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Charles Henry Parrish papers

Identifier: 1996_097-UA
The Charles Henry Parrish, Jr. papers, document the lives of his parents, wife and daughter, as well as his career in teaching, civil rights and community work. As a Louisville family whose work revolved around the local community, the Charles Henry Parrish, Jr., Papers reflect the growth of their work in human rights and community concerns in this region.

The Charles Henry Parrish, Sr., and Mary V. Cook Parrish records, 1897-1945, include insurance policies, correspondence on legal and financial matters, devotional books, receipts, statements, bank books, and some notes. Of special interest is a typed text regarding the 1904 trip to Jerusalem and a resolution adopted by board of trustees of Lincoln Institute upon the resignation of Charles Henry Parrish, Sr., from the board. As a collection, these records fail to document much of either Charles Henry Parrish, Sr., or Mary Parrish's involvement in church work, education, writing, or civil rights. However, these records provide an insight in their personal lives for a period of about fifty years.

The three boxes of the Frances Parrish papers contain material on her work in civil service and recreation. Dating from 1949-1967, the papers include professional and personal correspondence, minutes, annual reports, financial material, newspaper articles, and graduate papers. Letters of recommendation written for Frances Parrish, note cards for a speech and In-Service Training Program materials are also contained in the collection. 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. This correspondence and various reports show the extent of her involvement in recreation nationally. One box of student papers resulted from teaching sociology at Nazareth College in Nazareth, Kentucky in 1967.

As shown by the biographical sketch, from 1962 to 1964, Frances Parrish appears to work in several places at one time. Her papers fail to explain this problem. Noticeably lacking is personal material, such as extensive correspondence for the years 1949-1967.

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.

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.

The papers contain the records of several local and southern agencies. 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.

Over twenty years of personal and professional correspondence constitute one of the strengths of the collection. This correspondence, for example, illustrates his avid interest in bridge, the extent of his professional contacts, and the intensity of his committments to academics and civil rights.

Teaching and class materials are the weakest section of the papers. The papers lack a complete series of tests, lecture notes, and course outlines. Furthermore, the papers do not indicate the extent of his responsibilities as a professor of sociology.

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.

Drafts and final copies of papers and articles provide additional interest. 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.


  • 1931-1983


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.


13 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

Charles Henry Parrish was 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 if 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 numeroustimes, Parrish became a critic of desegregation. In his necessity to alter community relations, 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. 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). But he was also concerned with race and children, exemplified by his membership to the Advisory Committee of the Jefferson County Juvenile Court and his position on the board of the Children's Hospital.

Parrish received commendation for his roles as educator, social scientist, and mentor within the African-American community. 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.

On 15 July 1989 Dr. Charles Henry Parrish died after years of service to Louisville and the African-American community. He 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.


The papers of Dr. Charles Henry Parrish date from 1931-1983. The material in the collection reflects Parrish's years of study towards a positive solution for existing racial problems. It shows his deep dedication to not only reform the general educational standards of Kentucky, but also the level of education for African-American students.

This collection is divided into two series. The biographical content is limited to correspondence and materials from his career. In general, it contains no material on Parrish's early years. The second series represents the majority of the collection. It deals primarily with African-American studies as reflected through education, the issue of segregation, and culture.
Charles Henry Parrish Papers
Archives Staff
Language of description
Script of description
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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)