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|Size||4.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2,850 items)|
|Abstract||The Southeastern Cooperative League, an interracial organization established as the Southeastern Cooperative Education Association in 1940, became a federation of cooperatives in 1941. It worked to promote agricultural, consumer, manufacturing, and housing cooperatives throughout the Southeast from 1940 until its demise in the early 1950s. The collection includes correspondence of Southeastern Cooperative League officers Lee M. Brooks, Edward Yeomans, Elizabeth Lynch, Charles MacGill Smith, and Morris R. Mitchell; organizational records; educational materials; and materials relating to the cooperatives that were members of the Southeastern Cooperative League.|
|Creator||Southeastern Cooperative League.|
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The Southeastern Cooperative League grew out of the earlier Southeastern Cooperative Education Association (SCEA), established in 1940 by an interracial group of university professors and religious and labor leaders. The SCEA, which had resulted from interest aroused in cooperative education by two conferences on this topic in 1939 and 1940, sought to promote cooperatives in the southeastern states through public education. These states were Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. In 1941 the SCEA became a federation of cooperatives, renaming itself the Southeastern Cooperative League and affiliating itself with the Cooperative League of the U.S.A. In this new capacity it worked mainly to coordinate the efforts of member cooperatives, to provide them with guidance and information, and to sponsor educational conferences and workshops. The League hoped to establish a wholesale house for cooperative stores, but these plans never materialized. The League patterned its organization on the philosophy of the nineteenth-century Rochdale cooperative movement in England.
In its early years the League supported its efforts primarily through grants from the General Education Board and the Julius Rosenwald Fund. It also raised revenue through membership fees and the sale of literature. Later financial aid came from the Rochdale Institute and the National Cooperative League and from individual contributions. An executive committee, made up of the organization's officers and two representatives of cooperatives from each state, governed the League. The Executive Committee served primarily in an advisory capacity, while a handful of officers carried out the bulk of the organization's work.
Lee M. Brooks, University of North Carolina professor of sociology, served as the first president of the League, resigning in 1949. Edward Yeomans, a professor at West Georgia College, served as the organization's secretary-treasurer from 1940 to 1944, and operated the League's office in Carollton, Georgia. He acted as the primary organizer for the League. From 1941 to 1943 Elizabeth Lynch, assistant secretary, and Charles MacGill Smith, field representative, supported Yeoman's efforts. Because of wartime difficulties, the League found itself unable to respond adequately to its members' needs and existed mostly in name from 1942 to mid-1946. During this period it ceased to operate except as an information clearinghouse, with even this function dropping off dramatically. The League stayed alive primarily through the efforts of Morris R. Mitchell, founder of the Macedonia Cooperative Community in Clarkesville, Georgia. Mitchell became executive secretary in July 1946, and reopened a League office in Clarkesville. Under his direction, the League underwent a reorganization, with several new Executive Committee members added and D.R. Graham succeeding Lee M. Brooks as president. The League restored some of its educational and promotional functions, but it never again flourished, and finally folded in the early 1950s.Back to Top
The office correspondence of Lee M. Brooks, Edward Yeomans, Elizabeth Lynch, Charles MacGill Smith, and Morris R. Mitchell makes up over half of this collection. This correspondence, arranged chronologically, appears in Series 1. Series 2 contains the organizational records of the Southeastern Cooperative League, including financial information, by-laws, minutes and reports, membership records, and publicity materials. Information on workshops and conferences sponsored by the League, cooperative schools recommended by the League, and study tours it sponsored appears in Series 3. Series 4 contains materials related to individual cooperatives that were members of the League.
The collection offers special opportunities for researchers interested in the southern cooperative movement, race relations, and African American history. A federation of cooperatives, the League maintained records rich in information on the difficulties of organizing in the South. The interracial aspects of the organization emerge both from the correspondence and from materials on interracial conferences and schools sponsored by or recommended by the League. Students of African American history will be particularly interested in the correspondence from African American Executive Committee members and League supporters and members (Series 1) and in the sources available on several individual African American cooperatives, including several well-organized efforts in Virginia and North Carolina (Series 4).Back to Top
Chiefly correspondence among the organization's officers concerning staffing, funding, projects, conferences, publicity, and other promotional activities. Also included is correspondence with member cooperatives, individuals interested in the cooperative movement, and League financial and ideological supporters. Note that some correspondence may be found on local cooperatives not mentioned in the inventory.
