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Mrs. Lucinda Todd papers

Creator: Todd, Lucinda Wilson, 1903-1996

Date: 1922-2007

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Manuscripts Collection 825

Unit ID: 47303

Restrictions: There are no restrictions on these records.

Biographical sketch: Teacher, NAACP member, plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education; of Topeka, Kan.

Abstract: The Lucinda Todd papers document her activities during the civil rights movement, including her involvement with Brown v. Board of Education and information about Martin Luther King, Jr. The papers include clippings from the Kansas City Star, Topeka Daily Capital, and other papers concerning Brown v. Board and segregation, academic records such as diplomas and transcripts, correspondence to Milton Tailor concerning his portrayal of Harrison Caldwell and herself, correspondence with Walter Francis White regarding segregation and the activities of the NAACP, correspondence with individuals concerning racism and segregation in Topeka public schools, records of Todd's involvement with the NAACP, and clippings and correspondence documenting early desegregation efforts. Records dated post 1960s are reflective in nature, including family histories, articles discussing the impact of Brown v. Board, and recognitions from the NAACP and other groups. The photographs of Todd include her first day of class at Edison School, Joplin, Missouri, 1922, as well as other photographs of classes she taught.

Space Required/Quantity: 2.00 cubic feet

Title (Main title): Mrs. Lucinda Todd papers

Titles (Other):

  • Lucinda Todd papers
  • Papers

Biography

Biog. Sketch (Full):

Lucinda Wilson was born in a small coal mining camp called Litchfield, Kansas, in 1903. Her parents had been part of the post Civil War exodus from the South into Kansas. Mr. Slaughter, Lucinda’s grandfather, moved the entire family from southern Alabama. Already married, her parents joined the move. Lucinda’s mother, Estella Wilson, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and her father, Charles R. Wilson, was born in Georgia.

Since the Wilson family lived and worked the coal mines in a small, second - class city, by population, Kansas law permitted the community’s public schools to be integrated. As a result, the twelve Wilson children were educated in a one-room elementary school attended by both African American and White children. Kansas law of that era only permitted segregated elementary schools in first - class cities of 15,000 or more residents.

When Lucinda reached the fifth grade, the family moved to Girard, Kansas, because in Litchfield there was no junior high or high school. After her high school graduation in 1922, she attended the Kansas State Manual Training Normal School (later Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg, present Pittsburg State University) in nearby Pittsburg, Kansas, for several years. Prior to graduation, she took a teaching position in Joplin, Missouri, but continued her college education. In the late 1920s, Lucinda moved to Topeka. She taught at Buchanan Elementary School; one of her students was Attorney Charles Scott. She eventually earned her bachelor of arts degree from Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg in 1935, the same year she married Alvin Todd. However, she had to resign her teaching position, as married women could not teach during those days.

Alvin Todd was born October 10, 1906, in Oskaloosa, Kansas. His parents were from Missouri but passed away at a very early age; his mother died when he was nine years old. In 1916, he went to live with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas where he attended New York Elementary School. They later moved to Oskaloosa where he continued his education, graduating from Oskaloosa High school in 1928. After graduation, Alvin moved to Topeka where he attended Washburn University for two years. He was always a good provider, supporting his family in the background while his wife participated as one of the key member of Topeka’s NAACP chapter during the years of the Brown V. Board case. He finally retired from his position as a personal assistant to Dr. Karl Menninger in 1975.

Mrs. Todd had been a member of the NAACP since 1935, but admitted she did not become concerned about segregation issues until the birth of her only child, Nancy. In 1948, Lucinda became secretary of the Topeka chapter of the NAACP. That same year, Lucinda also became secretary of an adhoc group called Citizens for Civil Rights, headquartered in her home. Their primary efforts surrounded a lengthy document called a “Writ of Mandamus” prepared by Mr. Daniel Sawyer that outlined a proposal to the Topeka Board of Education to end segregated elementary schools. As part of this effort, Mrs. Todd and Mrs. Fayetta Sawyer, walked through Topeka’s black neighborhoods collecting over 1,400 signatures in a petition to the Board of Education requesting an end to segregated elementary schools. The board rejected their demands outright.

In 1949, Mr. Walter White, Executive Secretary of the National NAACP office, was making a 10 city speaking tour through several midwestern cities. During his visit to Topeka, He was a guest of the Todd family. Mrs. Todd had the opportunity to discuss the segregated elementary school situation in Topeka and the efforts then underway.

