Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: HUM 114

Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection, 1917-1951 and undated.


The Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection provides a glimpse into the political activities of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, African American Republican and advisor to presidents, from 1917 to 1951. Correspondence in this collection illustrates Simmons' demand as a public speaker; photographs reveal Simmons' involvement in political campaigns; and writings and biographical materials highlight the esteem in which Simmons was held in by his contemporaries.


  • Creation: 1917-1951 and undated.


Researcher Access

The Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection is open for research. Access to fragile original documents may be restricted. Please consult the Public Services staff for further details.

Copying Restriction

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.


.17 cubic feet (1 half-document box)

The Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection provides a glimpse into Simmons' involvement in Republican Party politics from 1917 to 1951. The correspondence in this collection illustrates Simmons' demand as a public speaker and participant in Republican Party politics; photographs reveal Simmons' involvement in political campaigns and canvassing for votes; and writings and biographical materials highlight the esteem in which Simmons was held in by his contemporaries.

Biographical Note

Roscoe Conkling Simmons (1878 or 1881-1951) was an African American Republican, advisor to presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover; and a spokesman for black interests in the United States. He began his career as a reporter for the Pensacola Daily Press (1899); and eventually become a columnist and sales representative for the Chicago Defender (1913). Simmons helped the Defender achieve the widest circulation of any black newspaper in the country. Simmons supported the involvement of African Americans in political leadership positions and was a strong supporter of Theodore Roosevelt's bid for the presidency in 1912. During World War I Simmons traveled to Europe to report on the conditions of black soldiers and to help counter German propaganda efforts designed to undermine African American support for the war. In 1920, Simmons met with delegates from 31 states to organize the Lincoln League of America to promote the voting rights of African Americans, improved educational opportunities, social equality, and to protest against the lynching of African Americans in the South. His oratory skills were widely recognized and Simmons served as Chairman of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee during the presidential election campaigns of 1920, 1924, and 1928. In 1932, Simmons seconded the nomination of Herbert Hoover for the presidency and managed Hoover's campaign among African Americans. In 1936, he led a successful fight to replace an all-white South Carolina Republican delegation with an integrated one. During the 1940s, Simmons was a featured writer for the Chicago Tribune. In his column The Untold Story, Simmons emphasized cooperation among black and white Americans and told stories of successful African Americans.


The records are arranged in four series:

  1. Biographical material, 1951
  2. Correspondence, 1924-1951 and undated
  3. Hand colored portrait and photographs of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, [1940s] and undated
  4. Writings by and about Roscoe Conkling Simmons, [1917-1918]

Acquisition information

The Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection was acquired through donation. The acquisition is as follows:

  1. Accession number: 18329; July 15, 2011

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives

  1. Papers of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, 1904-1951 (HUM 2.xx): includes personal and professional correspondence, speeches and writings, photographs, public announcements and event programs, sound recordings, and news clippings about Simmons.

In the Auburn Avenue Research Library, Atlanta, Georgia

  1. Roscoe Conkling Simmons family papers, ca. 1860s-1950s: includes correspondence, photographs, books from Simmons' personal library, and historical ephemera.


  • Smith, Roland M. "Simmons, Roscoe Conkling." Dictionary of American Biography. Ed. John A. Garraty. Supplement Five 1951-1955. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977. 632-633.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2019 January 14.

Processing Information

Processing included re-housing materials in appropriate containers, establishment of series hierarchy, and the creation of this finding aid.

Processed by Dominic P. Grandinetti in November 2011.

Simmons, Roscoe Conkling, 1881-1951. Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection, 1917-1951 and undated: an inventory
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461