As suggested by its Statement of Core Values (2011), Statement on Diversity (2013), and Strategic Plan (2014–2018), the Society of American Archivists has recently increased its efforts regarding diversity and inclusion. This article focuses on Harold T. Pinkett (1914–2001), the first African American archivist employed by the National Archives as well as the first African American to be named an SAA Fellow, to edit The American Archivist, and to serve on SAA Council. Pinkett's life speaks to current diversity and inclusivity conversations in two ways. First, it illuminates the history of racial and ethnic diversity and inclusivity in the archival profession, particularly at the National Archives and in the Society of American Archivists. Archivists such as Harold Pinkett began to fight for diversity and inclusivity in the profession's early years. Second, Pinkett's story shows the long-standing investment of African American archivists in increasing racial and ethnic diversity and inclusivity in collections and documentation. Pinkett proselytized for the maximum use of records in the writing of history, especially in documenting the history of underrepresented people, and his own writings reflected this belief.
Doors once closed are opening. It behooves black Americans to be prepared to enter them.
—Harold T. Pinkett1
As I talked with other African-American archivists, many of whom had entered the profession through other routes and have little or no connection to librarianship, it became clear that there is a history here [with which] many were unfamiliar. Yes, this generation of archivists was ready to fight the good fight, to make our mark on the profession, but we also need grounding in our roots to know of those who helped blaze the trail we now seek to pave.
—Karen L. Jefferson2
On June 25, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802: it proscribed discrimination in national defense industry employment and set up the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practices to monitor compliance. The committee broke new ground for African Americans in defense work, including at the National Archives.3
The next spring, Archivist of the United States Solon J. Buck reported that African Americans comprised more than 15 percent of National Archives employees. “It is our intention to continue to hire Negroes for custodial positions,” Buck explained to the committee, “and to appoint them to high positions by promotion and from the outside in steadily increasing numbers . . . consonant with our policy of getting the best employees available for all types of positions regardless of race or color.”4 He then mentioned the appointment of an African American, Harold Thomas Pinkett, to a beginning professional position, the first such appointment ever made by the archives. Pinkett began work on April 16, 1942, the eightieth anniversary of the District of Columbia's abolition of slavery.
Harold Pinkett's life enables an examination of two broader themes. Pinkett's life speaks to current diversity and inclusivity conversations in two ways. First, it illuminates the history of racial and ethnic diversity and inclusivity in the archival profession, particularly at the National Archives and in the Society of American Archivists. Archivists such as Harold Pinkett began to fight for diversity and inclusivity in the profession's early years. Second, Pinkett's story shows the long-standing investment of African American archivists in increasing racial and ethnic diversity and inclusivity in collections and documentation. Pinkett proselytized for the maximum use of records in the writing of history, especially in documenting the history of underrepresented people, and his own writings reflected this investment. Pinkett's legacy as an exemplar of service and scholarship to the archival profession is substantial, if underappreciated.
This article first traces the ancestry—slave and free—and the early life and education of Harold Pinkett in Jim Crow Maryland. It then discusses Pinkett's higher education and the circumstances by which he arrived at the National Archives in 1942. Next, it unpacks his wartime service in the segregated American army, his postwar career at the National Archives, his involvement in professional organizations, and the symbiosis between his professional and scholarly work. Last, it touches on Pinkett's retirement and his legacy to African American archivists and to the archival profession writ large.
Early Life and Education
Free Pinketts lived in Maryland as early as 1820; they included Pinkett's great-grandfather, Denard Pinkett. A free laborer, Pinkett worked on William Records Byrd's farm in Somerset County and married Byrd's slave, Mary. Their marriage produced twelve children, all of whom were slaves under a 1681 Maryland law (slave status flowed from the mother). Among those twelve children was Adam Pinkett, Harold's grandfather.
Adam Pinkett served in the Union Army as part of the 9th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry, Company G, between November 1863 and November 1866. He numbered among nearly 9,000 black Maryland soldiers who fought for the North. Pinkett's forebears were among the first troops to enter Richmond, the Confederate capital, after its evacuation. Given their service, men such as Adam Pinkett established a claim to citizenship. But Maryland was recalcitrant. Though the first state to abolish slavery (November 1864), Maryland failed to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) granting suffrage to blacks. Because the majority of states ratified the amendment, however, it became law in Maryland. But the Chesapeake State then fell into Jim Crow's clutches.
Postbellum, Adam Pinkett became an artisan (basket-weaver). Though as of 1880 he could neither read nor write, over the next two decades, he improved his socioeconomic status. By the turn of the century, not only was he literate (unlike 43 percent of African Americans), but he owned land and a house. A founding member of his local Methodist Episcopal church, Pinkett was soon licensed by the church to serve as a pastor in the district. Pinkett's example of social mobility inspired his grandson as well as his grandson's parents, Reverend Levin Wilson Pinkett and Catherine Pinkett.
Harold Pinkett was born on April 14, 1914, in the agrarian community of Salisbury, located in the southeastern part of Maryland. A former slave-holding community, Salisbury adhered to segregation both in its educational facilities and public accommodations. At the time of Pinkett's birth, in fact, state law branded miscegenation a crime, and segregation governed Maryland's railroads, steamboats, and streetcars as well as its educational institutions. Vigilantism plagued the state: whites perpetrated seventeen lynchings between 1889 and 1918. Another occurred in Salisbury in 1931 and still another a few miles away in Princess Anne, albeit two years later. The area earned the soubriquet “Mississippi on the Chesapeake.”5
Lacking formal education beyond grade school, Harold Pinkett's father worked as a custodian and gardener. But, like his father, Levin was ambitious: he advanced to local pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His position gave the family a parsonage rent free, and church members contributed to the family's modest larder. His son would remain closely affiliated with the church throughout his life.
Levin and Catherine Pinkett urged their children to improve themselves, namely through education. Education constituted a crucial route into the middle class, even more salient in many cases than occupation or income.6 Harold devoured Horatio Alger's books and embraced the work ethic they promulgated. (Pinkett's maternal grandmother, a laundress, also touted the Protestant ethic.) Neither Pinkett's work ethic nor his commitment to self-education and personal accomplishment ever flagged. “With diligence I have often been able, in a paraphrase of Samuel Johnson, ‘to improve the golden moment of opportunity and catch the good within my reach,’” he reflected.7
The black press, notably the Baltimore Afro-American, played an important role in the Pinkett household.8 The paper, which covered the black community as the Baltimore Sun did not, pushed for civil rights and presented models of successful professional African Americans such as doctors and teachers.9 One of the newsboys for the Afro-American, Pinkett also maintained a small distribution of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Crisis, a publication for which he later wrote. Edited by W. E. B Du Bois between 1910 and 1934, the Crisis lobbied strenuously for African Americans to receive equal protection under the law and full citizenship, namely the right to vote, to own property, and to move freely. Like the Afro-American, the Crisis profiled successful African Americans to inspire younger generations.10
Pinkett embraced Du Bois's contention that human reason could vanquish racism. Du Bois, the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University, asserted, “My long-term remedy was truth: carefully gathered scientific proof that neither color nor race determined the limits of a man's capacity or desert.”11 Du Bois lauded the helpfulness, fortitude, resilience, and ambition of college-educated African Americans, the “Talented Tenth.” This group was the core of a growing and respectable black middle class, and Pinkett joined it with alacrity.12 Overall, late-nineteenth-century black leaders enshrined respectability, thrift, morality, sexual continence, and the Protestant work ethic.13
At age sixteen, Pinkett matriculated at Morgan College. Established in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute by a biracial group, Morgan College trained men for the ministry. Later, the institution prepared both men and women (the latter were first admitted in 1875) for teaching. A Methodist institution, it was Maryland's sole liberal arts college. Educational opportunities such as those offered at Morgan provided both social mobility and prestige to African Americans.14 The curriculum focused on thrift, piety, character, and responsibility and greatly impacted Pinkett.15
A Maryland state scholarship paid Pinkett's yearly tuition; he paid for his board by waiting tables at an Ocean City, Maryland, hotel each summer. Black fraternities were an important vehicle for social mobility, and Pinkett pledged Omega Psi Phi at Morgan. Founded at Howard University in 1911, the fraternity enshrined manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Pinkett was also elected to Zeta Sigma Pi, a national social science honor society, and subsequently to Alpha Kappa Mu, a general scholarship honor society. He graduated in 1935 as valedictorian with highest honors.16
The next seven years would see him interspersing graduate training and professional employment, namely teaching. The Great Depression ensured that financial concerns loomed large in Pinkett's early career. First, he looked toward graduate education in history. The University of Maryland remained segregated, so Pinkett capitalized on a state-provided scholarship to begin graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania that fall. Living in Philadelphia with relatives to save money, Pinkett worked for the New Deal's National Youth Administration as a social investigator for the Public Defender's Office. He ferreted out information on accused persons' social backgrounds as well as on the circumstances for which they were tried. He thereby earned an extra $30 per month while attending to his studies.
After only a year, though, he accepted a position teaching high school Latin in Baltimore, which he held for the next year and a half. Far from rewarding given problems of student discipline, no doubt compounded by his youthful appearance and slight build, the experience shored up Pinkett's ambition to become a college professor. He returned to the University of Pennsylvania and completed his master's degree in 1938. But again financial needs obtruded: Pinkett headed south to teach at Livingstone College.
Livingstone College was founded by African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion ministers in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1879. Historically black, the private liberal arts institution appointed Pinkett as a sabbatical fill-in for the 1938–1939 academic year. Once his appointment lapsed, Pinkett again turned to graduate school. As the University of Maryland remained closed to blacks, Pinkett matriculated at Columbia University.
Even as he pursued his studies, Pinkett remained focused on his career opportunities. Notably, in the spring of 1940 he sat for the junior professional assistant Civil Service exam.17 Though titled “Archivist, P-2 to P-6,” the exam called for fluency in history and social science, a sufficient incentive for Pinkett. He scored an 85.90 (out of 100) on the exam. Pinkett, however, still hoped to complete his doctorate in history and enter the professoriate.
After a year at Columbia, however, financial concerns once more pushed him into the workforce. Pinkett joined the faculty at a junior college, the Baptist-affiliated Florida Normal College in St. Augustine, where he taught history, government, and geography between September of 1940 and January of 1941. More important, near the end of his tenure at Florida Normal, Pinkett published his first scholarly article in the Journal of Negro History. This represented the start of a long and fruitful relationship with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, led by Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950), a Virginia native who had earned a PhD in history from Harvard University.
A mainstay of the District of Columbia's African American intellectual community, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915; the Journal of Negro History in 1916; the Associated Publishers, Inc., in 1920; Negro History Week in 1926; and the Negro History Bulletin in 1937. The association sought systematically and scientifically to analyze African American history. “The achievements of the Negro properly set forth will crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization,” Woodson insisted.18 Pinkett agreed.
