Wells, Ida B. Papers, 1884-1976

Ida B. Wells Campaign Card
The Ida B. Wells Papers consists of six linear feet of original manuscripts, correspondence, newspaper and journal articles written and compiled by Ida B. Wells-Barnett. The amount of material in the collection is rather small due to two house fires (1915 and 1923) that destroyed virtually all of her personal and professional papers. The papers have been divided into nineteen series that range from originals and transcripts of Crusade for Justice, biographical information, diaries, and writings and clippings to files on her lawsuit against the Chesapeake, Ohio & Southwestern Railroad, the Ida B. Wells Woman’s Club, and secondary materials and photographs.

Aside from the original manuscripts of her autobiography Crusade for Justice: Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, there are 27 original photographs, articles, and correspondence. The collection also contains Wells’ diaries from 1885-1887 and 1930, and two other books owned by her. The papers include contemporary accounts and articles about Ida B. Wells, including her trips to England and her suit against the Chesapeake, Ohio, & Southwestern Railroad Company. The oversize materials in Box 11 contain additional contemporary newspaper accounts. The remainder of the collection consists chiefly of her daughter Alfreda M. Duster’s working copies of the autobiography, including a few biographical versions, research correspondence, notes, background material, publication correspondence concerning Crusade for Justice, and articles about Ida B. Wells.

Much of the information on the original folder headings has been retained, including information in quotation marks taken from Alfreda M. Duster’s folder heading notes. The use of the initials “AMD” and “IBW” in the inventory refer to Alfreda M. Duster and Ida B. Wells, respectively. Ida B. Wells’ name also appears as “IBW-B” to indicate her married name, Barnett.

Series XIX contains a small amount of addenda material relating to Ida B. Wells that came at a later date. It includes a small but important collection of manuscript and primary printed materials concerning Ida B. Wells including correspondence with Frederick Douglass and Judge Albion Tourgee, articles, and original newspaper clippings written by and about her. This series also includes photocopies of correspondence of her husband Ferdinand Barnett and a scrapbook of newspaper articles written by Ferdinand Barnett. The scrapbook is in fragile condition and is not available for research, but a photocopy of the entire scrapbook has been made and is located in Box 10 Folder 8.

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