The Murray B. Atkins Walls papers mainly document her career as a leader in the struggle for integrated facilities, open housing and civil rights in Louisville, Kentucky from the mid-1930's through the 1970's. Less fully-documented is the life and career of her husband, Dr. John H. Walls, a black physician who practiced in Louisville for over 50 years, who was also very active in the cause of civil rights. The papers also include a small series on the Atkins family and Mrs. Walls' father Dr. Calvin R. Atkins, a prominent physician in Indianapolis during the period 1898 to 1923.
The record material consists basically of newspaper clippings, civic and personal correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, texts of speeches, newsletters, programs, awards and citations, all of which were collected and saved by Murray Walls throughout the years, The materials are arranged by subjects in a manner similar to Mrs. Walls' original arrangement.
The best documented aspect of Murray Walls' career is her long-time leadership of the Louisville Council of Girl Scouts (1940-1979) which she helped to achieve integration in 1954. Other activities of hers are sketchily outlined, such as her teaching career at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis (1927-1936) her employment as Tenant Supervisor for Louisville Municipal Housing Commission (1937-1944) her crusade to provide adaquate public housing and open housing legislation, her long fight to desegregate the Louisville Free Public Library (1941-1952) and her memberships on the Kentucky State Board of Education (1956-1963) and the Louisville-Jefferson County Human Relations Commission (1961-1970.)
The collection provides a brief, incomplete picture of the life and career of Dr. John H. Walls from 1918 to 1980. Some of his activities as an executive board member of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP (1925-1971)are outlined. His early life in Mason, Tennessee, his school years at Meharry Medical College and his summers spent working as a Pullman porter (1913-1917?) while a student are discussed in a 1973 Courier-Journal article. The collection does document the highpoints of his civic and professional career, but contains little detail.
Also included in the collection are a few letters and telegrams from notables such as W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes from the 1930's and from Whitney Young, Jr. during the 1960's. Mrs. Walls also has collected newspaper clippings and autographs of several prominent black entertainers, artists and civil rights leaders such as Paul Robeson, Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Roy Wilkins. She has also included some genealogical material on the Atkins family and some scant biographical information on her father, Dr. Calvin R. Atkins. The collection contains many photographs, mainly of the Atkins family, of Mrs. Walls Girl Scout and public housing activities and of her and Mr. Walls friends and associates.
The bulk of the Walls' papers cover the years 1927 to 1965 and are an enlightening source for the the history of the civil rights movement in Louisville during that time period. The history of blacks in medicine is also touched briefly.
**Note to researchers: The University of Louisville Archives and Records also possesses a set of oral history interviews done with Murray and John Walls in 1977 which supplement and clarify much scattered information contained in the Walls' papers.