BAILEY, I. G. (ISAAC GEORGE), 1847-1914.
I.G. Bailey and Thurman family papers, circa 1882-1995

Emory University

Robert W. Woodruff Library

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link:

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bailey, I. G. (Isaac George), 1847-1914.
Title: I.G. Bailey and Thurman family papers, circa 1882-1995
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 807
Extent: 6.25 linear feet (13 boxes), 2 oversized papers boxes and 1 oversized papers folder (OP), 4 bound volumes (BV), and AV Masters: 0.25 linear foot (1 box)
Abstract:Family papers of African American Baptist minister and church leader, Isaac G. and Susie E. Bailey and their daughter and son-in-law Sue Bailey and Howard Thurman and other members of the Bailey family. The collection tracks the political and religious pursuits of the family through three generations.
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

Howard Thurman papers and Sue Bailey Thurman papers, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University.

Related Materials in This Repository

Emory University also holds portions of the private library of Sue Bailey Thurman and Howard Thurman. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching for: Thurman, Sue Bailey, former owner and Thurman, Howard, former owner.


Gift, 1998.


[after identification of item(s)], I.G. Bailey and Thurman family papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Rian Bowie and Eldon Birthwright, May, 2001.

This finding aid may include language that is offensive or harmful. Please refer to the Rose Library's harmful language statement for more information about why such language may appear and ongoing efforts to remediate racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, euphemistic and other oppressive language. If you are concerned about language used in this finding aid, please contact us at

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Reverend Isaac George Bailey (1847-1914) was born in Arkansas City to Perry and Virginia Bailey. Educated at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff, Bailey served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Dermott, Arkansas, and Log Bayou Church in Tillar Station, Arkansas. He also served as president of the Southeast District Industrial Baptist Academy in Dermott and as moderator of the South-East District Baptist Association. Isaac Bailey was a major force within the Arkansas Baptist Convention and worked closely with the National Negro Business League and the Arkansas Baptist College. In 1866, he married Winnie White. They had two children: Charles H. Bailey and Maude Bailey Frazier, who served as assistant principal of the South-East Industrial Academy.

In 1884, Bailey married Susie E. Ford. Susie E. Ford (d. 1948) was the daughter of Elvie, a slave, and T. S. Ford, a Mississippi plantation-owner. Isaac G. and Susie E. Bailey were prominent religious leaders who served as colporteurs for the American Baptist Publication Society, selling Bibles and other religious books throughout Arkansas. Susie Bailey attended Sumner High School and Normal School in St. Louis. She served as president of Southeast District Baptist Women's Association and as an agent for the Women's American Mission Baptist Home Mission Society. Susie and Isaac Bailey had nine children, six of whom died before adulthood.

The Baileys' youngest child Sue Elvie was born on August 3, 1903. She attended a school, in Washington, D. C., operated by Nannie Helen Burroughs, an associate of her mother, and later the Lucretia Mott School in Washington. She subsequently attended Spelman Seminary and then Oberlin College, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in music in 1926. After graduation from Oberlin, Ms. Bailey joined the Music Department at Hampton Institute. In the summer of 1928, she joined the staff of the Young Women's Christian Association as the National Secretary for Colleges in the South.

On June 12, 1932, Sue Bailey married Morehouse College graduate Howard Thurman. In the fall of 1932, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where Howard Thurman took a position as professor of Theology at Howard University. In October of 1935, the Thurmans began a seven-month tour of India, Burma, and Ceylon. On this tour, they had a three-hour conversation with Mahatma Gandhi. In 1940, Mrs. Thurman served as the founding editor of the Aframerican Woman's Journal, the official organ of the National Council of Negro Women. She continued in that capacity until 1943. In 1944, the Thurmans and Presbyterian minister Alfred G. Fisk established the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco. In 1949, Mrs. Thurman published Pioneers of Negro Origin in California. The Thurmans moved to Boston in 1953, where Dr. Thurman served as Dean of Marsh Chapel, Boston University, until 1966.

The Thurmans retired to San Francisco where they again became active in the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. Howard Thurman died in 1981. Mrs. Thurman died in San Francisco on December 25, 1996.

