When people think about doing research in an archive, they often think about historians and biographers. Though many of the scholars conducting research in archival collections are in humanities disciplines, archives can be invaluable to scholars in fields such as sociology as well. The Horace Mann and Julia W. Bond family papers, now fully processed and available for research, is one of those collections.
Horace Mann Bond was an African American educator and scholar of the history of black education in America. His dissertation was entitled Social and Economic Influences on the Public School Education of Negroes in Alabama, 1865-1930. He taught at several southern universities, including Fort Valley State College, Fisk University, Dillard University, and Atlanta University; and he was also President of Fort Valley and Lincoln University. In the 1960s, while serving as Dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University, Bond began work on a major research project, “A Study of the Factors Involved in the Identification and Encouragement of Unusual Academic Talent among Underprivileged Populations,” which explored the educational genealogy of African American Ph.D. holders.
To gather data, Bond sent questionnaires to scores of black doctorate and other advanced degree holders asking them for demographic and educational details about their families. Respondents included notable figures such as John Hope Franklin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Mabel Hancock Murphy Smythe, and the questionnaires reflect a broad range of family histories, economic backgrounds, and narrative descriptions of the value individual families placed on education. Along with the original questionnaires, the collection also includes numerous charts, tables, and other analytic tools created by Bond during his research. Bond published his findings in 1967, but the raw data remains a rich resource for scholars of education, economics, and statistics, as well as African American history.