National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Milwaukee Branch, Records, 1917-1989

Scope and Content Note

The records in this collection are organized in two parts. Part 1 is made up of portions received in the Archives in the 1970s. It dates 1917-1970 and primarily reflects the interests and work of the Halyards and as such probably presents and incomplete view of Milwaukee branch activities. Part 2 contains additional records received in 2001 and arranged in 2002. These records date 1972-1989.

Part 1, 1917-1970

Part 1 of the collection is arranged in seven categories: National Records, Regional Records, State Records, and Milwaukee branch records filed as Administrative Records, Correspondence and Related Material, Subject Files, and Visual Materials

The NATIONAL RECORDS consist mainly of material from national conferences, including programs, notes, resolutions, minutes, and addresses. REGIONAL RECORDS contain conference material exclusively. The STATE RECORDS include correspondence of Lloyd Barbee and E. Gordon Young, former presidents of the Wisconsin Conference of Branches. Within this series, the general records are comprised of correspondence, minutes of the board of directors of the state conference, and finance committee material.

The most extensive records in the collection are those of the Milwaukee branch. The ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS include executive board and board of directors meeting minutes, and various committee records. A substantial part of the finance committee records regard fund raising events, such as picnics, concerts, and candy sales. Included in these records is a letter from Medgar Evers, Mississippi NAACP field secretary, dated 22 May 1958 (box 2, folder 19), as well as material pertaining to his memorial fund, established in 1963. The general records of the committee contain budgets, treasurer's reports, correspondence, and acknowledgments. Membership committee records consist of membership lists, receipts for dues, minutes of meetings, and correspondence. The political action and discrimination cases contain material of national scope, such as the 1949-1952 Groveland, Florida assault case which reached the Supreme Court; the 1951 murder of Harry T. Moore, state coordinator of the NAACP Florida branches, and his wife; and the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi. The Milwaukee cases mainly concern local job discrimination complaints.

The CORRESPONDENCE and RELATED MATERIAL dates from 1947 to 1970, with the exception of one folder of items dated 1917 to 1943. Letters dated 1917 and 1929 protest state legislation prohibiting interracial marriages. Other early material documents Wilbur Halyard's initial involvement with the NAACP, beginning in 1924, and his 1929 term as president of the Milwaukee branch. Also included is correspondence exchanged between the NAACP national office and the Milwaukee branch. It should be noted that there are overlaps in the correspondence series and in the correspondence of specific committees.

The SUBJECT FILES illuminate numerous issues which faced the Milwaukee branch, such as its effort to ban the Amos n' Andy television program because of its offensive stereotyped black roles. Under the leadership of Ardie A. Halyard, the branch succeeded in having the show dropped by WTMJ-TV after 4 October 1951. Material from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which consists of only four items, deals in part with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which planned to challenge the seating of that state's delegation at the 1964 Democratic National convention. The United Negro College Fund, one of Ardie A. Halyard's community interests, is also represented in this series. Other topics covered in this series include affirmative action, school desegregation, voter registration, and fair housing.

The VISUAL MATERIALS include photographs and ephemera, 1958-1962; depicting members and events of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP, fliers to NAACP-sponsored programs, and NAACP promotional drawings. A panoramic photograph of the NAACP national convention of 1960, prominently featuring Wisconsin delegates is also included.

Part 2, 1972-1989

Part 2 is arranged in the following categories: National Records, Regional Records, State Records, Administrative Records, Correspondence and Related Material, Subject Files, and Discrimination Files.

The NATIONAL RECORDS consist of correspondence with the national office while the REGIONAL RECORDS and STATE RECORDS consist of correspondence, and related materials concerning issues and activities in which the Milwaukee Branch was involved. Records in each of these groups is filed chronologically.

The ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS include meeting minutes, committee files, memoranda, personnel information, reports, Branch election files, and membership files as well as a few financial records.

The CORRESPONDENCE and RELATED MATERIAL, 1977-1988, principally of the Branch president, Christine Belnavis, is filed chronologically.

The SUBJECT FILES are arranged alphabetically and principally concern the integration of the Milwaukee public schools.

The DISCRIMINATION FILES include cases formally filed with the Milwaukee Branch, as well as other Milwaukee cases, some of which did not involve the NAACP. These cases fall into four general categories: those that have exhausted all legal avenues; inmate complaints; those that lack substance, and those for which the NAACP felt it could provide assistance. The formal complaints are each filed by year and alphabetically thereunder. The other cases are filed chronologically.