Series 2
Correspondence, 1846-1985
Boxes 2 - 11

Scope and Content Note

The series consists of correspondence of the Chisholm family including Helen James, Frank Pierce, and Helen Emily Chisholm from 1846-1985. Overall, the correspondence illustrates the intimate interactions of an African-American family at the dawn and through the development of the twentieth century. Through personal and professional letters to and from family members, political leaders, educators, intellectuals and leaders of industry, one notices an ongoing commentary on the representation of African-American life and culture inside and outside of the American mainstream.

Helen James Chisholm: The correspondence consists of letters, greeting cards, postcards, and personal notes received by and regarding Helen "Lou" James Chisholm from 1846-1970. Helen Chisholm's correspondence begins during her last years at Hampton and continues extensively through her years teaching in Hawaii between 1901-1906. Helen James Chisholm maintained extensive correspondence with friends and extended family across the country concerning issues of race and gender for African-Americans throughout the greater part of the twentieth century. Helen Chisholm's niece and famous novelist, Ann Petry, was one of the prominent correspondents. During 1940, Helen J. Chisholm began collecting material regarding Reverend David Root, who was the legal guardian of Anna Houston, Helen's mother. Combined with her correspondence are original letters and copies of letters from David Root to his wife, Mary Frances, from 1846-1869. Helen Chisholm corresponded with a national and international network of friends, such as Laura Wheeler Waring, William H. Bush and Alice F. Beard. However, her main communication was with her sisters Bertha James Lane and Anna James, as well as her daughter, Helen Emily Chisholm.

Frank Pierce Chisholm: The correspondence (1910-1975) consists of Frank P. Chisholm's personal and professional letters. There are several files of letters written by Frank Chisholm to Mrs. Chisholm their daughter, Helen, during his frequent business trips. This correspondence also consists of letters accumulated during Frank Chisholm's association with the United Negro College Fund (1944-1959). While Mr. Chisholm was manager of the Tuskegee Jubilee Singer, he collected correspondence regarding the general business of the group, such as performance requests and letters of appreciation. In addition, documents from the George Washington Carver Foundation are included in this correspondence, highlighting Dr. Carver's contributions to science, and the commemoration of a United States postage stamp (1926-1952). Frank P. Chisholm's general correspondence includes letters to and from Tuskegee officials, such as Presidents Frederick D. Patterson (1935-1953) and Luther H. Foster (1953-1971).

Helen Emily Chisholm: Helen E. Chisholm's correspondence embodies a myriad of prominent literary, artistic, and political figures, including correspondents Rosamond Johnson, J. Saunders Redding, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Marian Anderson, Langston Hughes, Mary McLeod Bethune, and many others. This collection consists of general correspondence (1928-1975) with major correspondence from Allen R. Crite (1949-1958) and Erdix W. Caper (1944-1955).

Arrangement Note

Organized into three subseries: (2.1) Helen James Chisholm correspondence, (2.2) Frank P. Chisholm correspondence, and (2.3) Helen Emily Chisholm correspondence.

Description of Subseries