Mostly in-house correspondence among Lee M. Brooks, Edward Yeomans, Elizabeth Lynch, Charles MacGill Smith, and Executive Committee members concerning the organization and plans of the League, its decision to become a federation, staffing, funding, in-house projects, plans for conferences, and publicity. Also included are requests for financial assistance, information, literature, films, and speakers by local cooperatives, and information on the Red Circle Stores Association, Inc. (Richmond, Va.), the Richmond Consumers Cooperative, Inc., the Blacksburg Consumer Cooperative (Blacksburg, Va.), and the Tyrrell County Consumers Co-operative Club (Columbia, N.C.). Correspondents of note are Albon L. Holsey, E. R. Bowen, Wallace Campbell, John Hope II, C. B. Loomis, James Myers, W. A. Shields, C. Jack McLanahan, and Samuel Rosenberg.
Mostly letters discussing the financial difficulties faced by the League, fundraising possibilities, the closing of the Carrollton office, the resignations of Yeomans, Lynch, and Smith, and the uncertain status of the organization. Also included are requests for information and assistance. Correspondents of note are C. Jack McClanahan and C. B. Loomis.
Primarily the correspondence of Morris R. Mitchell, with scattered correspondence of Lee M. Brooks and Edward Yeomans (who maintained correspondence for the League after his resignation). Most letters are about the League's reorganization, the opening of a new office, fundraising, the organization's relationship with the Cooperative League of the U.S.A. and Eastern Cooperatives, Inc., the organization's legal status, Mitchell's speaking engagements, and several European study tours sponsored by the League. Also included is Mitchell's correspondence concerning the possible founding of a university associated with Rochdale Institute, and his decision to take a teaching position in Putney, Ver. Correspondents of note are George Meany, Charles S. Johnson, Frank P. Graham, Hubert Jackson, Russell J. Brooke, Jerry Voorhis, and Samuel Rosenberg. Correspondence contains information on the Cedartown Cooperative, Inc. (Cedartown, Ga.). There is no correspondence for 1950.
Mostly correspondence about European study tours Mitchell led. Also included are letters requesting information and aid. Of special note is correspondence with Gillis E. Cheek of Shaw University concerning North Carolina cooperatives.
Includes limited financial records, publicity materials, and miscellaneous office records.
Balance sheets, literature sales records, and study tour expenses, as well as a ledger of finances from May-November 194?
Arrangement: alphabetical by type
Includes copies of the League's newsletter, the Southeastern Cooperator (1940-1943, incomplete), copies of the Carroll County Cooperative Project's Newsletter, press releases, newspaper clippings, and a promotional pamphlet.
Arrangement: alphabetical by type.
The League's by-laws, membership records, reports to the Executive Committee and Julius Rosenwald Fund, in-house memoranda, minutes of Executive Committee and other meetings, planning documents, lists of cooperatives in the Southeast, miscellaneous reports, forms, informational sheets, and instructional materials, information on wholesalers, printed and typescript articles concerning cooperatives, and miscellaneous publications, pamphlets, etc., on other cooperative organizations. Also included is one copy of Histoire des Equitables Pionniers de Rochdale by George-Jacob Holyoake
Information on conferences, cooperative schools, and study tours either sponsored by or recommended by the League.
Programs, registration lists, agendas, reports, transcripts, and other information on sixteen conferences either sponsored by or recommended by the League. (Only some of these types of material are available for each conference.) Included are materials on the Southeastern Regional Conference on Cooperation (1939) and the Southeastern Regional Conference on Adult Education and Cooperation (1940) out of which the SCEA developed.
Arrangement: alphabetical by title.
Material on the Rochdale Institute (newsletters, pamphlet, mimeographed course listings) and the Highlander Folk School's Farmer-Labor School (one mimeographed program).
Mimeographed informational material sent to participants in the 1948 and 1949 League study tours Morris R. Mitchell led to Europe, and mimeographed reports and by-laws of Youth Argosy, Inc., through which the tours were organized. Of note is a 29-page typescript report by Edmond H. Runcorn on the 1949 study tour to England, Denmark, and Sweden.
Arrangement: alphabetical by title.
Membership applications, newsletters, mimeographed flyers, by-laws, financial statements, typescript reports, and pamphlets on nine local cooperatives, including several African American cooperatives in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Important information on these and other cooperatives not represented here may also be found attached to correspondence in Series 1.
Processed by: Jill Snider, February 1990
Encoded by: Tim Pyatt, July 1998Back to Top