Anna Holden Papers, 1946-1999


Gladys Anna Holden was born in Ocala, Florida, in 1928 or 1929, and lived there until her graduation from high school in 1946. She earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Florida State University in 1950, and went on immediately to do a year of graduate work in sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She finished her master's degree in 1955.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the period to which the large majority of her papers pertain, Holden worked for various social service and civil rights organizations or in related university programs, as a research sociologist. Between 1951 and 1955 she was affiliated with the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta. She then moved to Nashville, where she held research positions at Fisk University from 1956 to 1959. Among her projects was a study of school desegregation in Clinton, Tennessee. Holden served as the chairperson of the Nashville branch of the Congress of Racial Equality from 1957 to 1959. In 1959 she enrolled for one year in the Ph.D. program in sociology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. For the next three years she worked as an editorial assistant in the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. She also became the chairperson of the local chapter of CORE in 1961 and organized the Ann Arbor Fair Housing Association in the same year.

Miss Holden quickly achieved a reputation as an energetic and effective organizer and, along with her other activities, served as secretary of the national CORE organization from 1957 to 1962, and as Midwest regional representative to its powerful National Action Council in 1963. During these years she was an active spokesperson for the view that CORE should be a biracial, direct action organization, not primarily a sponsor of political reform.

In 1963 Holden moved to Washington, D.C., where she held a number of social research positions and quickly achieved a prominent position in the local CORE chapter. During her years in Washington, 1963 to the early 1970s, CORE underwent reorganization after the expulsion of its chairman, Julius Hobson, and the initiation of direct action assaults by the CORE Housing Committee (of which Holden was a member) on housing discrimination in Washington.

In June 1968, Holden began a study of desegregation in small and medium-sized school districts, for the United States Civil Rights Commission. In September, the Center for Urban Education in New York took over the project and retained Holden as chief investigator. The study became a collection of separate and detailed accounts of the school districts of Charlottesville, Virginia, Providence, Rhode Island, and Sacramento, California. The initial research was completed in 1970, and was later updated and published in final form as The Bus Stops Here (New York, Agathon Press, 1974). Following completion of her work on the study, Anna Holden moved to Detroit, Michigan.