Repository: University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Washington
University Libraries, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1061, St. Louis,
MO 63130, Telephone: (314) 935-5444 or (314) 935-9730,
Fax (314) 935-8320, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Creator: Urban League of St. Louis.
Title: Urban League of St. Louis Records.
Dates: 1923 - 1969.
Quantity: 80.0 linear feet.
The Urban League of St. Louis was organized in June of 1918, in response to the East St. Louis race riots of 1917, and has been affiliated with the National Urban League since 1937. The major objectives of the Urban League were to improve the socio- economic and cultural conditions of the Negro and to bring about better understanding and cooperation between Negro and white citizens. Since the Urban League was a professional social welfare agency concerned primarily with improving the living standard of Negro citizens in St. Louis, there was a natural tendency for the community to look to the League for any and all services required by Negroes.
During the League's first ten years, the Negro population in St. Louis increased from 69,00 to 93,000. Many of these people were immigrants from the deep South. The League worked to meet their needs by:
Inflation in the late 1920s, combined with depression in the 1930s resulted in large scale unemployment (70% by 1933) in the Negro community. The Urban League sought to meet this new challenge by:
During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Urban League sponsored and housed Work Projects Administration (WPA) programs in cooking, domestic service, literacy, conversational English, and art appreciation. During this period, the League succeeded in getting federal housing officials to require builders to use skilled Negro mechanics in the construction of government financed low-cost housing projects. The WPA issued a minimum living standard, and some defense planted accepted Negroes for limited upgraded employment. Many Negroes left WPA to return to traditional "Negro jobs" which they had lost to whites during the Depression and which white were now leaving to take better paying jobs in defense industries.
When World War II ended, defense industries shut down or re-tooled for a peacetime market, while an estimated 33% of the Negro labor force was out of work. The League provided special counseling services to returning Negro veterans who sought aid under the G.I. Bill. Block units in the city's worst slums were organized and a voluntary Mayor's Race Relations Commission was set up. After the war, St. Louis University, along with Catholic elementary and secondary schools, dropped racial segregation. In the late 1940s Washington University desegregated its schools of medicine and social work, and by 1952 all departments of the university were open to Negroes.
During the 1950s, eighteen civic, fraternal, social welfare, religious, and women's organizations asked the Missouri State Legislature to pass a Fair Employment law and outlaw public school segregation. The Urban League led successful efforts to end discrimination in city parks an playgrounds. Prior to the integration of St. Louis's public schools in 1955, the League carried out a comprehensive program of counseling to 7th and 8th grade students, in order to help in their adjustment to an integrated environment.
In the 1960s, federal funding from President Johnson's "Great Society" programs resulted in 11 new programs in areas ranging from housing for the elderly to family planning. Much of this funding was cut off by the Reagan administration. Today 1/3 of the League's budget comes from Civic Progress, Incorporated; another third comes from the government, and the rest from the United Way and member dues.
Since 1985, the Urban League has been led by James Buford, Executive Director.
Finding aids in .PDF format. Tips on opening PDF files when using FireFox.
This collection is divided into ten series as follows, each listed in a seperate pdf document:
This material was placed with the University Archives by the Urban League of St. Louis in 1971 and 1978.
Accruals are interfiled with collection.
Updated by Sonya Rooney in October 2007.
There are some restrictions to access. Please contact the University Archivist: (314) 935-5444.
Users of the collection must read and abide by the Rules for the Use of University Archives Materials.
Users of the collection who wish to use items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication (as defined in the form) must sign and submit to the Washington University Archives a hard copy of the Notification of Intent to Quote from or Publish University Archives Materials form.
All publication not covered by fair use restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder.[Finding Aids]