Guide to the Virginia Proctor Powell Florence and Charles Florence Family Papers, 1915-2009 UA.91.1

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Virginia Proctor Powell Florence and Charles Florence Family Papers
Creator
Dyer, Ervin
Creator
Florence, Charles W.
Creator
Florence, Virginia Proctor Powell, 1903-1991
Collection Number
UA.91.1
Date
1915-2009
Extent
3.75 linear feet
Abstract
The collection contains correspondence, artifacts, and photographs pertaining to Virginia Proctor Powell Florence (1897–1991) and her husband Charles Wilbur Florence (1890–1974). The Florence’s were accomplished University of Pittsburgh alumni and Pittsburgh area natives, who overcame the obstacles to advancement, notably racial discrimination and prejudice, on their way to successful lives and careers. The material dates primarily from the 1910’s and 1920’s. The records were donated to the University of Pittsburgh by Ervin Dyer, senior staff writer for Pitt Magazine.

Preferred Citation

Virginia Proctor Powell Florence and Charles Florence Papers, 1915-2009, UA.91.1, University Archives, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography/History

Virginia Proctor Powell Florence (1903-1991) is noted for being the first African American woman to graduate from a professional library program. She graduated from the Carnegie Library School, which would become the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Library and Information Sciences, in 1923. Over her career Florence worked as a public and school librarian in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA.

Charles W. Florence (1890-1974) spent a career devoted to the education profession as teacher, professor, dean, and college president. After growing up and attending high school in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, Florence attended Southwestern State Normal School (present day California University of Pennsylvania) and Storer College before arriving at the University of Pittsburgh. As an undergraduate, Florence captained the University of Pittsburgh’s debate team (ca. 1915-17), belonged to the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, founded and presided over the Pitt Lyceum, and served as secretary for the International Polity Club. In 1919 he was awarded his Bachelors from the University of Pittsburgh after serving in World War I. Later, Mr. Florence would earn his Masters from the University of Pittsburgh and start, though never finish, post-graduate studies at Harvard University . His teaching and administrative positions took him to Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (present day Virginia State University), Lincoln University – Missouri, and Virginia Union University, all historically Black colleges.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Florence Family papers document the educational and professional activities of Virginia Florence and Charles Florence, both graduates of the University of Pittsburgh. The papers consist of a scrapbook, a dance card, handbooks, a diary, newspaper clippings, postcards, greeting cards, photographs, a magazine article, census records, and obituaries. Also included in the papers are research materials used by Ervin Dyer to complete articles on Charles Florence's participation on the debate team at Pitt.

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Arrangement

The collection has been arranged into five series.

Series I. Virginia Proctor Powell Florence, 1915-1917

Series II. Charles Florence, 1908-1967

Series III. Photographs, 1910-ca. 1965

Series IV. Ervin Dyer Research Materials, ca. 2005-2009

Series V. Oversized Material, ca. 1909-2008

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, April 2012

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Custodial History

Ervin Dyer is an award winning journalist for the Pitt Magazine whose articles have also been published in the  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The papers came into his possession from a variety of sources, including the California Historical Society, Virginia Union University, and Ms. Barbary Grey, a former student of Charles Florence who bought the former Florence family home in Richmond, Va. in 1982; the home likely contained many of the items in the collection.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ervin Dyer on July 30, 2009.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by James Northway in 2012.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • University of Pittsburgh. -- Alumni and alumnae

Genre(s)

  • Clippings (Information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Scrapbooks

Personal Name(s)

  • Dyer, Ervin
  • Florence, Charles W.
  • Florence, Virginia Proctor Powell, 1903-1991

Subject(s)

  • African American educators
  • African American universities and colleges
  • African American women librarians
  • Education
  • Education, Higher -- United States
  • Ethnic groups
  • Universities and colleges -- United States
  • Women

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Previous Citation

Virginia Proctor Powell Florence and Charles Florence Papers, 1915-2009, UA.91.1, University Archives, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. Virginia Proctor Powell Florence 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains Virginia Proctor Powell Florence's papers and consists of three folders. The Fifth Avenue High School scrapbook contains several photographs, handwritten notes from classmates, a dried rose, invitation to an honor’s society gathering, and newspaper clippings. The folder entitled "handbook" includes a small pocket style book of essays by Maurice Maesterlinck. Folder three contains material related to VPPF's time as a student at Oberlin College in Ohio and includes a framed print of the Oberlin College Student Creed and a dance card.

