Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: William B. Matthews family papers
The William B. Matthews family papers (dated 1894-1978, undated; 5.6 cubic feet; 12 boxes) comprise letters, papers, and photographs that document the work, educational, and life activities of an African-American family – William Matthews, his wife Ophelia, and their daughter Louise - and their friends and relatives in Georgia and Kentucky in the first half of the twentieth century.
- Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: William B. Matthews family papers
- 1894-1978, undated (inclusive)
- 5.6 Cubic Feet
- African Americans -- Education.
- African Americans -- Education (Higher)
- African American college students -- History -- 20th century
- African Americans -- Race identity
- African Americans -- Segregation
- African Americans -- Social conditions.
- African American soldiers.
- Education -- Kentucky -- Louisville
- Great Depression
- Women in education -- Kentucky.
- World War, 1914-1918.
- Collection is arranged alphabetically into three series: Correspondence, Papers, and Photographs. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
- Preferred Citation
- 2009ms132.0283: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: William B. Matthews family papers, 1894-1978, undated, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
- University of Kentucky
- Biography / History
- William Baxter Matthews (1864-1940) was born in Houston County, Georgia (now Peach County) to Annie Head Matthews (d. 1866), and after her death was raised by his Baptist preacher stepfather. He was sent to school by his stepfather to learn the Bible better, attending rural schools, the Lewis High School in Mason, which later became the Ballard Normal School where Matthews did his preparatory work, and then entering Atlanta University where he received his A.B. degree in 1890. After graduation he earned a teachers license and spent time teaching in rural schools until he became principal of the Houston Street Public School in Atlanta, Georgia, where he remained for twenty years. In 1896, Matthews married Josephine Ophelia Beale (1874-1957), who was an accomplished teacher and assistant principal of Summer Hill School. In 1899, they welcomed their only child, Florida Louise Matthews (1899-1987). Matthews was heavily involved in his community, he was chairman for the committee of management for the Atlanta YMCA, a member of the Order of Freemasons, a Knight of Pythias, and an active member of the Congregational Church. In 1910, Matthews resigned from his position as principal and became a state agent for the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company in the state of Georgia, however by 1912; he accepted a position as principal of the Central Colored High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Matthews was principal until his death in 1940, and the Matthews family remained in Louisville through Louise's death in 1987, as she never married.
- American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
- Scope and Content
- The William B. Matthews family papers (dated 1894-1978, undated; 5.6 cubic feet; 12 boxes) comprise letters, papers, and photographs that document the work, educational, and life activities of an African-American family – William Matthews, his wife Ophelia, and their daughter Louise - and their friends and relatives in Georgia and Kentucky in the first half of the twentieth century. The Correspondence series consists of letters mainly sent to William, Ophelia, Louise, and Ophelia's mother Isabella Beale from educators and leaders in the black community, and their friends and family. The letters to William are organized by major correspondent where applicable and then the rest are identified as either personal or professional. Many of the professional letters include letters from applicants for vacant teaching positions, letters of support from applicant's references, requests for advice in operating schools, and requests for letters of support from Matthews for past students of his schools. The personal letters include letters from friends and family that discuss religion, education, World War I, the Great Depression, issues due to segregation, and the daily lives of the letter authors. Major correspondents include Edward T. Ware, president of Atlanta University 1907-1919; lawyer Peyton A. Allen, and G. R. Hutto, Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias. These letters discuss operating matters for Atlanta University, business, insurance, the Knights of Pythias, and the state of education in the United States.
- The letters to Ophelia Matthews come from family and friends, discussing other relatives/their children, social outings attended, personal health, and attending school. The letters to Louise Matthews come from family, friends and classmates, love interests, and professional contacts. These letters discuss classes taken and grades received, personal health, social activities, church participation, military service in World War I, the effects of the Great Depression, and information on teaching positions. Louise corresponds frequently with many people, including her parents Ophelia and William, soldier Willie F. Savoy, "brother" Harry B. Peters, and her cousins Julia Gaines, Florida Phillips, and Sol.
- The Papers series include advertisements and tickets for social events, programs for concerts and presentations, school notebooks, financial information, speeches written by William Matthews, newsletters, reports, and newspaper clippings. The Photographs series include positive and negative images of the Matthews family and friends from the 1900s to the mid-1920s.
- The William B. Matthews family papers are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.
Restrictions on Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access
- Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
- Use Restrictions
- The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.