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Guide to the Richetta Randolph Wallace Papers 1978.137

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201
718-222-4111
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Leilani Dawson and Judith Burgess. Modified for input to Archivists' Toolkit in 2011 by Larry Weimer.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on April 28, 2015
Finding aid is written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Wallace, Richetta G. Randolph
Title: Richetta Randolph Wallace papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1906-1971
Abstract: The collection consists of the personal and business papers of Richetta Randolph Wallace (1884-circa 1971), an African-American woman having a longstanding engagement with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem (New York City), African-American literary and arts culture, and matters of race relations, racial justice and civil rights. Documents include correspondence, pamphlets and other published print matter, event programs and other ephemera, photographs, receipts, manuscripts, and newspaper clippings. Commonly known by her maiden name, Randolph was office manager for the NAACP until the mid-1940s and personal secretary to Mary White Ovington and James Weldon Johnson. The collection includes correspondence with Ovington and Johnson as well as other NAACP principals. including Walter White, William Pickens, and others. The collection includes a full typescript draft of Johnson's Black Manhattan, with notes, and a galley proof (1930) of the book. Much of the collection consists of print matter, which centers on matters of race in the United States, including discrimination, lynching, justice (or injustice), and civil rights. Other print matter includes programs, sermons, church newsletters, and other materials, principally concerning Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. Correspondence documents Randolph's activities on behalf of Mt. Olivet over the years. There are a small number of photographs in the collection, including those of Randolph, of Johnson and his wife in Great Barrington (1929), of Ovington, and stock images of NAACP principals, among others.
Quantity: 3.0 linear feet in five manuscript boxes, one flat box, and one oversize folder
General Physical Description note: The collection includes fragile documents, including clippings and carbon copies of typed correspondence. The collection includes an oversize photograph (30" x 9") that is still framed and backed with highly acidic material.
Language of Materials: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: 1978.137

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Biographical/Historical note

Richetta G. Randolph (1884-circa 1971) was born May 12, 1884, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, but attended schools in Plainview, New Jersey. While in her early twenties, she launched a career in office administration after attending Gaffey's Business School in New York City. Her family origins and early life remain obscure, for although correspondence between her and A. Phillip Randolph (1889-1979) presume a relationship as siblings, their biographies differ as to place of origin and early education. In 1914, she married Frank E. Wallace. Mr. Wallace appears in some personal notes and ephemera in the collection, notably in a set of what are likely suicide notes, written in 1921. Richetta did not remarry, and her use of a last name subsequent to 1921 varies between Randolph and Wallace. Because her use of Randolph seems more frequent, that is the name used in this finding aid. In 1933, Randolph moved to 251 Decatur Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, where she lived up to the 1970s.

In 1905, Randolph became private secretary to reformer and social worker Mary White Ovington (1865-1951). Seven years later, Randolph was hired as the first member of the administrative staff for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She later became the NAACP's office manager and was private secretary to NAACP officers James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and Walter White (1893-1955). She also served as Clerk of the Conference for NAACP annual conferences. In 1945, Randolph became the Clerk of the Board and Confidential Secretary to the Executive Secretary. She held the latter position for one year until her full retirement from the NAACP in 1946, at which time she continued to work for her church, the historically black Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem. She became the Secretary to Dr. O. Clay Maxwell of Mt. Olivet, a position she held for over a decade. Her involvement with Mt. Olivet was multifaceted, for in addition to her secretarial duties, at different points in her life she served on the Board of Trustees, helped to raise funds, represented the church at out-of-town meetings, and wrote a play depicting its history.

Randolph kept a scrapbook with material from her anniversary celebration (in 1943) commemorating 30 years of service to the NAACP. On this occasion, people who had worked with her or met her at the NAACP sent her cards and monetary gifts. She was knowledgeable of and had close relationships with several members of the NAACP leadership. Chief among them was Mary White Ovington with whom a strong relationship grew after years of working with her independently and then through the NAACP; this relationship continued to Ovington's death in 1951.

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the personal and business papers of Richetta Randolph Wallace, an African-American woman having a longstanding engagement with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, African-American literary and arts culture, and matters of race relations, racial justice and civil rights. Documents include correspondence, pamphlets and other published print matter, event programs and other ephemera, photographs, receipts, manuscripts, and newspaper clippings.

