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Ellen Black Winston Papers

Identifier: MSS 0040

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the career, writings, and activities of Ellen Black Winston from 1903-1984. It consists primarily of professional correspondence and memorandums related to the many organizations that she was affiliated with during her lifetime. The collection also includes scrapbooks, personal correspondence, photographs, invitations, program brochures, publications, articles, calendars, newspaper clippings, speeches, plaques and certificates, as well as oral history tapes and transcripts. There are also several artifacts included in the collection.


  • 1888 - 1984
  • Majority of material found within 1928 - 1984


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

Ellen Winston was born in Bryson City, North Carolina, on August 15, 1903. She received her bachelor's degree from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1924. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master's degree in 1928 and a Ph.D. in 1930. She taught social science and served as the Dean of Girls in the Raleigh City Schools. She also served as the head of the Department of Economics and Sociology at Meredith College from 1940-1944 and was a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She also worked as a social economist and technical editor for the Works Progress Administration during the 1930's.

In 1944, she was appointed Commissioner of Public Welfare for the State of North Carolina. She held this position until January 1963, when she was appointed as the first U.S. Commissioner of Welfare in the newly created Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She is credited with combining a number of fragmented public welfare programs at the time into one one cohesive unit as well as introducing progressive initiatives in federally aided programs of public assistance, medical assistance, and child health and welfare services. Her beliefs in public welfare were incorporated into important governmental legislation including the Medicaid program. She resigned from her position in 1967 and returned to Raleigh to devote her life full time in the area of social welfare.

Dr. Winston has written and co-authored numerous publications including Seven Lean Years (1939), The Plantation South (1940), and Foundations of American Population Policy (1940) as well as many other professional articles. Her husband, Dr. Sanford Winston, was head of the Department of Sociology at North Carolina State University for many years until he passed way in 1969.

She passed away on June 19, 1984 at her home in Raleigh, North Carolina.


30.81 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Ellen Black Winston was a pioneer in the field of social welfare policies in the United States. She was the Commissioner of Public Welfare for the State of North Carolina from 1944-1963. She then served as the U.S. Commissioner of Welfare in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1963-1967. Upon leaving office, she continued to work in the areas of health and welfare until her death in 1984.

The Ellen Black Winston Papers date from 1888-1984 and largely consists of professional correspondence and memorandums related to the various organizations she was involved with during her career. The collection includes a number of other materials pertaining to her career in education and social welfare policies.

Arrangement Note

The arrangement scheme for this collection was imposed during processing in the absence of a useable original order. This collection is arranged into eight series. Series 1, 2, 5, and 6 are arranged alphabetically while Series 3, 4, 7, and 9 are organized chronologically by year. Series 8 is arranged by physical size of the artifacts. Series 1: Biographical Material, 1888-1984 Series 2: Organizations, 1935-1984 Series 3: Correspondence, 1927-1984, no date Series 4: Speeches, 1931-1984, no date Series 5: Publications, 1928-1978 Series 6: General Files, 1923-1984 Series 7: Photographs, 1931-1980, no date Series 8: Artificats, 1935-1984, no date Series 9: Oversized Material, 1944-1983, no date

Method of Acquisition

The UNCG Manuscripts department began receiving materials for the Ellen Black Winston Papers as a gift from Mrs. Winston in 1973. Another large portion of the collection was accessioned in 1983 upon her death. Other material relating to her time in the Federal government was donated to the collection from the National Archives in Washington D.C. in 1975.

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 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 Sean Mulligan, May, 2010

Ellen Black Winston Papers
Sean A. Mulligan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

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

P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US