This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.
Portions of this collection have been digitized as part of "Content, Context, and Capacity: A Collaborative Large-Scale Digitization Project on the Long Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina." The project was made possible by funding from the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.
|Size||About 11,000 items (11.5 linear feet)|
|Abstract||William Jesse Kennedy Jr. (1889-1985), businessman, author, and community leader, was born in Andersonville, Ga. He began his affiliation with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1916 in Savannah, Ga. He later relocated to Durham, N.C., and, in 1952, was elected the fifth president of the company. The collection contains correspondence, speeches, photographs, organizational records, and other items that document the business, civic, social, humanitarian, and professional activities of William Jesse Kennedy Jr. Included are records relating to North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and the White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. There are also materials relating to Kennedy's activities with the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys' Clubs of America, the Durham Committee of 100 (a group focused on developing the Research Triangle Park), 4-H clubs, Durham's Lincoln Hospital, the NAACP, and the North Carolina Board of Higher Education, among other groups. Also included are deeds and correspondence belonging to Kennedy's mentor, John Moses Avery, and a series of audiotaped interviews with Kennedy's relatives, friends, and associates conducted by Carter Cue in 1994. Materials show Kennedy's contributions to social and economic progress in North Carolina and demonstrate his interest in civil rights, integration, recreation, and industrial development, particularly in the Research Triangle Park.|
|Creator||Kennedy, William Jesse, 1889-1985.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
This collection was processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Finding Aid Updated by: Amanda Loeb, April 2012; Nancy Kaiser, June 2021Back to Top
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.
William Jesse Kennedy Jr., was born in Andersonville, Ga., on 15 June 1889, the son of William Jesse and Katie C. Riley Kennedy. He was educated at Americus Institute in his native state. Later, he studied business administration in Columbia University's Extension Course.
Kennedy worked for Guaranty Life Insurance Company in Savannah, Ga., 1913-1916. He began his career with North Carolina Mutual while in Savannah, where he held the position of district manager. He married Margaret "Mag" Spaulding, sister of North Carolina Mutual president C. C. Spaulding, and relocated to Durham, N.C., where he was office manager/assistant secretary. On 2 August 1952, following the death of C. C. Spaulding, Kennedy was elected the fifth president of the company.
During his lifetime, Kennedy participated in numerous professional and civic activities in addition to his duties as chair of the board of directors at North Carolina Mutual. He served as president of Bankers Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, vice president of Mutual Savings and Loan Association, chair of the board of directors at Mechanics and Farmers Bank, and as a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees. He was a life-long proponent of education and a member of the James E. Shepard Foundation, an organization that awarded scholarships to deserving students attending North Carolina Central University. His other activities included affiliations with the 4-H Club Foundation of North Carolina, the North Carolina Recreation Commission (1945-1956), the American Teachers Association, the Durham Business and Professional Chain, the Boys Clubs of America, and the United Negro College Fund. He maintained an interest in industrial development and was one of the few African Americans active with the Durham Committee of 100, which helped develop Research Triangle Park. As a member of the WTVD Advisory Board, Kennedy helped bring television to Durham in the early 1950s.
In addition to his business-related activities, Kennedy served as Sunday school teacher, treasurer, and trustee at the White Rock Baptist Church. He and his wife had three children: Margaret K. Goodwin (1918- ), Charlotte K. Sloan (1920- ), and William Jesse Kennedy III (1922- ). Kennedy died in Durham on 8 July 1985, at the age of 96.Back to Top
This collection contains correspondence, speeches, photographs, organizational records, and other items that document the business, civic, social, humanitarian, and professional activities of William Jesse Kennedy Jr. Included are records relating to North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and the White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. There are also materials relating to Kennedy's activities with the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys' Clubs of America, the Durham Committee of 100 (a group focused on promoting social equality), 4-H clubs, Durham's Lincoln Hospital, the NAACP, and the North Carolina Board of Higher Education, among other groups. Also included are deeds and correspondence belonging to Kennedy's mentor, John Moses Avery, and a series of audiotaped interviews with Kennedy's relatives, friends, and associates conducted by Carter Cue in 1994. Materials show Kennedy's contributions to social and economic progress in North Carolina and demonstrate his interest in civil rights, integration, recreation, and industrial development, particularly in the Research Triangle Park.Back to Top
Correspondence exchanged between William Jesse Kennedy Jr., of Durham, N.C., and friends and associates documenting his work as president of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (see also Series 2), his involvement with the White Rock Baptist Church (see also Series 3), and his affiliation with boards and committees of a number of local, state, and national organizations (see also Series 4) and showing his interest in politics, finance, education, and civic affairs.
