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Collection Number: 05620

Collection Title: Kathleen Kitchen Wood Collection, 1953-1999

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.

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Size 1 foot of linear shelf space (approximately 300 items)
Abstract The collection documents the local and grassroots political efforts of Kathleen Kitchen Wood (1926-2011) during the 1960s in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Printed items, correspondence, and organizational documents illustrate the work of politically moderate and mostly white or all white organizations with which Wood affiliated including Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.), which advocated for keeping Mobile's public schools open during the court odered desegregation crisis, and the Georgia Council on Human Relations. Book lists reflect Wood's interest in Georgia public schools' increasing the number of text books and library books with content related to African Americans. Other printed materials, including a petition circulated by the National States Rights Party, represent overtly racist efforts to thwart desegregation. The collection also contains a lengthy 1963 letter by Wood to family about her participation in A.B.L.E.; correspondence with elected officials in state and federal government, including Alabama Governor George Wallace, then Georgia gubenatorial candidate Jimmy Carter, and U.S. Senators John Sparkman, Richard Russell, and Hubert Humphrey.
Creator Wood, Kathleen Kitchen, 1926-2011.
Curatorial Unit University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.
Language English
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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 Kathleen Kitchen Wood Collection #5620, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Susan Evans in 2015 (Acc. 102174).
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.
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Processed by: Laura Hart, March 2016

Encoded by: Laura Hart, March 2016

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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.

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In the 1960s, Kathleen Kitchen Wood (2 April 1926-2 January 2011) was a member of Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.),the Georgia Council on Human Relations, and both Alabama and Georgia’s advisory commissions to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She served as president of the Alabama Council on Human Relations. She remained engaged in civil rights, education policy, and politics throughout her adult life in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Wood was originally from St. Petersburg, Fla., and she received her bachelor’s degree in English from Bennington College in Bennington, Vt. She retired as a paralegal and then with her husband, James Wood, Jr., started a book business called Mountain Mysteries in Bradenton Fla.

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The collection documents the local and grassroots political efforts of Kathleen Kitchen Wood (1926-2011) during the 1960s in Mobile, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga. Wood, a white and politically moderate parent of school age children in Mobile during the court ordered desegregation of public schools, was a founding member of Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.). A.B.L.E. newsletters, correspondence, membership materials, and administrative items show an effort by the organization's all white parents to keep the public schools open and to help prevent violence sparked by desegregation.

Printed items in the collection, including booklets and reports published by the Southern Regional Council, are chiefly about the perils of closing public schools to thwart desgregation. Many of these printed items are stamped with the message: "Distributed by ABLE for information only. No endorsement of opinions, publisher or prior distributor to be implied." Other printed items are newspaper clippings largely from the editorial and opinion pages; anti-integration propaganda from far right political organizations, including the National States Right Party; and reports on the "radical right" in Mobile, Ala., in 1964.

After moving to Atlanta, Ga., Wood became active in a Georgia Council on Human Relations. Correspondence and book lists reflect efforts of the Council to increase the number of both textbooks and school library books within the Georgia public schools that had content related to African Americans.

The collection also contains drafts and copies of letters Wood and her husband James Wood sent to members of the United States Congress and other elected officials in Alabama state government, including Governor George Wallace, and letters received by Wood from elected officials and politicians, including Wallace, Jimmy Carter, and U.S. Senators Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell, and John Sparkman.

Other items include a lengthy letter Wood wrote to her family in 1963 about her participation in the efforts to desegregate the Mobile, Ala., schools peacefully; a brief recollection of her experiences in the 1960s; a hand drawn certificate awarded to Wood for her work for justice; a wedding invitation received from civil rights leader John Lewis; a holiday card from Coretta Scott King; and a letter from then First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

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Contents list

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Arranged chronologically.

Folder 1

Christian Education Association newsprint, "The Coming Red Dictatorship," circa 1953

"The information printed here is not available from any of the regular channels of information which are controlled by our enemy."

