UNIVERSAL NEGRO IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION.
Universal Negro Improvement Association records, 1916, 1921-1989

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

marbl@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/9004v


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Universal Negro Improvement Association.
Title: Universal Negro Improvement Association records, 1916, 1921-1989
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1066
Extent:11.5 linear ft. (24 boxes) and 8 oversized papers (OP)
Abstract:Records of the Universal Negro Improvement Association including correspondence, administrative records, photographs, writings, printed material, and material relating to other organizations.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Universal Negro Improvement Association records, Western Reserve Historical Society.

Related Materials in This Repository

In Emory's holdings are pamphlets and periodical literature formerly owned by former UNIA President Thomas W. Harvey. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching for: Harvey, Thomas W., former owner.

Microfilm copy of the Universal Negro Improvement Association records, 1921 1986 from the Western Reserve Historical Society (MCFILM 4025) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, records of the Central Division, New York, 1918-1959 from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (MCFILM 3474 REEL 1).

Source

Purchase, 2007.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Universal Negro Improvement Association records, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Processed by Carolyn Stephens and Susan Potts McDonald, 2008.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) was founded in Jamaica on August 1, 1914, by Marcus Garvey. The organization is also known as the UNIA-ACL or simply the UNIA. The motto of the organization is "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!"

After traveling throughout the United States in early 1916, Garvey established the New York Division of the UNIA in 1917. In August of 1918, the UNIA began publishing The Negro World, a weekly newspaper, which reported UNIA activities until it ceased publication in 1933. By 1920, the UNIA had over 1,000 divisions in more than 40 countries. That same year, it held its first international convention in New York, New York, which put forth a program based on "The Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World."

After Garvey's conviction and imprisonment on mail fraud charges in 1925 and his deportation to Jamaica in 1927, the organization began to take on a different character and internal rivalries prevailed. As a result, the UNIA continued to be officially recognized as the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, but a rival "UNIA-ACL August 1929 of the World" emerged, headed by Marcus Garvey himself after his deportation to Jamaica. From Jamaica, Garvey settled in England where he established and headed the UNIA 1929, until his death in 1940.

Upon Garvey's death, James R. Stewart, a commissioner from Ohio, was named the successor and in 1949 moved the parent body headquarters to Monrovia, Liberia. Unhappy with this development, a rehabilitating committee held a conference in Detroit, Michigan. The committee denounced the leadership of Stewart and the UNIA became fragmented once again. Former High Chancellor Thomas W. Harvey became President General of the new faction and an international UNIA headquarters was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1951. At the first International Convention held in August 1953, William LeVan Sherrill was elected President General and served until he resigned due to ill health in December 1958. Harvey stepped in to finish Sherrill's term and was then elected President General in August 1959, a post he held for nearly 20 years, until his death in June 1978.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains records of the Universal Negro Improvement Association from 1916, 1921-1989. The papers include correspondence, administrative records, photographs, writings, printed material, and material relating to other organizations.

The correspondence series includes letters to and from Presidents General Marcus Garvey, Thomas W. Harvey, and William L. Sherrill. The correspondence documents communications between the Presidents General and other officers and the various Division leaders in the United States, as well as those in other countries. The administrative records relate to the UNIA parent body and its divisions and include minutes of meetings, policies and procedures, and various reports.

The photographs include images relating to the UNIA, in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean Islands. The writings series contains manuscripts and typescripts by several key UNIA officials including Marcus Garvey, Thomas W. Harvey, and William L. Sherrill, as well as others associated with the UNIA. The printed material series includes broadsides advertising various UNIA-sponsored events; brochures relating information about the purpose, programs, and goals of the UNIA; and programs of the UNIA events. The final series consists of records and printed materials created by other organizations from 1921-1989 that were collected by the UNIA. The materials include printed matter such as broadsides, brochures, and programs; minutes, resolutions, and other records.

Arrangement Note

Organized into six series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Administrative records, (3) Photographs, (4) Writings, (5) Printed material, (6) Other organizations.



Description of Series

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