Meeting Grace DeLorme

Jina DuVernay is the Visiting Archivist for African American Collections at the Rose Library. She will be blogging regularly throughout her appointment.

Prior to joining Rose, I was a Special Collections Librarian at Alabama State University where I managed African American related resources and materials. I came to the Rose to learn how to work effectively and successfully in an archives in an effort to gain new knowledge and grow professionally.

Grace (right) with her sister, Louise (left) in Spain. On the back of the photograph Grace wrote, “at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Sun hurt our eyes. The photographer declared he was a bull fighter on Sundays.”

In addition to working with the Research Services Unit by assisting patrons at the Reference Desk and in the Reading Room, I am processing my very first collection, the Grace McKinley Holmes DeLorme papers. Grace DeLorme was an exceptional scholar, graduating with honors from Atlanta University. She was also an accomplished Atlanta educator, teaching at Spelman College as a biology professor for a time and from what I was able to decipher from her papers, she was a beautiful, loving, and lively individual. It is evident to me, from the many photographs in the collection, that she loved her family dearly. She appeared to have a close relationship with both her mother and her sister and she seemed to adore her son Gilbert DeLorme, Jr. Grace was quite the socialite as well. She was involved in numerous committees and organizations.

Grace pictured in the Fashion Parade section of the March 4, 1933 issue of the Gravure Weekly. “The first national rotogravure weekly ever published by Negroes anywhere.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed combing through Grace’s memorabilia and photographs of her ancestors and trips aboard. She was definitely a woman to be admired. In addition to once modeling the latest in 1920s fashion for a magazine, she wrote her thesis titled, A cytological study of the Golgi bodies occurring in the oenocytes of the larva of Tenebrio molitor, Linn.

I invite you to meet the charming Grace DeLorme through her delightful collection along with her friends and family including her father Col. Thomas W. Holmes, a mail carrier who became one of the only three African American attorneys in Georgia in the 1920s and Grace’s great grandmother who took the surname McKinley after having been emancipated from her enslaver, Dr. Willingham. Additionally, view photographs of Grace’s sister, Louise, and her brother-in-law, Dr. Alfonso Elder, the second president of North Carolina Central University.

Stay tuned for more of my exciting journey as I learn and implement best practices on a variety of interesting projects related to the African American collections housed at the Rose Library.

Grace McKinley Holmes DeLorme papers during the processing stage (MSS 910)