Mrs. Inez Moore Parker, an English Professor, and Mr. Henry B. Blue established a Black Cultural Center on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University in the summer of 1975. The purpose of the Black Cultural Center was to expose Johnson C. Smith University’s students, faculty, and staff to works by and about African Americans.
Mrs. Parker also became interested in recording the history of Johnson C. Smith University. She began her research by seeking documents and photographs covering the history of the university. Through her research, Mrs. Parker discovered that the university’s records created prior to 1900 had been destroyed in several fires. She successfully attempted to obtain materials for the collection by contacting people associated with the university, such as trustees and staff members. Mrs. Parker used the materials she collected to write a book, The Biddle-Johnson C. Smith University Story, which was published in 1975.
Mrs. Parker’s second book, The Rise and Decline of the Program of Education for Black Presbyterians by the Presbyterian Church, USA, added new materials to the collection on the Presbyterian Church, Parochial Schools, and the Black Presbyterians. On November 4, 1977, the Inez Moore Parker Archives and Research Center was dedicated in honor of Mrs. Parker’s work to preserve the history of the African American experience and the history of the university. This day marked the official establishment of an archives whose specific purpose was to organize and preserve the historical records and materials of Johnson C. Smith University.
Today, the university archives contains manuscripts, journals, scrapbooks, photographs, clippings, and artifacts. The collection includes a tea set dated 1859 that belonged to Dr. Stephen Mattoon, the first President of Johnson C. Smith University, a chair built for President William Howard Taft when he visited the university in 1909, and a 1923 Biddle University Varsity Sweater.
Within the archives, there is also a Black Heritage Room with a small collection of rare books, autographed books, manuscripts, and books written by and about Africans and African Americans.