Scholar in the Library "Sharing Mary Church Terrell’s Legacy: From Family Heirlooms to the National Mall and the Oberlin College Archives"

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Mary Church Terrell was a 19th and 20th century civil rights and Black feminist activist, who served as the first leader of the National Association of Colored Women and co-founded the NAACP.


While writing Terrell’s biography, UD Professor Alison Parker met with the activist’s family who showed her objects in their private collection—fans, opera glasses, letter openers and more—that marked Terrell’s place in the Black elite. They also shared Terrell’s letters and diaries still in their possession.


During this talk, join Parker as she explores how she helped realize the Terrell family’s wish to donate key objects to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Culture and Life, and their collection of Terrell’s papers to the Oberlin College Archives.


After receiving the papers, Oberlin College, where Terrell earned a four-year degree, organized a public history symposium celebrating Terrell’s life and legacy, and renamed its library the Mary Church Terrell Main Library.


Alison M. Parker is the chair of the University of Delaware’s Department of History and the Richards Professor of American History. She is also a co-chair of the UD Antiracism Initiative. Parker’s research and teaching interests are in women’s and gender history, African American history, and legal history. Her book, Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell, was published in late 2020.


Registration is required. Once registered, you will receive an email with details on how to join the event via Zoom. Please register at:


Technical support for this event is generously funded by the Friends of the University of Delaware Library.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Students, Faculty & Staff, Community, Lectures and Programs



Library, Museums and Press


Black History Month



Free, open to the public

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Vicky White

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