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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1233

Family papers of Linda Crichlow White, 1907-2015 (inclusive), 1942-1987 (bulk)


Diaries, correspondence, financial and educational records of members of extended African American family, primarily focused on seamstress, nurse, and federal government employee Goldie Glover Bruce.


  • Creation: 1907-2015
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1942-1987


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Linda Crichlow White is held by Linda Crichlow White during her lifetime. After her death, copyright will transfer to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


5.75 linear feet ((11+ 1/2 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 3 photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 supersize photograph folder, archived web site content)
.516 Megabytes

The Linda Crichlow White family papers document several generations of Crichlow White's extended family, providing a look at the daily lives and familial relationships of members of a middle class African American family from the mid-20th to the early 21st centuries, including during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights movement. The collection contains material on Marietta Stevens Crichlow, Goldie Glover Bruce and her three children, and on Linda Crichlow White's uncle, Luther Warnick Crichlow and his wife, Martha Archer Crichlow Grant. Luther Warnick Crichlow served as a US army chaplain during World War II.

The Goldie Glover Bruce material includes diaries dating from 1945 to 1971; these provide a detailed look at Bruce's daily life, with mentions of gardening, shopping, clothes, sewing, home repairs, and visits from family. The 1945 diary gives a thorough account of daily expenses. The 1946 diary, which documents the year after she purchased her home in Washington, contains daily entries of expenses, including meals. The 1949 diary reports the acquisition of a television--she writes, "I like it"--and after this, watching television is regularly mentioned in the diaries. Other recurring topics include her health issues (beginning in 1949 she had recurrent fits of dizziness) and her daughter Althea's activities (including the acquisition of a summer house), with the August 1, 1949 entry referring to conflict between them. Bruce also notes events such as the 1954 United States Capitol Shooting, in which Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire in the United States House of Representatives; the assassination of President Kennedy and subsequent assassination of Lee Harvard Oswald by Jack Ruby; the deaths of President Eisenhower and Louis Armstrong; and the Poor People's March on Washington, of which she apparently disapproved. She also frequently comments on her love for her children and their goodness to her.

Also included are financial information and work documents (including an account book and business card for Bruce's sewing business and her 1943 "Story of My Work Life" essay); World War II ration books; Bruce's nursing school diploma and her nursing textbook; and letters received, including from women's clubs and civic associations. Extensive letters to Bruce from her children Charles H. Bruce Jr. and Constance Glover Bruce are also included, as well as letters from her sister Carrie Glover Walton. Charles's letters are from ports around the world, and describe life at sea, conditions in various countries (including Japan post World War II), and his family at home in New York. He became stepfather to Dessye Goines's two children upon their marriage and in subsequent letters often comments on their activities and development. He also regularly sent his mother money and urged her not to hesitate to ask for financial assistance. Constance Glover Bruce wrote often to her mother from her home in the Bronx in the 1940s to 1960s. In her letters, she described her active social life, enclosing programs, tickets, and flyers from performances and events she attended, as well as the itinerary for her trip to Europe as part of the National Council of Negro Women delegation led by Dorothy Height. Carrie Glover Bruce reports on family news, including the deaths of brothers Elijah and Lawrence. She also notes the challenges of old age and frequently comments on the poor behavior of teenagers, observing "Everyone white, black, Jew and Gentile has the same trouble." She also comments on the development of "a new painting fad": Paint By Number. Electronic records were received in Microsoft Word format and processed with FTK Imager. These records appear in the finding aid as #E.1 and contain transcriptions by Linda Crichlow White of the bulk of the Carrie Glover Bruce letters. Cards and a few of the letters appearing in #9.5-9.6 were not transcribed.

The collection also includes letters Constance Glover Bruce received from her sister Althea Bruce Tibbs Allen. Almost all of these letters were sent from Althea's homes first in Illinois and then in Tucson, Arizona. Althea regularly sent Constance checks; she also helped financially support their mother while living with her in Washington. Her letters include references to her son Reubin "Third" Allen III, as well as to the poor health of her husband Reubin Allen Jr. Her last letter expresses her desire to have no further contact with Constance. Other materials related to Constance include genealogical information (including a biography of Goldie Glover Bruce); a draft of Constance's will; and letters from family and friends.

The Marietta Stevens Crichlow material documents the role of religion in the life of an older African American woman. It focuses on her involvement with the Mount Carmel Baptist Church and includes scrapbooks related to her work with the church's Arthur H. Pace Library and with the adult department of the church's Sunday school. Letters from friends are also included. Also included is Martha Archer Crichlow Grant's scrapbook from J.K. Brick Junior College in North Carolina, which she attended from 1929 to 1933. The scrapbook includes photographs and ephemera from those years, and from Brick alumni functions until 1962.

The collection also includes photographs of Luther Warnick Crichlow at an ROTC encampment in 1934 and with other chaplains at a Harvard University Chaplain school in 1944; Charles H. Bruce Jr. in his stateroom on the S.S. Trojan; Constance Glover Bruce (including her high school graduation portrait); Althea Bruce Tibbs Allen; Marietta Stevens Crichlow; and Goldie Glover Bruce, including in her Washington, DC, home on her 88th birthday. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

Also included is Crichlow White's web site, Back There Then, which provides additional genealogical information and is being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program.


Linda Crichlow White was born in 1949 in Washington, DC, the daughter of Marietta Stevens Crichlow and Martin A. Crichlow. Her mother was a social studies teacher and her father was a mechanic and plumber. Crichlow White attended the University of Cincinnati, West Virginia State College (BA, Home Economics, 1972), and Howard University (MS, Human Ecology, 1979). In 1971, she went to West Africa with Operation Crossroads Africa, a cross-cultural exchange program. She lived in the village of Anfoeta, Ghana, for six weeks and also traveled through other parts of Ghana and neighboring countries for an additional two weeks. In 1976 she married Eric White; they have two children, Kwame and Khalila. Crichlow White worked as the Washington representative for Operations Crossroads Africa from 1980 to 1984, and taught home economics first at Roosevelt High School in the first half of 1986, before beginning work at Eastern High School in the fall of 1986; she continued teaching there until 2004. In 2004, White received an MLS from Catholic University. She worked as a school library media specialist at Parkland Middle School until her retirement in 2013. Crichlow White and her mother Linda Stevens Crichlow co-wrote a family memoir, Back There, Then: A Historical Genealogical Memoir (2014). The book was primarily written by Crichlow, with supplementary notes by Crichlow White, and provides information on several branches of the Crichlow, Stevens, and Glover families. Crichlow White also developed a web site to accompany the book.

Mary Etta Louise "Marietta" Stevens Crichlow was born in 1919, in Washington, DC, the daughter of John and Florence (Garland) Stevens. She had one sister, Edna. Her mother died in 1926, and the following year their father sent Crichlow and Edna to live in Pennsylvania, with the family of his sister, Ida Stevens Johnson. Crichlow graduated from Duquesne High School in 1937 and returned to Washington to attend Howard University, graduating in 1941 with a BA in sociology. In 1937, she joined the Mount Carmel Baptist Church and she remained an active member of this church throughout her life, serving as a Sunday School teacher for both children and adults, and as secretary of the church's library. She learned upon her first visit to the church that her mother had also been a member.

While studying at Howard, Crichlow worked for the National Youth Administration (NYA), a program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide employment opportunities to young people. She was accepted into the graduate school of social work at Howard, but due to a lack of funds, instead continued her work with the National Youth Administration, before beginning a series of governmental jobs in December 1941. In her genealogical memoir, Back There Then, she noted, "Before World War II, most government jobs were open only for White people. There were few if any Colored typists or office workers, just laborers who cleaned. The war was a horror, yet it did break down the color barrier somewhat." She married Martin Crichlow in 1942. In 1950, Crichlow resigned her job as a typist in the procurement department of the General Services Administration, in order to study at Howard University with the goal of becoming a teacher. She began working as a substitute teacher in 1951 and continued studying at Howard University, earning a master's degree in education in 1956. In 1957, she began teaching social studies at Hine Junior High School in Washington, DC. In the mid-1950s, Martin Crichlow became the first African American plumbing supervisor in the General Services Administration. He died in 1992 and Marietta Stevens Crichlow died in 2020.

