Primary Sources: African American Newspapers in the South, 1870-1926

Two African American men working a printing pressAfrican American Newspapers in the South, 1870-1926 is a new addition to Accessible Archives. It documents the African American press in the South from Reconstruction through the Jim Crow period. Written by African Americans for African Americans, the first-hand reporting, editorials, and features kept readers abreast of current domestic and international events, often focusing on racial issues. The editors didn’t shy away from exposing racial discrimination and violence, including the emotionally laden topic of lynching. Yet, the newspapers also covered lighter fare, reporting on civic and religious events, politics, foreign affairs, local gossip, and more.

It includes all complete runs of representative newspapers from the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia:

The Advocate, 1907 – 1912
Athens Republique, 1921 – 1926
The Banner-Enterprise, 1883 – 1884
The Bee, 1882 – 1884
The Black Dispatch, 1917 – 1922
The Educator, 1874 – 1875
The Langston City Herald, 1892 – 1900
The Louisianian, 1870 – 1871
The Muskogee Cimeter, 1904 – 1920
The Nashville Globe, 1907 – 1918
The National Forum, 1910
Pioneer Press, 1911 – 1917
The Republican, 1873 – 1875
Semi-Weekly Louisianian, 1871 – 1872
The Tulsa Star, 1913 –1921
Western World, 1903 – 1904

 


Primary Sources: Student Activism

collage of images showing students protesting Reveal Digital’s Student Activism collection aims to provide access to unique, yet essential, primary sources documenting the deep and broad history of student organizing in the United States. It is intended to serve as a scholarly bridge from the extensive history of student protest in the United States to the study of today’s vibrant, continually unfolding actions.

The completed collection will contain approximately 75,000 pages drawn from special collection libraries and archives around the country. Materials intended for inclusion are wide-ranging in nature: Circulars, leaflets, fliers, pamphlets, newsletters, campaign materials, protest literature, clippings, periodicals, bulletins, letters, press releases, ephemera; and meeting, demonstration, conference, and event documentation. Currently approximately 58,000 pages are available.


Primary Sources: American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside

newspaper clippingsOn March 24, 1800, Forlorn Hope became the first newspaper published within a prison by an incarcerated person. In the intervening 200 years, over 450 prison newspapers have been published from U.S. prisons. Some, like the Angolite and the San Quentin News, are still being published today. American Prison Newspapers will bring together hundreds of these periodicals from across the country into one collection that will represent penal institutions of all kinds, with special attention paid to women’s-only institutions.

Development of the American Prison Newspapers collection began in July 2020 and will continue through 2022, with new content added regularly. The source material for the collection is being provided by numerous libraries and individuals from across the country.  Currently there are nearly 100,000 pages available (of a planned 250,000 pages), representing at least one prison in 30 states.


Primary Sources: Accessible Archives

Accessible archives banner

The Library has an ongoing subscription to Accessible Archives, which provides access to valuable newspaper content, county histories, early periodicals, books, and pamphlets. The collections can be browsed or searched (though the search interface is fairly clunky).

The most recent additions to Accessible Archives include:

  • African American Newspapers, Part XIV: The Canadian Observer, 1914-1919
  • Invention and Technology in America: American Inventor, 1878-1887
  • America and World War I: American Military Camp Newspapers, Parts I and II

Primary Sources: Soviet Woman Digital Archive

The Library has acquired the Soviet Woman Digital Archive, an online source for the full run of Soviet Woman magazine.

Published initially under the aegis of the Soviet Women’s Anti-Fascist Committee and the Central Council of Trade Unions of the USSR, in the aftermath of WWII in 1945, the Soviet Woman magazine began as a bi-monthly illustrated magazine tasked with countering anti-Soviet propaganda.  The magazine introduced Western audiences to the lifestyle of Soviet women, their role in the post-WWII rebuilding of the Soviet economy, and praised their achievements in the arts and the sciences.

Additional Information:

The magazine covered issues dealing with economics, politics, life abroad, life in Soviet republics, women’s fashion, as well as broader issues in culture and the arts. One of its most popular features was the translations of Soviet literary works, making available in English, (and other languages) works of Russian and Soviet writers that were previously unavailable. An important communist propaganda outlet, the magazine continued its run until the collapse of the USSR in 1991.


