Houston,Texas: 1929. 39 loose leaves from a scrapbook, 60 pages with handwriting and/or ephemera. Scrapbook includes 17 items of ephemera, three photographs, seven items clipped from school publications and 14 news clippings. Good: edges of all leaves with insect predation. usually impacting text on a page; ephemera generally good or better, a few items fair due to losses.
This is a wonderful scrapbook documenting a segregated high school in Houston, Texas that was compiled by a young woman, Eula Mae Cotton. It was compiled beginning just two years after Phyllis Wheatley High School (PWHS) was established in January 1927 and at a time when the school did not issue yearbooks, making this an important primary source.
Eula Mae listed the names of all faculty and staff and secured at least 19 inscriptions from them. Several of these teachers later had schools named for them such as J.C. Sanderson and J.C. McDade. McDade wrote in the book, “in every moment of our lives we should be trying to find not in what we differ from other people but in what we agree with them.” Her social studies teacher, Lillian Meeks, wrote, “have faith that right makes might and in that faith dare to do your duty as you understand it. I expect great things of you.” One inscription is from Thelma O. Scott, the niece of important educator, activist and author Emmett J. Scott. Thelma Scott taught at Wheatley from its inception until 1941 when she took early retirement to help her husband in the research and writing of several books. Thelma ultimately published five books of her own including Pioneer Families of Houston, As Remembered by Thelma Scott Bryant. There are also approximately 20 inscriptions from fellow students and three handwritten pages are devoted to the lyrics of her class song.
The album has approximately 40 items laid or pasted in, including 17 items of ephemera directly related to PWHS and seven items clipped from school publications. The clippings include a cover of the school periodical, The Megaphone, where Eula Mae was one of the sports editors, and the book also reveals that she was a star of the basketball team. One page has two small pieces of silk in purple and white, as well as a pressed pansy, representing her class colors and flower. There's a paper ribbon, printed in purple, celebrating a 1928 South Texas championship, presumably a football championship for segregated schools.
Many programs document events including two different programs for Class Days which list student names and different activities. There's a program for a violin recital at PWHS as well as two for performances of the Fisk University Glee Club; one of which has an imprint for the Houston Observer, a Black press newspaper. There's the top section of a broadside for “The Wheatley Minstrel” as well as small programs for parties at two different heretofore unknown Black social clubs in Houston, The Joy Makers and the Golden Bar Social Club
Also important is the program for a joint commencement of Houston's three segregated Black schools of the time, as well as the Houston Col*red Junior College. OCLC locates a copy of the 1934 program for the event, but not this one. It lists the names of students for Wheatley as well as Booker T. Washington and Jack Yates High Schools, along with the students of the college. A small handbill for the “First Anniversary Exercises” for Houston Col*red Junior College in 1929 is also included.
A fantastic book, especially in light of the dearth of records on the early years of PWHS, filled with the thoughts of students and faculty and with rare ephemera reflecting day-to-day life. Good. Item #7473