Impressed by Woodson's rigorous scholarly standards, Pinkett also admired the senior scholar's professional and personal efforts on behalf of African American historiography. In no small measure due to Woodson's intrepid efforts, African American history reached a new, if still modest, peak of production by the mid-1930s.19 Identifying and accessing scholarly materials was part and parcel of that upsurge: bibliographies, microfilm, and surveys remained in short supply.20 To this end, helping to provide a documentary foundation for African American history, Woodson began depositing his collection of sources on African Americans at the Library of Congress in 1929. The library held only scattered materials on African Americans at the time; it lacked a classification system even for those. Woodson contributed 5,000 manuscripts by 1941.
Also seeking to consolidate African American documentation efforts, Woodson reached out to the National Archives. At Woodson's request, James R. Mock addressed the 1937 annual meeting of the ASNLH. Documents related to African Americans “honeycomb[ed]” the archives' holdings.21 Such factual records represented the seed of objective history, history that not only would demonstrate African Americans' contributions to American society, but also rebut tendentious and indeed racist accounts. Like Woodson, Pinkett underlined the importance of scientific and objective African American historiography based on documentary evidence. “The exacting and scientific writer of history,” Pinkett maintained, “must approach his task not unlike Robert Browning's Grammarian who declared: ‘Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text/Still there the comment/Let me know all!’”22 Pinkett advocated critical scrutiny and revisionism. “In a democratic society there should be no right to use authority to distort the truth,” he insisted.23
Yet many white historians betrayed their training when it came to African American history.24 Exacerbating the situation, as Pinkett noted in the NAACP's Crisis, “Information concerning Negro accomplishments has often been fragmentary and inaccurate because Negroes or other persons failed to write about them or because pertinent written materials were not preserved. . . . This situation has helped create the notion that Negroes have contributed little or nothing to civilization.” But historical writing could bring forth African Americans' contributions and introduce “a new day of truth and justice.”25 Woodson and other supporters of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and Culture played a key role in this revisionism.
The same year he made his debut in The Journal of Negro History, Pinkett returned to the faculty at Livingstone. There he courted Lucille Cannady, eight years his junior and an aspiring teacher hailing from Sanford, North Carolina. She and Pinkett were married in the spring of 1943; their union would endure for 58 years. Like Harold, Lucille enjoyed a long and successful tenure in the federal government's employ. She worked at the Department of Labor for thirty-three years and attained the rank of GS-14, the same as her husband.
In early 1942, however, the National Archives contacted Pinkett. Though he had at best a tenuous grasp of archival work, the National Archives paid better than Livingstone, and Pinkett sought a steady middle-class income and job security.
Pinkett realized his appointment at the National Archives constituted “a bit of Negro history.”26 The Pittsburgh Courier trumpeted Pinkett's achievement, as did The Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), The People's Voice (New York), Opportunity (the magazine of the National Urban League), and Pinkett's hometown paper, the Afro-American, which he had delivered as a boy. Querying readers about their knowledge of black “firsts,” the Daily World (Atlanta) even included Pinkett as a trivia answer.27
“I am pleased to have introduced ‘affirmative action’ into the professional ranks of the National Archives,” Pinkett noted.28 Yet perhaps some ambivalence lingered: “Many years later,” he reflected, “I learned that my appointment . . . was probably helped if not actually caused by pressure being brought on federal agencies . . . to employ more qualified blacks for professional positions.”29 Pinkett assumed his duties on April 16, 1942.
Washington, D.C., the National Archives, and Uncle Sam
From its founding, Washington, D.C., denied basic rights to free blacks as well as to slaves. After the turn of the twentieth century, moreover, the city adhered to the southern pattern of race relations even as it nurtured its economic ties to the North.30 Around the same time, the 1872–1873 civil rights laws, which proscribed segregation in restaurants, ice cream parlors, barber shops, and other public accommodations, simply disappeared from the district's statutes.
Woodrow Wilson's administration soon gave segregation governmental imprimatur. Beginning in 1913, federal policies permitted segregation in the offices, eating facilities, and restrooms of federal buildings. Bills proposed in Congress sought to segregate African American federal employees, to reintroduce segregated transportation in Washington, D.C., and to repeal the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover all abetted segregation in the executive branch.31 As late as 1948, the National Committee on Segregation in the Nation's Capital concluded, “If Horatio Alger had a colored face, he would have a hard time in the capital today.”32 The city certainly tested Pinkett's resolve, as did the National Archives.
The National Archives gestated in the Public Buildings Act of 1926; workers broke ground five years later. The National Archives Act of 1934 formalized the archives' mission, which granted Americans unprecedented access to their government's records. Records preservation and administration seemed at last on a sound—putatively scientific—basis.
The archives accepted its first motley groups of records in 1935. Pinkett observed of these documents:
They included memorials and petitions sent to Congress by ordinary citizens, as well as messages sent to that body by presidents; memorandums of obscure bureau clerks and reports of departmental heads; case files relating to pension claims of veterans and battle reports of the Civil War; court papers with depositions of forgotten persons and decisions of famous jurists; routine weather reports and studies of earthquakes; and maps of city squares and charts of vast sections of the public domain.33
Understandably apprehensive upon his arrival in the nation's “boom town no. 1,” Pinkett noticed that he was the only African American performing clerical or professional work; other black employees served as laborers, messengers, elevator operators, and custodians.34 Not coincidentally, southerners such as the first archivist of the United States, historian R. D. W. Connor, dominated the National Archives. In 1935, the North Carolinian had rebuffed President Roosevelt's request to hire a black professional, even as a cosmetic measure.
Pinkett referred to Connor's tenure as the “Era of the Confederate Archives.”35 “The South is in the saddle,” he noted.36 Hired in 1940 and decades later to be Pinkett's supervisor, Jewish-American Meyer Fishbein characterized Connor as “the perfect southern gentleman” and thought the National Archives “kind of a gentlemen's club.”37
Though many of Pinkett's fellow employees saw him as “something of a curiosity,” he never discerned open resentment.38 After all, he portended no great influx of African Americans into the National Archives professional ranks. Only Roland McConnell and Dwight Hillis Wilson (both in 1943) followed Pinkett into the professional ranks, and both were only temporary wartime employees.39 After earning his PhD from New York University in 1945, McConnell left the National Archives in 1947 to teach history at Pinkett's alma mater, Morgan College. Wilson left the archives in 1946 to work in Italy under the auspices of the Allied Force Records Administration. In 1948, he joined Fisk University as its first archivist.
In contrast to the professional environment, the social milieu proved more awkward for Pinkett. He confided to his diary, “My chief problem is in finding a place in downtown Washington where a Negro can sit down and eat.”40 African Americans could eat at the Recorder of Deeds' cafeteria, but if they chose not to, their options were limited. They could patronize either a five-and-dime store or a department store lunch counter—and the latter denied seats to blacks.
Pinkett's initial tasks involved “examining permit records in a series of steel trays and recording for labeling purposes the inclusive numbers for each group of records in each tray.”41 This drudgework surprised him, since the civil service exam had demanded considerable acumen. Nonetheless, he felt sanguine about his professional prospects.42
In May of 1943, an opportunity opened for a beginning professional in the Division of Agriculture Archives under T. R. Schellenberg. Chief of the Division of the Agriculture Department Archives, Schellenberg had joined the National Archives staff in 1935 as a member of the first generation of employees. Looking ahead to his interview with Schellenberg, Pinkett “wondered whether Mr. Schellenberg knew that I was colored.”43 But his candidacy proved successful; Pinkett beat out the other (white) candidates. He exulted, “There were really some sparks of democracy here in Washington.”44
The two men warmed to each other in no small measure because of their common ties to the University of Pennsylvania's Department of History. Reputedly racist and anti-Semitic, Schellenberg seemed professionally objective and genuinely concerned about Pinkett's career advancement.45 Pinkett thought Schellenberg's contribution to archival theory and practice in the United States unparalleled.
Working for Schellenberg fit Pinkett's intellectual proclivities: he was interested in pursuing an agricultural topic (the role of African Americans in the populist movement of the late nineteenth century) in his dissertation. Propitiously, Pinkett first prepared a descriptive inventory of the records of the United States Forest Service, which comprised more than 1,400 cubic feet, to facilitate their research use. Gifford Pinchot loomed large in these records. Pinkett soon realized that little scholarly attention had been devoted to Pinchot's professional training and early work as the first professionally trained forester in the United States. Hence Pinkett stumbled upon the seed of his dissertation.
Overall, Pinkett's early work under Schellenberg involved basic arrangement, description, and reference. He developed finding aids for complex record groups and helped government officials and researchers find data on agricultural topics. Pinkett's work soon earned him a promotion to archivist, a position he held between 1942 and 1948.
As part of his socialization into the profession, in late 1943 Pinkett joined the Society of American Archivists (established in 1936). This was a logical decision, as 83 of the Society's 226 founding members worked at the National Archives. Indeed, such East Coast–based white males steered the SAA until the 1960s.46 Pinkett shared much with them—except for his skin color. Nonetheless, Pinkett maintained a lengthy and rewarding relationship with the society. He was named an SAA Fellow (1962), was appointed editor of the organization's journal, The American Archivist (1968–1971), and was elected to SAA Council (1971–1972).
Professional concerns were the least of Pinkett's worries by late 1943, however: that December he received his draft notice. “This is certainly the most fateful greeting that I have ever received,” he wrote in his diary.47 “Apparently nothing to do about it except accept its possible consequences with as much calmness and resignation as circumstance will permit.”48 Pinkett was one of more than one million African Americans to serve with distinction even as they realized, as Pinkett put it, “The Southern Negro doesn't even have promises of better things after the war.”49
Inducted December 9, 1943, Pinkett served in Maryland, Massachusetts, France, Belgium, the Philippines, and Japan in both teaching and administrative positions. He felt terribly ill-prepared, however, for some of his duties. He noted in his diary, “First experience drilling a squad. I suspect with no little dread that I shall have more of this and other military duties for which I have no effective training and certainly no taste.”50 A few months later, he elaborated, “Most of my military training so far has been by means of motion pictures.”51 Along these lines, Pinkett wrote flippantly to his colleagues at the National Archives, “Perhaps you have heard that the occupation of archivist is virtually unknown to Army occupational analysts. They have trouble with spelling it to say nothing of their difficulty in giving it a ‘job description.’”52 T. R. Schellenberg quipped in turn, “Your ‘soldiering’ activities in the Special Training Unit ought to be as interesting as writing a report on the Forest Service records in the National Archives.”53
Pinkett achieved the rank of technical sergeant in the Army Signal Corps and earned the standard recognitions for capable service: the Good Conduct Medal; the American Theater Ribbon; the European, African, Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon; the Atlantic-Pacific Theater Ribbon; the Army Occupation Medal (Japan); and the World War II Victory Ribbon.
Racism in the segregated army impinged upon Pinkett's service. Indeed, long before he was drafted, he had applied for an associate archivist position with the War Production Board. “The inevitable question arises in my mind: will a Negro's application receive equal consideration with those of white applicants?” he noted in his diary.54 Four months later, he jotted resignedly, “War Production Board replied to my application . . . stating that there were no vacancies in my field. I wonder.”55
Once in the service, Pinkett tried twice—unsuccessfully—to transfer from his unit. He noted in his diary, “Hard to believe for me now not to believe that the training center is pursuing an unprejudiced policy with reference to my two recent attempts to obtain training and assignment in other branches of the Army.”56 Further, Pinkett declined officer's training; African American officers were usually earmarked to lead combat infantry positions, and Pinkett had no wish to risk life and limb for a country that abrogated his civil rights.