Principal correspondents in the collection are James Weldon Johnson and Mary White Ovington. Other correspondents include Arthur Spingarn, Walter White, Roy Wilkins, William Pickens, and Oswald Garrison Villard of the NAACP, A. Phillip Randolph, and authors Charles Flint Kellogg and Robert L. Zangrando. The bulk of this correspondence concerns Randolph's activities and perspectives as office manager and personal secretary. Her correspondence with Johnson dates from the mid-1920s and the bulk of her other NAACP-related correspondence dates from the 1930s-1940s. Other correspondence documents Randolph's activities on behalf of Mt. Olivet over the years. There is a small amount of personal correspondence, including what are likely suicide notes from Wallace's husband, Frank.

The collection includes a full typescript draft of Johnson's Black Manhattan, with notes, and a galley proof (1930) of the book. Much of the collection consists of print matter, which centers on matters of race in the United States, including discrimination, lynching, justice (or injustice), and civil rights. Other print matter includes programs, sermons, church newsletters, and other materials, principally concerning Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. Most of these materials are identified at the item level in the container list in this guide. There are a small number of photographs in the collection, including those of Randolph, of Johnson and his wife in Great Barrington (1929), of Ovington, and stock images of NAACP principals. There is an oversize group photograph from the NAACP convention in Kansas City (1923).

Arrangement note

The collection is organized in the following three series:

1. NAACP

2. Personal Papers

3. James Weldon Johnson Papers

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938 -- Correspondence
  • Ovington, Mary White, 1865-1951 -- Correspondence
  • Wallace, Richetta G. Randolph -- Archives

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Galley proofs
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Printed ephemera
  • Programs (documents)
  • Publications

Subject Organizations

  • Mount Olivet Baptist Church (New York, N.Y.).
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Subject Topics

  • African American churches -- New York (State) -- New York
  • African American women
  • African American women civil rights workers
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -y 20th century
  • Civil rights movements -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Civil rights workers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Minorities -x Civil rights -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Women in church work -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Women -- New York (State) -- New York

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use note

Much of the collection is subject to copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Richetta Randolph Wallace papers, 1978.137, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials note

Brooklyn Historical Society holds other collections related to civil rights activism including:

Arnie Goldwag Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) collection (call number ARC.002).

Bob Adelman photographs of Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) demonstrations (call number V1989.002).

Amote Sias papers (call number 2008.017).

Beyond BHS, the following collections are related:

James Weldon Johnson Collection. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

James Weldon Johnson Papers. Special Collections Department, Robert W.Woodruff Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

NAACP Records. Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, D.C.

Mary White Ovington Papers. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Separated Materials note

The original collection included an extensive, though incomplete, number of The Crisis, ranging from 1911 to 1971, with breaks. These are no longer with the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The collection was donated to the Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society) in 1975 by the estate of Richetta G. Randolph Wallace, through the courtesy of Dorothy Vaughan and Ruth Jowers.

Processing Information note

The material was in no particular order when received by the Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society) in 1975. An initial inventory and boxing of the collection was done in 1977 by Barbara Germack. That inventory was refined by Judith Box in 1986. In September-October 1997, the collection was rearranged and described by Tanya Elder, Project Assistant Archivist. As part of that processing, photographs were separated from the collection. In May 2006, Judith A. Burgess conducted a thorough survey of the collection, which resulted in expanded description and finding aid, with additional preservation work for fragile documents. In October 2011, Project Archivist Larry Weimer modified the finding aid to accommodate requirements for input to a collection management system, Archivists' Toolkit. During this processing, the previously separated photographs were returned to the collection. In April 2015, Archivist John Zarrillo encapsulated the article "Lynching: America's national disgrace" (1924) for preservation purposes and placed the document in an oversize container.

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Container List

Series 1. NAACP, 1914-1971. 0.33 linear feet

Arrangement note

The series is arranged in alphabetical order by document type or subject.