Scope and Content Note

The Bailey and Thurman families papers spans the years from 1882 to 1995. The collection tracks the political and religious pursuits of the family through three generations. It includes correspondence, writings, printed material, newspaper clippings, books from the Bailey library, photographs, legal documents, financial records, and general ephemera.

A large portion of the collection is made up of correspondence written to family members. The correspondence written to and by Isaac and Susie Bailey is of particular interest. It covers familial matters as well as those pertaining to the branches of the Baptist Missionary Association. In addition to their own letters, there is the correspondence to and from their children: Maude, vice principal of Southeast Industrial Academy; Isaac, Jr., a graduate of Howard University, printer/editor, and early member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; Dorcas Bailey; and Sue Bailey Thurman. The correspondence also includes a series of letters to Elias A. Morris, the son of Elias Camp Morris, prominent leader of the Arkansas Baptist Association and the National Baptist Convention. Additional material relates to Arkansas Baptist College, the Southeast Baptist Academy, the Southeast District Missionary Baptist Association, the Baptist Women's Southeastern District Association, and the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society.

Within this collection there are also a number of writings by the Bailey family. One section focuses on those speeches, lectures, and reports written by Isaac and Susie Bailey. Religious in nature, these writings, generally affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist Association or the Southeast Baptist Association, cover a broad range of topics from motherhood to Christian responsibility. Another small section in the collection contains minutes and reports, largely handwritten, relating to various Baptist conventions and organizations.

The collection also contains a fair amount of printed material dating from 1880 to 1995. A significant part of the printed material in the collection highlights the Baileys' leadership in the development of Baptist organizations in Southeast Arkansas. Many of these documents were printed by African-American publishers and presses. The more contemporary documents relate to the dealings of Sue (nee Bailey) and Howard Thurman. This information includes an article on the Thurmans' trip to India where they met with Mahatma Gandhi. There is also information related to their affiliations with Spelman and Morehouse Colleges. In addition to these early pieces, there are also articles on Susie Bailey, Howard Thurman, and Sue Bailey Thurman, as well as published copies of smaller books, including Sue Bailey Thurman's Pioneers of Negro Origin in California (1949).

The next two sections consist of newspapers and newspaper clippings. The newspapers range in date from 1893 to 1948, and they cover a broad range of political and religious topics. There are a number of copies of the Baptist Vangard, an African-American religious newspaper, as well as numerous copies of the St Louis Weekly Globe Democrat. The newspaper clippings cover a broad range of subjects, including, but certainly not limited to, obituaries of Bailey family members, tributes, and honors and awards for the Bailey-Thurman family members.

The largest, single component of the collection is the photographic section. Although the majority of the photographs are undated, they can be loosely dated from the 1880s to 1996 and have been divided into several categories. The first consists of the early photographs of the Bailey family members. The second contains the photographs of Howard Thurman and Sue Bailey Thurman. There are photographs of them alone and/or attending various functions, whether together or individually. There is also an array of photographs of Howard Thurman, from professional portraits to more casual images. There are many family photographs, professional photographs divided by organizational affiliation, and travel photographs, including photographs with Mahatma Gandhi. Finally, there are the photographs taken without either Sue Bailey or Howard Thurman. These photos vary in subject matter; they include images used to illustrate Sue Bailey Thurman's Pioneers of Negro Origin in California as well as images of well-known African Americans. Additionally, there are a large number of photographs of others, mostly unidentified, although there are prominent individuals featured, including Nathan I. Huggins (who was raised by the Thurmans) and Wole Soyinka. Finally, there are the negatives/slides and miscellaneous photographs.

There is a small amount of financial and legal records in the collection. This covers the period from the late 1800s to approximately 1947. The financial records include receipts covering a broad range of services from product orders to deed payments. There is also a folder of banking materials including bank statements, deposit slips, and bankbooks for Mrs. Susie Bailey. The legal section consists of insurance policies, real estate records, as well as miscellaneous legal items.

Finally, there are several items of ephemera. These include devotional books about mothers, a miniature hymnal, election memorabilia, and cloth maps.

Arrangement Note

Organized into nine series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Writing by the Bailey family, (3) Minutes and reports, (4) Printed material, (5) Photographs, (6) Legal and financial records, (7) Ephemera, (8) Collected material, and (9) Audiovisual material.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Geographic Names

Form/Genre Terms


Description of Series