  BoxFolder
Fifth Avenue High School Scrapbook, 1915 11
  Folder
Handbook, Women and Four other Essays by Maurice Maeterlinck undated 2
  Folder
Oberlin College, Student Creed & Dance Card 1917 3

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Series  II. Charles Florence 

Scope and Content Notes

The Charles Florence series consists of eight folders of material related to CF's personal and professional life. The materials consists of the newspaper clippings from the Brownsville telegraph including a column titled “That Was Brownsville”; a photocopy of Charles Florence’s grade transcript from Southwestern State Normal School (now California University of Pennsylvania); his calling card and day journal from 1917 during his residence in Pittsburgh, a transcription of the journal by Ervin Dyer is also included, correspondence postcards which date from 1919 to 1951 (arranged by the date stamp on the cards to replicate the order in which Mr. Florence received the postcards); a Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri), Student Handbook from the 1933-1934 academic year; two souvenir postcards books and two individual post cards bought by Charles Florence to commemorate events in his life. The “Paris” postcard book which was likely bought in France during Florence’s tour of duty in Europe may have been given to him by Lieutenant Donald Jefferson, a classmate and fellow veteran from Pittsburgh. Also included are commencement programs, yearbooks, a notice announcing a visiting lecturer from Japan all from Florence’s time spent at Storer College. The University of Pittsburgh folder contains photocopies of transcripts from both Florence’s undergraduate and graduate studies, commencement programs from his undergraduate years, and an invitation to a meeting held by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity of which Charles Florence was a member. In the final folder is letter from the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute which included a job offer for what would become Charles Florence first professional teaching position.

  BoxFolder
Brownsville Telegraph Newspaper Clippings, 1967 14
  Folder
Calling Card and Pocket Journal, 1917 5
  Folder
Correspondence, Postcards & Greeting Cards 1919-1951 6
  Folder
California University of Pennsylvania, undated 6a
  Folder
Lincoln University - Missouri, 1933 7
  Folder
Souvenir Postcards, 1919 8
  Folder
Storer College, 1908-1910 9
  Folder
University of Pittsburgh, 1915-1919 10
  Folder
Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute, 1919 11

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Series  III. Photographs 1910-1965 

Scope and Content Notes

This series of photographs represent a span a period of over fifty years not including a political pamphlet which dates from the late 1990’s. The photographs include images of Charles Florence and Virginia Proctor Powell Florence together and separate. Also included is a folder which contains exterior photographs of the Florence family homes in Brownsville, PA and Richmond, VA. Old Memorial Hall, on the Lincoln University Campus. Also included are several photographs of African-American men and women whose identities we're unable to be verified at the time of processing.

  BoxFolder
Charles Florence, undated 112
  Folder
Charles and Virginia Florence, undated 13
  Folder
Charles Florence and Eric Crabtree, c 1965 14
  Folder
Florence Family Houses, c 1940s 15
  Folder
Old Memorial Hall, Lincoln University, undated 16
  Folder
Unidentified Women, 1910-1916 17
  Folder
Unidentified Man(possibly Donald Jefferson), undated 18
  Folder
Virginia Proctor Powell Florence, undated 19

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Series  IV. Ervin Dyer Research Materials 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains four folders of research materials that Ervin Dyer used to complete his article entitled, "The Great Debater" in the Summer 2008 issue of Pitt Magazine on Charles Florence. The series includes, a copy of Pitt Magazine, photocopied census records related to the Florence family, correspondence with the California Area Historical Society, and photocopied death notices, obituaries, and death certificates of members of the Florence family.

  BoxFolder
Pitt Magazine Article, 2008 120
  Folder
Photocopied Census Records for 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, ca. 2005-2009 21
  Folder
Correspondence, 2008-2009 22
  Folder
Photocopied Death Notices and Obituaries, ca. 2005 - 2008 23

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Series  V. Oversized Materials 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains oversized materials include full newspapers from Storer College, the University of Pittsburgh and a photographic reproduction, possibly of Storer College faculty and students.

  DrawerFolder
Storer College, Storer Record, 1909-1915 12-61
  Folder
University of Pittsburgh, Pitt Weekly, 1915-1917 2
  Folder
Photographic Reproduction of a group of men with American Flags-original from ca. 1910-1915, ca. 2005-2008 3

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