Scope and Contents

This series generally consists of materials concerning the NAACP and Richetta Randolph Wallace's connection to the organization. The series includes correspondence, principally from the 1940s concerning office management and Randolph's responsibilities. Correspondents include Arthur Spingarn, Walter White and Roy Wilkins. The series also includes a limited number of a variety of other documents, including Board minutes, press releases, clippings, publications by and about the NAACP, and Honorary Dinner programs. Among these documents is a 1932 report to the Board by W.E.B. Du Bois concerning the financial condition of The Crisis and the 1943 study and recommendations of William H. Hastie concerning the NAACP's organization.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Clippings
1940s-1970s
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1931-1948, 1963-1971
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Fundraising Materials
1967-1971
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Histories of NAACP and Objectives
1914-circa 1946
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Honorary Dinners and Events
1929-1944, 1963-1968
Box: 1 Folder : 6 "March on Milwaukee" Brochure
1967
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Minutes and Reports
1932-1944
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Miscellaneous Materials and Ephemera
1928, 1967
Box: 1 Folder : 9 National Urban League 25th Anniversary Dinner
1935
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Press Releases
1941-1968
Box: 1 Folder : 11, 12 Pamphlets and Publications (2 folders)
circa 1914-1968

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Series 2. Personal Papers, 1906-1971. 1.35 linear feet

Arrangement note

The series is organized in the following sections. Within sections, the material is organized alphabetically by subject or document form.

A. Photographs

B. General Correspondence

C. Individuals: Correspondence, Clippings and Publications

D. Personal Papers

E. Pamphlets

F. Church-Related Papers

Scope and Contents

The series represents Richetta Randolph Wallace's longstanding engagement with the NAACP, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, and matters of race relations and racial justice. The series includes correspondence, photographs, pamphlets, programs, and ephemera. The correspondence includes exchanges with authors Charles Flint Kellogg and Robert L. Zangrando, and Mary White Ovington, William Pickens, A. Phillip Randolph, and Oswald Garrison Villard. Among the personal correspondence are suicide notes from Randolph's husband, Frank Wallace. The photographs principally include images of Randolph and several prominent NAACP figures. There is an oversize group photograph from the NAACP convention in Kansas City (1923).

A sizable part of the series is comprised of pamphlets, journals, and other print matter. Much of this material concerns matters of race in the United States, including discrimination, lynching, justice (or injustice), and civil rights. Other print matter includes programs, sermons, church newsletters, and other materials, principally concerning Mt. Olivet Baptist Church of New York City. Some print materials concern African-American literature or other cultural matters. One notable item of ephemera is a retirement card to Randolph signed by W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and other NAACP staff.

Several of Randolph's activities on behalf of Mt. Olivet are represented in the series, among them her work as Chair of Women's Day (1942) and her authorship of a historical play, "Mt. Olivet: Yesterday and Today" (1953).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Photographs
circa 1920s-1930s
Box: 6 Folder : 1,2 Oversize Photographs

General note

Includes a group photograph from the NAACP convention in Kansas City (1923). This image (though not this copy) was used in the NAACP's publication NAACP: celebrating a century: 100 years in pictures (page 63). There is also a set of six images of NAACP principals (1922).

1922-1923
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 14 A-L
1912-1970
Box: 2 Folder : 1 M-Z
1913-1970
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Carter, Norman
1930s
Box: 2 Folder : 3 King, Martin Luther, Jr.
1964, 1968
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Lindsay, John
1965
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Ovington, Mary White
1931-1951
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Powell, Sr., Adam Clayton, Abyssinian Baptist Church, and John Haynes Holmes
1910-1932
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Randolph, A. Phillip
1940-1959
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Waldren, Nathan
1963-1965
Box: 2 Folder : 9 White, Walter and Roy Wilkins
1943-1955
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration
1969
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Clippings
1910-1970s
Box: 2 Folder : 12 DeSoto Car
1936-1940
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Ephemera

General note

Includes a farewell card (1945) to Randolph signed by W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Walter White, Roy Wilkins, and others.

1907-1955
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Manuscripts

General note

Includes a Christmas Greeting to the guests of the Hotel Maceo (1906) and a program for a "race drama," The Struggle, performed at the Berkeley Theatre, NYC.