Primary Sources: Books of Modern China & Picture Gallery of Chinese Modern Literature

The Library has recently acquired Books of Modern China (1840-1949), 中国近代图书全文数据库, a collection of more than 120,000 Chinese books published in Mainland China. Many of them are unique titles and are only available through this digital collection from the Shanghai Library.

The Picture Gallery of Chinese Modern Literature (1833-1949), 图述百年—中国近代文献图库 contains more than one million images that have been collected from books, periodicals, newspapers, and old photos held by the Shanghai Library.

These resources have been added to the History: Asia guide.


TRIAL: Mass Observation Project

Until April 28, 2022, the Library has trial access to the Mass Observation Project. Launched in 1981 by the University of Sussex as a rebirth of the original 1937 Mass Observation, its founders’ aim was to document the social history of Britain by recruiting volunteers to write about their lives and opinions. Still growing, it is one of the most important sources available for qualitative social data in the UK.

The Mass Observation Project consists of directives (questionnaires) sent out by the Project and the responses gathered.  They address topics such as the Falklands War, clothing, attitudes to the USA, reading and television habits, morality and religion, and Britain’s relations with Europe. Broad themes covered include current events, friends and family, the home, leisure, politics, society, culture and the media, work, finance and the economy and new technology.


“I take this obligation freely:” Recalling UC Berkeley’s loyalty oath controversy

By Shannon White, with research by Adam Hagen

Loyalty oaths have long been in use in the United States as a means of promoting social unity in the face of war, perceived security threats, or fears about waning political support. Even now, loyalty oaths are common as a condition of employment for many state workers. In fact, all employees of the state of California, including the faculty and staff members of the University of California, currently sign an oath of loyalty upon hire, stating that they will defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and that they take this obligation freely.

In particular, the idea of a governmental loyalty oath rose to prominence in the 1940s, when tensions between the US and the Soviet Union and growing fears about a communist infiltration of the government prompted President Harry S. Truman to establish a loyalty program for federal employees. In March 1947, Truman signed Executive Order 9835, which ensured that employees of the US government could be subject to investigation for potential involvement in “subversive” organizations. 

 Man wearing shirt that says “Regents” creates wrist shackles labeled “Faculty Loyalty Oath.”In the wake of President Truman’s Executive Order, the California state legislature began to introduce its own policies in opposition to potential communist activity in the government. These proposals would have given the state authority over the University of California in matters of loyalty, prompting the University of California administration to act in response to prevent infringement on the institution’s autonomy. Furthermore, the university was at this time also facing financial difficulties, with the state threatening to withhold funding for the university budget due to worries about subversive activity within its community. As a result of these mounting pressures, University President Robert G. Sproul proposed his own loyalty oath for university faculty and employees on March 25, 1949. The text of the oath approved by the Regents on June 24 was as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office according to the best of my ability; that I do not believe in, and I am not a member of, nor do I support any party or organization that believes in, advocates, or teaches the overthrow of the United States Government, by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional means, that I am not a member of the Communist Party or under any oath or a party to any agreement or under any commitment that is in conflict with my obligations under this oath. 

Almost immediately, the introduction of the loyalty oath garnered controversy. Many faculty members and staff refused to sign the oath, resulting in a rash of firings and resignations and a tense stand-off between the Board of Regents and university faculty, staff, and students. The oath was later declared unconstitutional in 1951 in Tolman v. Underhill, and many of the thirty-one dismissed faculty returned to Berkeley. 

Crowded meeting room with some spectators looking through the door.
University of California Regents’ Meeting about Loyalty Oath Non-signers,
1950 August 25, BANC PIC 1959.010. San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Newspaper Photograph Archive, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

The UC Berkeley Oral History Center has several interviews related to the loyalty oath controversy, many from UC faculty members who witnessed or were themselves involved in the response to the oath’s introduction. 

