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Charles Henry Parrish papers

Identifier: 1996_097-UA

Boxes 19 is currently missing. Its contents are unknown.

Dating from 1883-1983, the material in the collection documents his career in teaching, civil rights and community work and includes documents concerning his parents, wife, and daughter.

Personal and professional correspondence, drafts and final copies of papers, photographs, financial records, reports, newspaper articles, minutes, brochures, memoranda, proposals, and notes from 1954 to 1967 represent the career of Charles Henry Parrish, Jr. Covering his activities as a scholar, educator, sociologist, consultant, speaker, and organizer of academic, human rights, and community interests, these records reflect Parrish's development as a leader in Louisville, the South, and abroad. Some organizations are strongly represented, such as the Kentucky Constitution Revision Assembly, the Community Action Commission, and the Southern Regional Council. Materials from other organizations and agencies include newsletters, pamphlets, program announcements, reports, constitutions, memoranda, minutes, and correspondence. Personal and professional correspondence constitute one of the strengths of the collection. Some teaching and class materials are represented. C.H. Parrish, Jr. collected newspapers clippings on various subjects, many about his wife and himself. From his trips to Africa, he brought back newspapers, several of which are included in the collection.

The records (1897-1945) of Charles Henry Parrish, Sr., and Mary V. Cook Parrish include insurance policies, correspondence on legal and financial matters, devotional books, receipts, statements, bank books, travel notes, and some notes.

The Frances Parrish papers, dating from 1949-1967, include professional and personal correspondence, minutes, annual reports, financial material, newspaper articles, and graduate papers. As a member of the Committee on In-Service Education for recreation personnel for the American Recreation Association, Frances Parrish corresponded with other recreation professionals regarding in-service training. One box of student papers resulted from teaching sociology at Nazareth College in Nazareth, Kentucky in 1967. To document the activities of Ursula Parrish West, daughter of Frances and C.H. Parrish, Jr., a few newspaper clippings, photographs, some correspondence, and assorted memorabilia outline her activities as an undergraduate and graduate from 1958-1967.

In processing, loose sheets of several texts were organized. Many manuscripts had to be left incomplete because of missing pages. In addition, some papers have annotations, corrections, and insertions. These drafts are separated according to their completeness. Most are undated. The collection includes one reel of microfilm.


  • 1883-1983 (bulk 1931-1978)
  • Majority of material found in 1931 - 1978


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is processed and the majority is available to researchers. One box of correspondence (box 36) is restricted until 2028.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville. One folder of personal correspondence is restricted for fifty years from the time of its donation. This restriction will expire in June 2028.


14 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

Charles Henry Parrish was UofL’s first African American educator. He taught for 20 years at UofL’s segregated Louisville Municipal College. When LMC was absorbed into A&S in 1951, he was the only LMC faculty member retained. Known for his work in civil rights and public service, he also chaired the Sociology Department and was instrumental in founding the Southern Police Institute. Born in Louisville, KY 12 January 1899 to Charles and Mary Parrish, he grew up in a household determined to change the history of Black Americans. Parrish's father Charles Sr. was born a slave and eventually became president of Simmons University in Louisville. With this emphasis on education, Parrish graduated from Central High School in 1916 and received his A.B. in 1920 from Howard University in Mathematics. Parrish returned to Louisville, where in 1921 (after receiving his M.A. in Sociology from Columbia University), he began teaching at Simmons University. In 1944, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. That same year, on 30 September, Parrish married Frances Murrel, with whom he had one daughter, Dr. Ursula Daniels. Parrish had an extensive career in education. He taught mathematics at Simmons University from 1921 until 1931, at which time he left Simmons and began teaching sociology and education at Louisville Municipal College.

In 1951, when Louisville Municipal College merged with the University of Louisville, Parrish became the first African American to join the faculty at the University of Louisville when he joined the Department of Sociology. Eight years later, he became the head of the department. Parrish retired from the University of Louisville in 1969, but he did not retire from education altogether. From 1972-1973, he acted as the Interim Chair of the Department of Sociology at Dillard University in New Orleans, LA. Parrish's life did not revolve solely around education. Instead, his life and studies revolved around the betterment of the African-American community, starting in Louisville and hopefully spreading throughout the nation. Published numerous times, Parrish became a critic of desegregation.

He belonged to various committees, including the Louisville and National Urban League, the National Council of Christians and Jews, the Kentucky Constitution Revision Assembly, and the Southern Regional Council, the Advisory Committee of the Jefferson County Juvenile, and the board of the Children's Hospital. Parrish also was chairman of the Louisville-Jefferson County Community Action Commission (1966 and 1967) and a member of the Mayor's Committee on Human Rights (1958-1961). He was awarded the Lincoln Key in 1952 for his contributions to African-American education. In 1966 he received the Ottenheimer Award for his work in race relations, poverty, and other areas of public social service. He died on 15 July 1989 and was survived by his wife, daughter, and grandchild. Due to the lack of materials on Ursula Parrish West, her biographical sketch is not included. The other sketches do not claim to be complete, but are only included as a reference for the researcher.

Charles Henry Parrish Papers
Archives Staff
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