William H. Gremley papers, 1941-1988

Emory University

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

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link:

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Gremley, William H.
Title: William H. Gremley papers, 1941-1988
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1076
Extent: 1 linear feet (1 box) and 1 oversized papers box (OP)
Abstract:Papers of civil rights activist and sociologist William H. Gremley, including correspondence, photographs, printed material, writings, and audiovisual material.
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.


Gift, 2007.


[after identification of item(s)],William H. Gremley papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Laura L. Carroll, February 20, 2008.

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

William H. Gremley (1913-1992), civil rights activist, sociologist and human relations official, was born on November 16, 1913. In 1941, Gremley enlisted in the United States Army Signal Corps, then from 1942 to 1946 served in the United States Air Corps and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. After World War II ended, he worked in the American Graves Registration Command in Paris, France from May 1946 until late 1947. When Gremley returned to the United States in early 1948, he settled in Chicago, Illinois, and served as the Director of Public Information for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations until 1952.

In late 1952, Gremley and his wife Mary moved to Kansas City, Missouri after Gremley accepted the position of Executive Secretary for the newly established Kansas City Commission on Human Relations. Throughout the 1950s, Gremley also taught sociology classes at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and continued publishing articles on intergroup relations and civil rights. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Kansas City in 1959. Later that year, Gremley resigned from his position in Kansas City to take the Executive Director position for the Community Relations Board in Cleveland, Ohio. After two years in Cleveland, Gremley resigned from his position and worked briefly for the Peace Corps administration office in Washington, D.C.

From 1963 until he retired in 1981, Gremley served as a contract compliance officer for the United States Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce, working to enforce federal equal employment regulations. After retirement, Gremley began his own contract compliance consulting business in Seattle. Gremley continued his civil rights work throughout his retirement, accepting speaking engagements, conducting workshops, and serving on commissions, such as the Seattle Human Rights Commission in 1988. Gremley died in Seattle, Washington on December 18, 1992.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of William H. Gremley from 1941 to 1988. The papers include awards, correspondence, photographs, printed material, speeches, writings, and audiovisual material. Correspondents include the African American writer Richard Wright and his wife, Ellen, whom Gremley befriended while working in Paris, France after World War II. The collection also includes correspondence from Gremley to his wife Mary from 1946 to 1966, discussing his thoughts towards integration and other racial and political issues. Writings include drafts of his articles which appeared in America and the British Journal of Sociology, among other publications. Printed material includes articles by Gremley in addition to articles and clippings about Gremley and his work in Chicago, Kansas City, Missouri, and Cleveland, Ohio.

A significant portion of the material consists of records collected during Gremley's tenure as the Executive Director of the Kansas City Commission on Human Rights and includes correspondence, commission memorandums and reports, and clippings. The collection also includes photographs and digitized home movies, one of which includes footage of Richard Wright's wife and daughter.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Geographic Names

Form/Genre Terms

Container List

Box Folder Content
1 1 Awards
1 2 Biographical, identification cards and resumes, 1952-1980s
1 3 Correspondence, general, 1945-1952
1 4 Correspondence, general, 1959-1988
1 5 Correspondence, personal, 1946-1986
1 6 Correspondence, personal, to and from Richard and Ellen Wright, 1946-1960
1 7 Kansas City Commission on Human Relations, Clippings, no date, 1952-1960
1 8 Kansas City Commission on Human Relations, Correspondence, 1952-1960
1 9 Kansas City Commission on Human Relations, Correspondence, 1952-1960
1 10 Kansas City Commission on Human Relations, Germany trip, 1957
1 11 Kansas City Commission on Human Relations, Reports, no date, 1952-1959
1 12 Photographs, 1947-circa 1970
OP1 1 Photograph, Kansas City, 1950s
1 13 Printed material, articles by Gremley, 1941-1981
1 14 Printed material, clippings, 1948-1965
1 15 Printed material, other, 1952-1961
1 16 Printed material, programs, articles about Gremley, 1949-1984
1 17 Speeches, no date, 1959-1963
1 18 Writings, 1940s
1 19 Writing, 1950s
1 20 Writings, 1960s-1980s
1 21 Writings, "Social Control in Cicero, Illinois," and related correspondence
1 22 Audio-visual, interview, "For the Record," June 26, 29, 1960 [audiocassette]; and family home movies [DVD]