Among these is a collection of interviews specifically concerning the loyalty oath, which features oral histories from Howard Bern, a UC Berkeley faculty member who signed the oath last-minute; Ralph Giesey, a graduate student of non-signer Ernst Kantorowicz; and Deborah Tolman Whitney and Mary Tolman Kent, the children of Berkeley professor Edward Tolman, a key leader of the faculty opposition to the oath. 

These interviews reveal the fraught relationship between university faculty and administration after the instatement of the loyalty oath, with rampant fears about academic freedom and discrimination against potentially “subversive” faculty members. Here, Howard Bern shares his distaste of the oath and his moral grounds for originally refusing to sign:

I felt that it was discriminatory, that it was singling out university professors as if they were especially potentially evil. So on a civil libertarian ground I objected to this. And the second ground was my own feeling. I had been in the army for almost four years. What more manifestation of loyalty did they really want? 

In the oral history of Charles Muscatine, who returned to UC Berkeley in 1953 after being fired for his refusal to sign the oath as an assistant professor, Muscatine recalls the most poignant moment for him of the entire controversy: 

At a certain moment, [Malcolm Davisson, a faculty policy chair] contacted me. He said, “We have lost the moral right to decide.” 

Other interviews offer more insight into the experience of witnessing the loyalty oath controversy firsthand. For instance, Ralph Giesey discusses the hearings he and his fellow non-signing teaching assistants had to undergo as a condition of their opposition to the oath. Howard Schachman, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley at the time of the oath, describes the moral compromise he underwent when he signed something he considered philosophically “abhorrent.” 

Clark Kerr and Gordon Sproul seated at table looking at camera
Chancellor Clark Kerr (left) and Robert Gordon Sproul, November 16, 1953

The loyalty oath controversy at UC Berkeley is often viewed through the perspective of academic freedom amid anticommunist fervor, but an oral history of Clark Kerr, UC Berkeley faculty member at the time — and later campus chancellor and university president — provides another perspective. Kerr observed that the controversy must be viewed in light of the internal divisions in the Board of Regents that escalated in the 1940s over debates about centralization versus campus autonomy. According to Kerr, Regent John Francis Neylan and the southern regents tended to favor campus autonomy, while University President Robert G. Sproul and most of the northern regents called for a centralized system. This issue resolved itself with the creation of the post of chancellor for each UC campus, and Kerr himself was later appointed to the position at UC Berkeley in 1952.

According to Kerr:

As I understand it, Neylan really just seized on the oath controversy as a way of whipping Sproul around because he was unhappy with him on other grounds. . . . [Sproul] looked to me like a man who was just immobilized by the controversy. It was out of this, according to what I observed, that [Earl] Warren then came to take a position of leadership, which he had not taken in the regents before. Normally governors don’t. But the controversy was tearing the university apart. The president was immobilized. Warren stepped in, then, essentially against the oath, or at least against the firing of the non-signers, and took leadership of the more liberal elements of the board.

Howard Bern also recognizes Robert Sproul’s role in mishandling the loyalty oath controversy, stating, “Just as, although he would not admit it, the Free Speech Movement really broke Clark Kerr, I think the loyalty oath situation just destroyed Robert Gordon Sproul and his influence. I don’t think he was a bad man, a bad leader, but I think he made a very fatal error.”

All in all, these oral histories concerning the UC loyalty oath controversy are a great resource for understanding the climate at the University of California in the 1940s and ’50s. They offer a wealth of insight concerning the faculty experience at UC Berkeley, and since many of the interviewees went on to become involved with the Free Speech Movement and other political causes, there is a particular focus in these oral histories on the growth of social movements at the university. For more information about the loyalty oath controversy, check out the Oral History Center’s collection of interviews concerning the oath and other related resources from The Bancroft Library.

Shannon White is currently a third-year student at UC Berkeley studying Ancient Greek and Latin. They are an undergraduate research apprentice in the Nemea Center under Professor Kim Shelton and a member of the editing staff for the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal of Classics. Shannon works as a student editor for the Oral History Center.

Adam Hagen is currently a third-year history student with a concentration in modern European history. Adam works as a student editor for the Oral History Center. He is also a member of the editing staff of Clio’s Scroll, the Berkeley Undergraduate History Journal.