Folder 2

"Glimpse of Old Mobile," 1955

Tourist booklet.

Folder 3

Southern Regional Council booklet, 1959

"If the Schools Are Closed: A Critical Analysis of the Private School Plan."

Folder 4

Virginia Council on Human Relations, circa 1959

"Crisis in Norfolk."

Folder 5

Committee for Public Schools in Virginia, circa 1959

"Organizing to Save Public Schools: How Virginians rallied to the defense of the public school system in the Virginia Committee for Public Schools."

Folder 6

"Can We Afford to Close Our Public Schools?," circa 1959

"This statement on the consequences of the closing of our public schools was prepared by southern educators."

Folder 7

Southern Regional Council Reports, 1959-1960

"Little Rock Report…What Has Happened Since the School Crisis" (1959)

"Public Schools and the Economy of Virginia" (1959)

"A Report from Virginia" (1960)

"Public Schools and Community Development" (1960)

Folder 8

Election ephemera, 1960-1968

"Keep Alabama White Elect a 'Wallace Democrat.'''

"Stand Up For American Support George C. Wallace for President."

Folder 9

Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith booklet, 1961

"The High Cost of Conflict: A Roundup of Opinion from the Southern Business Community on the Economic Consequences of School Closings and Violence."

Folder 10

Southern Regional Council, New South, 1961

"Future of Private Schools."

Folder 11

Southern Regional Council Reports, 1961-1962

"The Hard or the Easy Way" (1961)

"What Price Violence" (1962)

Folder 12

Letters and editorials, 1962

Letters pertain to James Meredith's enrollment at the University of Mississippi and to editorials on the subject in the Mobile Register.

Folder 13

Committee for Public Schools, circa 1963

Bylaws state the "purpose of this organization is to promote and further, by all proper and legitimate means, the continuation of public education and the maintenance of law and order in Mobile County, Alabama." Includes a flyer with the tag line "Alabama's time of decision is now! Don't let a few decide for the many!"

Folder 14

Bylaws, Alabamians Behind Local Education, 1963

"The purpose of this organization is to promote and further by all proper and legitimate means, the continuation of public education and the maintenance of law and order in Mobile County, Alabama."

Folder 15

Letter to "Fellow Mobilians" from A.B.L.E. president Janis Wiseman, 1963

Accompanied by a reprinted article from the Wall Street Journal titled "Harmony in Mobile."

Folder 16

A.B.L.E. newsletters, 1963

"A Rallying Point of Common Sense in the School Crisis."

Folder 17

A.B.L.E. correspondence, 1963

Folder 18

A.B.L.E. membership forms, circa 1963

Folder 19

A.B.L.E. petition, circa 1963

"We request that the Mobile Public School Board instruct the superintendent of education and his staff to take positive steps immediately to insure continued public education."

Folder 20

A.B.L.E. handouts with Questions and Answers, Information, and Economic Facts, circa 1963

"Questions you may be asked-and their answers: Q. Must Mobile desegregate its schools? A. There is no legal means of avoiding desegregation."

"Additional Economic Facts: Racial conflict in May in Birmingham caused retail sales figures to drop sharply."

"Statement of ABLE Purpose and Policy: ABLE does not argue the relative merits of segregation or desegregation....ABLE does emphasize the high cost of private schooling and its consequent unavailability to the majority of parents."

"What is the Southern Regional Council? ... Is it a communist organization?"

Folder 21

A.B.L.E., "Suggested Outline and Helpful Hints for Coffee or Meeting," circa 1963

"Know why you are personally involved in ABLE. Be able to express this."

Folder 22

A.B.L.E. presentation handwritten on note cards, circa 1963

"Racial violence accomplishes nothing but harm."

Folder 23

Newspaper clippings, 1963

Chiefly articles and editorials about school desegregation and A.B.L.E. published in Mobile, Ala., newspapers.

