NAACP Atlanta Branch Records

by Cheryl Oestreicher, Project Archivist, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

“Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations” is a collaborative project between Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and The Robert W. Woodruff Library of Atlanta University Center to uncover and make available previously hidden collections documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and New Orleans. The project is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each organization regularly contributes blog posts about their progress.

For more information about the collection described in this post, please contact the Archives at Auburn Avenue Research Library, aarl [dot] archives [at] fultoncountyga [dot] gov

Chartered in 1917, the NAACP Atlanta Branch started under the leadership of James Weldon Johnson, Harry Pace, Dr. Charles Johnson, Dr. Louis Wright, and Walter White. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Branch fought segregation by filing lawsuits and petitions against golf courses, restaurants, transportation, and other businesses. They were instrumental in the desegregation of Atlanta Public Schools in the early 1960s.

The Branch facilitated initiatives in voter registration, housing and urban development, employment discrimination, education, job placement and training, women and minority employment, police brutality, affirmative action, and legislative monitoring. They helped with lawsuits against the Atlanta and National Post Offices, reapportionment, MARTA, Fort McPherson, and elections. They were instrumental in breaking up the Cox Communication conglomerate that then allowed minorities achieve on-air and high level positions with media outlets.

Above left: Freedom Fund Committee, 1977. Above right: Membership brochure, undated. Click to view full size images.

The NAACP Atlanta Branch Records document the administration and committee work of the organization. The collection comes primarily from Jondelle Johnson’s tenure as Executive Director from 1972-1985 and her leadership with the Special Projects Committee in the 1990s. Presidents represented in the collection include Samuel W. Williams, C. Miles Smith, Lonnie King, and Julian Bond. The collection spans nearly 40 years and documents the Branch’s activities and initiatives through legislation, housing rights, employment rights and training, youth work, membership and fundraising, publicity, conventions, church work, community involvement, economic development, education, veterans, prisoners, and administrative functions.

The Records contain correspondence, reports, financial documents, brochures, fliers, posters, photographs, publications, articles, newsletters, press releases, meeting minutes and agendas.

Above left: Voter Education flyer, 1984. Above right: Outline for meeting about student transfers for desegregation of Atlanta Public Schools, 1961. Click to view full size images.

The NAACP Atlanta Branch Records are arranged into 17 series, based upon the organization’s committee structure: Series 1, Administrative; Series 2, Afro-American Cultural, Technical, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO); Series 3, Church/Religious Affairs Committee; Series 4, Community Coordination Committee; Series 5, Economic Development/Fair Share Committee; Series 6, Education Committee; Series 7, Finance Committee; Series 8, Freedom Fund Committee; Series 9, Housing Committee; Series 10, Labor and Industry Committee; Series 11, Legal Redress Committee; Series 12, Membership Committee; Series 13, Press and Publicity/Public Relations/Media Committee; Series 14, Political Action Committee; Series 15, Prison Committee; Series 16, Veterans Committee; Series 17, Youth and College Division/Youth Council/Youth Work Committee.

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