Finding Aid of the Thomas Kilgore, Jr. papers 0381

Finding aid prepared by Rebecca Hirsch and Sarah Guidas
The processing of this collection and the creation of this finding aid was funded by the generous support of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission.
USC Libraries Special Collections
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189
2011 January

Title: Thomas Kilgore, Jr. papers
Collection number: 0381
Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 12.0 linear ft. 10 banker's boxes
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1962-1998
Date (inclusive): 1900-2000
Abstract: The collection consists of manuscripts, drafts of sermons, church and personal correspondence and photographs of Dr. Thomas Kilgore, pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles from 1963-1985 and a noted civil rights and civic leader.
creator: Kilgore, Thomas, 1913-1998

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


Gift of Jini Kilgore Cockroft, 2010.

Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Preferred Citation

[Box/folder# or item name], Thomas Kilgore papers, Collection no. 0381, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California


The Thomas Kilgore, Jr. Papers are organized into eight series: Series 1: Pastoral Duties; Series 2: Correspondence; Series 3: Celebrations; Series 4: Addresses, Workshops, Publications, and Lectures; Series 5: Baptist Organizations; Series 6: Civil Rights Movement; Series 7: Ephemera, Photographs & Clippings; Series 8: Plaques, Awards & Citations.

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers of Dr. Thomas Kilgore, Jr. These papers include his correspondence, manuscript and typescript drafts of his sermons, awards and citations he received, drafts of his speeches and lectures, outlines of workshops in which Kilgore participated, photographs, printed ephemera and two scrapbooks. Also included in this collection is a small amount of material documenting Kilgore's involvement with the civil rights movement, including the program from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral and two planning documents for the 1963 march on Washington, D.C.

Biographical Note

Dr. Thomas Kilgore, Jr. was born February 20, 1913 in Woodruff, South Carolina to Thomas and Eugenia Kilgore. He graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1935, did some graduate work at Howard University's School of Religion in 1944 and 1945, and received a Master's of Divinity degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1957. He held pastorates in North Carolina from 1936 to 1947 and at the Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem from 1947 to 1963, where he rose to prominence in the civil rights movement.
Kilgore began his efforts for equality in the 1940's registering voters and organizing tobacco workers in North and South Carolina. In Harlem, he worked to end segregation in the schools and in housing. In the 1950's and 1960's, he worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and played a significant role in his Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the South and on both coasts. He was a primary organizer of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom to Washington in 1957 and of the civil rights March on Washington of 1963.
In 1963, Kilgore moved to Los Angeles to become the pastor at the Second Baptist Church. He was the first African-American president of the American Baptist Convention (1969-1970) and also served two terms as the president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (1976-1978). Locally, Kilgore served as a special advisor on community affairs to the University of Southern California president, spent many years on Los Angeles's Community Redevelopment Agency, and worked toward ecumenism and, particularly after the 1992 riots, for dialogue across racial lines.
Kilgore retired in 1985 and passed away in 1998. He married his wife, Jeannetta, in 1936, and they had two daughters, Lynn Elda and Jini Medina.

Separated Materials

Thomas Kilgore, Jr.'s memoir, A Servant's Journey: The Life and Work of Thomas Kilgore (Judson Press, 1998), was removed from this collection and cataloged into USC's Special Collections book holdings.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.--Archives
Progressive National Baptist Convention.--Archives
Second Baptist Church (Los Angeles, Calif.).-- Archives
University of Southern California.--History
Kilgore, Thomas, 1913-1998.--Archives
Kilgore, Thomas, 1913-1998.--Correspondence
Kilgore family.--Archives
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.--Archives
African American authors--California--Los Angeles--20th century--Archival resources
African American churches--California--Los Angeles--20th century--Archival resources
African American civic leaders--California--Los Angeles--20th century--Archival resources
African American civil rights workers--20th century--Archival resources
African American clergy--20th century--Archival resources
African Americans--20th century--History
Authors, American--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Baptists--Clergy--Archival resources
Civil rights--United States--20th century--Archival resources
Civic leaders--California--Los Angeles--20th century--Archival resources
Civil rights--United States--20th century--Archival resources
Printed ephemera
Programs (documents)
Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Photographs
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., 1963--Archival resources
Sermons, American--20th century--Archival resources
Sermons, American--African American authors--Archival resources
Speeches, addresses, etc., American--20th century--Archival resources


Pastoral Duties 1943-1997

Scope and Content

This series contains the files created and maintained by Kilgore while acting in his capacity as a pastor, including officiating at weddings and funerals, writing letters of recommendation for members of his church and delivering sermons.