Oversize Volume SV-5620/1

Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, 1963

Chiefly articles and editorials about school desegregation and A.B.L.E. published in Mobile, Ala., newspapers.

Folder 24

Economic Report, circa 1963

"A body of information and opinion about the economic problems that are facing the Southern business community because of school closings, violence and the substitution of private school systems for public education."

Folder 25

Flyers, "Join H.O.P.E. Keep Our Schools Open," circa 1963

Folder 26

Printed statement from Mobile, Ala., Methodist ministers 1963

The brief statement urges the people of Mobile, Ala., to accept the law of the land, specifically the court order to desegregate Mobile's public schools, and condemns hatred and violence.

Folder 27

National States Rights Party, blank petition, circa 1963

The petition labeled, "Close Mixed Schools (Private All-White Schools The Only Answer)" has an A.B.L.E. stamp with the warning, "Do not let outsiders close our schools."

Folder 28

Letter from Kathleen Wood to her family, 1963

In her nineteen-page letter dated 29 October 1963, Wood describes grassroots efforts to keep public schools open in Mobile County , Ala., despite the strong and violent resistance to public school desegregation across Alabama. She provides some historical context about organizations with which she affiliates, especially the Southern Regional Council, and describes the founding of Alabamians Behind Local Education (A.B.L.E.). Other topics include a workshop given by child psychiatrist Robert Coles, harassment from the John Birch Society, violent episodes in the community, citizen's councils, and elected officials. Her husband James Wood attended Mobile's first citizen's council meeting as "our spy."

Folder 29

Correspondence, 1963

Drafts and copies of letters written and sent by Kathleen Wood to individuals in political office and letters received by Wood. Correspondents include Alabama State Attorney General Richmond M. Flowers, Alabama Governor George Wallace, and U.S. Senator Lister Hill.

Folder 30

Anti-integration information and questionnaire, circa 1963-1965

"Scientific Evidence Indicating Anatomical Differences Between the Negro and Caucasian Brain."

"Statistics That Every Housewife Should Know."

Anti Headstart flyer from the Christian Educational Association with illustrations showing interracial family relationships.

Memorandum and questionnaire to "To All Teachers of Marengo County School" from the Marengo County, Ala. superintendent of education. The superintendent requests and promises confidentiality for teachers answering his questions including "to what extent should school be integrated?" with "FULLY" and "TOKEN" as options to check.

Folder 31

Southern Regional Council, correspondence, 1963-1966

Letters received from and copies of letters sent to Paul Anthony of the Southern Regional Conference pertain to school desegregation. In one letter dated 16 September 1963, Wood writes that "our devotion to freedom of speech is being sorely tried" by Bull Connor's speaking engagement at the White Citizens Council in Mobile, Ala.

Folder 32

Tuskegee Civic Association, 1964

"Toward Civic Democracy in Tuskegee and Macon Country, Alabama, During 1964."

Folder 33

Citizens Committee for Constitutional Freedom, A Special Report, 1964

"The Radical Right in Mobile, 1964."

Folder 34

"The Radical Right in Mobile, 1963-1964," by Kathleen Wood, circa 1964

Folder 35

Research file for "The Radical Right in Mobile," circa 1964

Includes issue of The Southern Courier, 1965.

Folder 36

Alabama Labor Council, AFL-CIO, 1964

Letters from Barney Weeks, president of the Alabama Labor Council, concerning radical right or far right organizations.

Folder 37

Letter received by Kathleen Wood, 1964

The author of the ten-page letter dated 26 December 1964 identifies himself as a "crippled for life" veteran of World War One, and he writes to "Dear Lady I do take you to be a good wife and mother." The rambling letter contains multiple biblical allusions and quotations.

