Thomas Elsa Jones collection (1-71), 1925-1947 (bulk, 1926-1946)

Jones, Thomas Elsa


ca. 30.53 cubic ft.
Organized in 71 boxes consisting of 17 series (broken down into various subseries): Series I: Personal materials; Series II: General correspondence; Series III: Board of Trustees; Series IV: Faculty and staff; Series V: Students and alumni; Series VI: Building development and properties; Series VII: Financial records; Series VIII: World War II and military materials; Series IX: Music; Series X: Office of Public Relations; Series XI: Office of Publicity; Series XII: Organizational affiliations; Series XIII: Publications; Series XIV: Addresses, manuscripts, reports, speeches, and writings; Series XV: Special events; Series XVI: Interim Administrative Committee; and Series XVII: Miscellaneous materials (including photographs and fragile publications).
Personal materials consist of biographical information and correspondence with family and friends, including a few financial records and insurance policy materials. General correspondence contains three subseries: College/University Correspondence, Resignation, and Work Camps. Correspondents include Jane Addams, W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Eleanor Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Augusta Savage. The College/University correspondence contains mostly incoming and outgoing letters from presidents and deans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with some folders on other educational institutions. The Resignation subseries includes information on Jones's tentative resignation in 1941, and his final official resignation in 1946. The Work Camp subseries includes information on the Whiteville Work Camp, in which students were engaged in assisting the residents of rural Whiteville, Tenn., in a project to build schools.
Within the Board of Trustees materials are correspondence, minutes, and reports from the President and the Interim Administrative Committee (the select group of faculty who oversaw the administrative responsibilities of the University during the transition between Jones's and Charles S. Johnson's presidencies). The Faculty and Staff series consists of five subseries: Correspondence and Contracts; Faculty Committees; Departmental Reports; Executive Committee of the Faculty; and Meeting of the Faculty. The Correspondence and Contracts includes information on the backgrounds, salaries, and correspondence of faculty and staff during Jones's tenure, and correspondence between Charles S. Johnson and Jones; also documents regarding the possibility of hiring Zora Neale Hurston as a faculty member (1934). Departmental Reports consist of yearly reports of activities, budgets, and proposals. Some departments were never formally established, however the information regarding their possible conception is valuable to understanding the curriculum development at Fisk. Of significant interest is the Aeronautics program, a rare entity at most universities.
The Executive Committee of the Faculty played an integral role in making key decisions for the University. This subseries consists of three sub-subseries: Correspondence; Minutes; and Sub-Committees. The third sub-subseries contains information on subcommittees and correspondence with the Executive Committee. The last subseries in the Faculty and Staff Series is the Meeting of the Faculty which contains minutes of the general body of Fisk Faculty members. The Students and Alumni series is comprised of two subseries: Students and Alumni. Both subseries contain correspondence. The Students sub-subseries contains information on student interests and committees, and on the case of Ishmael Flory, a graduate student forced to withdraw from the University for his publicized petition against the Jubilee Singers performing at a segregated venue. Support for Flory comes from national organizations such as the NAACP and other colleges and universities.
The Alumni subseries features information on the Alumni Association and on various alumni who corresponded with Jones and other administrators at Fisk University. The Building Development and Properties series consists of general correspondence regarding the development of different buildings on Fisk's campus. Additionally, there are architectural bids and plans, as well as property insurance information, useful in understanding the growth of Fisk's physical plant during Jones' tenure. The Financial Records in this collection consist of five subseries: Endowments, Gifts and Grants; Foundations; General Education Board; Scholarships; and General Business Office Records. Endowments, Gifts, and Grants give extensive information on the annual endowment campaigns in which Jones aggressively solicited funds for the University. For more information on the endowment campaigns, researchers should also consult the Office of Public Relations series for correspondence of Theodore Yoder who was the contact for many of those campaigns and Director of Public Relations. Information on both prospective foundations, and those which gave money to Fisk, can be found in the Foundations subseries.
