Libraries and archives acquire new collections and donations from a variety of sources…from individuals, from businesses and organizations, from families and estates, and from collectors. And sometimes, one acquisition will beget another. Such is the case with the Amistad Research Center’s acquisition of the E. Frederic Morrow papers in 1995. Reverend Robert L. Polk, had previously donated his own papers to Amistad, and it was due to his good efforts that the Morrow family decided to place the Morrow papers with the Center as well. The Morrow family had attended Riverside Church in New York City while Polk served in a ministerial role there.
Everett Frederic Morrow, business executive, author, field secretary for the NAACP, and public servant, was the first African American to serve as an Executive Assistant to the President of the United States, serving during President Eisenhower’s administration. Morrow was born on April 20, 1909, in Hackensack, New Jersey. In 1935, Morrow joined the National Urban League, serving as its business manager for Opportunity magazine, and two years later moved on to work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. At the NAACP, Morrow promoted the organization’s grassroots development, traveling across the nation to foster the growth of membership and fund-raising.
After service in the U.S. Army and a position as a public affairs writer for Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS), Morrow joined Eisenhower’s presidential campaign in 1952 as a personal advisor and administrative assistant. After Eisenhower’s election, Morrow was appointed as an advisor to Business Affairs in the Department of Commerce, a post he held until 1955. Morrow began serving as Administrative Officer for Special Projects in July 1955. After his service to the White House, Morrow wrote an account of his experience entitled Black Man in the White House, published in 1963.
The E. Frederic Morrow papers encompass 5.0 linear feet of correspondence, autobiographical manuscript drafts, photographs, and speeches that are mainly professional in nature related to Morrow’s work in the Eisenhower administration. The correspondence is notable for descriptions about the administration’s lack of action and attention to the poor living conditions for minorities in Mississippi, as well as the continued physical abuse of African Americans during the 1950s. Notable correspondents include President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Liberian President William Tubman, and Vice-President Richard Nixon. The letters dating post-1970 mainly pertain to Morrow’s autobiographical writings, publishing efforts, and speaking engagements.
*Portions of this blog post previously appeared in a February 1, 2013, blog post authored by Andrew Salinas.
Images from the Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission.