Wendell P. Dabney      

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

   

 

Introduction

Subject Categories

Index

  

Cincinnati History
Library and Archives

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Urban League of Greater Cincinnati
 
  In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court declared its approval of segregation in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Soon after, the sanctioned system of “separate but equal” spread throughout the South causing economic, social and political oppression of African Americans and rapidly transforming the trickle of African American migration northward into a flood. Although it was clear to the newcomers that they had not escaped discrimination, they realized that the difference between North and South was one of opportunity. In order to capitalize on the potential, successfully adapt to urban life, and reduce discrimination, however, they needed help. On September 29, 1910 in New York City, the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, later known as the National Urban League, was established and brought the necessary assistance.  
 
In Cincinnati, a similar agency, known by several different names, was a forerunner to a local chapter of the Urban League and performed many of the same functions. It was called the Negro Civic Welfare Committee of the Council of Social Agencies (1917-1921); the Negro Civic Welfare Association Department of the Council of Social Agencies (1922-1935); and the Negro Welfare Division, Cincinnati Community Chest (1936-1948).
 
 
 
Urban League brochure
Part of an Urban League brochure, 1951
Urban League of Greater Cincinnati Papers, 1921-1975, Mss 580, Box 58, Folder 7
Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center

 
 
The Urban League of Greater Cincinnati was established September 24, 1948 as one of the Community Chest Agencies. Its mission then was “to plan for, assist, encourage and engage in the improvement of economic, social, educational and cultural conditions of the Negro population.” Ted Berry and William McClain were two of the early trustees of the League. In its first five years, the Urban League concentrated its efforts on development of job opportunities for African American workers. A 1953 report states that actions taken to enhance employment prospects included planning conferences with several community agencies and organizations, referring applicants to private industries and the Ohio State Employment Service, counseling young people, visiting schools, arranging for scholarships, and contacting local employers. The report concludes: “The agency has served a total of 25,000 individuals over the five year period – all better informed, more productive citizens!”
 
 
In the fifty years since that report, the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, now a United Way agency, has continued to serve the African American population, as well as the entire community in the improvement of economic, social, educational and cultural conditions. Their stated vision is “Strong African American families and individuals who are fully educated, employed, empowered, healthy with quality housing, and whose contributions are valued and recognized as benefiting the total community.”
 
 


 
To learn more about the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, consult the following resources:

Urban League of Greater Cincinnati website
http://www.gcul.org/

 
Urban League of Greater Cincinnati Papers, 1921-1975
Mss 580
The collection consists of 60 boxes. It contains the office files, correspondence, reports, clippings and other materials from the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati from 1921-1975. The papers contain a wealth of information not only on the black community but also on a wide variety of social agencies, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Community Action Commission, Cincinnati Community Chest, Community Health and Welfare Council, Ohio Welfare Council, Skills Bank, and the War Chest. Issues, such as segregation, low rent housing, urban renewal, employment, health and civil rights, are also discussed. For More information, please consult the collection register available in the Library.    Request slip
 
 
 
Urban League of Greater Cincinnati. Annual Reports
General 301.34 U72
These reports review the past year's progress and provide information on what the League is, what it does and how it performs its activities. Some of the reports include program proposals for the year ahead, financial statements, rosters of board members and staff, photographs and messages from the League President. Annual reports for the years 1948, 1950 and 1954 through 1969 are available in the library.   Request slip
 
 
 
Behind the Scenes: The Cincinnati Urban League, 1948-63
By Nina Mjagkij in Race and the City
General 977.14 R118
This essay by Nina Mjagkij discusses the Cincinnati Urban League's nonconfrontational approach to race relations during the civil rights movement.   View catalog record   Request slip
 
 


Sources Used for Historical Sketch:
  • Urban League of Greater Cincinnati Papers, 1921-1975, Mss 580, Box 44, Folder 4 and finding aid. Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Urban League of Greater Cincinnati web site, http://www.gcul.org/ August 14, 2003.
  • National Urban League web site, http://www.nul.org/ August 14, 2003.
 
 

 


Cincinnati History Library and Archives
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45203
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This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.