History of the Archives

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.

Archives Highlights

  • 1859 – President Mattoon’s Silver Tea Set
  • 1889, 1907 – “Africo-American Presbyterian” publication. Published and edited by JCSU’s first African American president, Dr. Daniel Jackson Sanders.
  • 1907 to 1940 – Speeches and documents written by Dr. Henry Lawrence McCrorey.
  • 1908 – The Argus, first student newspaper
  • 1909 – U.S. President William H. Taft’s chair built by faculty for his campus visit
  • 1923 – Biddle University varsity sweater
  • 1928 – First Bull Annual (Yearbook)
  • 1953-1964 – Alumni and Faculty publications: Plays and choral readings by Darius Leander Swann – 1953-1963; “The Bible and the Human Quest” by Dr. Algernon O. Steele – 1956; “The Negro in New York” by Dr. James E. Allen – 1964

The archives is heavily used by researchers, faculty, students, and alumni throughout North Carolina and across the U.S.

Arrangement of the Archives

The Archives is arranged according to the history of Johnson C. Smith University, the Board of Trustees, the University’s Administrative Offices, Johnson C. Smith University’s Publications, the Alumni Association, Special Collections, Manuscripts, and the Photograph Collection.

Digital Smith

Digital Smith provides online access to over 8,000 digital objects created by the staff of the James B. Duke Memorial Library. Objects include photographs, manuscripts, letters, notes, and audio from many of the collections housed in the Inez Moore Parker Archives and also our student’s senior papers. Please click the link below to check out the collection! We also have specific collections featured on this page.

Saving the Music: The History of Biddle University Quintet

In 1908, Dr. Thomas Alexander Long, Director of Music and professor at JCSU, organized Biddle University Quintet. The Quintet’s first appearance was at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in 1909. After a successful performance, the Quintet was invited to sing before the supreme judicatory body of the Presbyterian Church for thirty 30 consecutive years. The popular Biddle University Quintet traveled extensively throughout the Carolinas performing before various audiences and made many records that were distributed throughout the US.

The Saving the Music: the History of Biddle University Quintet project was funded by LSTA NC Exploring Cultural Heritage Online. The purposes of the project were to: transfer instantaneous discs into digital audio, transcribe the instantaneous disks, create a website chronicling Biddle University Quintet using photographs, memorabilia, and music excerpts of the group, and create a curriculum guide for music and social studies teachers.