DEVORE-MITCHELL, OPHELIA, 1922-2014.
Ophelia Devore-Mitchell papers, 1920-2010

Emory University

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

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/c9jd9


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Devore-Mitchell, Ophelia, 1922-2014.
Title: Ophelia Devore-Mitchell papers, 1920-2010
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1224
Extent: 77.75 linear feet (149 boxes), 3 oversized papers boxes, 16 oversized bound volumes (OBV), and AV Masters: 20 linear feet (20 boxes)
Abstract:Papers of African American entrepreneur, Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell, including the records of her company, Ophelia DeVore Associates, personal papers, printed material, photographs, and audiovisual material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Use copies have not been made for all of the audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose Library's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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

Separated Material

The Rose Library holds books and periodicals formerly owned by Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell. These materials may be located in Emory University's online catalog by searching for: DeVore-Mitchell, Ophelia, former owner.

Source

Purchased from Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell through rare book dealer Glenn Horwoitz in 2012.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Ophelia Devore-Mitchell papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Appraisal Note

Acquired by Curator of African American Collections, Randall Burkett, as part of the Rose Library's holdings in African American Culture and History. During processing in 2017, Rose Library staff removed and shredded six linear feet of photocopies and one linear foot of extraneous material, such as office supply catalogs, canceled pay checks of Ophelia DeVore Associates staff members, junk mail, commercial popular music, and national magazines unrelated to the collection, such as Life and Newsweek. Curator of African American Collections, Pellom McDaniels, III, offered an additional three linear feet of duplicate photographs and printed material back to the DeVore family. Appraisal decisions were made by Manuscript Archivist, Sarah Quigley, in consultation with Pellom McDaniels, III.

Processing

Arranged and described at the file level by Dayne Alexander, Haylee Harrell, and Sarah Quigley, 2017. Rose Library staff retained DeVore-Mitchell's original filing system of binders and file folders. Within those categories, staff imposed consistent descriptive conventions to aid access. Staff also imposed some physical rearrangement within categories to aggregate like materials. Because the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm operated under different names over the years, in the finding aid we have referred to it simply as the Ophelia DeVore School.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell (1922-2014), African American model and business woman, was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, on August 12, 1922. Her parents were John Walter DeVore, who was of German and French descent, and Mary Emma Strother, of Native American and African American heritage. In 1933, DeVore-Mitchell's parents sent her to New York, New York, to live with her aunt and complete her education. She graduated from Hunter College High School (New York, New York) and attended New York University.

DeVore-Mitchell began modeling in 1938 at the age of 16 and worked primarily for Ebony magazine. In 1941 she married Harold Carter, with whom she had five children before divorcing in 1966. In 1946, she and four friends co-founded Grace del Marco Models, a modeling and talent agency, which represented such notable figures as Diahann Carroll, Richard Roundtree, Cicely Tyson, and Helen Williams. The agency sought to encourage media to portray African-Americans in non-stereotypical ways. She opened a charm school in 1948 and offered courses on elocution, movement, and presentation. Eventually, she founded Ophelia DeVore Associates, under which she ran the school and modeling agency, developed a cosmetics line, produced the first beauty pageant for African American women, and served as a consultant in sales and marketing for companies targeting minority communities.

DeVore married Vernon Mitchell, publisher of The Columbus Times (Columbus, Georgia), in 1968. They divorced in 1969, and he passed away in 1972. After his death, she took over as publisher and brought the paper under the Ophelia DeVore Associates umbrella. The newspaper, still published by the family, is the only DeVore Associates business that remains in operation. DeVore-Mitchell died in 2014.

Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell (1922-2014), African American model and business woman, was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, on August 12, 1922. Her parents were John Walter DeVore, who was of German and French descent, and Mary Emma Strother, of Native American and African American heritage. In 1933, DeVore-Mitchell's parents sent her to New York, New York, to live with her aunt and complete her education. She graduated from Hunter College High School (New York, New York) and attended New York University.

DeVore-Mitchell began modeling in 1938 at the age of 16 and worked primarily for Ebony magazine. In 1941 she married Harold Carter, with whom she had five children before divorcing in 1966. In 1946, she and four friends co-founded Grace del Marco Models, a modeling and talent agency, which represented such notable figures as Diahann Carroll, Richard Roundtree, Cicely Tyson, and Helen Williams. The agency sought to encourage media to portray African-Americans in non-stereotypical ways. She opened a charm school in 1948 and offered courses on elocution, movement, and presentation. Eventually, she founded Ophelia DeVore Associates, under which she ran the school and modeling agency, developed a cosmetics line, produced the first beauty pageant for African American women, and served as a consultant in sales and marketing for companies targeting minority communities.

DeVore married Vernon Mitchell, publisher of The Columbus Times (Columbus, Georgia), in 1968. They divorced in 1969, and he passed away in 1972. After his death, she took over as publisher and brought the paper under the Ophelia DeVore Associates umbrella. The newspaper, still published by the family, is the only DeVore Associates business that remains in operation. DeVore-Mitchell died in 2014.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell from 1937-2010, including correspondence, personal papers, and the records of Ophelia DeVore Associates and its subsidiaries: The Columbus Times, Grace del Marco Models, the ODV Performing Company, Ophelia DeVore Cosmetics, The Ophelia DeVore Show, and the Ophelia DeVore School. Correspondence is both personal and professional and includes invitations, award letters, greeting cards, and business correspondence relating to Ophelia DeVore Associates. Personal papers contain DeVore-Mitchell's awards and certificates, identification and membership cards, passports, financial records, legal records, and medical records. The records of Ophelia DeVore Associates consist of administrative records, such as memoranda, agendas and minutes, and financial records, and promotional material, such as event programs and fliers for products and services. The records document the company's major functions and initiatives, such as charm school courses, model bookings, beauty pageants, and cosmetic sales. The records also document the work and contributions of staff members and leaders within the organization: James D. Carter, Carol Gertjegerdes, Camille Petty Dee Simmons, and Jacqueline Wellington. There is no significant documentation in the collection about DeVore-Mitchell's most famous clients. There are additional records of DeVore-Mitchell's involvement with other professional and political organizations, such as the National Newspaper Publishers Association; the National Black Republican Council; the New York Black Republican Council; and Top Ladies of Distinction, a service and educational organization of African American women. The collection includes numerous photographs and a significant amount of audiovisual material, particularly recordings of The Ophelia DeVore Show; various courses offered by the DeVore School; staff meetings and training; pageants; and meetings of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

The documents in Series 1: Binders overlap significantly with documents in Series 2: Files. Subject matter and original function of the documents are often the same but, over time, were kept in different filing systems by DeVore-Mitchell. The binders were created by DeVore-Mitchell. It is not clear if she ever intended to eventually put the documents that remained in file folders into binders or if she created the binders specifically to highlight material she felt was particularly important.

Arrangement Note

Organized into two series: (1) Binders, (2) Files


Selected Search Terms

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms


Description of Series

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