Scope and Content

This sub-series contains manuscript and typescript drafts of Kilgore's sermons.
Box 1, Folder 1

Notepad Sermons Undated

Box 1, Folder 2

Incompletes Undated

Box 1, Folder 3

Separated Pages Undated

Box 1, Folder 4-9

Undated and/or Incomplete Undated

Box 1, Folder 10

1940s - 1960s 1943-1969

Box 1, Folder 11

Sunday School Notes and Sermons 1960-1995

Box 1, Folder 12-16

1970s 1970-1979

Box 1, Folder 17

1970s and 1980s 1979-1980

Box 2, Folder 1-2, Box 1, Folder 18-22

1980s 1980-1989

Box 2, Folder 3-5

1990s 1990-1996

Box 2, Folder 6

Miscellaneous Sermons (mostly photocopies) 1960-1985

Box 2, Folder 7-10

Photocopies 1960-1996

Box 6, Folder 8

Undated/Incomplete Undated

Box 6, Folder 9

1960s 1961

Box 6, Folder 10

1970s 1970-1978

Box 6, Folder 11

1980s 1980-1981

Box 6

1/4" Recording of "Watergate--Who is Our God" 3 June 1973


Funeral Programs

Scope and Content

This sub-series contains funeral programs, mostly from funerals at which Kilgore was either the officiant or an attendee. Also included in this series are Kilgore's notes for and drafts of eulogies.
Box 2, Folder 14-15

Correspondence, Programs and Eulogies 1952-1965

Box 2, Folder 16

Programs 1966-1967

Box 3, Folder 1-13, Box 2, Folder 17-29

Correspondence, Programs and Eulogies 1970-1997



Scope and Content

This sub-series contains resumes and correspondence pertaining letters of recommendation Kilgore wrote, predominantly for members of his congregation.
Box 2, Folder 11-12

Resumes and Letters 1980-1995

Box 2, Folder 13

Letters 1992-1995



Box 6, Folder 7

Ephemera and Correspondence 1976-1991

Box 6, Folder 15

Marriage Licenses [RESTRICTED] 1975-1995


Correspondence 1962-2000

Scope and Content

This series contains the correspondence files maintained by Thomas Kilgore, Jr.
Box 5, Folder 1-2

Gems 1979-1989

Box 5, Folder 3

Letters 1989-1997

Box 5, Folder 4

Congratulations on Ebony and Community Redevelopment Agency Appointment 1984

Box 5, Folder 5

Condolences for Thomas Kilgore, Jr. 1998

Box 5, Folder 6-7

Gems 1964-1997

Box 5, Folder 8

Letters 1962-1998

Box 5, Folder 9

Correspondence with Martin Luther King, Jr. (photocopies) 1954-1992

Box 5, Folder 10

Dates Cancelled and/or Filled 1980

Box 5, Folder 11

Inventories of Thomas Kilgore, Jr.'s Papers and Effects 2000

Box 5, Folder 12

Miscellaneous 1932 - 1999

Box 9

Tribute from Gladys C. Kennedy 1993


Celebrations 1965-1996

Scope and Content

This series contains correspondence, ephemera and planning documents pertaining to various celebrations organized by or honoring Thomas Kilgore, Jr, including his wedding and pastoral anniversaries and the biennial Kilgore family reunion.

Pastoral Anniversaries

Box 3, Folder 28

10th Anniversary at Second Baptist Church 1973

Box 3, Folder 29

90th Anniversary of the Second Baptist Church 1975

Box 4, Folder 1

15th Anniversary at Second Baptist Church 1978

Box 4, Folder 2-3

Los Angeles Tribute Dinner to Thomas Kilgore, Jr. 1980

Box 9

Los Angeles Tribute Dinner to Thomas Kilgore, Jr. (Mailgrams) 1980

Box 4, Folder 4

50th Ministerial Anniversary 1980

Box 4, Folder 5

20th Anniversary at Second Baptist Church 1983

Box 4, Folder 6

Retirement and Centennial of Second Baptist Church 1985


Family Gatherings

Box 3, Folder 14-23

Kilgore Family Reunions 1974-1990

Box 3, Folder 24

Miscellaneous Kilgore Family Celebrations 1965-1988

Box 3, Folder 25

Kilgores' 45th Wedding Anniversary 1968

Box 3, Folder 26

50th Wedding Anniversary 1986

Box 3, Folder 27

Kilgore Family Funeral Programs 1971-1996


High School Reunions

Box 4, Folder 7

50th Reunion of Stephen Lee High School Class of 1930 1979-1980


Addresses, Workshops, Publications and Lectures 1958-1998

Scope and Content

This series documents the addresses, lectures and workshops given by Kilgore over the course of his career. It also includes drafts of his memoir, A Servant's Journey.
Box 4, Folder 8-9

