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Lois Morris papers

Identifier: 57K

These are the papers of Lois Morris (1919-1989), former Louisville alderman and civil rights leader.

The papers of Lois Walker Morris, dating from 1920 to 1988, were donated to the University of Louisville shortly after her death by Dr Ralph Morris, her husband. The papers provide an overview of Morris' interests and activism especially in regard to African-American women. The largest series is titled "Politically Active Organizations" (3.75 linear feet) concerning groups of which Morris was a member and/or office holder. These include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Morris was co-chair of the NAACP Task Force on the Desegregation of Institutions of Higher Education, which also dealt with the protection of historically black colleges and universities such as Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. Other organizations represented in the papers are the National Council of Negro Women, the Louisville Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the Black Women's Agenda. The series also documents Morris' founding of Black Women for Political Action, which developed into a national organization. Black Women for Political Action provided a forum for blacks interested in seeking public office.

Another series of interest regarding African-American women is "Clubs Social/Civic," which includes materials on such clubs as the Links, Jack and Jill, the National Housewives League, and the Moles.

There is a small amount of personal correspondence consisting mainly of thank-you notes, invitations, and greeting cards.

The "Reference" series reflects Morris' varied interests. There is some correspondence mixed in with flyers, handouts and informational materials. Morris's political campaigns are represented with memorabilia, and there is documentation of her campaigns and service as Twelfth Ward Alderman from 1969 to 1973 and her unsuccessful mayoral campaign in 1977.

Morris saved business cards, church programs, political flyers (which are in the Reference series) and a scrapbook. Mementoes such as invitations, notes, and photographs from the Morrises' annual Derby Eve party are in the Scrapbook series.

A few note fragments are all that remain of Morris' speeches and writings. There are handwritten notes in many of the series. There is also a collection of miscellaneous note fragments.

Many of the series are incomplete.


  • 1920-1988

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville and there are no additional restrictions.


10.75 linear feet (5 records center boxes, 9 mss boxes, 4 half-mss boxes and 2 flats)

Biographical / Historical

Lois Morris was born Lois Vivian Walker on June 15, 1919, in Okolona, Mississippi. She was one of eight children of Tom Walker, a farmer, and Clara Lomax Walker, a schoolteacher.

Lois Morris attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, and obtained a master's degree in international law and political science from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She taught history at Alcorn College in Mississippi and at high schools in Maryland, Mississippi, and Virginia before moving to Kentucky in 1955.

Morris was an activist for the rights of African-Americans, women and the disadvantaged. She was a founder and president of the Louisville chapter of the National Council of Negro Women and founder and executive director of the National Black Women for Political Action. She was a board member of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Morris also served as co-chairperson of the Kentucky NAACP Task Force on Desegregation of Institutions of Higher Learning from 1979 to 1987. She was concerned with the needs of historically black colleges and universities. Morris was also a member of the Louisville Urban League and its women's committee.

Morris served on various committees and commissions including Louisville's first Human Relations Commission from 1969 to 1975, the Kentucky Insurance Regulatory Board, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, the second charter commission on the merger of Louisville and Jefferson County, an advisory committee to the Jefferson County Board of Education on its desegregation plan, and the Kentucky Bicentennial Commission.

Morris won the Democratic primary in 1969 for 12th Ward Alderman and subsequently won three general elections for the seat. She was defeated by E. Porter Hatcher in 1975. In 1977 she ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the Democratic primary.Morris wrote, without pay, a column for the Louisville Defender called "Scribbling Socially." She also helped organize the Miss Exposition beauty and talent contest and the Miss Defender best dressed list. Morris was known for her fashionable dress and was noted for wearing hats. In 1963 she was named by Ebony magazine as one of its twenty-one best-dressed women.

Morris maintained businesses at various times at property she owned at 2000 West Broadway, including Lois' Old House of Bargains, a consignment shop operated for several years.

Lois Morris and her husband, Dr. Ralph Morris, were renowned for their annual Derby Party which drew celebrities to their West End home. The party drew coverage from the Courier-Journal and New York Times.

Morris died January 27, 1989, at the age of 69. She was survived by her husband, Ralph Morris, M.D., a daughter, Roslyn Morris Palmer of Denver, Colorado, and four grandchildren.

In February 1996 the Board of Aldermen adopted a resolution to commission a bust of Lois Morris to be placed in the Shawnee branch of the Louisville Free Public Library.

Processing Information

Prepared by Lesley Anne Conniff, Project Archivist, Women's Manuscript Collections Project, University Archives and Records Center, University of Louisville, August 1996.

Lois Morris Papers
Lesley Anne Conniff
Language of description
Script of description
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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