During his wartime service, Pinkett wrote for both academic and popular consumption, as he had done since the late 1930s. He wrote on race and war, on the media's depiction of African Americans, on segregation, and, in numerous reviews, on the practice of history. Always his writing prized objectivity and factuality, very much in the Woodsonian spirit.
First, Pinkett wrote about race as early as his student days at the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently considered writing a dissertation at Columbia University on African American involvement in late-nineteenth-century Populism. While on the faculty at Florida Normal, moreover, Pinkett authored “Negroes in Defense of America,”57 which stressed the service of African Americans in the armed forces beginning in the American Revolution. Pinkett exhorted American politicians to welcome black servicemen, among whom, he put it colorfully, “there have been found no Benedict Arnolds, no John Wilkes Booths, and no Fifth Columnists.”58 Likewise Pinkett emphasized the patriotism of African Americans to the editors of the Nation.59 Though their experience belied democratic principles, African Americans remained devoted to the defense of their country.
Pinkett praised an article condemning racism among American GIs stationed in England. Such a situation appeared “unwholesome and unholy” for American military strategy and for postwar race relations.60 Stationed in Belgium near war's end, Pinkett wrote about his own experiences. White soldiers praised African American GIs' efforts in the battles for Duren and Cologne. Meanwhile, “Tan Yanks” used the same quarters and the same entertainment and recreational facilities as white soldiers. Pinkett jotted in his diary, “most Army Jim Crow is entirely unnecessary.”61 Such interactions belied “the old idea that black is black and white is white and ‘never the twain shall meet.’”62
Even so, Pinkett recognized the inferior status of black soldiers, most of whom occupied service positions. The Double-V campaign—democracy at home as well as abroad—had a considerable distance yet to go: President Truman's Executive Order 9981, which desegregated the armed forces, lay nearly three years in the future. Nevertheless, the war both fostered community among black GIs and served as a crucible of the 1960s civil rights movement.63
Second, while keeping an eye on the home front as well as on the European theater, Pinkett critiqued the media's portrayal of African Americans. His letters underlined his belief in the ameliorative potential of factual information, especially its ability to debunk stereotypes and to promote interracial harmony. He commended the Washington Evening Star for publishing an article highlighting the meritorious contributions to American life made by African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.64 Pinkett also thanked Cal Tinney of the Mutual Broadcasting System for the latter's story on George Washington Carver and lauded the newsman's commitment to democratic ideals.65 Conversely, Pinkett admonished the editors of Reader's Digest:
It is very disquieting to observe how you persist in defaming and ridiculing Negroes. Of course, you have published during the past several months one or two fairly decent articles about Negroes. However, those have been over-shadowed by articles attacking Negro leaders who are merely insisting that America live up to its democratic preachments. Then you have published regularly those nauseating “Sketches in Black and White.” Words such as “darky,” “pickaninny,” “Negress,” etc. frequently appear in the Digest without benefit of quotation marks, although such terms are generally known to be offensive. The general impression which readers must get from the Digest is that most Negroes are either liars or ignorant ignoramuses.66
Third, as a veteran of Jim Crow Maryland, Pinkett underlined the perniciousness of segregation. He skewered the Daughters of the American Revolution for refusing to allow Marian Anderson to sing in Constitution Hall—even though the organization allowed “hell-and-fire evangelists and other crackpots to use their citadel of reaction.”67 To the Nation, he called attention to Helen Hayes's play on the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was staged at a venue that proscribed African Americans.68
In writing about race and war, the media, and segregation, Pinkett homed in on the imperative of democratic opportunity. No fact about African Americans' achievements seemed to escape his notice. He even enthused to the Evening Star over the results of a high school American history quiz given in the District of Columbia school system that showed equality of opportunity paid off.69
Fourth, building on his relationship with Woodson's ASNLH, Pinkett began reviewing books for the Journal of Negro History in 1941. (He served as the head of the Bibliography section from 1959 to 1959.) His reviews often addressed race and ethnicity and framed them in the larger scope of American democracy. For instance, in an early review, Pinkett praised the editors of a collection of historical documents for situating African Americans in the mainstream of American life and history.70 Such works gave African Americans their just due.
Pinkett similarly praised liberal journalist Carey McWilliams's Brothers under the Skin for reminding readers of “unfinished tasks” of American democracy.71 Race hatred, Pinkett pointed out in another review, vitiated the promise of American democracy not only for African Americans, but also for other marginalized groups such as Ozarks, Mexicans, and Italians.72 Interracial understanding, Pinkett opined, was the panacea.
Through his writings and through his service in the Second World War, Pinkett demonstrated his commitment to color-blind democracy. Like millions of other African American citizens, moreover, he demanded the extension of equal citizenship to all Americans.
Postwar Work and Scholarship
Mustered out in the spring of 1946, Pinkett rejoined the National Archives in June. “New duties at Archives keep me busier,” he wrote in his diary. “Work now includes reference service, analysis and description, packing and shelving, and records accessioning.”73 Furthermore, upon his return, Pinkett discerned a broadened mission at the National Archives fostered by the Disposal Act of 1943. The institution shifted toward records management and assisting government agencies in scheduling their records to help preserve those of permanent value.
Serving the government, scholars, and the public, the institution took responsibility as well for presidential libraries, for federal records centers, for an expanded Federal Register program, and for a national historical publications program. The Saturday Evening Post noted of the National Archives, “Uncle Sam's Strange Filing Case,” “Virtually everything except a corpse has . . . shown up among the untold tons of records, documents, and exhibits deposited in the largest filing cabinet on earth.”74
The archives' increasingly expansive purview stemmed largely from its subsumption under the umbrella of a new agency, the General Services Administration (GSA), on July 1, 1949. The GSA assumed legislative liaison, and legal, personnel, and procurement responsibilities. Four major divisions—the National Archives, the Roosevelt Library, the Federal Register Division, and the newly minted Records Management Division—came under the auspices of the Office of the Archivist. Like many of his colleagues, Pinkett evinced concern over this loss of independence. Staff members feared the onerous responsibilities of records management would supplant archival work. On the other hand, reorganization potentially augured more staff, better funding, and more space.
After World War II, personnel at the National Archives followed the argument laid out by Pinkett in his Crisis article and suggested by James R. Mock even earlier. Pinkett was pleased to see the Journal of Negro History presenting more articles rooted in materials from the National Archives.75 National Archives professionals also launched efforts to publicize documentary resources for African American history. In 1947, under the auspices of the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies, Paul Lewinson compiled “A Guide to Documents in the National Archives for Negro Studies.” Though underused, National Archives records dealing with African Americans could be found in nearly any record group.76 Unlike American society, materials in the archives on African Americans were not segregated from materials on whites; paradoxically, this militated against locating and accessing such records.
Roland C. McConnell, by then a professor of history at Morgan College, characterized Lewinson's compilation as a key bibliographical contribution. Not only did the guide focus on African Americans, but it focused on the National Archives. Jibing with the beliefs of archivist-scholars such as Pinkett, the guide situated African Americans in the broader sweep of national history.77 McConnell also unpacked the effective sequel to Lewinson's guide, Elaine C. Bennett's “Calendar of Negro-Related Documents in the Records of the Committee for Congested Production Areas in the National Archives.” The work, McConnell noted approvingly, presented a template for other recordkeeping agencies.78
His promotion of Lewinson's and Bennett's work aside, McConnell relied upon his own work in the War Records Branch in the National Archives on which to base a 1948 article illuminating the previously unknown role of an African American soldier in the Custer expedition. In the end, McConnell's piece represented an opening wedge in reconsidering the role of African Americans in westward expansion—just the sort of corrective to conventional historiography Pinkett favored.79
Also mirroring the approach taken by Pinkett in the Crisis, McConnell underlined the need to ferret out and exploit untapped sources. Revisionist history, he lamented, lagged because of historians' neglect of records at the National Archives. Only the use of records at the National Archives could confer scientific and objective legitimacy on African American history.80
In keeping with his long-standing aspirations, Pinkett began doctoral work at the American University in 1948. Lucille encouraged Pinkett's efforts; he noted that she “did not wish to see me assume the posture of a contented and uninspired government employee with veterans preference.”81 He concentrated on Gifford Pinchot's early career, a topic that flowed from his early professional responsibilities with the Forest Service records. In 1953, he completed his PhD in history and archival administration. The University of Illinois Press later published his dissertation, “Gifford Pinchot and the Early Conservation Movement in the United States”; it earned the Agricultural History Society's book of the year award in 1968. By dint of his work on Pinchot, Pinkett picked up further scholarly and professional legitimacy.
In the late 1940s, Pinkett published two articles based upon his daily duties at the National Archives: one centered on his preliminary inventory of the records of the Forest Service and the other on his preliminary inventory of records of the Civilian Conservation Corps.82 He also continued to review books for the Journal of Negro History. For instance, Pinkett lauded Shirley Graham's biography of Frederick Douglass, who emerged as “a far-sighted humanitarian interested in the uplift of all men, regardless of color, race, or nationality.”83 This review won the Bancroft History Prize (best book review) from Woodson's ASNLH.
Pinkett also reviewed books concentrating more broadly on the history and present social conditions of African Americans. The African American, Pinkett observed in his review of North Star Shining: A Pictorial History of the American Negro, “has been portrayed by many persons as a very lowly, insignificant being who happily worked on slave plantations, was emancipated with no effort of his own, and now gets along best as long as he stays ‘in his place’ as a field hand or domestic servant.”84 By contrast, North Star Shining was a needed corrective, telling “a story of mingled tragedy, perseverance, and heroism from the horrors of the ‘middle passage’ to feats of World War II.”85 In this vein, Margaret Halsey's Color Blind: A White Woman Looks at the Negro, “seizes myths about things like sex, blood, and intellectual inferiority . . . and vigorously exposes them to the sunshine of truth and common sense.”86 In his reviews, then, Pinkett continued to affirm his faith in facts and human reason to promote interracial understanding: each book represented “another voice which may help to banish misunderstanding among more people and arouse more of them from appalling apathy toward a serious condition.”87
Consonant with his daily work, much of Pinkett's scholarship moved toward local and national agricultural history. First, he wrote about his home state's John Stuart Skinner, a “forgotten patriot” who first published Francis Scott Key's “Star-Spangled Banner” and subsequently launched the first American agricultural periodical.88 Similarly, he stressed the importance of Maryland in providing foodstuffs for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.89 He also underscored the development of the District of Columbia's agricultural societies in the early republic, which testified to agriculture's foundational importance to the national economy.90 In the middle of the 1950s, finally, Pinkett published his first pieces in Agricultural History (on the federal government's role in fostering crop industry) and in The American Archivist (on late-nineteenth-century federal recordkeeping practices).91 He would return time and again to these broad areas in his scholarship.