Stewardship Workshops 1983-1990

Box 4, Folder 10-11

Bible Workshops 1971-1987

Box 4, Folder 12

Winter Workshop on Evangelism 1978-1984

Box 4, Folder 13

Miscellaneous Workshop Material 1973-1993

Box 4, Folder 14-15

Miscellaneous Workshops and Conferences 1977-1993

Box 4, Folder 16

Book of Acts 1983

Box 4, Folder 17

Poems 1997-1998

Box 4, Folder 18

Typescript Draft of A Servant's Journey 1996

Box 4, Folder 19-20

Rough Draft of Autobiography [ A Servant's Journey] Undated

Box 4, Folder 21

Partial Typescript Draft of A Servant's Journey and 3.5" Floppy Disk 1996

Box 4, Folder 22

Memoir Drafts and Notes 1988-1997

Box 4, Folder 23

Addresses 1972-1995

Box 4, Folder 24-25

Lectures, Addresses and Poems 1966-1994

Box 4, Folder 26-27

Addresses and Lectures 1960-1992

Box 4, Folder 28

Lectures 1960-1988

Box 4, Folder 29

Lectures and Speeches about Martin Luther King, Jr. 1962-1987

Box 4, Folder 30

Addresses and Lectures (photocopies) 1958-1992

Box 6, Folder 12

Speeches 1958-1973

Box 9

Scrapbook Commemorating 1972 USC Commencement 1972


Baptist Organizations 1945-1997

Scope and Content

This series contains ephemera, notes, scrapbooks, and correspondence documenting Kilgore's involvement with various Baptist organizations in the United States, including the national organizations the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Convention, the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles and the Friendship Baptist Church in New York City.

Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC)

Box 5, Folder 33-34

Alliance of Baptists 1992-1996

Box 5, Folder 35

Constitution 1959-1997

Box 6, Folder 1-2

Photographs Undated

Box 6, Folder 3

Constitution 1959-1997

Box 6, Folder 4

Miscellaneous 1977-1986

Box 9

The Atlanta Inquirer 1977 6 August


American Baptist Convention

Box 6, Folder 5

Kilgore Fund 1989

Box 6, Folder 6

Itinerary of Travels as President 1969-1970

Box 9

Scrapbook 1970

Box 9

Scrapbook 1969-1970

Box 9

The American Baptist Convention News 1970


Second Baptist Church

Box 5, Folder 29-30

Second Baptist Church 1963-1997

Box 5, Folder 31

Position Papers for Second Baptist Church Members 1990

Box 5, Folder 32

"Church Administration in Black Perspective" by Floyd Massey, Jr. and Samuel B. McKinney 1975


Friendship Baptist Church (New York)

Box 5, Folder 28

Friendship Baptist Church 1945-1963


Civil Rights Movement 1900-1978

Scope and Content

This series contains papers of Kilgore's that pertain directly to the civil rights movement, including planning documents for the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. and a program from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral in 1968.
Box 5, Folder 23

Emancipation Speech 1900

Box 5, Folder 24

Program for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Funeral 9 April 1968

Box 5, Folder 25

Miscellaneous 1957-1976

Box 5, Folder 26

Benjamin Elijah Mays 1978

Box 5, Folder 27

1963 March on Washington Planning Documents 1963


Ephemera, Clippings & Photographs 1935-1999

Scope and Content

This series contains printed ephemera, Kilgore's clippings files and his photographs.
Box 5, Folder 14-15

Photographs Undated

Box 5, Folder 16

Thomas Kilgore Jr. Children's Computer Learning Center 1999

Box 5, Folder 17

Biographical Information 1985

Box 5, Folder 18

Ephemera 1935-1998

Box 5, Folder 19

Clippings 1961-1999

Box 5, Folder 20-21

Newspaper and Periodical Clippings 1964-1998

Box 5, Folder 22

Periodicals 1963-1992

Box 6, Folder 14

USC Baccalaureate Program 7 June 1972


Plaques, Awards & Citations 1964-1999

Scope and Content

This series contains the awards, plaques and citations received by Thomas Kilgore, Jr. over the course of his career as a Baptist minister in Los Angeles.
Box 5, Folder 13

Awards and Citations 1964-1999

Box 6, Folder 13

Citation from NAACP 1998

Box 7

Awards & Plaques 1974-1983

Box 8

Awards & Plaques 1969-1989

Box 9

Awards & Citations 1972-1993

Box 10

Awards & Citations 1980-1983

Box 11

Awards & Citations from USC