Scope and arrangement
The John Preston Davis Papers (1845-1972) document his college years and the accomplishments of his multi-faceted career. The papers consist of Personal Papers, Correspondence, Writings and a Research File.
The John Preston Davis papers are arranged in four series:
- 1923 Mar 31-1966, Apr 23
John P. Davis' Personal Papers (1923-1966) includes Bates College programs, publications and newspaper clippings along with a resume of Davis' accomplishments. Most of the Bates material relates to Davis' illustrious years on the school's debating team. A roster of the Bates College 40th reunion and a certificate from the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannicamay also be found along with several clippings on Davis' activities as Executive Secretary of the National Negro Congress. The material is chronologically arranged.
The Correspondence (1925-1967) is diverse in content and has been arranged in two chronological files of incoming and outgoing letters. Incoming correspondence (1925-1967) is largely business related and includes letters from Mary M. Bethune, Ralph Bunche and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Outgoing letters (1925-1966) were written mostly to friends and business associates. Two anonymous letters have been filed at the end of the outgoing correspondence.
The Writings (1891-1972, n.d.) are divided into those by John P. Davis and those of other authors. Among Davis' writings are several folders of unpublished material from a compilation of biographies of black athletes called “Jump High.” The writings of John P. Davis also include several folders of notes and drafts for an unpublished historical novel which unfolds the story of a frontier family in Louisville, Kentucky. Other writings by Davis range from biographical articles and a proposal to RCA concerning recruitment of black employees to short stories and poetry. The writings are arranged alphabetically by title within each genre. Several of Davis' short stories were published in OpportunityMagazine. His published works include “The Waters of Megara,” “The Overcoat,” and “Ruth Trent Cries.” The writings of other authors have been arranged alphabetically by the authors' last name. There is a lengthy manuscript entitled “Bitter Canaan” written by Charles S. Johnson. Most of the writings are undated.
The Research File (1845-1966) is a collection of printed material in several subject areas directly related to Davis' career and personal interests. The subjects are: the American Negro Reference Book,Frederick Douglass, Lincoln Center, Phelps-Stokes Fund, and Slavery.