The General Education Board was a large foundation which gave money consistently to Fisk University-as well as many other Black educational institutions in the South-for various projects, including curriculum development and property building. Proposed fellowships for faculty members are also found within this series, as well as correspondence regarding the ventures in which they assisted Fisk. The Scholarships in this collection document the different endowed scholarships given from estates and individual donors. Also found within this subseries is some of the Student Aid Committee information. This committee voted on which students would receive aid from the University. Lastly, the General Business Office Records subseries of the Financial Record series contains expenditures, audits, and financial reports of the University. The World War II and Military Materials document educational, training opportunities, and special programs at Fisk which played a role in the domestic front: such as the Army Specialized Training Program, (which was housed at Fisk), as well as the Civilian Public Service Camps which Jones and other conscientious objectors participated in while on leave from the University. This series contains propaganda, correspondence, and information on veteran students at Fisk.
The Music series includes one subseries on the Jubilee Singers, as well as information, materials, and programs for the University Choir, the Student Quartet, and other musical guests who came to Fisk during Jones's tenure. Topics include: Roland Hayes's visits to Fisk and the Festival of Music and Fine Arts. Also includes documents regarding Marian Anderson's visit to Fisk. The Jubilee Singers information includes correspondence with various managers of the singing group. The Office of Public Relations series is comprised primarily of correspondence from the administrators of the Public Relations Dept. at Fisk, including Theodore Yoder and Eva Child. Additionally, much information on the endowment campaigns can be found within this series, as Yoder served as a director of the annual initiatives to raise money for the University. The Office of Publicity series consists of correspondence with the Director of Publicity, Luanna Bowles, and her staff. Much of the correspondence directed to Jones regarding publications, bulletins, and information on the University was referred to this office. This section also includes information on printing companies which solicited Fisk for business, and various types of media used to publicize Fisk.
Organizations to which Jones belonged or those interested in Fisk University are found in the Organizational Affiliations series, which has four subseries: American Friends Service Committee; Educational Organizations; Civic, Social, and Political Organizations; and Conferences. Jones was a birthright member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). The American Friends Service Committee served as a social justice organization founded by the Quakers to support various peace programs. This series includes correspondence, engagements, and speeches made by Jones. Researchers interested in the Civilian Public Service Camps Jones participated in should consult the World War II and Military series in addition to this subseries. The Educational and Civic, Social, and Political Organizations subseries includes correspondence between groups with varied missions. Documents regarding Fisk University becoming the first Black institution of higher learning to receive a Class A rating from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools can also be found in this subseries. Lastly, the Conferences subseries includes correspondence between Jones and organizations either wishing to hold conferences on the campus or requesting the leadership of Fisk administrators in conducting them. The agenda for the first Race Relations Institute held at Fisk is also included in this subseries.
The Publications series holds many university publications: the Fisk Herald, Fisk News, and the Fisk University Bulletin. The publicity office composed a biographical sketch of J.W. Johnson, also contained in this series. Additionally, other university bulletins, institutional newsletters, and newspaper clippings are included. Addresses, Manuscripts, Reports, Speeches, and Writings contain documents making up the various subseries with these names found in this section. It contains manuscripts and writings composed by Jones as well as others at Fisk and elsewhere. Additionally, there is some correspondence regarding Jones' speaking engagements. The Special Events series includes commencements, convocations, receptions, and other items relating to Jones's 1926 inauguration. The series primarily consists of correspondence and addresses, but also contains programs and news releases. The Interim Administrative Committee series contains the correspondence and minutes of the group of faculty members who oversaw the administrative responsibilities of the University after Jones resigned in 1946 until Charles S. Johnson officially assumed the presidency in 1947.
The Miscellaneous Materials make up the final series and include Fisk Related and Non-Fisk Related Materials, such as unknown or undated mailing lists, notes, and a biography of Herbert Hoover. Of note in this series is the amendment to the Charter, the Articles of Incorporation, and the By-laws of Fisk University.
Fifth president of Fisk University (Feb. 1926 to July 1946); b. 1888; d. 1973.
Part of the Cooperative HBCU Archival Survey Project (CHASP) to survey the archival collections housed in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Cite as: Thomas Elsa Jones collection (1-71), The Special Collections, Fisk University Library and Media Center, Fisk University.
Another T.E. Jones collection covering the years 1926-1949 is available in the repository.
Finding aid is available in the repository.

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