A Piece of Civil Rights History Found in the Archives (National Park Foundation)

It is amazing what you can discover in the archives – sometimes a piece of history itself! In 2014, History Associates archivist Valerie Vanden Bossche was working to organize and preserve the archives of the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. The Council House was the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), founded by Bethune and led by Civil Rights icon Dorothy I. Height. In this house, the NCNW spearheaded strategies and developed programs that advanced the interests of African American women.

Vanden Bossche was working on records from the NCNW when she discovered an unusual fountain pen tucked into the files. It had an elegant nib and a clear lucite barrel etched with the words, “The President – The White House.”

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