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Frank L. Stanley, Sr. papers

Identifier: ULRAR010-UA
The personal papers of Frank L. Stanley, Sr. and the records of the Louisville Defender (1933-), the newspaper for which he served as general manager, editor, and president for thirty-eight years, are intertwined. The collection contains 41.75 linear feet of material, with portions preserved on microfilm. The papers were donated to the University of Louisville in 1983 by Stanley's widow, Vivian Clark Stanley, and his son, Kenneth Stanley. The Defender is no longer owned by the Stanley family.

The Louisville Defender was founded in 1933 by Alvin Bowman, with the encouragement and financial backing of John Sengstacke and the Chicago Defender. Public service projects quickly made the paper an important part of Louisville's black community. From 1936 to 1974 Frank L. Stanley, Sr., through the paper and through his many activities, came to personify the Defender in the local and national communities. College-trained as an English teacher, he was a founder and five-time president of the National Newspaper Publishers' Association; twice national president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity; vice-chairman of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; commissioned in 1946 and 1948 by the United States Secretaries of War and Defense to inspect troop conditions in occupied Europe; a leader in advocating open access to public accommodations in the 1960s; and in 1962 was invited by the United States Department of State to conduct journalism seminars in Africa.

To preserve the Stanley/Defender material, a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant was awarded in 1984 to the University of Louisville. Additional support was received from the University of Louisville Library and the Bingham Foundation. The papers have been arranged, described, and selectively microfilmed.

The material is arranged in seven series: photographs; minute books and organizational records; scrapbooks; correspondence; speeches; memorabilia; and nine 1933 issues of the Defender. The microfilm includes approximately 3,700 photographs from the Defender archives, scrapbooks, legal records and minute books, and the 1933 newspaper issues. Each reel begins with introductory material, series notes, and container listings for the portion microfilmed. Prints of photographs found on the microfilm are available in a separate collection, also held by Archives and Special Collections.

The Louisville Defender newspaper itself is available on microfilm from a commercial vendor beginning with the year 1952. For years prior to 1952, only scattered issues have been located.


  • 1933-1985


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for some material has been transferred to the University of Louisville. Please note that copyright for most images -- including those in the related Louisville Defender Photographs collection -- has not been transferred to the University of Louisville. While the images are available onsite for research purposes, the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections cannot grant permission for others to reproduce them. Permission must be sought from the rightsholder.


41.75 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

Frank L. Stanley Sr. was editor, general manager, and publisher of the African American newspaper Louisville Defender for thirty-eight years. He was also involved with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, and twice inspected troop conditions overseas for the U.S. government. This group consists of Stanley's personal papers from the period while he was editor of the Louisville Defender, as well as office records of the Louisville Defender newspaper. The papers also include Stanley's correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, and memorabilia.

  • 1906 Born, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1912 Moved to Louisville, Kentucky
  • 1925 Graduated Central High School, Louisville, Kentucky
  • 1929 Graduated Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia, where he received All-American honors in football, was captain of the basketball team, a varsity debator, editor of the student newspaper, and president of the student council
  • 1929-1931 English teacher, Jackson State College, Jackson, Mississippi
  • 1930 Graduate work, University of Cincinnati
  • 1931-1933 Taught English, Central High School, Louisville, Kentucky
  • 1936 Appointed general manager, Louisville Defender
  • 1938 Appointed to Board of Directors, Louisville Defender
  • 1940 Elected secretary, Louisville Defender corporation
  • 1943 Became secretary/treasurer, Louisville Defender Board of Directors
  • 1945 Helped found the Negro Newspaper Publishers' Association (later renamed National Newspaper Publishers' Association) and served as first president
  • 1946 Named by United States Secretary of War as Chairman, U.S. inspection tour of American troop conditions in occupied Europe
  • 1948 Second inspection tour of American troops in occupied Europe; reports led to desegregation of U.S. Army
  • 1949 Named Chairman, Louisville Defender corporation
  • 1950 Wrote Senate Resolution Bill #53, Kentucky General Assembly, which led to integration of higher education in Kentucky
  • 1951 Awarded Lincoln Key for outstanding achievement by Kentucky Negro Educational Association
  • 1955 Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina
  • 1955-1957 National president, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
  • 1956 Citation of Merit, Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri, for outstanding performances in journalism
  • 1959 Attended Columbia University American Press Institute
  • 1959 Received the Dr. T.T. Wendell award for distinguished service in civil liberties from the Benevolent Order of the State of Kentucky
  • 1960 Commissioned by Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs to study Human Rights commissions in six other states and propose organizational structure for Kentucky's commission
  • 1962 Consultant to Kentucky Commissioner of Personnel
  • 1962 Commissioned by the U.S. Department of State as member of four-man team to conduct journalism seminars in Africa
  • 1969, 1972 Selected as juror, Pulitzer Prize Award
  • 1974 Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Kentucky
  • 1974 Died, Louisville, Kentucky