Folder 38

Correspondence, 1964

Drafts and copies of letters written and sent by Kathleen Wood chiefly to individuals in political office and letters received by Wood. Correspondents include U.S. Senators Hugh Scott, Hubert Humphrey, and John Sparkman, Alabama State Attorney General Richmond Flowers, and First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

Folder 39

Correspondence, 1965

Copies of letters written and sent by Kathleen Wood and James Wood and letters received by the Woods. Correspondents include U.S. Senators Lister Hill and John Sparkman, U.S. Representatives Jack Edwards and Robert E. Jones, and Peter L. Pesoli with the Southern Rural Training Project.

Folder 40

Alabama Advisory Committee, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1965

Memorandum with information on each Alabama county's voter registration by race.

Image Folder PF-5620/1

Photographs, circa 1966

Four men standing outdoors. Two men are African American and two are white.

Interracial group with some individuals carrying signs supporting "Woods and Flowers" for Mobile, Ala.

Folder 41

Meeting agendas, 1966-1967

Rural Life Workshop in Gees Bend, Ala., in December 1966.

Proposed meeting for 1968 on the question, "Who Are Our Enemies? ...We hope to examine how we should relate to the radical elements in today's society--or how we can mold change in a time of change."

Folder 42

Letters received by Kathleen Wood and James Wood, 1966-1967

Correspondents include U.S. Senator John Sparkman, Alabama Governor George Wallace, and Irwin Schulman of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, Alabama Regional Office.

Folder 43

Hand drawn certificate for Kathleen Wood, 1967

"The Noble Order of Indiscriminate Justice."

Folder 44-45

Folder 44

Folder 45

Georgia Council on Human Relations, 1967

Correspondence pertaining to books with African American characters and history and lists for textbooks and school libraries. One list is titled "Multi-Ethnic Books on Georgia's Approved List."

"The Georgia Library List for Elementary and High Schools" includes Tobe, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Cry the Beloved Country as books "I recognize as about Negroes."

Folder 46

Atlanta University School of Library Service conference, 1967

"The Georgia Child: Access to Materials Pertaining to American Negroes" conference was held in cooperation with the Georgia Council on Human Relations by the School of Library Service at the historically black university Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga. The stimulus for the conference was the call to "free southern students from educational materials that perpetuate past stereotypes."

Folder 47

Letters received by Kathleen Wood, 1967

Letters pertain to Wood's published letter to the editor of the Mobile Register, 12 April 1967.

Folder 48

Open letter, "A Note to Our Fellow Citizens," 1967

Letter appearing in the Mobile Register denounces Alabama Governor Lurlene Wallace's "dead-end path of defiance."

Folder 49

National Education Association Report, 1967

"Wilcox, Alabama: A Study of Social, Economic, and Educational Bankruptcy."

Folder 50

Newspaper clippings, circa 1967-1968

Chiefly from Alabama newspapers.

Includes an undated article "Atlanta is Warned of Ghetto Pattern" that quotes Kathleen Wood, executive director of the Atlanta Metropolitan Committee on Equal Opportunity in Housing.

Folder 51

Invitation and holiday card, undated, circa 1968

An invitation to the wedding of civil rights leader John Lewis and a Christmas card from Coretta Scott King.

Folder 52

Letters received by Kathleen Wood and James Wood, 1968-1976

Correspondents include Jimmy Carter and U.S. Senators Herman E. Talmadge, Richard Russell, and Edmund S. Muskie.

Folder 53

Newspaper clippings, 1979-1980

Chiefly about the Ku Klux Klan.

Folder 54

Copies of letters from Kathleen Wood and James Wood, 1998

Letters dated 16 September 1998 to U.S. Senators Connie Mack and Bob Graham and U.S. Representative Dan Miller urging Congress to censure rather than impeach President Bill Clinton. Included is a copy of an editorial to the same effect that was published in the New York Times.

Folder 55

Reflection by Kathleen Woods on the mid 1960s, circa 1999

A brief handwritten recollection of learning the news of a black church being burned in Alabama.

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