Through the month of August, I combed through the University Archives and Manuscript collections for resources invaluable to Civil Rights research. The subject guide that I created, “Histories of Wake Forest Resources Relating to Human Civil Rights,” will help our researchers delve into the history of civil rights at Wake Forest and in Winston-Salem.
The subject guide is separated into three categories: 1) Early Twentieth Century/Jim Crow Era (1900-1950), 2) Civil Rights Era, and 3) Late Twentieth Century. I included time periods prior to and after the Civil Rights Era so that researchers could have a well-rounded understanding of the events leading up to the Civil Rights Era and the effects it had on Wake Forest afterwards.
A large bulk of the materials are from our University Archives collections, especially from University organizations as well as the offices of the chaplain, provost, and university presidents. Also included are manuscript collections from Wake Forest graduates, faculty and staff that explored racial topics and civil rights in their research and work.
Two resources that are extremely useful for understanding Wake Forest’s history with civil rights are The Howler yearbooks, which began in 1903, as well as the Old Gold and Black newspapers, which began in 1916. It’s important to note that some of the early Howler yearbooks and Old Gold and Black newspapers contain sensitive images and texts that do not mirror the current views of Wake Forest University or the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. For further information on sensitive content in The Howler, please view our subject guide “Insensitive and Discriminatory Content in Wake Forest’s Howler Yearbooks and Other Records.”
Also notable is our recording of Martin Luther King Jr.’s address in Wait Chapel on October 11, 1962 in which he discusses integration in the South and continuing the work necessary for equality. This recording is especially meaningful to Wake Forest, considering that the college enrolled Ed Reynolds. its first full-time black student into the college in Fall 1962.
If you are interested in more recordings, we urge you to explore our History of Wake Forest University Oral Histories collection (2013-ongoing), which consists of audio and video interviews conducted by Special Collections & Archives and other University departments and programs. Topics discussed in the interviews include alumni and student experience, campus social life and community, and the academic life of faculty and staff.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about the history of Wake Forest, including important events pertaining to equality and civil rights, please visit our History of Wake Forest timeline.