Wilson J.C. Braun Jr., president of the University of Delaware Library Associates, welcomes the audience of more than 130 persons, including many students.

Research collection

Library, Leland Ware celebrate the Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers

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5:06 p.m., May 17, 2013--The University of Delaware Library announces the opening of a new research collection, the Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers, which are accessible in Special Collections on the second floor of the Morris Library.

The Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers were officially opened for research on Tuesday, May 14, accompanied by a presentation made by Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Chair and Professor of Law and Public Policy and interim director of the School of Public Policy and Administration. The event was part of the annual Faculty Lecture sponsored by the University of Delaware Library Associates, which was followed by a reception. 

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Ware’s talk, “The 1960s and Civil Rights: A Decade of Unprecedented Progress,” was given to an audience of more than 130 attendees including many students, at 4:30 p.m. in the Reading Room of the Morris Library. Several members of the Mitchell extended family were present at the opening.

Ware and the Hon. Charles Toliver IV, judge of the Superior Court of Delaware, helped to arrange the gift of the Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers to come to the University of Delaware Library.

The Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers consist of 47 boxes in a collection that will help University of Delaware students, faculty, citizens of Delaware and other scholars from around the world understand the history of civil rights in Delaware, and the contributions of “Lit” and Jane Mitchell to many aspects of community, career and political service in the state.

“I met Littleton when I was actually still interviewing for this position,” Ware said. "We almost immediately took to each other, and Lit told me all I needed to know about Delaware. He and his wife, who was really a pioneer, did a number of tremendous things before I got here. He came to speak to one of my classes.”

Susan Brynteson, vice provost and May Morris University Librarian, commented that in Ware’s book Choosing Equality: Essays and Narratives on the Desegregation Experience, which he co-edited with Robert L. Hayman, the foreword was written by then-Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who stated:

“Perhaps no one demonstrated more personal courage in that struggle than Littleton Mitchell. Lit Mitchell was an extraordinary crusader — he still is — and I was and remain inspired by his example.  In the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, he led the charge to secure fair housing, equal access to public accommodations, and equal educational and employment opportunities in our state.” 

To raise awareness about the Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers as a research resource, a new exhibition, "Fighting for Equality: Remembering Littleton P. Mitchell" -- curated by Evan Echols, senior assistant librarian, and Anita Wellner, library assistant, both in the Manuscripts and Archives Department -- is on display in four cases in the Information Room of the Morris Library, located on the first floor directly outside of Interlibrary Loan. 

The items on display highlight the activities of Littleton Mitchell as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, his three-decades-long leadership of the Delaware NAACP, his career as a teacher and counselor at Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City, and his involvement in several other local and national organizations.  Also displayed are items representing the career of Lit’s wife, Jane Mitchell, one of Delaware’s first African-American nurses and former director of nursing at the Delaware State Hospital. 

“Fighting for Equality” will remain on view through Monday, Sept. 30. 

Echols processed the Mitchell papers. An online finding aid provides worldwide access to information about this collection. Jaime Margalotti, senior assistant librarian in the Manuscripts and Archives Department, assisted Echols with the finding aid. 

Photos by Kevin Quinlan

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