Besides his work on agricultural history, Pinkett returned to reviewing books for The Journal of Negro History. For example, he applauded Arnold M. Rose for writing objectively about “sensitive” topics that “one might ordinarily think could be properly described only by Negroes themselves.”92 Similarly, Pinkett extolled Problems in American History, especially its revisionist interpretations of the Civil War and Reconstruction. He also praised Harold E. Evans for showing how interactions among Native Americans, Europeans, blacks, and the environment illuminated the history of the Western Hemisphere.93 As Woodson and others argued, blacks had imprinted the New World from its inception; their manifold contributions merited appreciation.
Even as he continued his varied scholarship, Pinkett kept up his diligent professional work. As a supervisory archivist between 1948 and 1959, he authored six National Archives Preliminary Inventories: numbers 37 (Records of the Office for Agricultural War Relations, 1952), 38 (Records of the Weather Bureau [Climatological and Hydrological Records], 1952), 51 (Records of the Office of Labor [War Food Administration], 1953), 66 (Records of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering, 1954), 94 (Records of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, 1956), and 106 (Records of the Bureau of Animal Industry, 1958). Such records' value for social and economic history seemed substantial, especially given the federal government's twentieth-century involvement with social welfare and business regulation. Pinkett also recognized the possible research uses of new types of sources such as oral histories and motion pictures.94
Complementing his preliminary inventories, Pinkett also provided much reference service, perhaps the most engaging and intellectually challenging of his professional duties. By fiscal year 1952, the entire National Archives staff devoted approximately half its time to reference. Between 1950 and 1959, in fact, the number of reference services the National Archives provided nearly doubled. Pinkett quipped, “There is a growing indication among some researchers to think of the agency as a kind of heaven to which all good records go.”95
Pinkett engaged in numerous types of such service in the 1950s: federal units' administrative organization, supervision, and business management; agricultural research and informational programs; federal programs for agricultural credit, marketing, and regulation; rights of government and citizens; federal property management, physiography, and aid for roads, conservation, and production-adjustment programs. More lighthearted requests also crossed Pinkett's desk. One person asked, “Who really owns most of Chicago?” Another patron's request read, “Send me everything you have on the history of the Navy.”96 Perhaps even more peculiar, upon receiving relevant materials, one biographer even offered Pinkett a $1 gratuity!97
Pinkett assisted scholars such as Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (the New Deal); Merle Curti (U.S. technical assistance to foreign governments); Samuel P. Hays, Donald C. Swain, and Roderick Nash (federal conservation programs); Gilbert C. Fite (farm programs); James Harvey Young (food and drug regulations); and Rexford G. Tugwell (public administration). Researchers, Pinkett recalled, “Never ceased to wonder how we could find our way around in masses of material . . . they readily recognized . . . that there was really no substitute for the existence of a knowledgeable archivist.”98 And Pinkett had surely become one by the 1950s, as his career progression indicates.
Carl Kulsrud, who had joined the archives the same year as Pinkett and had earned a doctorate in history from Harvard University, retired in 1959 as chief, Agriculture and General Services Branch. Pinkett applied for the vacant position. The only African American of twenty-five candidates, Pinkett worried that racial prejudice would derail his candidacy, for no African American had ever led an administrative unit at the archives.99 Successful in his application, Pinkett nevertheless believed his promotion arrived belatedly. In response to this news, his mother wrote, “I'm really proud of your Promotion, I wish you much success in all of your work. You have something to be proud of and thank the Lord for.” “If your father had lived until now,” she concluded, “he would be one happy soul.”100
As senior records appraisal specialist, Pinkett reported to Oliver W. Holmes, who had joined the National Archives in 1936 and who had earned a doctorate in history from Columbia University. Between 1959 and 1962, Pinkett supervised the entirety of the branch's archival and administrative operations. His duties included appraising records being considered for transfer to the National Archives and reviewing records schedules commonly used by federal government agencies. Pinkett thereby played a pivotal role in determining the survival or disposal of federal government records. Complementing his appraisal duties, he advised government officials and scholars alike on their research problems and archival methods. This work earned him a Commendable Service Award in 1964.
Meanwhile, Pinkett's scholarly productivity increased. He focused his work on forestry and agricultural history in the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing articles on the Forest Service and on the United States Department of Agriculture for The American Archivist, on early forester Treadwell Cleveland Jr. for Forest History, on the federal government's aid to American agriculture since the Department of Agriculture's founding for the American Historical Review, and on the reform efforts of the Keep Commission for the Journal of American History.101
Pinkett's scholarship soon embraced appraisal, consonant with his new responsibilities as senior records appraisal specialist under Lewis J. Darter beginning in 1962. (Like Pinkett, Darter had an MA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, though the two men did not overlap during their respective studies.) Pinkett helped government agencies develop and implement records disposition plans; he also appraised records for their research and for their continuing value. Once again building on his professional responsibilities, he wrote articles on preserving federal correspondence (The American Archivist) and on preserving policy, procedural, organizational, and reportorial documents (Agricultural History).102
In a 1967 article, Pinkett revisited recordkeeping as the foundation for African American history. Records dealing with the American population at large, with the study or protection or both of minorities, with racial issues, with African American rights, and with notable African Americans—all these Pinkett underlined as crucial documentary resources. He highlighted prosaic economic and social records, particularly those generated by numerous New Deal agencies such as the Farm Security Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the National Recovery Administration. These sources merited far greater use by historians.103
Such records remained challenging to access, much less to use, however. A lack of detailed finding aids or specialized knowledge of government functions could militate against access; researchers might also need the counsel of veteran archivists. Nonetheless, Pinkett underlined an “archival frontier” ripe for scholarly exploration.104 Indeed, the late 1960s saw an unprecedented flowering of interest in African American history from white historians. African American history was increasingly considered a vital part of American history writ large, just as Pinkett and McConnell, among others, had long insisted.
The promotional structure of the National Archives piqued Pinkett's ire by the middle of the 1960s. As the first generation (including former supervisors such as T. R. Schellenberg) retired, Pinkett felt passed over for promotion. Capitalizing on Executive Order 11246 (1965) that stipulated federal equal employment opportunity, Pinkett turned to the White House. E. Franklin Jameson of the National Democratic Committee took Pinkett's concerns to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. Though conceding the impossibility of proving racism in Pinkett's case, Jameson pointed out that other employees had been promoted faster even though they lacked PhDs. “Had [Pinkett] been other than Negro,” Jameson asserted, “he would have been promoted faster.”105
Despite his misgivings, Pinkett admitted that he was “probably a victim of fairly well condoned bureaucratic methods,” as opposed to a victim of outright racism.106 The promotional structure of NARA affected both whites and blacks of similar experience and training. Hence Pinkett folded, telling Jameson:
My work of 24 years at the National Archives has not been unpleasant and has been accompanied by career progress perhaps a little above average. . . . At the same time my work experience and professional activities (writings and research contacts especially) have been considerably above average. The latter fact and the evidence of interest of the present administration in equal employment opportunities are the principal factors contributing to my current concern about career progress.107
But still more career frustration awaited Pinkett when his boss, Lewis Darter, retired. One of only two candidates with a doctorate, Pinkett had published more than any of the others. He reminded Darter and Archivist of the United States James B. Rhoads of his “exceptional qualifications.”108 Though Rhoads agreed that Pinkett's record was “truly impressive,” Pinkett did not receive the position.109 Having joined the National Archives even before Pinkett, Meyer Fishbein, who emphasized his expertise in the area of machine-readable records, did. Pinkett, however, suggested that racism impeded his candidacy.110
Promoted nonetheless in 1968, Pinkett served as divisional deputy director under Fishbein. He undertook familiar work: implementing the overall appraisal agenda of the archives and working with academic researchers regarding appraisal decisions. Also in 1968, Pinkett assumed editorial responsibilities for The American Archivist. Though at first he saw the editorship as a consolation prize for the Fishbein decision, Pinkett ultimately found the post rewarding, particularly because it involved him in high-level SAA affairs. Of his new position he jested, “It leaves little time for retention planning, special studies, machine readable records, etc. What a pity!”111
As editor, Pinkett explicitly invited historians' contributions, as many remained unaware of key archival sources.112 He practiced what he preached, too, as a 1970 article on Forest Service records and historical research suggested.113 “I would never have been content . . . to have simply been a servant of scholars in the Archives,” he later asserted.114 Also promoting the archives-history nexus, Pinkett served as a member of the Editorial Board of the new Prologue: Journal of the National Archives between 1970 and 1972. In line with this commitment, he subsequently contributed articles on conservation and on federal records and accountability to it.115 In a final measure to encourage archivist-historian collaboration, Pinkett served as codirector of the National Archives Conference on Research in the Administration of Public Policy, in November 1970. He received a Commendable Service Award for this work; he also edited the conference proceedings along with Frank Evans.116
The National Archives and the Society of American Archivists in the 1970s
The National Archives' holdings mushroomed still more in the 1970s. Hence, the institution tried to control its holdings bibliographically and to collaborate with other repositories.117 Still another reorganization ensued, and, in 1971, Pinkett took up leadership duties of a newly created unit, the Natural Resources Records Branch. Pinkett felt some disappointment over this turn of events; he characterized his new position as a transfer, not a promotion. James B. Rhoads placated Pinkett, “Your entire career has been marked by diligence, and devotion to duty, and the pursuit and achievement of excellence in the public service.”118 Pinkett responded more measuredly: “This expression and my election to membership on the SAA Council have revived my faith in the belief that diligence, devotion to duty, and the pursuit of excellence tend to win recognition. I must say frankly that my faith in this has been shaken from time to time.”119
Though Pinkett's transfer made him the highest-ranking African American in the General Services Administration, his colleague Renee Jaussaud maintained, “I felt he was being used by the General Services Administration as their poster boy. . . . ‘Look how good we've been and what we've done. And that's it. We don't have to do anything else.’”120
In his new post, Pinkett supervised fifteen professionals. His branch provided reference and descriptive services for sixty-five record groups comprising 200,000 cubic feet of materials, one of the largest accumulations of records at the archives. It included the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, the General Services Administration, the Federal Power Commission, New Deal conservation and public works, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the government of Washington, D.C. Pinkett earned a second Commendable Service Award (1970) and a Council on Library Resources grant (1972–1973) to compare public archival institutions located in the United States, Canada, and England.
By the early 1970s, interest in African American history seemed to burgeon at the National Archives as in the academy. Pinkett observed this not only through his scholarship, but also by serving as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Negro History (1971–1979). He also presented papers at two 1973 conferences on historical research held at Howard University. In both papers, Pinkett stressed the unprecedented bulk of federal government records created in the twentieth century concerning African Americans. He characterized not only the National Archives, but also United States presidential libraries and the Library of Congress as loci for research in African American history both in issuing correctives to familiar interpretations and in delving into new topics.121 To this end, he encouraged scholars to explore sources ranging from legislative records to judicial proceedings, executive correspondence to petitions and memorials.122 Despite his efforts in these areas, Pinkett issued a caveat: “I have never professed any special expertise in black history except I have a certain natural knowledge of black history, having been born black.”123
As scholars increasingly recognized the central role of African Americans in the United States' history and culture, so too did the civil rights movement gain momentum. For his part, Pinkett fell on the “diplomatic end of the spectrum” when it came to civil rights: not of a confrontational disposition, he harbored “no fantasies about liberating the race.”124 In other words, Pinkett was not a member of the “Indignant Generation,” those African American intellectuals born in the 1930s and 1940s who eschewed mainstream white culture.125 Harold Pinkett's was a “quiet fire.”126 Pinkett shared the goals of younger civil rights advocates; he merely adopted different means. Example and exhortation rather than direct action were his methods of choice.
