Scope and arrangement
The Booker T. Washington Collection covers the period 1889-1913. The material consists of letters from Washington to two principal correspondents, Emily Howland and Francis J. Garrison.
The majority of the letters are those written to Emily Howland, a benefactor of Tuskegee Institute. The letters cover a variety of issues, including requests for financial assistance, progress reports and the annual reports to the Board of Directors of the Institute, as well as informal reports on his activities. The letters reveal frank expressions of his feelings regarding the criticism he received from black people (January 19, 1904), his surprise at being asked to speak at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta (September 6, 1895) where he delivered his now-famous accommodationist speech (a photocopy of the handwritten speech is in the collection, folder 1), and a forceful statement of support for black people's efforts to protect their constitutional rights (October 15, 1900). In addition, there are several letters in which he discussed some of the administrative problems at the Kowaliga School, a school for black children in Alabama (1896-98) and the response to his autobiographical articles which appeared in Outlook Magazine.
The letters to Francis Jackson Garrison (1848-1916), the son of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, similarly deal with a number of subjects. Among the Washington-Garrison letters of particular interest are those concerning the conflict between Washington and William Monroe Trotter (August 3, 1903, May 8, 17, 1905). Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, was philosophically opposed to Washington on a number of issues. Also, two letters regarding the Brownsville Affair (December 3, 1906 and attachment) and the Atlanta riot of 1906 (October 2, 1906). There are also letters from Mrs. Margaret Washington to Emily Howland. Two letters to William E. Curtis (January 24, 1905, April 1, 1905) are also of interest. The first discusses Washington's dinner at the White House and the second includes a list of black men in government service who received presidential appointments.