Collection Number: 05603

Collection Title: Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985

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.


expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size .5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 125 items)
Abstract The papers of African American coal miner Major Brown and his spouse Leona Brown are chiefly financial items reflecting their household expenses and income from the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s in Lynch, Ky., a United States Steel Corporation company town in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Bills, receipts, cashed checks, and account balances for utilities, department and specialty stores, medical care, and life insurance form the bulk of the collection. Other materials include employment and pension documents, property records including taxes paid on their home in Lynch, documents related to the Lynch Independent Public Schools, funeral programs and death notices, and vital records for the birth of one of their children, social insurance, and the 1920 census. The collection contains only two letters, both from former Lynch residents, one post card, and a few greeting cards.
Creator Brown, Major, 1898-1978.

Brown, Leona, 1916-1987.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers #5603, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Karida Brown in 2014 (Acc. 102106). Acquired for the Southern Historical Collection as a part of the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP) directed by Karida Brown.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Related Collections

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Born in Pritchard, Ala., Major Brown (1898-1978) migrated to Lynch, Ky., where he worked for U.S. Coal and Coke through the mid twentieth century and raised a family there with wife Leona Myrick Brown (1916-1987). Leona was also born in Alabama. Major Brown and Leona Brown both died in Lynch, Ky.

Karida Brown and the Brown Family

Sociologist Karida Brown (1982-) was born in Uniondale, N.Y., to Arnita Davis Brown and Richard Brown. Karida Brown received a bachelor's degree in administration from Temple University in 2004, a master's degree in public administration in 2009 from the University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree (2013) and doctoral degree (2016) in sociology from Brown University. Her PhD dissertation was titled Before They Were Diamonds: The Intergenerational Migration of Kentucky's Coal Camp Blacks .

Karida Brown's father Richard Brown (1947-) is a sanitation worker residing in Atlanta, Ga. Richard was raised in Lynch, Ky. He is the son of coal miner Major Brown and homemaker Leona Brown.

Karida Brown's mother Arnita Davis Brown (1953-) is a physical therapist residing in Atlanta, Ga. Arnita was raised in Lynch, Ky. She is the daughter of coal miner Thornton Davis and homemaker Mamie Davis.

Born in Boligee, Ala., Thornton B. Davis (1903-1991) migrated to Lynch, Ky., where he worked for U.S. Coal and Coke through the mid twentieth century and raised a family there with wife Mamie Lee Davis (1918-1993) born in Bessemer, Ala. Both Thornton B. Davis and Mamie Lee Davis died in Cleveland, Ohio.

Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project

The Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP) is a public humanities initiative directed by sociologist Karida Brown in partnership with the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2013, the SHC joined Brown in her efforts to document a multi generational African American community with familial ties to coal mining towns in Harlan County, Ky. Brown has conducted oral history interviews with community members and helped the SHC collect manuscript materials from the community and its social organizations.

The community which Brown studies has its origins in the coalfields of the Appalachian South and specifically the surrounding area of Lynch, Ky. Appalachia was a destination for thousands of African Americans, who left the rural deep South in the early twentieth century during the Great Migration.

A company town, Lynch was established in 1917 by U.S. Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. The company supplied housing, health care, social services, commissary, churches, schools, and recreation for coal miners and their families. At its peak in the mid twentieth century Lynch's population reached 10,000 and included African Americans and whites with eastern European and British heritage. Although the mines were not strictly segregated, most areas of life, including schools, churches, commissary, and recreation, had separate facilities for blacks and whites until the mid 1960s.

Neighboring Benham, Ky. was also a coal mining camp and company town operated by Wisconsin Steel Company, a subsidiary of International Harvesters Company. The Benham mines closed in the 1970s.

U.S. Steel withdrew its operations in the mid 1960s, and the population of Lynch and the surrounding areas dwindled as families, who had spent only one or two generations in Appalachia, began to move across the country, settling in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, California, Missouri, and other states. Despite the long distances now separating this close knit community, individuals and families from the Harlan County coal towns Lynch, Benham, and Cumberland retained close ties with each other and nurtured what sociologist Karida Brown has called a "post-migration diasporic identity."

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The papers of African American coal miner Major Brown and his spouse Leona Brown are chiefly financial items reflecting their household expenses and income from the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s in Lynch, Ky., a United States Steel Corporation company town in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Bills, receipts, cashed checks, and account balances for utilities, department and specialty stores, medical care, and life insurance form the bulk of the collection. Other materials include employment and pension documents, property records including taxes paid on their home in Lynch, documents related to the Lynch Independent Public Schools, funeral programs and death notices, and vital records for the birth of one of their children, social insurance, and the 1920 census. The collection contains only two letters, both from former Lynch residents, one post card, and a few greeting cards.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985.

