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Family Addition: The Dent Family

by Felicia D. Render

Dent Family: L-R Albert W., Walter, Tom, Ben and Jessie Covington Dent, ca 1955
Dent Family: L-R Albert W., Walter, Tom, Ben and Jessie Covington Dent, ca 1955

The Amistad Research Center is pleased to house multiple collections of the Dent family of New Orleans. The papers span over one hundred years of family and civil rights history in Louisiana and Texas. An addendum to the Dent Family papers, about the family’s matriarch, Jessie Covington Dent, has been preserved by Amistad Research Center archivists, with funding assistance from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. Here are some highlights from the addendum.

Classical concert pianist, educator and devoted community leader, Ernestine Jessie Covington Dent worked tirelessly to assist others throughout her career. Dent significantly contributed to African American classical and operatic music. She graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and was a fellow of the Juilliard Musical Foundation of New York. As the wife of Albert Walter Dent, president of Dillard University, she had three sons, Thomas Covington, Benjamin Albert and Walter Jesse Dent. In addition, Dent served in many civic and community organizations and received numerous awards, honors and citations.

Educator, hospital administrator and president of Dillard University, Albert Walter Dent played a significant role in the development of Dillard University and affected the lives of many African American students who became civil rights activists and leaders. He was also involved in several organizations, including the formation of the United Negro College Fund, an educational assistance organization that provides support to 41 private historically black member colleges and universities.

Albert W. and Jessie C. Dent, ca 1979
Albert W. and Jessie C. Dent, ca 1979

The addendum to the papers of Ernestine Jessie Covington Dent (1904-2001) and Albert Walter Dent (1904-1984) provides a rich source of documentation of a prominent southern African American family, and covers topics such as education, healthcare, musical traditions and culture in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas. The papers consist of 38 linear feet of personal and collected papers of both individuals and other Covington and Dent family members. The addition to the papers is comprised of articles, biographical information, books, correspondence, news clippings, programs, photographs and family portraits, press releases, press clippings and other collected items, and publications, all offering a wealth of information about the Dent and Covington families, their careers, family histories and their fight for human rights. The papers also provide an excellent source of documentation about Dillard University and Flint-Goodridge Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In essence, the addition to the Dent family papers will continue to provide access to our rich collections at Amistad with bountiful historical treasures.

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