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Madeline Stratton Morris Papers

Finding Aid: Madeline Stratton Morris Papers
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature

Madeline Stratton Morris PapersAs an educator, historian, and activist, Madeline Stratton Morris dedicated her professional life to raising awareness of African American history and to institutionalizing its teaching at all levels of public education. Her most notable success was the creation of the first black history curriculum for the Chicago Public Schools in 1942, a work which garnered national attention and launched her career as a leading figure in the black history movement. Born in 1906 in Chicago, she was educated in Chicago Public Schools, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago, and taught social studies in the CPS from 1933 to 1968. Along with her second husband, Samuel B. Stratton, Morris was an active member of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, in addition to their extensive participation in several of black Chicago's elite social organizations. After her retirement from the CPS, Morris continued to teach at local colleges and to speak publicly on themes of African American history and education.

The Madeline Stratton Morris papers consist of biographical records, manuscripts, correspondence, organizational material, subject files, photographs, and a small collection of serials and memorabilia, as well as one box of material relating to the life and career of her second husband, Samuel B. Stratton. The collection features manuscript drafts and correspondence relating to the creation and reception of her African American history curriculum, the "Supplementary Units," from 1940 to 1949. The collection also extends to all facets of Morris's public life, including her career in the CPS, her social activities in mid-century black Chicago, and an impressive record of public speeches delivered to audiences in Chicago and across the nation.

Selected Artifacts

'Dreams of Junior Authors', a collection of student poetry from Emerson School, edited by Madeline Stratton Morris in 1936. Cover of the 'Negro History Week Bulletin' published by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1946.  Madeline Stratton Morris and her second husband Samuel Stratton were active members in the organization and spoke at its Negro History Week events from the 1940s to the 1970s. Samuel Stratton's handwritten draft of 'The Negro in Art', a presentation he gave on an educational television program hosted by the University Broadcasting Association of Chicago in 1962. 'A Note to the Teacher' introduces Madeline Stratton Morris's innovative Negro History Curriculum, the 'Supplementary Units.' Morris conducted research and composed the curriculum in 1941 and it was implemented in social studies classes in the Chicago Public Schools in 1942. On her personal copy, Morris has handwritten a partial list of the magazines and scholarly journals which had noticed her curriculum by 1944.

Images and credits.