As efforts by the local NAACP to desegregate Topeka’s elementary schools had in Mrs. Todd’s words, became unbearable, On August 29, 1950, Mrs. Todd wrote Walter White. In her letter, she reminded him that he had been a house guest the previous year and asked if his legal defense team could be of some assistance as the local chapter had already decided to seek redress through the courts. Letters from Topeka Chapter officers, McKinley Burnett and Attorney Charles Bledsoe quickly followed. Their efforts brought both the national Executive and Legal Defense fund (LDF) teams to Topeka to work closely with the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP in developing legal strategies for a case soon to be called Oliver Brown et al., v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Lucinda Todd’s home became the site of the strategy meetings that set the wheels in motion for the Brown case. As part of their strategy, the legal team asked citizens to volunteer as plaintiffs for the upcoming court case. Lucinda Todd was the first of twelve other Topekans to volunteer on behalf of her daughter Nancy. Mrs. Todd was the only plaintiff who was a member of the NAACP, and the only educator. The second to volunteer was her friend Mrs. Lena Carper on behalf of her daughter Cathy.

After the U.S. Supreme Court Decision of 1954 ending legal segregation in public schools, Mrs. Todd returned to teaching. Her first teaching job was at Pierce Addition Elementary School; the last segregated elementary school in Topeka. She retired in 1965. Mrs. Todd passed away in 1996.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

Lucinda Todd had been a member of the NAACP since 1935, but admitted she did not become concerned about segregation issues until the birth of her only child, Nancy. In 1948, Lucinda became secretary of the Topeka chapter of the NAACP. That same year, Lucinda also became secretary of an adhoc group called Citizens for Civil Rights, headquartered in her home. Their primary efforts surrounded a lengthy document called a “Writ of Mandamus” prepared by Mr. Daniel Sawyer that outlined a proposal to the Topeka Board of Education to end segregated elementary schools. As part of this effort, Mrs. Todd and Mrs. Fayetta Sawyer walked through Topeka’s black neighborhoods collecting over 1,400 signatures in a petition to the Board of Education requesting an end to segregated elementary schools. The board rejected their demands outright.

In 1949, Mr. Walter White, Executive Secretary of the National NAACP office, was making a 10 city speaking tour through several midwestern cities. During his visit to Topeka, He was a guest of the Todd family. Mrs. Todd had the opportunity to discuss the segregated elementary school situation in Topeka and the efforts then underway.

As efforts by the local NAACP to desegregate Topeka’s elementary schools had in Mrs. Todd’s words, became unbearable, On August 29, 1950, Mrs. Todd wrote Walter White. In her letter, she reminded him that he had been a house guest the previous year and asked if his legal defense team could be of some assistance as the local chapter had already decided to seek redress through the courts. Letters from Topeka Chapter officers, McKinley Burnet and Attorney Charles Bledsoe quickly followed. Their efforts brought both the national Executive and Legal Defense fund (LDF) teams to Topeka to work closely with the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP in developing legal strategies for a case soon to be called Reverend Oliver Brown et al, V the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Lucinda Todd’s home became the site of the strategy meetings that set the wheels in motion for the Brown case. As part of their strategy, the legal team asked citizens to volunteer as plaintiffs for the upcoming court case. Lucinda Todd was the first of twelve other Topekans to volunteer on behalf of her daughter Nancy. Mrs. Todd was the only plaintiff who was a member of the NAACP, and the only educator. The second to volunteer was her friend Mrs. Lena Carper on behalf of her daughter Cathy.

After the U.S. Supreme Court Decision of 1954 ending legal segregation in public schools, Mrs. Todd returned to teaching. Her first teaching job was at Pierce Addition Elementary School, the last segregated elementary school in Topeka.

The collection includes various newspaper clippings in regards to Brown v. Board, when the case was ongoing and later reflecting back on the events. Also included are scrapbooks, correspondence, and photographs of those involved in the case—lawyers, NCAA members, plaintiffs, etc. Personal mementos of Mrs. Todd comprise family photos, her diplomas, obituary, and correspondence from observers of the case, including “hate mail.”

Those who research this collection will find accurate information on how Brown v. Board came about and get an insider look as to what happened on the “Brown side.” The major strength of the collection is its documentation of Brown v. Board. Another strength is the description document found in the “Finding Aids” folder at the beginning of the collection that describes the newspaper clippings in each folder, giving a brief summary of each article and when and where they were published. One major weakness of the collection is that some of the newspaper clippings listed in the description Finding Aid are not found in the collection.

Specific Contents Identified:

Headings or descriptors assigned to subsections of the material, for example labels on a particular box or group of boxes.

  • Oversize materials

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials: Associated materials in the Photographs collection.

Index Terms

Subjects

    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
    Todd, Lucinda Wilson, 1903-1996
    White, Walter Francis, 1893-1955
    African American women civil rights workers -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    Civil rights -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Civil rights movements -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Elementary school teachers -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Segregation -- Kansas -- Topeka
    Segregation -- United States
    Segregation in education -- Kansas -- Topeka

Creators and Contributors


Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: There are no restrictions on these records.

Action note: Finding aid by Sara Shupe, volunteer, 2012.