Pinkett thought black professionals instrumental in cultivating racial pride; he thereby played an important role in the long civil rights movement.127 Middle-class blacks such as Pinkett foregrounded legal means in attacking educational discrimination and disfranchisement.128 For instance, Pinkett thought the NAACP key in the United States' “truly genuine social revolution” in race relations.129 Interracial from its inception, national in its scope, and middle class in its orientation, the NAACP publicized racial injustice and racist stereotypes, mobilized public opinion and lobbied Congress, and took racial injustice to the courts. In particular, it fought against lynching, disfranchisement, discrimination in federal programs, segregated public transport, housing, and education.130
Pinkett also supported middle-class philanthropies such as the Urban League and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).131 Like the NAACP, these racial advancement organizations pressed to ameliorate social and economic problems by insisting upon the color-blind enforcement of constitutional rights. They were pragmatic, assimilationist, conciliatory, respectable, and moderate. Overall, equitable educational opportunities proved of particular interest to Pinkett. For many blacks, particularly those in the middle class, integrated education seemed the surest route to racial equality.132
Pinkett's freedom struggle contributions emerged not only from his writing, but also from his professional and personal example. Pinkett's mentee, archivist and historian Thomas C. Battle insisted, “People hear you better when you whisper than when you scream.”133 Pinkett's integration of the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel at the Society of American Archivists' annual meeting in 1963 was a case in point.
Raleigh, North Carolina, was a bastion of segregation; Pinkett feared the host hotel would refuse him. But the head of the SAA's Arrangements Committee, H. G. Jones of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, assured Pinkett that he would be served. Indeed, Pinkett's arrival seemed surprisingly anticlimactic. When Pinkett presented his written reservation at the hotel, the desk clerk said, “Dr. Pinkett, we were expecting you” and gave Pinkett a room—at the front of the building, no less. Several hotel employees implied that Pinkett was breaking new ground; they seemingly fawned over him. Pinkett recognized the importance of his stay, however undramatic, insofar as it occurred a year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act.134
In line with his scholarship on black archives and his personal example in the civil rights movement, Pinkett was deeply involved in the social concerns pervading the Society of American Archivists in the late 1960s and 1970s. The retirements of those of the first generation such as Robert Bahmer, Philip Hamer, Dallas Irvine, G. Philip Bauer, T. R. Schellenberg, and Wayne C. Grover indicated the end of National Archives dominance by those who had joined the institution in the 1930s.135 It seemed a time of intense reflectiveness, claimed Pinkett's onetime supervisor Herman Kahn, who served as SAA president (1969–1970). Many younger members viewed SAA as sexist, elitist, and homogeneous; they lobbied for diversity in the profession as well as in collections.136 This found expression in the Committee for the 1970s, which formed in 1970.
The Committee for the 1970s report advocated for a more representative group of officers by considering age, sex, geography, nationality, ethnicity, and race. The report also plugged SAA members' engagement with racial justice, equal employment, and equal access to research materials. Finally, the report recommended the establishment of a standing committee on minority groups.137 In short, it offered an incipient blueprint for activism.
As momentum built toward democratization, diversity, and inclusivity in the SAA in the early 1970s, Pinkett decided to run for the SAA vice presidency. “Although the prize is neither a ribbon nor a throne, I felt the urge to seek its professional and personal challenge,” he wrote.138 To H. G. Jones he confided, “Although I expect to have important support in the NARS family . . . I can be adversely affected by unpopular official actions of NARS.”139
Future archivist of the United States Robert Warner edged Pinkett out for the office, 300 to 283. Richard C. Berner consoled Pinkett: “Most members who voted for Bob Warner decided to do so in part because they balked at yet another D.C. president. In voting for you I had to overcome my own predilection out of personal fondness of you and the highest professional respect for your contributions to the field.”140 “It was merely bad timing,” he concluded.141 On the other hand, the National Archives' Wilda Logan surmised that Pinkett's race precluded his election.142
Pinkett nonetheless remained active in SAA matters, serving on the Nominating Committee (1973–974), the Urban Archives Committee (as chair) (1975–1976), the Awards Committee (as chair) (1977–1978), and the American Historical Association–Organization of American Historians–SAA Joint Committee (1977–1980). He wrote still more for Agricultural History and the Journal of Forest History and reviewed monographs for Forest History, The American Archivist, the Journal of Forest History, and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.143 Always Pinkett underscored each author's use of source materials and his or her success in writing objective historiography.
Active as ever in professional historical associations, Pinkett served on the Agricultural History Society's Executive Committee (1972–1975) and the organization's Editorial Board (1977–1979). Similarly active in the Forest History Society, Pinkett was on its Board of Directors for two decades (1971–1991) and was the association's president between 1976 and 1978. He was the first African American to occupy any of these positions. Pinkett felt great pride in earning prestige in the historical as well as the archival profession: archivists rarely presided over historical associations, and historians often saw archivists as mere servants of scholarship.144 Rounding out his professional and scholarly efforts, Pinkett taught at Howard University (1970–1976) and American University (1976–1977). During his tenure at Howard, Pinkett offered the university's first course on archival administration.
The National Archives continued to agitate for its independence from the General Services Administration in the 1970s.145 Budget cuts proved vexing, as did internal management issues and continuing problems with securing further storage space. For his part, Pinkett perceived a decline in professionalism and scholarly investment at NARA. He admitted to “some disenchantment with the bureaucratic routine of an eight hour day, with less time for promoting professionalism and more demand for pushing paper.”146 Pinkett therefore chose to retire at the end of the decade and received an Exceptional Service Award upon doing so. He felt like “a prophet not without honor, except in my own official house.”147 Furthermore, he thought it unlikely that he would advance further professionally:
Generally I have no regrets for the time that I spent in the National Archives and while I did not attain heights administratively, perhaps, that I would have desired and I think I might have attained had I not been black, I am not bitter about that fact because I think it's simply another indication of the status of blacks in American society that while they have progressed considerably, there are still frontiers for them to enter and they still simply have to work harder, perhaps, to attain the same levels that others might attain with less effort.148
More bluntly, Wilda Logan asserted that as an African American, Pinkett “probably had to walk on water twice” to achieve his professional positions.149
Despite his impending retirement, Pinkett emerged as a candidate for archivist of the United States. He earned support from SAA members at the 1979 annual meeting. By then just weeks away from retirement, Pinkett demurred. He favored scholarly activities over tackling the archives' bureaucratic problems. As a GS-14, moreover, he was not even eligible for the position.150
Though he pulled back from the National Archives after his retirement, Pinkett kept busy in the archives world. He helped Howard University establish its University Archives in 1980 and subsequently worked as an archival consultant for middle-class African American organizations such as the National Business League (1981, 1983), the United Negro College Fund (1982, 1984), the National Urban League (1982), The Links, Inc. (1986), and the NAACP (1986–1987). He also worked with Cheyney University.151 Finally, he contributed to The American Archivist and to the American Library Association World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services.152
Again a member of the Agricultural History Society's Executive Committee (1983–1986), Pinkett presided over the society in 1982–1983. He also contributed four articles to the AHS's journal, Agricultural History, in the first half of the 1980s: one on forestry in America, one on farm woodland, one on American rural society and its relationship to the federal government, and one on the Soil Conservation Service.153 Pinkett continued to write book reviews for various professional journals as well, addressing the United States lumber industry in Western Historical Quarterly, American forestry in the Journal of American History, the archives of the Hampton Institute in The American Archivist, Theodore Roosevelt's conservation efforts in the Journal of Forest History, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the Public Historian.154
Still unearthing sources for African American history, in a survey he conducted in the 1980s, Pinkett found materials in fifty-three repositories (in twenty-four states and Washington, D.C.).155 Opportunities for scholarship proliferated with the preservation of African American records on religion, fraternities, sororities, secret orders, benevolent societies, black educational institutions, black professionals, black women, and ordinary people.156 On a similar note, Pinkett lauded Debra Newman Ham's Black History, a Guide to Civilian Records in the National Archives as among the most useful finding aids ever developed by a National Archives employee.157
Though Pinkett seemed more invested in history than in archives in the 1980s, he remained a leader-cum-elder-statesman in SAA. In 1991, the National Archives' Leonard Rapport sought to nominate the septuagenarian Pinkett for SAA vice president/president-elect. Pinkett refused. “My retirement from full time archival activity for some twelve years, my low profile in SAA affairs for some fifteen years, and my lack of extensive familiarity with some major recent changes in archival technology and practice convinced me that my candidacy would lack the relevance and strength that would be needed,” he explained.158
Furthermore, he remained deeply invested in other work, for instance as a consultant for Atlanta University (1992) and the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation (1993–1994). He wrote two short monographs as well, one on the history of his church, John Wesley African Methodist Zion (1989), and one on conservationists who belonged to the Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C. (1990).159
In retirement, then, Pinkett maintained his scholarly productivity, publicized more sources for African American history, and contributed to the development of archival programs at African American institutions. He also continued to serve as an inspiration and role model for younger generations of archivists of color.
