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1. Biographical Papers, 1960-1988 and undated


Collection Overview

From the Collection:

The collection contains material relating to the life and work of Septima P. Clark. The biographical papers include tributes, clippings, certificates, awards, family correspondence and transcripts of various oral history interviews in which Clark discusses her parents; husband; growing up and race relations in Charleston, SC; work with Myles and Zylphia Horton, Guy and Candie Carawan and others, such as Bernice Robinson and Esau Jenkins in such places as Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, TN and on Johns Island, SC; Judge J. Waties and Elizabeth Waring; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; her work in Citizenship Schools; her work at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and in the civil rights movement with people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Stokely Carmichael, Dorothy Cotton, Ella Baker, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Hosea Williams, Ralph David Abernathy and others. She often mentions the inferior way women were treated by SCLC staff and there are a few references to the Charleston SC Hospital Worker's strike in 1969.

A series on her works includes a photocopy of her autobiography Echo in My Soul, with related papers; handwritten, typed, photocopied and printed versions of talks and essays on civil rights, race and racism, non-violence, God and religion, American youth, tributes to individuals and other topics. Her correspondence, mostly arranged by correspondent, includes numerous local and state black and white politicians; a partial letter to Ella Gerber regarding Porgy and Bess, a significant series of letters with writer Josephine Carson (Rider), and from Spelman College professor Vincent Harding, with some of his articles. Presidential materials include a photocopy of a Jimmy Carter letter; a letter from Gerald Ford; and an invitation to inauguration of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

A series documenting her affiliations begins with a her association with Charleston schools, and contains photocopies of correspondence regarding losing of her job in 1956 as a teacher for being a member of the NAACP; her service (1975-1978) on the Charleston County School Board; and other connections with various educational endeavors. The series also includes papers regarding her association with the Highlander Folk Center; papers regarding her work with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with material on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the trip to Oslo, Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; papers regarding Penn Community Center, Frogmore, SC and Clark's relationship with it; publications, program materials and correspondence regarding Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and local Charleston Chapter, Gamma Xi Omega; materials regarding various women's groups with which she was affiliated including the Coming Street Young Women's Christian Association in Charleston, SC Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, National Council of Negro Women, and others; materials regarding various civil rights, African American and political groups and causes for which she worked, including, Blacks United for Action; Charleston Liberation Party; Citizens Committee of Charleston County; a list of grievances regarding the Charleston Hospital Worker's strike, brochures from various African American political campaigns (including Marjorie Amos, George Fuller, Victoria DeLee, George Payton and others), groups to free jailed African Americans (including Robert Lee Smith, convicted of murder at age 13); the US Commission on Civil Rights, State Advisory Committee of SC; Neighborhood Legal Assistance and other similar groups. Her church papers include materials regarding Old Bethel Methodist Church, Charleston, SC, and other various Methodist groups, and her papers documenting her relationship with arts groups contain a nearly complete script of Sea Island Song by Alice Childress.

Other materials documenting Clark's association with social, health care and literary-related agencies include papers regarding the Septima Clark Day Care Center, and papers dealing with the handicapped and mentally retarded. Her relationships with various schools cover institutions such as College Seven, University of California-Santa Cruz, with copies of the writings of Provost J. Herman Blake, her alma maters, Benedict College and Hampton University, including student papers submitted at Hampton regarding Saxon Elementary School, Columbia, SC, and materials documenting unrest at Allen University, Columbia, SC, and at Voorhees College, Denmark, SC. Audio-visual materials include reel to reel tapes and cassettes of Clark's speeches at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, regarding her life, work and beliefs; a recording of Clark leading a workshop, and other tapes.

Photographs show Septima Clark, Poinsette and Clark family members, various functions, including Alpha Kappa Alpha debutantes, programs and events participated in by Clark and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including teaching programs at various spots and the Charleston Hospital Workers' strike. Including images of Andrew Young, James Orange, Esau Jenkins, Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams, Bernice Robinson, Jesse Jackson, Dorothy Cotton, Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, and others; with photos of staff at Howard and Celia Dale Saxon Schools, Columbia, SC. Artifacts include silver-plate and other trays, trophies, glass, plaques, an academic hood, a small hide-covered African shield, and related materials; oversize items include diplomas, photos, and posters, including one honoring and signed by Rosa Parks and Septima Clark.


  • Creation: 1960-1988 and undated


Access Restrictions

No restrictions.


From the Collection: 11.5 linear feet (15 archival boxes, 3 record cartons, 2 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States