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Elreta Alexander Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 0223

Scope and Contents

The Elreta Alexander Papers, 1919-1999, consist of correspondence, news clippings, photographs, personal and work-related legal papers, interview transcripts, election campaign material, resumes, biographical/ genealogical material, writings collected by Alexander and one Travan-1 backup cartridge.

The material concerns many facets of her personal life including: documentation of her divorce from her first husband, Dr. Girardeau Alexander, information about her son, Girardeau Alexander III, biographical and genealogical materials, transcripts of interviews, personal financial materials, and family photos. The bulk of the papers consist of matters relating to her career in the field of Law. There are a large number of news clippings (1940s-early 1980s) collected by Alexander concerning herself as judge. Many of these deal with cases she tried or was involved with, her relations in the community as a public figure, and some of her more controversial practices as judge (such as "Judgement Day"). There is also a sizeable collection of correspondence (bulk from 1945-1979). Alexander kept legal papers from some of her most important cases, notably the Raulston case (1977) and subsequent proceedings. There are copies of election campaign material from 1968 (District Court Judge) and 1974 (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina). Brochures, invitations, schedules, and programs from various meetings and speaking engagements are present. Finally, there are copies of a portion of her published work, When is a Man Free? (1966), along with promotional postcards for the full work published by Dorrance and Company in 1967.

Dates

  • 1919 - 1999
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1985

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information. Please see our Sensitive Materials Statement.

Biographical or Historical Information

Born Elreta Narcissus Melton on March 21, 1919, in Smithfield, North Carolina, Elreta's father, J.C. Melton later moved the family to Greensboro, North Carolina. Elreta graduated from Dudley High School at age 15, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College with a degree in Music at age 18. She married future doctor, Girardeau Alexander II, in Asheboro, North Carolina on June 7, 1938. The couple had one son, Girardeau Alexander III (born Oct. 4, 1950). Alexander was the first African-American woman to graduate from Columbia University Law School when she received her degree in 1945. She was also the first African-American woman to practice law in North Carolina (in Greensboro from 1947-1968). Alexander became the first African-American woman in the nation to be elected to the bench when she was elected District Court judge for Guilford County in 1968. She held that position until 1981, at which point, she continued to practice law privately until her retirement in 1995. Elreta and Dr. Girardeau Alexander were divorced March 12, 1968. Elreta married retired IRS official John Ralston in 1980. Elreta died March 15, 1998 at the age of 78.

Extent

2.10 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Elreta Alexander (1919-1998) worked in the field of law primarily in Greensboro, North Carolina from 1947-1995. She was the first African-American woman to: 1) graduate from Columbia University Law School when she received her degree in 1945, 2) practice law in North Carolina (in Greensboro from 1947-1968), and 3) be elected to the bench when she was elected District Court judge for Guilford County in 1968. When her term as District Court judge for Guilford County ended in 1981, she continued to practice law privately until her retirement in 1995.

The collection contains correspondence, news clippings, photographs, personal and work-related legal papers, interview transcripts, election campaign material, resumes, biographical/ genealogical material, writings of and concerning Elreta Alexander, and one Travan-1 backup cartridge dating from 1919-1999.

Arrangement Note

Collection is arranged in the following series: Correspondence, Newspaper Clippings, Financial Records, Legal Documents, Biographical Materials, Photos, Miscellaneous. Some series are further subdivided. All are arranged chronologically within series where possible.

Method of Acquisition

Gift of Mary Nicholson in October, 2004.

Related Materials

Interview with the Hon. Elreta N. Melton Alexander Ralston, Anna Barbera Perez, UNC-CH School of Law, 1994; Biography Clipping Files, North Carolina Collection- University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Offensive Language Statement

The UNC Greensboro University Libraries collects, preserves, and makes accessible unique and historical materials for learning and research. The nature of historical materials is such that some material may represent positions, norms, and values that are offensive and objectionable. These materials represent the opinions and actions of their creators. By providing access to these records in our reading room and through our digital collections, we recognize that archives and rare books can play a vital role in holding those creators accountable and in helping us learn from the past.

Our finding aids and other collection descriptions may occasionally re-use language provided by creators or former holders of the materials, but we strive to place outdated or offensive terminology in context. That said, we recognize that we may not always make the right decision and welcome feedback from all sources so we can learn and adjust our practices. Please contact us at scua@uncg.edu if you encounter problematic language in our finding aids or other collection description. We will review the language and, as appropriate, update it in a way that balances preservation of the original context with our ongoing commitment to describing materials with respectful and inclusive language.

Processing Information

Processed by Scott Hinshaw, August, 2010.
Title
Elreta Alexander Papers
Author
Scott Hinshaw
Date
2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
eng

Repository Details

Part of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Contact:
P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US
336-334-5246