Over the course of his career, Pinkett argued strenuously for more minority representation at the National Archives, in the Society of American Archivists, and in the profession at large. The civil rights movement of the 1960s in particular stimulated the National Archives to effect special recruiting efforts; before then, the profession included fewer than a dozen professional archivists of color.160 Exacerbating this shortage, few African Americans gravitated toward the archival profession, preferring apparently more prestigious and potentially more lucrative positions, namely those in academia.161 Pinkett lamented the glacial pace of professional diversification, particularly as more opportunities became available to African Americans and other minorities.162
In the 1970s, Pinkett mentored a new generation of African American archivist-scholars, many of whom he met through Howard University: Thomas C. Battle, Clifford L. Muse, Michael R. Winston, Wilda Logan, and Debra Newman (later Ham). Pinkett struck Battle, who he met in 1973, as a “man of substance.”163 Like Pinkett, Battle pledged himself to “the difficult task of educating much of America to the ‘true’ history of America.”164 Muse joined the National Archives staff as a technician who trained in the Natural Resources Branch where he met Pinkett. Muse also studied under Pinkett at American University. He characterized Pinkett as a “consummate professional” who had a knack for storytelling as well as an excellent sense of humor. Pinkett imbued Muse with a greater appreciation of the nexus between archives and history.165 Winston, then director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, met Pinkett in the early 1970s when Howard University appointed Pinkett an adjunct professor. Winston described Pinkett as a “very courtly gentleman” who was an encouraging presence to the staff.166 In 1981, on Pinkett's recommendation, Winston hired Muse as Howard's first university archivist. Finally, Wilda Logan characterized Pinkett as a sober gentleman and a consummate professional.167
Ham met Pinkett during her work at the National Archives. She remarked upon Pinkett's formal dress and demeanor and characterized him as an “old-fashioned gentleman.”168 Like Pinkett, Ham realized that nearly all federal records contained information about African Americans. She elaborated: “I resolved to write down and publish every piece of information about African Americans I found in the National Archives so that whoever came after me would be able to find all that I had found.”169 Also like Pinkett, Ham rose to the African American documentary challenge, balancing archival work with scholarship. Pinkett blazed a trail; others followed it. Even so, the number of nonwhite archivists increased only from seventeen (1973) to twenty-eight (1979) to forty-five (1982).170
After a session at SAA's 1981 annual meeting in Berkeley, California, “Minorities and the Profession: An Agenda for Action,” the membership resolved to establish a Task Force on Minorities. Diana Lachatanere reminded Philip Mason of minorities' frustration: “Frustration because of our general position within the profession and the Society, and . . . because we have not been adequately informed of the activities of the Joint Committee.”171
Indeed, momentum for the task force's work accrued slowly. SAA president J. Frank Cook wrote to Lachatanere expressing his dilemma: “I tend to regard appointing minorities to tasks that deal only with minorities as a subtle form of racism. . . . I do recognize the danger of diluting the strength of a minority by submerging its members in the majority. Thus, I am torn between what may be best for individual members of a group and the entire group.”172 Lachatanere responded, “What minorities want is to be ‘integrated’ into the affairs of the Society as active individuals on a color blind basis.”173 Like women, minorities sought increased opportunities for participation in a more democratized SAA.174
Chaired by Thomas C. Battle, the task force (1981–1987) sought to recruit minorities into the profession and advance their professional prospects. Pinkett consulted with the committee, but refused formal appointment. In spite of the task force's formation, moreover, to Campbell Pinkett soon expressed “considerable concern” about SAA's lack of vigor in addressing professional opportunities for minorities.175 “The SAA needs to work to improve not merely the visibility of minorities in SAA affairs but also their visibility in the nation's archival work,” he insisted.176
Pinkett suggested that minorities serve on SAA committees and boards, that the executive director seek foundation funds for training minority archivists, that the SAA's representatives on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) recruit minorities to projects, and that SAA publicize the findings of the Task Force on Minorities. Last, he favored recruiting minorities to regional archival organizations as well as to SAA to buoy their professional visibility and their professional opportunities.177
The task force disbanded, but not before advocating for a new roundtable on minority concerns. SAA president Shonnie Finnegan deemed the roundtable a promising way to render the society “more attractive and responsive” to archivists of color; SAA Council gave its blessing in the winter of 1987.178
The new Minorities Roundtable soon launched a newsletter, sponsored sessions at the SAA's annual meetings, issued a directory of archivists of color, and eventually maintained a listserv. African American archivists “wanted to become active in the archival profession so that people cannot say, one, that we do not exist . . . and two, [that] we can articulate our concerns for ourselves and we are clear on our professional goals.”179 Pinkett suggested the SAA financially subsidize the roundtable and publicize its work in The American Archivist.180
As an elder statesman, Pinkett encouraged still more archivists of color. Having met Pinkett in the early 1990s, Louis E. Jones subsequently wrote of the importance of Pinkett and other older archivists of color in paving the way for younger generations.181 Karen L. Jefferson similarly reported to Pinkett, “I am meeting (and sometimes mentoring) a number of new young African American archivists. . . . Hopefully we will continue to enter the doors of opportunity you helped open for us during your many years of service.”182 The inaugural winner (1993) of the Minority Student Award, Kathryn Neal, hailed Pinkett's example. Upon her election to the SAA Nominating Committee, Neal wrote, “If not for your pioneering efforts, it might not have been possible. I hope that I can well serve . . . the legacy of African American archivists.”183 It was fitting that the Minority Student Award was renamed to honor Pinkett in 1999.184
Harold Pinkett passed away in the spring of 2001. At the Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable Business Meeting in late August of that year, attendees observed a moment of silence. As Rosalye Settles put it, “Lets [sic] each of us do what we can to build upon the legacy of Dr. Pinkett and the goals of the Roundtable.”185 At the meeting, Wilda Logan called Pinkett symbolically “the Martin Luther King, Jr. of archivists.”186
African American archivist-scholars influenced by Pinkett also weighed in on his personal and professional legacy. Pinkett was “a ground-breaker,” noted Louis Jones.187 Wilda Logan elaborated: “He opened the door for African American archival professionals and said ‘yes it can be done’ . . . people of color can be in senior management positions and make sound decisions and we can write and we can publish and we can participate in professional conferences and we can be professional in all areas.”188 Thomas Battle reflected, “I like to think that those of us who came along after would make him proud.”189
Not only did Pinkett himself break ground, but he encouraged others to follow. Louis Jones reflected, “The field is still lily-white, but . . . there's a certain level of openness. Diversity has been a big issue for upwards of a dozen years.”190 “When we started we could go to SAA functions and fit in a taxicab; now we need a bus,” Battle chuckled.191
Perhaps Maynard Brichford, SAA president in 1979–1980, said it best. He commended Pinkett, “You have set a high standard for your colleagues, and have improved each activity in which you have served the Society. Your hashmarks are exceeded by your oak leaf clusters for contributions to archival practice, administrative history and agricultural history. As an archivist, a scholar and a gentleman, you have been an example for us all.”192 Pinkett's example continues to inspire and instruct.
Sincere thanks to Thomas C. Battle, Debra Newman Ham, Douglas Helms, Renee Jaussaud, Louis E. Jones, Robert Kvasnicka, Diana Lachatanere, Wilda Logan, Clifford L. Muse, Carol Rudisell, and Michael R. Winston for so generously sharing their recollections and reflections on Dr. Pinkett.
1 Harold T. Pinkett, unpublished and undated manuscript, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
2 Karen L. Jefferson, “Dr. Harold T. Pinkett: First Black Archivist at the National Archives,” African-American and Third World Archivists Roundtable 3 (March 1989): 3.
3 The FEPC's contributions ultimately proved more symbolic than actual: the organization received modest authority, few personnel, and scanty funds. See Louis C. Kesselman, “The Fair Employment Practices Commission Movement in Perspective,” Journal of Negro History 31 (January 1946): 38. Of 8,000 complaints to the FEPC, in fact, two-thirds were dismissed. Nonetheless, historian David Kennedy deemed the FEPC's creation a “crucial pivot” in African American history. See Freedom from Fear: The American People in War and Depression, 1919–1945 (New York: Oxford University, Press, 1999), 768.
4 Solon J. Buck to Lawrence W. Cramer, April 15, 1942, Harold T. Pinkett Papers. Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
5 Michael R. Winston, telephone interview by Alex H. Poole, December 9, 2014.
6 Lois Benjamin, “The Black Bourgeoisie,” in Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, ed. Richard T. Schaefer (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, Inc., 2008), 153; Bart Landry, The New Black Middle Class (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 33.
7 Harold T. Pinkett, “Reflections on an Archival Career,” unpublished manuscript (1989), copy received by Alex H. Poole from Louis C. Jones.
8 The black press embodied “a powerful counternarrative to the dominant press, providing shelter from white interference and the burdens of racial representation and oversimplification.” See James P. Danky, “Reading, Writing, and Resisting: African American Print Culture,” in The History of the Book in America, Volume 4: Print in Motion: The Expansion of Publishing and Reading in the United States, 1880–1940, ed. Carl F. Kaestle and Janice A. Radway (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 340. Jane Rhodes argued in the same vein: “From the antebellum period through the middle of the twentieth century, African American newspapers and periodicals were a vital political tool. They provided a forum for debate and discussion over every issue facing black communities, from abolitionist strategies to women's suffrage to racial uplift.” See “The Black Press and Radical Print Culture,” in History of the Book in America, Volume 5, the Enduring Book, ed. David Paul Nord, Joan Shelley Rubin, and Michael Schudson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 287.
9 Hayward Farrar, The Afro-American, 1892–1950 (Westport: Greenwood, 1998). Foregrounding self-sufficiency and race pride, the paper encouraged blacks to support black-owned businesses and institutions and to serve as role models for younger blacks.
10 Tom Pendergast, Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture, 1900–1950 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000), 167–205. Pinkett's scrapbook (assembled ca. 1931–1940) includes clippings on Talented Tenth members such as Frederick Douglass, James Weldon Johnson, Charles Chesnutt, Paul Dunbar, Marian Anderson, Richard Wright, Joel Spingarn, Carter G. Woodson, E. Franklin Frazier, Jesse Owens, Arturo Schomburg, and Alexander Gumby.
11 Quoted in Earl Thorpe, Black Historians: A Critique (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1971), 15.
12 Sidney Kronus, The Black Middle Class (Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1971), 11.
13 Charles Banner-Haley, The Fruits of Integration: Black Middle-Class Ideology and Culture, 1960–1990 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994), 14.
14 After the Civil War, middle-class blacks were usually educated in colleges established by northern missionaries, themselves steeped in the values of white New England society. Postbellum colleges “became central to the development of a black professional class and an African American intellectual establishment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” See Jeannine Marie DeLombard, “African American Cultures of Print,” in A History of the Book in America Volume 3: The Industrial Book 1840–1880, ed. Scott E. Casper, Jeffrey D. Groves, Stephen W. Nissenbaum, and Michael Winship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 371.
15 E. Franklin Frazier, “The New Negro Middle Class,” in E. Franklin Frazier on Race Relations, ed. G. Franklin Edwards (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 256; and Frank Bowles and Frank A. DeCosta, Between Two Worlds: A Profile of Negro Higher Education (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971), 119. More broadly, see James D. Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the American South, 1880–1935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
16 He took a year off from Morgan (1933–1934) to assist his father in Marydel, Maryland, a tiny town on the Delaware border. Harold even served as Levin's chauffeur.
17 For those of Pinkett's generation, civil service employment was a conduit to the middle class. See Thomas C. Holt, Children of Fire: A History of African Americans (New York: Hill and Wang, 2010), 352–53.
18 Carter G. Woodson, “An Accounting for Twenty-Five Years,” Journal of Negro History 25 (October 1940): 422.
19 Dorothy B. Porter, “Library Sources for the Study of Negro Life and History,” Journal of Negro Education 5 (April 1936): 232–44.
20 American Council of Learned Societies, “Some Objectives of Negro Studies,” American Council of Learned Societies Bulletin 32 (September 1941): 101–11. See also Mollie E. Dunlap, “Special Collections of Negro Literature in the United States,” Journal of Negro Education 2 (October 1935): 482, 489; and Arthur B. Spingarn, “Collecting a Library of Negro Literature,” Journal of Negro Education 7 (January 1938): 12–13.
21 “Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in Washington, D.C., October 31–November 3, 1937,” Journal of Negro History 23 (January 1938): 7.
22 Quoted in Harold T. Pinkett, “History and Historiography,” 10, undated and unpublished mss. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
23 Harold T. Pinkett, “The Spirit of Research,” undated mss. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
24 John Hope Franklin, “The Place of Carter G. Woodson in American Historiography,” Negro History Bulletin (May 1, 1950): 175.