1906, 1911
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Personal Records, Memberships and Paycheck Stubs
1948-1949, 1970
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Scrapbook
1914-1949
Box: 2 Folder : 17 The Secret Place Subscriptions
1964-1971
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Black Education in America
circa 1936-1939
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Black University Publications
1924-1958
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Miscellaneous Pamphlets
1921-1946
Box: 2 Folder : 20 "Argument of Clarence Darrow in the case of Matthew Sweet," NAACP
1927
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Discrimination in World Wars
circa 1936-1945
Box: 3 Folder : 1 DuBois, W.E.B.
1924-1966
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Johnson, James Weldon
1918-1926
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Lynching in the United States
1919, 1940
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Reply Brief for Plaintiff-in-Error in re: L.A. Nixon v. C.C. Herndon and Charles Porras
1926
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Outlines for Literature Courses
1928-1931
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Racial Justice in America
1922-1956
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Scottsboro Case
1931-circa 1937
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Writings, Poems and Narratives
1912-1956
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Anniversary Plays (Mt. Olivet Baptist)
1928, 1953
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Clippings, Pastor Hayes' Resignation
1933
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Correspondence, Mt. Olivet
1923-1971
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Dedication Programme and Bylaws
1920, 1925
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Pageant and Directory
1951-1952
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Mt. Olivet church meeting notes; announcements of the Baptist Young People's Union
1911-1918
Box: 4 Folder : 2 "Mt. Olivet: Yesterday and Today: A Panorama in Five Acts," by Richetta G. Wallace
1953
Box: 4 Folder : 3 "Mt. Olivet: Yesterday and Today," typescript and notes
circa 1953
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Pamphlets, Mt. Olivet
1912, 1943-1971
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Pamphlets, Other Churches
1907-1964
Box: 4 Folder : 6 The Pilot (Mt. Olivet newsletter)
1922-1926
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Programs, Flyers, and other church ephemera
1924-1965
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Sermons delivered by Rev. S.L. Johnson (reported by R.G. Randolph)
1909
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Women's Day arrangements (1942) and other events
1942, 1946-1947

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Series 3. James Weldon Johnson Papers, 1918-1970. 0.42 linear feet

Scope and Contents

The series includes documents compiled by Richetta Randolph Wallace in connection with her work for James Weldon Johnson at the NAACP and as his personal secretary. The series includes much correspondence between the two from the 1920s in relation to business matters. The series includes a full typescript draft of Johnson's Black Manhattan, with notes, plus a galley proof of the book, as well as one folder of research conducted by Randolph for Johnson. Johnson was killed in a car accident in 1938, and the collection contains newspaper clippings about his death, plus letters to and from Carl Van Vechten, who compiled Johnson's papers into a collection currently housed at Yale University. Biographical and autobiographical material, articles, congratulatory letters, and a small collection of materials on Johnson's 1929 trip to Japan are also included.

Arrangement note

The series is organized in alphabetical order by subject or document type.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Articles by James Weldon Johnson

General note

"Africa in the world democracy," with Horace Meyer Kallen (1919), "Changing status of Negro labor," Address (1918), "The larger success," from The Southern Worker (1923), "Leadership and the times," Address to the NAACP (1937), "Legal aspects of the Negro problem," with Herbert Seligman (1928), "Race problem and peace" (1924), "Self-Determining Haiti" (1920), "Washington riots: An NAACP investigation" (1919), "What America owes the Negro," from  Our World (1923).

1918-1928
Box: OS-23 Folder : - Articles by James Weldon Johnson (oversize)

General note

"Lynching: America's national disgrace" (1924)

1924
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Biographical Information
1920s-1930s
Box: 5 Folder : 2,3 Black Manhattan, manuscript, typescript (2 folders)
circa 1930
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Black Manhattan, Galley Proof
1930
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Black Manhattan, Research
1930
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Clippings
1930, 1933
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Correspondence with Richetta Randolph Wallace
1923-1926, 1938-1943
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Death of James Weldon Johnson, Clippings
1938
Box: 5 Folder : 9 God's Trombones, Congratulatory Letters and Memory Book
1927
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Memorial and Correspondence with Carl Van Vechten
1938-1971
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Trip to Japan
1929

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