4481, finding aid):

Inauguration tickets from 1937
Invitation to meet the Roosevelts
Invitation to meet the Roosevelts

Creator of the Month… Cone Mills Corporation

From Cone Mills Corporation Records (Collection #5247)
From Cone Mills Corporation Records (Collection #5247)

[Each month we feature a “creator” of one of the SHC’s manuscript collections. In archival terms, a creator is defined as an individual, group, or organization that is responsible for a collection’s production, accumulation, or formation.]

Cone Mills Corporation (and predecessor Proximity Manufacturing Company and its other subsidiary and affiliated companies) manufactured denim and other textiles chiefly in North Carolina and South Carolina. Moses Herman Cone (1857-1908), Ceasar Cone (1859-1917), and other Cone family members began investing in the textile industry in the late nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth century were world leaders in textile manufacturing. Continue reading “Creator of the Month… Cone Mills Corporation”

Name that Signature

Many of the SHC’s collections contain letters, notes, cards, and other writings by individuals of a certain historical celebrity. We have many items signed by presidents, sports stars, famous actors, authors, and more.

A number of these luminaries actually have pretty poor penmanship. So, just for fun, we thought we’d share a few squiggly ones here to see if you, the reader, can guess the name behind the signatures. If you’d like to guess, please do so in the comment box below. Later we’ll share the identities of these mystery folks.

Here’s a clue: all of the following are signatures of famous writers of the 20th century.

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Eleven Reasons Why Everybody Should Buy the Studebaker Wagon (1877)

I came across this great little pamphlet yesterday in the Burwell Benson Papers (Collection #60-z, finding aid). It’s an 1877 catalog of “farm, freight, plantation, platform & spring wagons” from the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company of South Bend, Indiana – the same Studebaker famous for producing those swank early 20th-century (horse-less) automobiles.

The catalog includes wonderful pictures of the 1877 models (with such names as: “Salt Lake Wagons” or “Pic Nic Wagons”), a nice pullout engraving showing the South Bend factory, a page extolling the virtues of The Studebaker Slope Shoulder Spoke (“the most solid and strongest wheel yet invented”), and price lists for wagon upgrades (like “seats” or “brakes”). Finally, the catalog includes a list of the “Eleven Reasons Why Everybody Should Buy the Studebaker Wagon.” Here are some highlights from those reasons:

First: It is made of the best selected INDIANA TIMBER, the same being cut at the proper season of the year, piled under sheds, properly dated, and allowed to remain there from three to five years.

Sixth: It is the only wagon in which the SLOPE-SHOULDER SPOKE is used. hence they have the best wheel, which is actually the foundation of the wagon, and should be carefully examined by persons purchasing.

Ninth: The Studebaker Brothers are practical workmen, attend to their business personally, and do not intrust it to the Foreman, as is generally the case in large factories, hence the superiority of their work over all others.

[Thought I’d just throw in a picture of their sleigh selection, for good measure. If you had some dashing to do in the snow in 1877, it looks like it would have only cost you $57.50 to get outfitted with one of these beauties.]

Early interracial conferences, Part III

Negro-White Conference, Shaw University
Pamphlet, #4107 Olive M. Stone papers, folder 29

Southern Conference for Human Welfare
20-23 November 1938, Birmingham Ala.
This is a pamphlet from a third interracial conference attended by Olive M. Stone. Inside it describes topics to be discussed at the conference, as well as the purpose of having such a conference: bringing together progressive leaders in the South.

“The Conference issues an urgent invitation to all Southern progressives -individuals and organizations- to attend its sessions and participate in the discussions and conference decisions on suggested remedies for Southern ills. Subjects to be discussed will include public health, education, child labor and youth problems, race relations, prison reform, labor relations, farm tenancy, suffrage, and constitutional rights…
…There are many liberal thinkers and leaders in the South. Their number is rapidly increasing. Progressive ideas and the desire for progressive action are spreading. Their leaders have heretofore been isolated and scattered, the effectiveness of their work limited by lack of coordination. It is believed that the Conference, by providing a meeting ground for all Southern progressives, will promost mutual trust and cooperation between them for greater service to the South.”

Finding Aid for the Olive M. Stone Papers (#4107)

Related Posts:

Early interracial conferences, Part I

Olive M. StoneOlive M. Stone, an Alabama native, was a sociologist whose work focused on social welfare, race relations, and southern farmers. That’s her, pictured here in Russia, 1931. Stone’s involvement in civil rights and radical politics brought her to a number of southern and northern interracial conferences in the 1930s. This post is the first of three that will highlight some of the documents that represent these conferences in the Olive M. Stone Papers, illustrating some of the earlier stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement.

Swarthmore Institute of Race Relations
"The Institute of Race Relations: an attempt at evaluation by a southern woman," #4107 Olive M. Stone papers, folder 6

The Swarthmore institute of Race Relations
July 1934, Swarthmore College, P.A.
Stone wrote this evaluation of the conference, praising it for it’s “truly inter-racial character.” The conference was sponsored by Pennsylvania Society of Friends, lasted twenty-nine days, and featured twenty-nine African American speakers.
Excerpt:


“Too often, at inter-racial conferences which I have attended in the South, there is a patronizing approach on the part of the whites and an ingratiating appeal from the Negroes. At such meetings, the races usually sit on opposite sides of a public hall and are discreetly careful to discuss only the most flagrant abuses of discrimination which neither would dare challenge; as, for example, the undue cruelty administered to a certain Negro on a “jim-crow” street-car rather than the whole question of segregation in transportation…”

Finding Aid for the Olive M. Stone Papers (#4107)

Regulations to Govern the Teachers’ Homes, 1921-1922

Regulations for Teachers' Homes, by Charles L. Coon
Regulations for Teachers, by Charles L. Coon

This document, “Regulations to Govern the Teachers’ Homes,” 1921-1922, was prepared by Charles L. Coon, an early 20th-century education reformer and superintendent of Wilson County schools, in order to protect the the “property of the public” (apparently referring to the home itself) and the “health and good name of the teachers.” Some highlights include:

8.(d) The principal will not grant any teacher permission to leave the home on Saturday or Sunday nights to take rides or to make visits with a person of the opposite sex unless the couple is accompanied by a suitable chaperone.

8.(e) Dancing and card playing will not be permitted in the home, and the principal must not give any teacher permission to attend a dance or card party outside the teachers’ home.

8.(f) The great majority of all the pictures showing in the moving picture theaters are morally degrading or wholly unprofitable and far from uplifting and wholesome. A teacher who has only a small sense of her moral obligations and the influence of her example will hardly need a rule to guide her attendance on such places of public amusement.

Item comes from the Charles L. Coon Papers (#177 finding aid), Folder 135.