Related Resources from the OHC and The Bancroft Library

Oral Histories Cited

Clark Kerr, University of California Crises: Loyalty Oath and the Free Speech Movement.

The Loyalty Oath at the University of California, 1949–1952. Interviews with Howard Bern, Ralph Giesey, Mary Tolman Kent, Deborah Tolman Whitney.

Howard Schachman: UC Berkeley Professor of Molecular Biology: On the Loyalty Oath Controversy, The Free Speech Movement, and Freedom in Scientific Research.

Charles Muscatine: The Loyalty Oath, The Free Speech Movement, and Education Reforms at the University of California, Berkeley.

Related Oral History Projects

The SLATE Oral History Project documents the UC Berkeley campus political organization SLATE — so named because the group backed a slate of candidates who ran on a common platform for ASUC (Associated Students of the University of California) elections from 1958 to 1966. SLATE ignited a passion for politics in the face of looming McCarthyism and what many perceived as the University of California’s encroachment on student rights to free speech. See also, “They Got Woken Up”: SLATE and Women’s Activism at UC Berkeley

The Free Speech Movement Oral History Project documents the movement at UC Berkeley that began in the fall of 1964 from the perspective of the ordinary people who made it possible — and those who opposed it — including students, lawyers, faculty, and staff.

Related Resources from The Bancroft Library

Gardner, David Pierpont. The California oath controversy. F870.E3C4122.G3.

Kantorowicz, Ernst H. The fundamental issue : documents and marginal notes on the University of California loyalty oath. Bancroft F870.E3 K18.

Papers pertaining to California loyalty oaths, 1954. Bancroft BANC MSS C-Z 92.

University of California, Berkeley Accounting Office loyalty oath records, 1949–1964. UC Archives CU-3.11.

About the Oral History Center

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library has interviews on just about every topic imaginable. You can find the interviews mentioned here and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. Search by name, keyword, and several other criteria. We preserve voices of people from all walks of life, with varying political perspectives, national origins, and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to open access and our oral histories and interpretive materials are available online at no cost to scholars and the public.

 


Trial: Black Life in America

Until March 15, the Library has trial access to Black Life in America,  This resource consists of two parts:  BLA (1704-1877):  Arrival in America Through Reconstruction and BLA (1878-1975):  Jim Crow Through Civil Rights. Both series are comprised of articles from over 20,000 mostly American, but some international newspapers about all manner of Black life in America.

 


Shirley Chisholm, Women Political Leaders, and the Oral History Center collection

By Mollie Appel-Turner

On Jan 25, 1972, Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, representative for New York State’s Twelfth District and the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, announced her candidacy for president. With this announcement, Chisholm became both the first African American to run for a major party’s presidential nomination and also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. The UC Berkeley Oral History Center has several interviews that address Chisholm’s trailblazing candidacy. In addition, the Center has numerous interviews with other ground-breaking female politicians.

Shirley Chisholm speaking at microphone.
Shirley Chisholm thanking delegates, Democratic National Convention, Miami Beach, Fla., 3rd session (Photo: Library of Congress)

“Anything that black women do like that, they’re pioneering; they’re the first, or one of the first. Because it takes a lot of guts and militancy and sacrifice to do those things when it isn’t popular.”
— Frances Mary Albrier

Frances Mary Albrier was a woman of numerous accomplishments. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she was an indefatigable opponent of racism, a civil rights activist from the 1920s onward, the first woman elected to Alameda County’s Democratic Central Committee, as well as the first black woman hired by Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. She founded the East Bay Women’s Welfare Club, and her efforts led to the hiring of black women teachers in the Berkeley public schools. Albrier discussed Chisholm’s then-recent candidacy when she was interviewed in 1977 and 1978 as part of a series on women political leaders.