25 Harold T. Pinkett, “Preserving the Past for the Present,” Crisis 51 (February, 1944): 57.
26 Harold T. Pinkett to James C. Taylor, September 26, 1942. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
27 W. Douglas Brown, “What's the Answer?,” Atlanta Daily World, September 10, 1944, 4.
28 Harold T. Pinkett, “Retirement Remarks of Harold T. Pinkett, December 12, 1979,” Labor News Dispatch 8 (February 1980).
29 Harold T. Pinkett, untitled and undated manuscript, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
30 Carl Abbott, “Dimensions of Regional Change in Washington, D.C.,” American Historical Review 95 (December 1990): 1367–93.
31 August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, “The Rise of Segregation in the Federal Bureaucracy, 1900–1930,” Phylon 28, no. 2 (1967): 178–84.
32 The National Committee on Segregation in the Nation's Capital, Segregation in Washington (Chicago: The National Committee on Segregation in the Nation's Capital, November 1948), 54. See also Irene Osborne, “Toward Racial Integration in the District of Columbia,” Journal of Negro Education 22 (Summer 1954): 273–81. Only in the early 1950s did the city's rigid segregation wall begin to break down.
33 Harold T. Pinkett, “Saving Federal Records for Research,” in Afro-American History: Sources for Research, ed. Robert L. Clark (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1981), 11.
34 Harold T. Pinkett Diary, April 14, 1942. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
35 Harold T. Pinkett, interview by Elwood Maunder, Aptos, California, December 14, 1980. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
36 Pinkett Diary, April 16, 1942.
37 Meyer Fishbein, interview by Rodney Ross, November 20, 2013.
38 Pinkett, interview by Maunder.
39 Donald R. McCoy concluded: “It would be nice to say that the [National Archives] made aggressive moves to recruit a higher percentage of blacks in its skilled and professional ranks in the years that followed World War II, but that was not the case. Pinkett, until the 1960s, rarely had more than two fellow black professionals, and the proportion of blacks in skilled and semiprofessional jobs grew only slowly until then. The situation was never scandalous, for it was generally conceded that once on the staff the members of minority groups were treated decently. The agency, however, would never earn any awards for its recruitment among minority groups for responsible positions.” Donald R. McCoy to Harold T. Pinkett, August 27, 1976. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
40 Pinkett Diary, April 17, 1942.
41 Pinkett Diary, April 16, 1942.
42 Pinkett Diary, April 16, 1942.
43 Pinkett Diary, May 15, 1942.
44 Pinkett Diary, May 15, 1942.
45 Harold T. Pinkett, interview by Rodney Ross, Washington, D.C., June 10, 1985; Harold T. Pinkett to Alma Schellenberg, January 23, 1970. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
46 Nicholas C. Burckel, “The Society: From Birth to Maturity,” The American Archivist 61, no. 1 (1998): 16. Early SAA leaders' values took root in middle-class Progressivism: they yoked professional and bureaucratic expertise to their commitment to public service. See Peter J. Wosh, “Here's Waldo: Leland and the Creation of an American Archival Culture,” The American Archivist 74 (2011 supplement), 404: 5–9.
47 Pinkett Diary, December 1, 1943.
48 Pinkett Diary, December 1, 1943.
49 Pinkett Diary, September 20, 1942.
50 Pinkett Diary, May 30, 1944.
51 Pinkett Diary, September 19, 1944.
52 Harold T. Pinkett to Agricultural Department archives staff, March 20, 1944. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
53 T. R. Schellenberg to Harold T. Pinkett, September 16, 1944. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
54 Pinkett Diary, December 9, 1942.
55 Pinkett Diary, March 24, 1943.
56 Pinkett Diary, March 2, 1945.
57 Service 6, no. 10 (December, 1941)
58 Harold T. Pinkett to Walter R. Lovell, January 3, 1942, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
59 Harold T. Pinkett to the editors, the Nation, September 18, 1942, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
60 Harold T. Pinkett to the editors, the Nation, December 8, 1942, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
61 Pinkett Diary, May 7, 1945.
62 Harold T. Pinkett, “What It's Like over There,” New York Amsterdam News, August 4, 1945, A12.
63 Steven Lawson, Running for Freedom: Civil Rights and Black Politics in America since 1941 (West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 35; Maggi M. Morehouse, Fighting in the Jim Crow Army: Black Men and Women Remember World War II (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2000), 207.
64 Harold T. Pinkett, “Expresses Appreciation of Dunbar Editorial,” Evening Star, July 2, 1942, 12. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
65 Harold T. Pinkett to Cal Tinney, January 6, 1943. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
66 Harold T. Pinkett to the editors, Reader's Digest, March 25, 1943. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
67 Harold T. Pinkett to the editor, the Nation, November 6, 1942. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
68 Harold T. Pinkett to the editors, the Nation, January 8, 1943. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
69 Harold T. Pinkett, “Applauds Efficiency of Teaching and Equality of Opportunity,” Evening Star, April 21, 1943. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
70 Harold T. Pinkett, review of American Issues, by Willard Thorp, Merle Curti, Carlos Baker, Journal of Negro History 26 (October 1941): 524.
71 Harold T. Pinkett, review of Brothers under the Skin, by Carey McWilliams, Journal of Negro History 28 (October 1943): 492.
72 Harold T. Pinkett, review of Race Riot, by Alfred McClung Lee and Norman Daymond Humphrey; The Detroit Race Riots by Walter R. Harrison, Journal of Negro History 29 (January 1944): 83.
73 Pinkett Diary, March 27, 1946.
74 Henry F. and Katharine Pringle, “Uncle Sam's Strange Filing Case,” Saturday Evening Post, April 2, 1949, 26.
75 Pinkett Diary, May 19, 1946.
76 Paul Lewinson, “A Guide to Documents in the National Archives for Negro Studies (Washington, D.C.: American Council of Learned Societies, 1947), ix.
77 Roland C. McConnell, review of A Guide to Documents in the National Archives for Negro Studies, by Paul Lewinson for the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies, Journal of Negro History 3 (October 1947): 506–508.
78 Roland C. McConnell, review of Calendar of Negro-Related Documents in the Records of the Committee for Congested Production Areas in the National Archives, by Elaine C. Bennett for the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies, Journal of Negro History 35 (July 1950): 335.
79 Roland C. McConnell, “Isaiah Dorman and the Custer Expedition,” The Journal of Negro History 33 (July 1948): 344–52.
80 Roland C. McConnell, “Importance of Records in the National Archives on the History of the Negro,” Journal of Negro History 43 (April 1949): 152.
81 Harold T. Pinkett, “Reminiscences,” n.d. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
82 Harold T. Pinkett, “Records of Research Units of the United States Forest Service in the National Archives,” Journal of Forestry 45 (April 1947): 272–75; Harold T. Pinkett, “Records in the National Archives Relating to the Social Purposes and Results of the Operation of the Civilian Conservation Corps,” Social Service Review 22 (March 1948): 46–53.
83 Harold T. Pinkett, review of There Once Was a Slave: The Heroic Story of Frederick Douglass, by Shirley Graham, Journal of Negro History 32 (July 1947): 380.
84 Harold T. Pinkett, review of North Star Shining: A Pictorial History of the American Negro, by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift, Journal of Negro History 32 (April 1947): 239.
85 Pinkett, review of North Star Shining, 239.
86 Harold T. Pinkett, review of Color Blind, a White Woman Looks at the Negro, by Margaret Halsey; Glass House of Prejudice, by Dorothy W. Baruch, Journal of Negro History 32 (January 1947): 114.
87 Pinkett, review of Color Blind, 114.
88 Harold T. Pinkett, “A Forgotten Patriot,” The Social Studies 40, no. 8 (1949): 354–55.
89 Harold T. Pinkett, “Maryland as a Source of Food Supplies during the American Revolution,” Maryland Historical Magazine (1951): 157–172.
90 Harold T. Pinkett, “Early Agricultural Societies in the District of Columbia,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society (1951–1952): 32–45.
91 Harold T. Pinkett, “Records of the First Century of Interest of the United States Government in Plant Industries,” Agricultural History 29 (January 1955): 38–45; and “Investigations of Federal Record-keeping, 1887–1906,” The American Archivist 21, no. 2 (1958): 163–92.
92 Harold T. Pinkett, review of The Negro's Morale: Group Identification and Protest, by Arnold M. Rose, Journal of Negro History 35 (April 1950): 212.
93 Harold T. Pinkett, review of The Americans in History, by Harold E. Evans, Journal of Negro History 38 (July 1953): 353.
94 Harold T. Pinkett, “Records in the National Archives as Sources for Research in the Social Sciences,” The Social Studies 43 (April 1951): 147–51.
95 Untitled and undated comments on reference services at the National Archives. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
96 Harold T. Pinkett, “Humorous Requests,” undated manuscript. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
97 Pinkett, interview by Maunder.
98 Pinkett, interview by Maunder.
99 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
100 Catherine Pinkett to Harold and Lucille Pinkett, July 11, 1959. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
101 Harold T. Pinkett, “The Forest Service, Trail Blazer in Recordkeeping Methods,” The American Archivist 22, no. 4 (1959): 419–26; “Early Records of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” The American Archivist 25, no. 4 (1962): 407–16; “The First Federal ‘Expert in Forest History,’” Forest History 6 (Autumn 1962): 10; “The Archival Product of a Century of Federal Assistance to Agriculture,” American Historical Review 69 (April 1964): 689–706; and “The Keep Commission, 1905–1909: A Rooseveltian Effort for Administrative Reform,” Journal of American History 52 (September 1965): 297–312.
102 Harold T. Pinkett, “Selective Preservation of General Correspondence,” The American Archivist 30, no. 1 (1967): 33–43; and “Federal Agricultural Records: Preserving the Valuable Core,” Agricultural History 42 (April 1968): 139–46.
103 Harold T. Pinkett, “Recent Federal Archives as Sources for Negro History,” Negro History Bulletin 30 (December 1967): 14–17.
104 Pinkett, “Recent Federal Archives as Sources for Negro History,” 17.
105 E. Franklin Jameson to Hubert H. Humphrey, May 3, 1966. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
106 Harold T. Pinkett to E. Franklin Jameson, July 16, 1966. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
107 Pinkett to Jameson.
108 Harold T. Pinkett to James B. Rhoads and Lewis J. Darter, January 30, 1967. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
109 James B. Rhoads to Harold T. Pinkett, February 1, 1967. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
110 Pinkett, interview by Maunder.
111 Harold T. Pinkett to Lyle J. Holverstott, October 16, 1968. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
112 Harold T. Pinkett, “Bridging Gaps between Archivists and Historians,” unpublished manuscript, 1989, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
113 Harold T. Pinkett, “Forest Service Records as Research Materials,” Forest History 13 (January 1970): 18–29.
114 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
115 Harold T. Pinkett, “Records of a Historical Thrust for Conservation,” Prologue: Journal of the National Archives 8 (Summer 1976): 77–84; Harold T. Pinkett, “Federal Records: The Citizen's Concern,” Prologue: Journal of the National Archives 11 (Summer 1979): 133–38.
