The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Abraham H. Peeler papers
Repository: Greensboro Historical Museum
Collection Description (CRHP): Types of materials in this collection include audiotapes, correspondence, educational materials, financial and literary documents, photographs and slides, printed matter and scrapbooks.
The bulk of materials in this collection were created or collected by Abraham H. Peeler. Much of the material relates to his career as an educator and administrator in the public school system of Greensboro, North Carolina. Of this material, the most comprehensive grouping is the J. C. Price School series (8:1-217), which contains items that will help inform the history of that school as well as the evolution of education in North Carolina during much of the twentieth century.
Noteworthy materials from this series include documents pertaining to accreditation (8:1-3); audiovisual items (8:4-8); correspondence (8:26-67); teachers' handbooks created by Peeler between the years 1941 and 1965 (8:75-95); photographs and slides (8:111-130, 159-160); reports about school activities, events and the state of education at a particular time (8:139-149); scrapbooks (8:152-158); staff/teacher files (8:161-216); and documents pertaining to the NC Teachers' Association (8:101-104). Other materials relating to Peeler's career in education can be found in the Jonesboro School series (3); the Miscellaneous series (4:1,4,9-14); and the Tuskegee Institute series (11).
Anyone interested in Peeler's activities outside of school will find ample material in some of the other series in the collection. In particular, researchers should see the Athletics series (1) for an overview of Peeler's lifelong involvement in organized sports; and the Nocho Park (5) and the Scouting series (10) for information on the role he played promoting better recreational opportunities in Greensboro for the African-American community.
An active member of St. Matthews United Methodist Church his whole life, Peeler kept many materials that document the history of that institution, the oldest African-American church in Greensboro (1866). Researchers should consult folders 9:10-13 for short sketches of the church's history and a scrapbook for biographical information and photographs of many of the pastors who presided over services (9:35). Other materials of interest include programs commemorating milestones (9:10-12,16,18,23-25); photographs and slides (9:29-33,36); and a pledge book from 1903 (9:34).
The Greensboro Men's Club series also contains noteworthy materials. Founded by North Carolina A & T faculty in the 1930s, the GMC, which dedicated itself to pursuing high intellectual and social standards, sought to lend moral and financial support to worthy causes in the community. The organization attracted many of the city's most successful black professionals, the majority of whom are identified in this series. In particular, researchers should see the folders containing thumbnail sketches (2:4-5) and photographs (2:8-65) of members.
The collection also contains material related to Peeler's role on the Advisory Council of the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Historical Foundation, Inc. (6:3,6) that reveals the process by which the Palmer Memorial Institute became a state historic site. Also of import in the collection are two small series containing information on S. A. Peeler, A. H. Peeler's father, and Booker T. Washington. In the former series, noteworthy items include photographs (7:4) and a compilation of outlines for sermons he gave over the course of his lifetime (7:3). In the latter series, the most important items pertain to a public speaking tour Washington made through North Carolina in 1910. In particular, researchers should see the journal containing observations that were made at each stop during the tour (12:2) and the group photograph in which some of the leading African-American educators of North Carolina appear with Washington (12:3).
Collection Description (Extant): Born in Greensboro in 1904, Abraham H. Peeler, the person for whom the collection is named, lived and worked as an administrator and educator in that city for most of his life. He is best remembered perhaps as the principal of the J. C. Price School, a position he held from 1931 until 1969. The bulk of the materials in the collection pertains to his experiences there and will help researchers interpret his stellar career as well as aspects of Greensboro's history. The collection is rich in information relating to the local public school system, particularly J. C. Price School, and the evolution of African-American education in North Carolina during a period marked by incremental change and progress in the face of formidable odds.
At school, Peeler pursued excellence and insisted on, sometimes pointedly requesting, top performances from his faculty and staff; he sought out and promoted cutting-edge technology of the day; and he networked within the community and beyond for greater opportunities for black students and his peers. In addition to his regular school activities, Peeler maintained a lifelong interest in organized sports. For thirty-two years he officiated high school and college football and basketball games in his "spare time."
To remember Peeler as an administrator and sports enthusiast only is to obscure his impact as a leader in Greensboro's African-American community. Beyond the schoolyard, Peeler championed many causes. Long an advocate of the benefits of recreation, he lobbied for and helped develop and promote the first city park, called Nocho Park, established for African Americans. In 1940 Peeler, as Chairman of Publicity, helped promote Camp Carlson, one of the first camps in North Carolina created for African-American scouting. In recognition of his stature in the community, Peeler was named the first black member of the Greensboro Recreation Commission in 1947, an action universally praised.
An active member of St. Matthews United Methodist Church in Greensboro his whole life, Peeler conscientiously kept materials that document the history of that institution, the oldest African-American church in the city. Peeler also was a member of the Greensboro Men's Club for many years. Founded by North Carolina A & T faculty in the 1930s, the GMC, which dedicated itself to pursuing high intellectual and social standards, sought to lend moral and financial support to worthy causes in the community. The organization attracted many of the city's most successful black professionals who had made public service a central concern in their lives. GMC material identifies these people and will help illuminate the role they played in the community.
Other items in the collection inform the lives of equally committed professionals, such as Peeler's father, Silas A. Peeler, who was a former president of Bennett College and a community leader in his day. In addition, materials relating to Tuskegee Institute and Booker T. Washington no doubt will prove to be quite helpful to future researchers.
Date(s): bulk 1915-1991
Digital Status: Partial
Existing IDs: #142
Extent: 20 boxes (387 folders), c. 5410 items.
Finding Aid URL: http://www.greensborohistory.org/archives/mss/html/MssColl-142--AHPeeler.htm
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
African American educators--North Carolina
African American schools
African Americans--North Carolina
Discrimination in education
Segregation in education--North Carolina