Related Materials

See also the Louisville Defender photographs (Photographic Archives, Archives & Special Collections), which are also available on microfilm.


The Louisville Defender (founded in 1933) and its editor Frank L. Stanley, Sr. (1906-1974), reflected the aspirations of the black press, its leadership, and their relationship to a variety of issues essential to understanding American life in the twentieth century. Through correspondence, speeches, and photographs, this material depicts the newspaper's constituency, their lives, and, on a larger scene, national figures who have been interviewed and photographed as they visited Louisville, Kentucky.

Stanley's papers and the Defender records were presented to the University of Louisville in 1983 by Stanley's widow, Vivian Clark Stanley, and by his son, Kenneth Stanley, at the suggestion of Priscilla Hancock Cooper, a former Defender reporter then on the staff of the University of Louisville. We are indebted to Ms. Cooper and the Stanley family for their interest in preserving these materials, which reflect an institution, its times, and its leadership. Mrs. Stanley has been kind enough to share memories of her husband in an oral history interview.

We thank the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for providing the major funding for this project and Dr. Nancy Sahli of the Commission for her help in carrying out the provisions of the grant. She was always ready to provide explanations of the Commission's guidelines and answers to various questions. We are indebted as well to Ms. Martha Alexander Bowman, University of Louisville Librarian, and to Mr. John Richards of the Bingham Foundation for additional financial support.

Dr. Dwayne Cox, Associate Archivist, saw the importance of preserving and organizing these papers and worked to obtain the funding for their preservation. He also provided leadership to make this project an ongoing reality. Mr. David Horvath, Curator, Photographic Archives, worked closely with the project staff as they arranged and described the large series of photographs present in the collection. His knowledge of historical photographs was invaluable.

Co-workers on this project, Ms. Mary Walter, Archival Assistant, and Mr. Larry D. Raymond, Chief, Microform Services, have also made major contributions toward completion of the work. Mary approached the task of processing the many photographs with an artist's eye and her usual cheerfulness. Larry spent hours in planning to produce the best possible quality of microfilm. He ran numerous tests to ensure a splendid finished product. The result is a tribute to his attention to these matters.

Colleagues in the University Archives, Dr. William J. Morison, Director, and Ms. Deborah Skaggs, Associate Archivist, have graciously read copy, made helpful suggestions, and provided encouragement.

Janet B. Hodgson, Project Archivist, June 3, 1985

Processing Information

Material originally contained in scrapbooks has been removed for preservation purposes. Original order has not been maintained in all cases. Researchers are urged to refer to the microfilm, which was made before the scrapbooks were disassembled, to see the material in its original context.
Frank L. Stanley, Sr. Papers
Under Revision
Dwayne Cox, David Horvath, Mary Walter, Larry Raymond, William J. Morison, and Deborah Skaggs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752
502 852-6673 (Fax)