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Carrie Burton Overton Papers

Identifier: UP000340

Scope and Content

Series 1-Personal Papers. Diaries and epistolary accounts of scenes visited in America and abroad, Ovington family letters and poems, literary attempts, financial accounts, the NAACP, manuscripts.

Series 2-Democratic Party, 1935-1960. Negro voters, speakers and campaigns (on the national level), 1936 and 1940; justifications of some federal departments for their inclusion or exclusion of Negroes; leaflets and campaign literature designed for Black voters.

Series 3-The Community Church, New York, 1915-1959. Reports, board meetings, notices of NAACP meetings of the 1940s.

Series 4-Oscar J. Smith Family Papers, 1879-1915. Mementos of Wyoming and Burton family history, personal correspondence, photos and memorabilia of Carrie Burton Overton.


  • 1856 - 1969



Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Carrie Burton Overton, a music teacher and pianist, maintained a variety of interests in her life, which are reflected in the records she kept. Born on July 20, 1895 (also listed as 1888), Overton spent her early years in Laramie, Wyoming, and graduated from the School of Commerce, University of Wyoming, where she was the first female African-American student. She later graduated with the first class from the Howard University Conservatory of Music, earned a diploma from the Juilliard School of Music, and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University, where she also worked toward a doctorate degree. Her husband, who died in 1964, was George W.B. Overton, a prominent New York educator. Carrie Burton was a friend and secretary to author Mary White Ovington (1865-1951). The records she has kept include memorabilia and correspondence of the Ovington family and of Mary White Ovington. One of Ovington's books is the history of the group she helped to found, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: "The Walls Came Tumbling Down." Some early correspondence with NAACP friends are included among Ovington's papers, which were saved by Carrie Overton. There are also diaries of Ovington's brother, Charles K. Ovington, dating from 1856 to 1929. Carrie Overton was a stenographer for the NAACP (1924-1928) and later handled Mary Ovington's papers when she was an officer of the organization in the 1940s. Overton was executive secretary to Julian D. Rainey, who headed the "Colored Division" of the National Democratic Committee, in 1932, 1936 and 1940. The papers she kept from 1936 and 1940 show the historic switch of Negro voters from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Overton also held secretarial positions at Howard University; with Jacob Baker, president of Vanguard Press; and with John Haynes Holmes of the Community Church of New York City. Her papers cover the period from 1856 to 1969. She died in 1975.


5.5 Linear Feet (11 MB)

Language of Materials



Carrie Burton Overton served as a stenographer for the NAACP from 1924 to 1928; as executive secretary to Julian Rainey, head of the "Colored Division" of the National Democratic Committee for 1932, 1936 and 1940; and in secretarial positions with Howard University, Vanguard Press and the Community Church of New York City. Her papers comprise correspondence, leaflets, reports, notes and clippings. Subjects include Black voters, employment in the federal government for Blacks, activities of the NAACP, Democratic Party politics and Overton's early years in Wyoming. Correspondents include Mary Bethune, Gloster Current, James Parley, Harold Ickes, Mary White Ovington, Julian Rainey, Algernon Tassin, Lyman Ward and Walter White.


Arranged in 4 series. Series 1 (Boxes 1-4), Series 2 (Boxes 5-8), Series 3 (Box 9), Series 4 (Boxes 10-11). Folders are listed by their location within each box.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by D.M. in 1971.
Guide to the Carrie Burton Overton Papers
Processed by D.M.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA