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Black History Resources in Archives and Special Collections

This guide includes information on resources on local Black history held in Archives and Special Collections of University Libraries.

Archival Collections on Local Black History in Archives and Special Collections

This page contains a list of archival resources on local Black history located in Archives and Special Collections of University Libraries. This includes information about personal papers of African Americans from Akron and Summit County and the region prominent in many fields, as well as collections of historical records of local Black organizations. The list of collections includes title of the collection, date range of the materials, extent or size of the collection, record group/catalog number, and a brief description of the archival resources.  More detailed information about these collections can be found in the finding aids, which can be accessed by clicking the title of the collection. Some of these resources have been digitized and can be accessed in our digital archives by clicking the appropriate links below. Original resources can be consulted by visiting Archives and Special Collections during our normal business hours.  

Arnold, Helen E., Papers

Range: 1965 - 1975 Size: 0.5 cubic feet Record Group: 99/240

Helen E. Arnold (1924-2001) was a City of Akron employee who fought for education reform and equal rights for women and African-Americans in the Akron/Summit County area. She was the first African-American woman to serve on the Akron Board of Education and served in various capacities on numerous boards and organizations, including President of the Akron Branch of the NAACP. Her papers include speeches, writings, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and subject files that document her life and work and the organizations on which she served.

Davidson, Dr. Herbert A., Papers

Range: 1927 - 1974 Size: 1 cubic foot Record Group: 99/112

Herbert A. Davidson (1900-1974) was an African-American physician in Barberton, Ohio.  Active in numerous community organizations, he worked for justice and equality for all people throughout his lifetime. His papers consist of scrapbooks, meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, and reports of numerous businesses and organizations he founded or directed including the American Welfare Workers Club, the Carver Thrift Club, and the Dunbar and Supreme Life Insurance companies.

Evans, Opie, Papers

Range: ca. 1940 - 1990 Size: 32 Record Group: 99/246

Opie Evans (1906-2000) was an African-American photographer, reporter, broadcaster, publisher, and businessman in Akron, Ohio who accomplished many firsts for African-Americans in the city.  His papers consist of correspondence, photographic prints and negatives, newspapers and publications, and sound recordings that document the life and work of Evans in addition to the African-American community in the Akron area.

McClain, Dr. Shirla R., Collection

Range: 1918 - 1998 Size: 2.0 Record Group: 99/255

The Dr. Shirla R. McClain Collection includes the writings and research materials of Dr. McClain, a University of Akron alumna who was a public school educator and a Kent State University professor of education. McClain published over 45 academic papers during her career, but is still best known for her doctoral dissertation The Contributions of Blacks in Akron, 1825-1975, which was the first comprehensive history of Akron’s black community.

The Reporter Photographs, ca. 1950s-1970s (1 cubic foot)

The Reporter was a weekly African-American newspaper published in Akron, Ohio by William R. Ellis, Jr.  The collection consists of numerous black and white photographic prints documenting the local African-American community that were taken for and used in the newspaper. 

Stewart, Horace and Evelyn Photographs, ca. 1940s-1970s (47 cubic feet)

Horace and Evelyn Stewart were Akron, Ohio photographers and owners of Stewart’s Photo Studio located on North Howard Street.  The collection consists of thousands of negatives and photographic prints taken by the Stewarts over their career.  The photographs mostly consist of studio shots and portraits of local African-Americans.