Wendell P. Dabney      

Guide to African American Resources
at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives




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Cincinnati History
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NAACP Cincinnati Chapter
  The Cincinnati branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established in 1915 with only 15 to 20 members. At the time, the organization was considered radical, and members were often afraid of losing their jobs if it was discovered they belonged. The group had no office and met in members’ homes. One of its earliest successes was the elimination of the separate school system for African Americans. It also achieved breakthroughs in employment and public accommodations by relying on the power of the courts and public persuasion. By the mid-sixties, membership had grown into the thousands and demonstrations and sit-ins became useful tools for accomplishing goals.  
NAACP Coney Island report
Page 1 of Coney Island Report, July 6, 1961
NAACP Cincinnati Chapter Papers, 1959-1981, Mss 774, Box 5, Folder 14
Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center

A number of prominent African Americans in Cincinnati have been leaders in the local chapter. Wendell P. Dabney was the chapter's first president. Theodore Berry served as president of the Cincinnati branch from 1932 to 1946.  Rev. L. Venchael Booth was chairman of the 1954 membership drive. In 1981 Marian Spencer became the first woman president of the Cincinnati chapter.
NAACP Selective Buying Campaign flyer
NAACP Selective Buying Campaign flyer, [1964]
NAACP Cincinnati Chapter Papers, 1959-1981, Mss 774, Box 33, Folder 27
Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center


The chapter continues to work for racial equality with all means at their disposal, most recently with a voter registration campaign. In announcing the campaign March 2003, NAACP Cincinnati President Calvert H. Smith said, “if the deceased warriors in the fight for freedom for African Americans could return to this city today, they would literally be amazed to discover that we are still confronted with some of the very same problems they thought they had conquered some 40 to 50 years ago.”


To learn more about the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP,
consult the following resources:

Cincinnati NAACP website

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Cincinnati Chapter Papers, 1959-1981
Mss 774
The collection consists of 88 boxes and 1 oversized folder. It contains the minutes, correspondence, office files, committee reports, pamphlets, newsletters, clippings and other materials of NAACP’s Cincinnati Chapter from 1959-1981. For More information, a detailed register for the collection is available in the Library.    Request slip
Marian A. Spencer Papers, 1954-1985
Mss 888
This collection primarily covers Spencer’s term on Cincinnati City Council from 1983 through 1985 and material from her 1983 campaign. There is also a small amount of material from Spencer’s service as member and officer of the Cincinnati branch of NAACP. It includes correspondence, committee files and minutes, clippings, newsletters and other printed matter collected by Spencer during her career. The collection covers such topics as school desegregation, urban renewal and housing, among many others. For More information, please consult the collection register available in the Library.   View catalog record   Request slip
Theodore M. Berry Papers, 1939-1965
Mss 782
This collection of Ted Berry's papers pertain to his work concerning housing, race relations, politics, the NAACP and other areas. It includes information about Avondale and Kenyon-Barr. For More information, a collection register is available in the Library.   Request slip

Sources Used for Historical Sketch:
  • “NAACP Here Sorry It’s Still in Business,” Post-Times Star, November 26, 1965, page 14.
  • Marian A. Spencer Papers, 1954-1985, Mss 888, and finding aid. Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Silver Anniversary, 1952-1977: Dr. L. Venchael Booth. General B B725v, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • "A Civic Giant Passes [Ted Berry]," Cincinnati Enquirer, October 16, 2000.
  • "NAACP Registration Drive," Cincinnati Post Online Edition, March 18, 2003 (This is no longer available online.)


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Email: library@cincymuseum.org
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This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.