Marietta Stevens Crichlow's great aunt, Goldie Glover Bruce, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1888, the daughter of James and Lucy (Stewart) Glover. She had eight siblings: Bettie (the maternal grandmother of Marietta Stevens Crichlow), Florence, Elijah, Lawrence, Carrie, James, Joseph, and Annie. Her parents owned a neighborhood grocery store and Bruce began working at the store at a young age. In a 1943 autobiographical essay titled "Story of My Work Life," she noted that if she had been "especially good," she was allowed to sell produce in her father's stall at the Public Market, or serve the customers at the "Elite Glover's Restaurant" managed by her mother. In 1901, the family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where they opened another grocery store. In 1907, Bruce graduated from the Girls' High School in Boston, and began an apprenticeship under a French dressmaker. She then worked as a plain sewer and finisher. She married Charles H. Bruce in 1908; the couple had three children, Charles Jr., Constance (1915-2012), and Althea (1917-1987). In 1928, Bruce opened a shop called "'Goldie': Sew and Help Sew" in the family home in Somerville, Massachusetts. It included a lending library, and she sold greeting cards and other small products, with a sewing room in the back of the shop. Bruce also took in boarders during this time.

Bruce and Charles divorced in 1933, and in 1935 Bruce and Althea moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where Charles Jr. was teaching and Constance was studying at the Nashville Agricultural and Industrial State College (later Tennessee State University). Bruce worked in the college's cafeteria before becoming the school nurse. She took a correspondence course in nursing through the Chicago School of Nursing, receiving her diploma in 1938. She worked a variety of other jobs, including as assistant dean of women, at the college before returning to Boston in 1941 and working as a nurse at Massachusetts State Hospital and at a rest home for "aged Jews." In 1943, she moved to Washington, DC, where she took a civil service job in the war department. Later that year she became assistant resident manager of Lucy Diggs Slowe Hall, at the time a residence for young African American women doing war work. She later worked at a store called Gini (later The Lamp Mart) before retiring in 1950. She bought a house in Washington in 1945, and remained in Washington until her death. In the "Story of My Work Life" document she notes that "My salaries have grown from 50 cents a week from my dad to $2200 which I am now getting." Bruce died in 1977.

Charles Bruce Jr. (1911-1987) graduated from Harvard University in 1933. After teaching at the Nashville Agricultural and Industrial State College in the 1930s, he joined the United States Merchant Marine as an engineer, eventually reaching the rank of commander. He was married twice, first to Nan Nance and after Nan's death, to Dessye (sometimes spelled Dessie) Goines. Constance Glover Bruce (1915-2012) lived and worked in New York City for much of her life. In 1959, she was a member of a National Council of Negro Women delegation, led by Dorothy Height, which conducted a tour of Europe. In the 1970s, Constance moved to Washington, DC, to live with and help care for her mother. Althea Bruce Tibbs Allen (1917-1987) married Reubin Allen Jr. in 1936. Their son Reubin Allen III (known as "Third") was born in 1939. The couple subsequently divorced and Third was raised by his father and his second wife, Vivian, seeing Althea only occasionally during his childhood. Althea married Harold Tibbs in the early 1940s but the marriage soon ended and she lived with her mother in Washington from the mid-1940s through the early 1970s. She worked as an administrative secretary at either the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. In 1976, she and Reubin Allen Jr. remarried.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2019-M41, 2019-M134, 2020-M17, 2020-M130

The family papers of Linda Crichlow White were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Linda Crichlow White between February 2019 and November 2020.

Related Material:

There is related material in Northeastern University Library's Special Collections; see the Charles H. Bruce photographs (M180).

There is related material in the Washington Research Library Consortium Digital Collections; see the interview with Marietta Stevens Crichlow and Linda Crichlow White in the Mapping Segregation in Washington DC: School and Neighborhood Desegregation in Ward 4 Project (Collection 220).

Processing Information

Container list created: May 2019

By: Jenny Gotwals

Updated and additional material added: October 2023

By: Emilyn Brown and Susan Earle, with assistance from Dominic Scheidegger and Janin Escobedo-Garcia

Most of the folder titles and the original biographical and scope notes were created by Jenny Gotwals, when she created the container list for accession 2019-M41. Susan Earle foldered, titled, arranged, and described the subsequent accessions (2019-M134--2020-M130.) She also rearranged some of the earlier material and added more detailed description to the original inventory and to the original biographical and scope notes.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit. Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Crichlow White, Linda, 1949-. Family papers of Linda Crichlow White, 1907-2015 (inclusive), 1942-1987 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Eliza Taylor and George W. Ransom Memorial Fund and Robert and Elizabeth Owen Shenton Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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