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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

James L. Smith papers and audio recordings

Repository: Chicago History Museum. Research Center

Collection Description (Extant): Interviews and correspondence of James L. Smith by his daughter Pam Smith, regarding the Association of the 2,221 Negro Volunteers of WWII, Mr. Smith 's military career, and Affirmative Action. Mr. Smith served in the U.S. Army, 1942 to 1953, and was a member of the first group of African American soldiers chosen to serve in a racially integrated unit of the military. The unit served in heavy combat in Germany in 1945 but received little popular recognition until the Association of the 2,221 Negro Volunteers of WWII began to hold reunions in the 1990s and lobby for recognition by the federal government. J. Cameron Wade was founder and chairman of the association. Also present in the collection is a small amount of material about Mr. Smith's daughter, Pam Smith, when she resided in Burundi in 1994.
Folder 1 contains local and national news articles regarding the Association. Folder 2 contains Smith's personal documents and correspondence. Folder 3 contains original military documentation, including Honorable Discharge paperwork and certification of his Bronze Star Medal and other service awards. Folder 4 includes "Special Studies: The Employment of Negro Troops" by Ulysses Lee, the U.S. policy on employing black servicemen. Folder 5 consists of letters of congratulations from the federal government, including President Bill Clinton, Gen. Colin Powell (Joint Chiefs of Staff), and various senators. It also includes the history of the Association, certificates, records of donations, correspondence, etc. Included in this collection is also a 1941 Englewood High School (Chicago, Ill.) senior yearbook.

Origin Info: Gift of Pam Smith, daughter of James L. Smith (2003.0120).

Access Copy Note: For listening purposes, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening copy made if one is not available).

Date(s): 1922-1999

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: 2003.0120 MSM-15,107; Sound

Extent: 0.5 linear ft., 11 micro sound cassettes

Language: English

Related Archival Items: In this repository, see also the James L. Smith photograph collection (2003.0120). Military medals awarded to Mr. Smith, including the Bronze Star, are in the artifact collection.

Interviewees: James L. Smith

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


Affirmative action programs
African American soldiers
African American veterans
African Americans--Illinois
Discrimination in the military
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, African American


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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