116 Frank B. Evans and Harold T. Pinkett, eds., Research in the Administration of Public Policy (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1975).
117 Donald McCoy, The National Archives: America's Ministry of Documents, 1934–1968 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978), 316.
118 James B. Rhoads to Harold T. Pinkett, November 12, 1971, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
119 Harold T. Pinkett to James B. Rhoads, November 20, 1971, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
120 Renee Jaussaud, interview by Alex H. Poole, March 17, 2016.
121 Harold T. Pinkett, “The Use of Archives in Historical Research,” in The Significance of Historical Research, ed. Lorraine A. Williams (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Department of History, 1973), 40.
122 Harold T. Pinkett, “Saving Federal Records for Research,” in Afro-American History: Sources for Research, ed. Robert L. Clark (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1981), 17.
123 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
124 Winston, telephone interview by Poole.
125 Lawrence P. Jackson, The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934–1960 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011).
126 Thomas C. Battle, interview by Alex H. Poole, August 1, 2014.
127 Jacqueline Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” Journal of American History 91 (March 2005): 1233–63; Darlene Clark Hine, “Black Professionals and Race Consciousness: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement, 1890–1950,” Journal of American History 89 (March 2003): 1279–94; and Martin Kilson, The Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia, 1880–2012 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012).
128 Steven Lawson, Running for Freedom: Civil Rights and Black Politics in America Since 1941 (West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 100–101.
129 Harold T. Pinkett to Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., January 16, 1969. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
130 Adam Fairclough, Foreword, in Long Is the Way and Hard: One Hundred Years of the NAACP, ed. Kevern Verney and Lee Sartain (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2009), vii–xiv.
131 Touré F. Reed, Not Alms but Opportunity: The Urban League and the Politics of Racial Uplift (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008); Marybeth Gasman, Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).
132 Harvard Sitkoff, The Black Struggle for Equality, 1954–1980 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981).
133 Battle, interview by Poole.
134 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
135 McCoy, The National Archives: America's Ministry of Documents, 360–61.
136 Herman Kahn, “Some Comments on the Archival Vocation,” The American Archivist 34, no. 1 (1971): 12; Philip P. Mason, “Archives in the Seventies: Promises and Fulfillment,” The American Archivist 44, no. 3 (1981), 199–206; Patrick M. Quinn, “Archivists and Historians: ‘The Times They Are A-Changin,’” Midwestern Archivist 2, no. 2 (1977): 8; Patrick M. Quinn, “Archivists Against the Current: For a Fair and Truly Representative Record of Our Times,” Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists 5 (January 1987): article 2; J. Frank Cook, “The Blessings of Providence on an Association of Archivists,” The American Archivist 46, no. 4 (1983): 390; Mary K. Caldera and Kathryn M. Neal, eds., Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2014), xii–xiii.
137 Philip P. Mason, “Report of the Committee for the 1970s,” The American Archivist 35, no. 2 (1972): 193–217.
138 Harold T. Pinkett to William E. Bigglestone, April 29, 1975. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
139 Harold T. Pinkett to H. G. Jones, June 18, 1975. H. G. Jones papers, copy in possession of Alex H. Poole.
140 Richard C. Berner to Harold T. Pinkett, September 24, 1975. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
141 William E. Bigglestone to Harold T. Pinkett, October 14, 1975. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
142 Wilda Logan, telephone interview with Alex H. Poole, October 28, 2014.
143 Harold T. Pinkett, “Federal Archives and Western Agriculture,” Agricultural History 49 (January 1975): 95–99; Harold T. Pinkett, “Some Neglected Trails in Forest History,” Journal of Forest History 20 (April 1976): 60–66; Harold T. Pinkett, review of The Negro in the Paper Industry, by Herbert R. Northrup; review of The Negro in the Lumber Industry, by John C. Howard, Forest History 15 (January 1972): 32; Harold T. Pinkett, review of Historical Farm Records, compiled by J. A. Edwards, The American Archivist 37, no. 2 (1974): 290–91; Harold T. Pinkett, review of Dr. Richard E. McArdle: An Interview with the Former Chief, U.S. Forest Service, 1952–1962, conducted by Elwood R. Maunder, The American Archivist 39 (April 1976): 209–10; Harold T. Pinkett, review of Crusade for Conservation: The Centennial History of the American Forestry Association, by Henry Clepper, Journal of Forest History 20 (July 1976): 157–58; and Harold T. Pinkett, review of The U.S. Forest Service: A History, by Harold K. Steen, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 8 (Winter 1978): 590–91.
144 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
145 Trudy Huskamp Peterson, “The National Archives: Substance and Shadow, 1965–1980,” in Guardian of Heritage: Essays on the History of the National Archives, ed. Timothy Walch (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985), 65; McCoy, The National Archives: America's Ministry of Documents, 372.
146 Pinkett, “Retirement Remarks.”
147 Harold T. Pinkett to Donald McCoy, October 13, 1979, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
148 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
149 Logan, telephone interview by Poole.
150 McCoy to Pinkett; Pinkett to McCoy.
151 Such efforts profitably highlighted “trends, difficulties, achievements, and possibilities in the preservation, management, and use of archival materials relating to the experience of black Americans.” Harold T. Pinkett career sketch, Louis E. Jones Personal Papers, copy in possession of Alex H. Poole.
152 Harold T. Pinkett, “American Archival Theory: State of the Art,” The American Archivist 44, no. 3 (1981): 217–22; Harold T. Pinkett, review of J. Franklin Jameson and the Birth of the National Archives, 1906–1926, by Victor Gondos Jr., The American Archivist 45, no. 2 (1982): 193–94; and Harold T. Pinkett, “Archives,” in American Library Association World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services, ed. Robert Wedgeworth (Chicago: American Library Association, 1986).
153 Harold T. Pinkett, “Forestry Comes to America,” Agricultural History 54 (January 1980): 4–10; Harold T. Pinkett, “American Farm Woodland: A Continuing Challenge to Natural Resource Management,” Agricultural History 57 (October 1983): 373–84; Harold T. Pinkett, “Government Research Concerning Problems of American Rural Society,” Agricultural History 58 (July 1984): 365–72; and Harold T. Pinkett, “The Soil Conservation Service and Farm Woodland Management, 1938–1945,” Agricultural History 59 (April 1985): 280–89.
154 Harold T. Pinkett, review of Lumberjacks and Legislators: Political Economy of the U.S. Lumber Industry, 1890–1941, by William G. Robbins, Western Historical Quarterly 15 (January 1984): 64–65; Harold T. Pinkett, review of American Forestry: A History of National, State, and Private Cooperation, by William G. Robbins, Journal of American History 72 (March 1986): 933; Harold T. Pinkett, “A Guide to the Archives of Hampton Institute,” The American Archivist 49, no. 3 (1986): 325; Harold T. Pinkett, review of Theodore Roosevelt: The Making of a Conservationist, by Paul Russell Cutright, Journal of Forest History 31 (April 1987): 91–92; and Harold T. Pinkett, review of Challenge of the Big Trees: A Resource History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, by Lary M. Dilsaver and William C. Tweed, Public Historian 14 (Summer 1992): 154–55.
155 Harold T. Pinkett, “Saving Records of the Civil Rights Movement,” unpublished and undated manuscript, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
156 Harold T. Pinkett to John Hope Franklin, August 14, 1981, John Hope Franklin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
157 Harold T. Pinkett to Debra Newman, October 22, 1984, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
158 Harold T. Pinkett to Leonard Rapport, October 3, 1991, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
159 Harold T. Pinkett, Conservationists at the Cosmos Club (Washington, D.C.: Cosmos Club, 1990); Harold T. Pinkett, National Church of Zion Methodism: A History of John Wesley A.M.E. Church, Washington, D.C. (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1989). Pinkett was elected to Cosmos Club membership in 1978.
160 Harold T. Pinkett to Thomas C. Battle, August 5, 1983. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
161 Pinkett, interview by Ross.
162 Harold T. Pinkett, unpublished and undated manuscript, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
163 Battle, interview by Poole.
164 Thomas C. Battle, “Research Centers Document the Black Experience,” History News 36 (February 1981): 11.
165 Clifford Muse, telephone interview by Alex H. Poole, September 30, 2014.
166 Winston, telephone interview by Poole.
167 Logan, telephone interview by Poole.
168 Debra Newman Ham, telephone interview by Alex H. Poole, October 30, 2014.
169 Debra Newman Ham, “A Guiding Light,” Prologue 29 (Summer, 1997).
170 David Bearman, “1982 Survey of the Archival Profession,” The American Archivist 46, no. 2 (1983): 233–41. SAA “continues to be one of the whitest professional organizations in the United States,” lamented Patrick M. Quinn. See “The Archivist as Activist,” Georgia Archive 5 (January 1977): 29.
171 Diana Lachatanere to Phil Mason, October 3, 1981. Society of American Archivists Records 1935–2014.
172 J. Frank Cook to Diana Lachatanere, October 20, 1981. Box 2, Folder 8, General Files, Office of the President of the Society, J. Frank Cook, 1982–83, Series No. 200.01.17, Society of American Archivists Records 1935–2014.
173 Diana Lachatanere to J. Frank Cook, October 28, 1981. Society of American Archivists Records 1935–2014.
174 Lachatanere to Cook. Pinkett, in fact, recommended seeking lessons from the 1974 report on the Committee on the Status of Women.
175 Harold T. Pinkett to Ann Morgan Campbell, March 16, 1982. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
176 Pinkett to Battle.
177 Harold T. Pinkett to Diana Lachatanere, June 3, 1987, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
178 David de Lorenzo to Shonnie Finnegan, July 3, 1986. Society of American Archivists Records 1935–2014.
179 Logan, telephone interview by Poole.
180 Pinkett to Lachatanere.
181 Louis E. Jones to Harold T. Pinkett, December 17, 1993, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
182 Karen Jefferson to Harold T. Pinkett, August 19, 1998. Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
183 Harold T. Pinkett to Kathryn Neal, November 24, 2000, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Manuscript Division, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
184 “Whereas, Harold T. Pinkett served with distinction during his long tenure at the National Archives and Records Service; and Whereas Harold T. Pinkett has been a scholar, archival educator, and mentor who has made important contributions to the archives profession; Therefore be it resolved that in recognition of his lifetime achievements and contributions to the archival profession, the Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable supports the renaming of the SAA Minority Student Award to the Harold T. Pinkett Minority Student Award. “Resolution Renaming Minority Student Award,” The American Archivist 62, no. 2 (1999): 62.
185 “14th Annual AAOC Business Meeting Minutes August 31, 2001, Washington, D.C.,” Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable (Fall/Winter 2001), 1.
186 “14th Annual AAOC Business Meeting Minutes,” 2.
187 Louis E. Jones, telephone interview with Alex H. Poole, October 10, 2014.
188 Wilda Logan, telephone interview with Alex H. Poole, October 28, 2014.
189 Battle, interview by Poole.
190 Jones, telephone interview by Poole.
191 Battle, interview by Poole.
192 Maynard Brichford to Harold T. Pinkett, November 27, 1979, Harold T. Pinkett Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.