Among these materials are letters exchanged between Kennedy and Reverend Adam Clayton Powell about Powell's 1932 visit to Durham, and, also in 1932, between Kennedy and Charlotte Hawkins Brown about Kennedy's enrollment of his daughter Margaret at Hawkins's Palmer Memorial Institute. Throughout this series, there is correspondence between Kennedy and officials at historically black colleges in North Carolina and elsewhere. There are a number of letters that Kennedy received from youths in Nigeria, Ghana, and other African countries in 1963, following publication of his article, "If I Were Young Today," in Ebony Magazine.
Materials relating to the history and business activities of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. William Jesse Kennedy Jr., served as president, 1952-1958. In addition to Kennedy's letters, there are copies of letters of his predecessor C. C. Spaulding and executives at other insurance companies and financial institutions in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Photographs and publications, including The Whetstone and The Review, provide pictorial documentation of various company-sponsored events. Among the materials relating to Mutual's history, there is a copy of The Southern Workman that contains C. C. Spaulding's article "Business in Negro Durham." There are also items concerning the general history of African American insurance companies, some dating back to the early 1900s; materials relating to the estate of North Carolina Mutual's Durham district manager Allen Lucious Goodloe; and to the Fultz Quadruplets, to whom North Carolina Mutual provided assistance in the 1950s and 1960s.
See also Series 5 for Kennedy's book-length manuscript "History of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1898-1966."
|Image Folder PF-4925/1|
Materials documenting the activities of the White Rock Baptist Church, Durham, N.C. Included are items pertaining to the church's history and development, building and construction projects, business operations, committees and organizations, weekly worship services and social activities, and some of the pastors and their ministerial staffs. Also included are materials concerning William Jesse Kennedy Jr.'s work as Sunday school teacher and treasurer. There are numerous obituaries document the lives and contributions of many Church members, as well as members of several other African-American churches in North Carolina.
|Image Folder PF-4925/3|
Materials pertaining to nearly 50 local, state, and national business, civic, and educational institutions and organizations with which William Jesse Kennedy Jr. was affiliated, chiefly as a board or committee member. These items provide extensive documentation of Kennedy's contributions to social and economic progress in North Carolina and demonstrate his interest in civil rights, integration, education, and industrial development, particularly in the Research Triangle Park.
|Image Folder PF-4925/6|
|Image Folder PF-4925/4|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/20|
Speeches and writings of William Jesse Kennedy Jr. and others. Included are copies of Kennedy's radio addresses and speeches before audiences at churches, high schools, businesses, and organizational meetings; unpublished writings; and published articles, some on spiritual matters. There are also two book-length manuscripts: one documenting the history of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, and another discussing aspects of the American slave trade.
Programs and other materials from high school, college, and university commencement exercises; certificates and awards; general clippings; and other items relating to William Jesse Kennedy Jr.'s interests and social activities.
|Image Folder PF-4925/5|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/17|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/18|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/19|
|Oversize Volume SV-4925/1|
|Image Folder PF-4925/2|
|Oversize Image Folder OP-PF-4925/1|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/1, 11, 12|
Interviews with relatives, friends, and associates of William Jesse Kennedy Jr. The audiotapes were recorded by Carter Cue around Durham, N.C., in 1994.
Arrangement: alphabetical by subject.
Materials pertaining to the professional life and business affairs of William Jesse Kennedy's mentor, John Moses Avery. The majority of these items concern Avery's finances and his affiliation with various financial institutions in Durham, N.C. His personal scrapbook, however, includes items documenting his early life in Morganton, N.C.; his education at Kittrell College, Kittrell, N.C.; his work as a farm hand, educator, and traveling agent and secretary at North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; the wedding of his daughter in the 1920s; and his death in 1931, including a telegram of consolation from Charlotte Hawkins Brown.
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/2|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/3|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/4|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/5|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/6|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/7|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/8|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/9|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/10|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/13|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/14|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/15|
|Oversize Paper OP-4925/1|
A volume (SV-4925/1), photographs (PF-4925/1-6 and OP-P-4925), oral history cassettes (C-4925/1-13), and oversize certificates and newspaper articles (OP-4925/1-15 and OP-4925/17-20).Back to Top