Folder 1

Family documents: 1961-1972 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 1

Includes a census record for Major Brown in Mobile County, Ala., in the 1920 census, certificates of social insurance for Major Brown and Leona Brown, and a doctor's certification of the live birth of Linda Faye to Major and Leona Brown.

Folder 2

Employment records: 1961 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 2

Major Brown's statements of earnings and deductions from United States Steel Corporation, a court document for a hearing of Major Lee Brown vs. United States Steel Company before the Kentucky Workmen's Compensation Board, and pension documents with the United Mine Workers of America.

Folder 3

Property records: 1960-1985 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 3

Includes mortgage documents for a house in the United States Steel Corporation's Lynch Subdivision, car loan documents, and property tax records.

Folder 4

Consumer credit documents: 1968-1993 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 4

Includes Leona Brown's credit card for Roaman's and a court document dismissing Creech Department Store vs. Major Brown.

Folder 5

Bills: 1968-1973 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 5

Includes receipts for automobile insurance, telephone service, loan payments, and furniture.

Folder 6

Bills: 1974 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 6

Includes receipts, account balances, and cashed checks for utilities, groceries, church membership, department stores, a vinyl record store, a whiskey store, and a hardware store.

Folder 7

Bills: 1975 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 7

Includes account balances and receipts for utilities, telephone service, automobile insurance, home improvement including storm doors and aluminum awnings, department stores, and the Lynch Burial Association.

Folder 8

Bills: 1981-1982 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 8

Includes account balances and receipts for utilities, life insurance, medical care, and "t.v. service" in the city of Lynch, Ky.

Folder 9-10

Bills: 1983 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 9-10

Includes account balances and receipts for utilities, life insurance, medical care, the Lynch Burial Association, furniture, "t.v. service" in the city of Lynch, Ky., and telephone service.

Folder 11-12

Bills: 1984 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 11-12

Includes account balances and receipts for utilities, life insurance, medical care, "t.v. service" in the city of Lynch, Ky., and telephone service.

Folder 13

Bills: 1985 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 13

Includes account balances and receipts for utilities, telephone service, "t.v. service" in the city of Lynch, Ky., furniture, life insurance, and medical care.

Folder 14

Checking account statements: 1974-1975 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 14

The Guaranty Deposit Bank, Cumberland, Ky.

Folder 15

Household accounting: 1975-1985 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 15

Chiefly handwritten lists of bills to be paid.

Folder 16

Checkbooks: 1973 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 16

The Guaranty Deposit Bank, Cumberland, Ky., and the Bank of Harlan, Harlan, Ky.

Folder 17

Health and healthcare: 1984-1985 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 17

Chiefly explanation of medical benefits for Leona Brown from the United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds.

Folder 18

Life insurance: 1968-1975 #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 18

Chiefly certificates and policies with Kentucky Central Life Insurance Company.

Folder 19

Letters and greeting cards: 1971, 1984, and undated #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 19

Letters are written to Major Brown from Du Quoin, Ill., and to Leona Brown from Cleveland, Ohio and Atlanta, Ga., from friends and family who formerly lived in Lynch, Ky.

Folder 20

Lynch Independent Public Schools: 1969-1972 , and undated #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 20

Includes an elementary school report card and an invitation to high school commencement exercises.

Folder 21

Church: 1974 and undated #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 21

Song list for the choir at Christmas, an income statement for the church and mission, and certificate of membership for Pilgrim Rest [Baptist Church].

Folder 22

Death notices and funeral programs: 1968-1971, and undated #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 22

Also includes obituaries and receipts and account balances from funeral homes.

Folder 23

Climer Fomby: 1960-1968 and undated #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 23

Scattered items related to Climer Fomby [family relation to Leona Brown?] of Chattanooga, Tenn., including a credit union account statement, certificate of social insurance, rental agreement, receipts, and a funeral program.

Folder 24

Miscellaneous items, 1977 and undated #05603, Series: "Major Brown and Leona Brown Papers, 1961-1985." Folder 24

Newspaper clipping, menu, and an advertisement for a china pattern.

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Laura Hart, July 2016

Encoded by: Laura Hart, July 2016

Back to Top