The Mary McLeod Bethune Papers, The Bethune Foundation Collection, 1914-1955

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) was one of the most powerful African Americans in the United States for more than a quarter of a century. She earned national prominence as an organizer, administrator, educator, fund-raiser, advocate, spokesperson, orator, and activist. In addition to serving as president of Bethune-Cookman College, Bethune was president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and founder and president of the National Council of Negro Women. In Washington, as a member of the National Youth Administration and founder of the Federal Council on Negro Affairs (the so-called “black cabinet”), she played a key role in ensuring that the New Deal was cognizant of the needs of the black community. The papers of Mary McLeod Bethune from her years as president of Bethune-Cookman College show how she succeeded in building a small black elementary school into an accredited four-year college. For anyone interested in African American studies, women’s studies, or the history of education in the South, the Bethune presidential papers offer rich possibilities for research. These papers include extensive outgoing correspondence as well as some incoming correspondence and subject files. They reveal her involvement in hiring faculty, selecting appropriate texts, and networking with other black educators throughout the United States. Subject files concern Bethune’s leadership in the Florida hurricane relief effort in 1928, the National Youth Administration, and other foundations (91 reels). The series consists of five parts:

FINDING AIDWritings, Diaries, Scrapbooks, Biographical Materials, and Files on the National Youth Administration and Women’s Organizations,
FINDING AIDCorrespondence Files, 1914–1955
FINDING AIDSubject Files, 1939–1955
FINDING AIDAdministration of Bethune-Cookman College
FINDING AIDAn additional Bethune-Cookman College Collection, 1922-1955 documents the fundraising activities