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Biographical records on Mary McLeod Bethune, 1890-1960.
1.25 cubic ft.
Arranged by record type.
Terms Governing Use:
Mary Jane McLeod was born July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina to formerly enslaved parents. She attended Trinity Presbyterian Mission School, the first of her siblings to receive an education. Her high performance at Trinity earned her a scholarship to Scotia Seminary in North Carolina, followed by another to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. At Moody, Mary trained as a missionary and planned to lead mission trips to Africa. After graduation, Mary discovered there were no available placements for her in Africa and turned her attention to the needs of the African-American community in the United States.
Mary spent several years educating Black youth - including a year at the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia, and the Kindell Institute in her hometown - before marrying Albertus Bethune in 1898 and moving to Palatka, Florida. While teaching, working part-time for the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, and doing mission work, Mary formulated plans to open a school of her own. She moved to Daytona Beach in 1904 to build her school, planning to educate the children of Black families working on the Florida East Coast Railroad. Her one-room school became the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls grew over the years until 1923 when it merged with Cookman Institute, a boys school in Jacksonville. The merged schools became known as Bethune-Cookman College, which remains in operation today.
Bethune was active in the fight for civil rights and an advocate for education, women's rights, and child welfare. She served in several positions under Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, and was a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's African-American "brain trust." In 1936, she was appointed by President Roosevelt as the director of the National Youth Administration's Division of Negro Affairs, becoming the first African-American woman to head a federal agency. She also founded the National Council of Negro Women and served as president of the State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs and, later, as president of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. Bethune died in May 1955.
Daniel Mortimer Williams was born in 1890 in Childress, Texas. He worked on newspapers in Texas, New York and Washington, D.C. and was chief editorial writer for the World-Telegram in the early 1930s. He also covered the White House and State Department for Trans-Radio Press during World War II. Williams planned to write a biography of Mary McLeod Bethune and accumulated photographs, publications and newspaper clippings for the book. He conducted several interviews with Ms. Bethune in the summer of 1946, though the biography was never completed. Williams died in 1969.
This collection consists of records documenting the life of Mary McLeod Bethune, including transcripts of interviews with Bethune, letters, and drafts of sections of Daniel Mortimer Williams' planned biography. The records document the Daytona Normal Institute and Bethune-Cookman College as well as Bethune's involvement with the National Council for Negro Women's Clubs. The collection includes a transcript of an interview conducted in about 1939 by Dr. Charles Spurgeon Johnson, an authority on race relations who chaired the Sociology Department and was later the first Black president at Fisk University. Also included are thirty photographs which depict Bethune, her Daytona Beach schools, and Bethune Cookman College.
Additional Physical Form:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields:
Johnson, Charles Spurgeon, 1893-1956.
African Americans Education. Florida African Americans History 1877-1964. Florida African American students Florida. Universities and colleges Florida
Daytona Beach (Fla.)
Johnson, Charles Spurgeon, 1893-1956.
Bethune, Mary McLeod, 1875-1955
Bethune-Cookman College (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
National Council of Negro Women