Henry Carter Patterson papers

Collection MSS004

1929-1972, undated
(0.6 Linear feet ; 2 boxes)

Summary Information

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Patterson, Henry Carter
Henry Carter Patterson papers
1929-1972, undated
0.6 Linear feet ; 2 boxes
EAD encoding of this collection’s finding aid was supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and by the Young Friends of HSP.
Henry C. Patterson was a Quaker civil rights advocate and the first Philadelphia Director of the United Negro College Fund. The collection consists of correspondence related to such matters as Patterson's solicitation of funds for African American colleges, particularly Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania; integration of the armed forces; Republican Party politics and the Hiss-Chambers case. It also includes correspondence relating to Patterson's service as an official of the War Relocation Authority and support for compensation for relocated Japanese Americans through the 1970s. Prominent correspondents include Whittaker Chambers, John F. Kennedy, Frank Knox, H.L. Mencken, Richard Nixon, Harry S. Truman, Wendell Willkie, Walter Annenberg, Frank Boas, Walter White, William Allen White, Oswald Garrison Villard, Jackie Robinson, Clifford Pinchot, George Eastman, and Francis Biddle.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Henry Carter Patterson papers (MSS004), Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Background note

Henry C. Patterson, humanitarian and civil rights advocate, was the first Philadelphia director of the United Negro College Fund. His personal and professional life was dedicated to improving the life of minority groups in America. As an officer of the War Relocation Authority, he concerned himself with the Japanese internment during the Second World War. He was a member of the Republican Party and used his influence with elected officials to lobby for the benefit of African Americans. He was also an active member of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Philadelphia Chapter, and Swarthmore Friends Meeting.

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Scope and content note

This collection contains some Xerox copies as well as the original correspondence of Henry C. Patterson, most of which is typescript. Topics include African American education in America (solicitations for funds for Lincoln University in Pennsylvania), Patterson's urgings for integration of the United States Navy, and his support for John F. Kennedy's civil rights stand. Also featured is personal correspondence with Whittaker Chambers in which Patterson applauds Chambers's courage in the Alger Hiss Case. The Patterson Collection also houses correspondence with and about Vice-President Richard M. Nixon (1953-1960) regarding political matters, the future of the Republican Party, and the career of Harold Stassen. There is also correspondence between Patterson and Wendell Wilkie in which Patterson advises Wilkie on how to win the African American vote. Patterson's papers also include those generated during his years of service with the War Relocation Authority (1943-1948) in which he expresses his support for the compensation of Japanese Americans.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Historical Society of Pennsylvania

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107


Gift of Mrs. Henry Patterson, 1974.

Accession numbers M74-18 and M74-80.

One folder of papers with unknown provenace, accession number M76-02, was added to the collection in 1990.

Processing note

Finding aid reformatted by Lindsey Schwartz, 2020.

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Related Materials

Separated materials

Photographs from this collection have been separated to PG054.

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Lincoln University (Pa.).

Personal Name(s)

  • Patterson, Mary (Mrs. Henry C.)


  • African Americans--Civil rights--History.
  • Chambers, Whittaker.
  • Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )--History--20th century--Sources.
  • United States. War Relocation Authority.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Correspondence - Education 

Scope and Contents note

Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, mainly relating to African-American education in America. Consists mainly of solicitations for funds for Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania. Patterson discussed African-American rights with various publishers throughout the nation. There is an exchange of letters with H.L. Mencken in 1931 concerning possible anti-Semetic overtones in his writings. His correspondence with Colonel Frank Knox, publisher of the Chicago Daily News and later Secretary of the Navy, advocated aid and naval support to England, and the need to integrade the U.S. Navy. Telegrams of support to John F. Kennedy for his civil rights stand, and a letter of acknowledgement from the President are included in these folders. Expressions of support to Thomas S. Gates, Under Secretary and Secretary of the Navy, 1953-1958, are also included. Journalists such as Oswald Garrison Villard and William Allen White express their support for Lincoln University.

1 1-8

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Correspondence - Whittaker Chambers (1950-1954) 

General note

Personal correspondence with Whitaker Chamber from 1950-1954, arranged chronologically. Patterson first corresponded with Chambers to applaud his courage in the Alger Hiss Case. Their friendship flourished out of their shared Quaker heritage. Letters of sympathy, support, and friendship ensued.

1 9

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Correspondence - President's Committee on Government Contracts (1953-1954) 

General note

Correspondence concerning the President's Committee on Government Contracts from 1953 to 1954. Patterson's interest in this committee, chaired by Vice President Richard M. Nixon, was twofold- to help African-Americans, and to strenthen the Republican Party and Eisenhower Administration in this area of weakness. The primary concern was the racial discrimination in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

1 10

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Correspondence - Richard M. Nixon (1953-1960) 

General note

Correspondence with and about Vice President Richard M. Nixon, from 1953 to 1960, regarding political matters, the future of the Republican Party, and the career of Harold Stassen. Includes correspondence with publishers urging their support for Nixon.

1 11

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Correspondence - Wendell Wilkie (1940-1942) 

Scope and Contents note

Typescript copies of letters to Wendell L. Wilkie expressing support and offering advice on how to win the votes of African-Americans. Correspondence also deals with the role of African-Americans in the armed forces.

2 12

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Correspondence - War Relocation Authority (undated) 

Scope and Contents note

Correspondence pertaining to Patterson's service on the War Relocation Authority from 1943 to 1948, and his support for compensation of Japanese-Americans. Correspondence continues through the 1970s.

2 13

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Correspondence - Objections to proposed "Blue Route" (1957-1962) 

2 14

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Miscellaneous correspondence - Patterson's philosophy (undated) 

2 15

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Printed materials: Council Against Communist Aggression, National Caucus on the Black Aged, Nixon address (28 July 1960), John F. Kennedy speech (12 April 1959), Memorial Service for Raymond Pitcairn, Paper on Africa by W.T. Colborn (1959-1960, undated) 

2 16

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