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Southern Conference for Human Welfare Collection
1938-1972 (bulk dates 1940-1948)
16 linear feet
The Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW) was an interracial coalition of Southern progressives founded in 1938 at an organizing convention held in Birmingham, Alabama. The creation of SCHW was inspired by the findings of the National Emergency Council's Report on Economic Conditions in the South and an outgrowth of the Southern Policy Committee, a group of Southern intellectuals who wanted to extend their work beyond studies, reports, and fact-finding. SCHW's structure was based on representation from the thirteen Southern states and the District of Columbia. Non-Southerners were welcome as non-voting members. The objectives of SCHW were to unite the Southern people and their organizations to promote the general welfare, improve the economic, social and cultural standards among Southern people, and advance Southern functional growth in accordance with American democratic institutions and ideals. Continuously hampered by lack of funds, the Conference grew slowly. Its State Committees did not appear viable until 1944, and some of these were discontinued in their formative stages by their members due to accusations of Communist domination of the Conference, and investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Further weakened by internal disputes, the SCHW was discontinued in 1948 and succeeded by Southern Conference Educational Fund.
The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence, minutes, speeches, financial records, photographs, newspaper clippings and printed material generated by the SCHW up until the organization ended in 1948. Some of the notable correspondents in the collection are Will. W. Alexander, Mary McLeod Bethune, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Rufus E. Clement, Virginia Durr, E. Franklin Frazier, Ralph McGill, Benjamin E. Mays, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lillian Smith, and Channing Tobias. The largest group of records is the files of Clark Foreman, an officeholder from SCHW's inception and President from 1946-1948. Other large groupings of files include the State Committees for North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and material generated by the Committee to Abolish the Poll Tax, an organization closely allied with the SCHW.