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Harrietta Harris papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 1

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Harrietta Harris papers, 1845-1992 | Amistad Research Center

By Shannon Burrell

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Collection Overview

Title: Harrietta Harris papers, 1845-1992Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1989-1992

Primary Creator: Harris, Harrietta

Extent: 0.4 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The papers of Harrietta Harris contain correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, curriculum vitae, programs, a ledger book, and certificates, and are arranged chronologically by document format.

Date Acquired: 11/04/1993

Subjects: Family history - African Americans, Genealogy, Slavery - South Carolina, Small museums - Louisiana - New Orleans, Turpentine industry workers - African Americans

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Harrietta Harris papers provide a documentary source in the field of genealogy, home museums, and turpentine camps in Mississippi in the early twentieth century. Work conditions in such camps were often harsh and considered a form of peonage.The papers contain professional, as well as personal papers documenting Harris' life as a professor, social worker, and author and document Harris' genealogical research and devotion to save her family's history.

The papers encompass 0.4 linear foot and contain photographs and tintypes of family members. The tintypes include one of Harris' great-great grandmother, Mittie Conway Cook, two of Cook's husband, Lewis Walter Cook, and one of an unknown child. The collection includes a ledger book kept by Lewis Walter Cook, while he worked in the turpentine camps in Mississippi from 1908-1944. One camp mentioned in the ledger is the Fenton Turpentine Company in Fenton, Mississippi. Fenton is a town north of Diamondhead, Mississippi, and was an early sawmill town that maintained a Black settlement populated by descendants of slaves originating from Senegal.

The papers contain a 1845 statement of freedom for the son of Bonds Conway and Dorias [sp?] Heathcock , Edward Uriah Conway. According to this certificate, which was signed in the Kershaw District of South Carolina, both parents of Edward Uriah Conway were free people of color. The papers also contain negatives, slides, news clippings, birth certificates, death certificates, and correspondence. The correspondence is small, but includes one letter each from and to Oprah Winfrey, Sybil Morial, Samuel DuBois Cook, and Alex Haley. The letter from Alex Haley is a photocopy sent with a check requesting books authored by Harris. Haley also inquires about photocopies of an Octoroon ball and a list of sources that might give him insight into race relations in and around New Orleans.

Biographical Note

Harrietta Harris is an educator, author, and genealogist who opened the Black History Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1988.

Harrietta Harris was born August 12, 1952, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from Xavier University Preparatory School in 1970, and Dillard University in 1974 with a Bachelors of Art in Sociology. She received her Masters of Arts degree from the University of New Orleans in 1979. After graduating Harris taught courses in sociology at Southern University, Delgado Community College, Phillips Junior College, and the University Without Walls. She also authored two books: Black New Orleans Tour Guide and The Pictorial Bastardization of a Race--the Destruction of a Civilization: A True Story about Black Pioneer Men and women; an American Tragedy; Color...Experience of Blacks in the United States, which gives an account of the turpentine industry and its black pioneers.

In 1985, after a visit with her uncle in Los Angeles, California, Harris became interested in her family tree. Her uncle gave her a picture of her maternal great-great-grandmother, Mittie Conway Cook. During her research, Harris discovered that she was a descendant of Bonds Conway, who was purported to be the first Black in South Carolina to purchase his freedom. He purchased his freedom from Zachariah Canty, who signed an affidavit with a bill of sale which acknowledged that Bonds bought his freedom and Conway settled in Camden, South Carolina, where he built a house and married Dorcas Heathcock. The Conways had one son, Edward Uriah Bonds, born in 1819 in Kershaw District, South Carolina.

Subject/Index Terms

Family history - African Americans
Slavery - South Carolina
Small museums - Louisiana - New Orleans
Turpentine industry workers - African Americans

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: The Harrietta Harris Papers are open and available for use.

Use Restrictions: Any copyrights such as the donor may possess in this property are hereby dedicated to the public. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Harrietta Harris

Acquisition Method: Gift

Related Materials: The Adams Family papers, Dent Family papers, John Wesley Dobbs Family papers, and Antoinnette Harrell-Miller Family papers all document multigenerational family history.

Preferred Citation: Harrietta Harris papers, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, LA

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence, 1984-1988Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence, 1989-1992, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Negatives: Cook family, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Negatives: Cook family, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Photographs: Cook Family, circa 1918, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Cook family, circa 1918Add to your cart.

Verso description: "3-30-65 the Cook family, Mr. Louis [sic] W. Cook and wife, Mrs. Mittie Cook and sons an Doz, Lemuel-Louis Jr. Tot- Bertel-Tessie-Mary Jane- David-grand son Carl - three of us was absent when the group was taken oldest sister Annie-Emmer-Leslie

by Leslie Cook, Box 361 Church Street , Pass Christian, Miss."

The above date likely refers to the date of the verso description, and not of the photograph itself, which is c. 1918, and taken in Mora, Louisiana.

Item 2: Annie and Leslie Cook, undatedAdd to your cart.
Reprint of a tintype, circa 1897, of Annie (left) and Leslie (right) Cook, children of Lewis and Mittie Cook.
Folder 6: Photographs: Cook family and relations, circa 1930s-1962, undatedAdd to your cart.
Some photographs are unidentified and most are undated, but named individuals include Pete Fairley, Mary Campbell Shaw Fairley, Samuel Fairley, Linnie Breland Fairley, Ruth and Rebecca McLean, Billie Harris, Mary Jane and Mittie Cook, Cortezia Cook, Lemuel Cook, J. Emmett Carter (son of Harriet and Josephine Carter), Laura Turner Harris
Folder 7: Slides: Harrietta Harris, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Tintype photographs: Cook Family, circa 1887-early 1900sAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Lewis Walter Cook, circa 1887Add to your cart.
Item 2: Lewis Walter Cook, early 1900sAdd to your cart.
Item 3: Mittie Conway Cook, circa 1887Add to your cart.
Item 4: Annie Cook (daughter of Lewis and Mittie Cook), circa 1899Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Family tree: Harrietta Harris, undatedAdd to your cart.
Family tree includes seven preceding generations, dating from union of Bonds Conway and Dorcas Heathcock (parents of Edward Uriah Conway)
Folder 10: Handscript statement of freedom for Edward Uriah Conway, 1845Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Birth, marriage, and death certificates, 1987-1988Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Certificates and awards, 1988-1991Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Resumes: Bobbie Harris and Joseph A. Holton, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Newspaper clippings, 1980-1991Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Programs, 1989-1992Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Ledger book: Lewis Walter Cook, 1908-1957Add to your cart.
Ledger book records financial transactions and account balances dating from 1908. A few pages include autobiographical content by Lewis W. Cook and his son, Leslie Cook.
Folder 17: The Pictorial Bastardization of a Race, the Destruction of a Civilization, a True Story about Black Pioneer Men and Women... / by Harrietta Harris, 1988Add to your cart.

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[Box 1],

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