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COLLECTION Identifier: HUM 2

Papers of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, 1875-1951

Overview

Roscoe Conkling Simmons (born 1878 or 1881, died 1951) was an African-American orator, civic leader, journalist, and politician. He was an active member of the Republican party, a much sought-after public speaker, an advisor to three American presidents, and a journalist in Chicago during the first half of the 20th century. The Papers of Roscoe Conkling Simmons are a rich source for historical information not only on Roscoe Conkling Simmons' public role and life, but on American politics and life of during the first half of the 20th century, particularly regarding politicial activism and social networks of African-Americans.

Dates

  • 1875-1951

Creator

Researcher Access

Permission is required for access to this collection. Contact the Harvard University Archives for details.

Extent

35 cubic feet
The Papers of Roscoe Conkling Simmons are a rich source for historical information not only on Roscoe Conkling Simmons' public role and life, but a source for American politics and life of during the first half of the 20th century, particularly the politicial activism and social networks of African-Americans.

The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts of speeches and writings, personal and financial papers, photographs, news clippings of stories and columns by and about Simmons, as well as public announcements and event programs for Simmons' speeches. The correspondence includes communications with individuals, organizations, and family members as well as correspondence relating to Simmons' work for the Republican National Committee.

Also included are various publications and printed materials collected by Simmons, personal memorabilia, and sound recordings.

Biographical Note

Roscoe Conkling Simmons (born 1878 or 1881, died 1951) was an African-American orator, civic leader, journalist and politician. He graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1899. He served as head of the Colored Division of the Speakers' Bureau of the Republican National Committee in 1920, 1924, and 1928. He was an advisor to three American presidents. He worked for the Chicago Defender from 1916 through the mid-1930s, and for the Chicago Tribune from the late 1940's until his death in 1951.

The date of his birth is uncertain. Obituaries state his age in 1951 as anywhere between Simmons' own assertion that he was sixty-three and his oldest friends' statements that place his age nearer to seventy-five. A birth date of June 20,1878 in Greenview Mississippi is listed in the earliest inventories of his papers produced by the Harvard University Archives. A passport appliction holds a 1918 certification of birth signed by his parents that state the year and place of his birth as 1881 in Macon, Mississippi. See Kaye, Andrew M. Roscoe Conkling Simmons and the Mechanics of Black Leaderhisp, 1899-1951 (Thesis, doctoral--University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2002), p. 23 for information on the evidence for various dates and places of birth.
Roscoe Conkling Simmons Chronology
  • June 20, 1878 Born in Greenview, Mississippi
  • 1881 Other possible birth date, Macon, Missiippi
  • 1899 Graduates from Tuskegee Institut
  • 1903 Works at United States Land Office
  • 1910 Makes campaign speech for Theodore Roosevelt
  • 1913 Becames editor-in-chief of the Memphis Sun
  • 1916 Runs Louisville News in Louisville Kentucky Joins staff of Chicago Defender
  • 1920 Director of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee for the presidential campaign
  • 1924 Director of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee for the presidential campaign
  • 1928 Director of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee for the presidential campaign
  • 1930 Runs unsuccessfully ran for Congress against Oscar De Priest
  • 1932 Seconds the nomination of Herbert Hoover at the Republican National Convention in Chicago Leads delegation to White House to confront Hoover on racial issues
  • 1936 Simmons active in Republican Party internal dispute over "lily-whitism"
  • late 1940s Works at Chicago Tribune
  • 1949 Works at Washington Times-Herald
  • 1950 Campaigns for Maryland Republican John M. Butler's for Senate
  • 1951 Simmons is first African-American journalis from a white newspaper to be admitted to the Congressional press gallery
  • April 27, 1951 Simmons dies.
Roscoe Conkling Simmons Chronology
June 20, 1878
Born in Greenview, Mississippi
1881
Other possible birth date, Macon, Missiippi
1899
Graduates from Tuskegee Institut
1903
Works at United States Land Office
1910
Makes campaign speech for Theodore Roosevelt
1913
Becames editor-in-chief of the Memphis Sun
1916
Runs Louisville News in Louisville Kentucky
Joins staff of Chicago Defender
1920
Director of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee for the presidential campaign
1924
Director of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee for the presidential campaign
1928
Director of the Colored Speaker's Bureau of the Republican National Committee for the presidential campaign
1930
Runs unsuccessfully ran for Congress against Oscar De Priest
1932
Seconds the nomination of Herbert Hoover at the Republican National Convention in Chicago
Leads delegation to White House to confront Hoover on racial issues
1936
Simmons active in Republican Party internal dispute over "lily-whitism"
late 1940s
Works at Chicago Tribune
1949
Works at Washington Times-Herald
1950
Campaigns for Maryland Republican John M. Butler's for Senate
1951
Simmons is first African-American journalis from a white newspaper to be admitted to the Congressional press gallery
April 27, 1951
Simmons dies.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into fourteen groups:
  1. Individual correspondence
  2. Organizational correspondence
  3. Roscoe Conkling Simnons letter boxes
  4. Republican National Committee correspondence
  5. Family correspondence
  6. Correspondence with William M. Simmons
  7. Manuscripts of writings
  8. Personal and financial papers
  9. Speeches
  10. News clippings by and about Simmons
  11. Public announcements and event programs
  12. Photographs
  13. Artifacts
  14. Publications and printed materials

Acquisition information

Accession number: 12801; received 1993 December 2 from the Harvard College Library.

Related Materials

  1. The Harvard University Archives also holds the Roscoe Conkling Simmons Collection http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.ARCH:hua59011
  2. The Auburn Avenue Research Library, Atlanta, Georgia holds the Roscoe Conkling Simmons family papers, ca. 1860s-1950s.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 October 12.

Processing Information

The collection was organized, re-housed, and listed in the early- to mid-1990s.

In 2014, the inventory was converted to electronic text by Kate Bowers.
Link to catalog
Title
Simmons, Roscoe Conkling, 1881-1951. Papers of Roscoe Conkling Simmons, 1904-1951: an inventory
EAD ID
hua13014

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.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461