Clarence Lee Harris Papers
Scope and Contents
The core of the collection are the ten scrapbooks Harris assembled, which contain materials dating from 1957 to 1990. The scrapbooks include newspaper and magazine articles, Harris' account of the sit-ins, his opinions about the effects of the sit-ins, and his comments on articles and books released about the sit-ins.
Three folders of loose clippings, mostly from 1990 to 1997, that did not make their way into a scrapbook are also included.
Harris' correspondence includes letters to the editor and other correspondence regarding: an oral history interview; the disposition of the lunch counter seats involved in the sit-ins; finding a repository for Harris' collection; and Harris' desire to publish his life story.
The manuscripts in this collection include Harris' draft recollections and opinions of the sit-ins and his notes, disagreements and reviews of work published by other authors about the sit-ins. Most of these manuscripts are found in final typed form in the scrapbooks.
Printed materials include corporate histories of Woolworth, for whom Harris was a devoted company man for most of his life, and two books published on the sit-ins and the civil rights movement with which Harris took issue.
- circa 1916-1997
- Majority of material found within 1960 - 1990
- Harris, Clarence L., 1905-1999 (Person)
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Conditions Governing Use
Biographical or Historical Information
From 1929 to 1933 Harris worked as Assistant Manager at the Durham Woolworth's. In 1933 he was transferred to the Harrisonburg, Virginia store and promoted to Store Manager. He managed the Wilmington, North Carolina store from 1937 to 1947, and the Raleigh store from 1947 to 1955, when he was transferred to the Greensboro, North Carolina store. He remained at the Greensboro store until his retirement in 1969.
On 1 February 1960, Ezell Blair, Jr. (later Jibreel Khazan), Frank McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, four young African-American students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (NC A & T), entered the downtown Greensboro Woolworth's and sat at the "whites only" lunch counter. Although a Woolworth's waitress told them "we don't serve Negroes here," the four students refused to leave their seats for the rest of the day. During the following days and months the four students were joined by other students in their sit-in demonstration, until the lunch counter was integrated in July. Sit-in protests spread to over one hundred cities across the United States during the next year, and are considered the onset of the 1960s civil rights movement.
1.60 Linear Feet (4 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Clarence Lee Harris Papers date from circa 1916 to 1997 (bulk 1960 to 1990) and contain scrapbooks, clippings, correspondence, manuscripts, menus, a photograph and printed materials. The materials relate to Harris' experiences of and opinions about the 1960 Woolworth sit-ins and his close tracking of civil rights and race-related topics in the United States for the next four decades.
Method of Acquisition
Offensive Language Statement
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- Clarence Lee Harris Papers
- Hermann Trojanowski
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- Other Unmapped
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- Language of description note
- April 20, 2021: This finding aid underwent changes in Spring 2021 after a reparative archives review. The following link leads to the legacy version of this finding aid: http://library.uncg.edu/info/depts/scua/legacyFA/04.MSS141.legacy.pdf