Frances Albrier on sidewalk with picket sign
Frances Albrier leading picket at corner of Sacramento and Ashby, 1939. (Photo: Berkeley Plaques)

Mrs. Chisholm pioneered when she ran for Congress in New York as a black woman. Anything that black women do like that, they’re pioneering; they’re the first, or one of the first. Because it takes a lot of guts and militancy and sacrifice to do those things when it isn’t popular, and it wasn’t popular for a black woman in the East or anywhere. Now, when Mrs. Chisholm ran for president, she did it again. She’s pioneered the way for [others]. Eventually, we’ll have a woman president of the United States. Those doors have been opened. People had looked at her and they’ve talked about a woman running for president. They heard what she had to say. It will be much easier for the next woman who has the ambition to run for president to do so.

Janet West was also interviewed for the women political leaders series, focusing on her work as a Santa Barbara Board of Education member. In the multi-interview volume Women in Politics Volume II, West spoke about how her experiences as a parent influenced her desire to run for office, and both motivated and informed her decisions as a board member. In her 1972 oral history, West discussed the significance of Chisholm’s then-contemporary candidacy:

I think if you’re talking about a large political office, people have the idea that you know, a woman couldn’t stand up under the pressures and maybe couldn’t take all that guff or whatever it is. I think we really have to overcome that type of thing and I’m not sure how many votes Shirley Chisholm will get just because she’s a woman, certainly not because she’s black but because she’s a woman and I don’t think people really feel that a woman can do all that hard work. It’s a lot of hard work.

Professor Harry Edwards joined UC Berkeley’s department of sociology in 1971. He conducted scholarship in the area of sociology of race and sport and is also renowned for his involvement in the famous Black Power salute on the victory podium at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. In “Harry Edwards: An Oral History,” he discussed his early life and upbringing in addition to his role as a scholar-activist, his time at Berkeley, and his work as a consultant to national football and basketball teams. When he was interviewed as part of the UC Berkeley African American Faculty and Senior Staff oral history project in 2005, Edwards spoke of Chisholm with both the knowledge of a contemporary and the perspective of a sociologist. Edwards discussed Chisholm’s extraordinary independence:

Closeup view of Dr. Harry Edwards at University Hilton. Photo dated: June 12, 1984.
Harry Edwards, 1984 (Photo: Toru Kawana, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library via Calisphere)

Shirley Chisholm, first of all, she had one phenomenal liability, and what I call it is the Stevenson syndrome. She was extraordinarily bright. She was extremely intelligent. That’s a phenomenal liability in the convention of the American political scene. She also had an independence to her that put her outside of the authoritative black leadership influence and control circle. The authoritative black leadership influence and control circle tried to get her not to run. They did not feel that it was “time” for a black woman to step out and run for President. She ran without the endorsement of the NAACP, without the endorsement of the Congress of Racial Equality, without the endorsement of SCLC, without the endorsement of Operation PUSH and Jesse Jackson. She ran on her own.

Shirley Chisholm is one of many women politicians discussed in the Oral History Center’s collections. The Oral History Center contains a wide variety of interviews on women in local, state, and national politics. For more on ground-breaking female politicians, the Oral History Center’s Women Political Leaders collection contains interviews that cover almost the entirety of the 20th century, from the suffragists onward. Interviewees include March Fong Eu, the first Asian American woman in the United States to be elected to a state constitutional office; Helen Gahagan Douglas, the first Democratic woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; and Hope Mendoza Schechter, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee and an activist for both the labor movement and the Mexican American community. The Oral History Center continues to preserve the histories of women leaders in the political sphere and is currently conducting new interviews with female political leaders in the Bay Area Women in Politics and California State Archives projects. For those who wish to learn more, a good place to start is the Oral History Center’s Women in Politics podcast, which has episodes on a variety of important female political leaders of the twentieth century — at the local, state, and national levels — including Francis Albrier.

Mollie Appel-Turner
Mollie Appel-Turner

Mollie Appel-Turner joined the Oral History Center as a student editor in fall 2021. She is currently a fourth-year history student with a concentration in medieval history.

About the Oral History Center

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library has interviews on just about every topic imaginable. You can find the interviews mentioned here and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. Search by name, keyword, and several other criteria. We preserve voices of people from all walks of life, with varying political perspectives, national origins, and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to open access and our oral histories and interpretive materials are available online at no cost to scholars and the public.