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Guide to the Erna P. Harris Papers
MS 54  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Erna P. Harris papers
    Dates: circa 1890s-1995
    Collection number: MS 54
    Creator: Harris, Erna P.
    Collection Size: .5 linear feet (1 box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: Erna P. Harris Papers consists of photographs of family and friends of Erna P. Harris, Gaynelle Harris’ certificates attending school in Enid, Oklahoma, and assorted printed material.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Erna P. Harris Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Erna P. Harris papers, MS 54, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 09/05/2013.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Journalist and peace activist Erna P. Harris (1908-1995) was born on June 29, 1908 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma to James E. and Francis Harris. After attending segregated schools in Oklahoma, she attended Wichita State University because of its stance on integrated education. While at Wichita State, she served as a reporter and editor of the school's newspaper, The Sunflower, and graduated with a B.A. in journalism in 1936. Upon graduation, she had difficulty finding a position as a reporter, so she decided to start her own newspaper, The Kansas Journal, in 1936. The weekly newspaper had a circulation of over 500 and operated for 3 1/2 years until an editorial opposing conscription in October 1939 angered readers and forced the withdrawal of many of the newspaper's advertisers.
    In 1941, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired as a reporter for the Los Angeles Tribune. She wrote an editorial column for the Tribune, Reflections in a Crackt Mirror, where she regularly wrote about controversial issues such as questioning the constitutionality of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. She was also active in a number of pacifist and civil rights organizations such as the War Resisters League, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and CORE.
    In 1952 she moved to Berkeley, California where she operated a print shop and continued to be active in a number of peace and civil rights organizations. She was appointed to the National Board of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in 1956 and regularly traveled to WILPF congresses in Europe and Asia. She was a member of the WILPF delegation that traveled to the U.S.S.R. in 1964 to participate in the U.S.-Soviet Women's Seminar in Moscow that sought to build peaceful ties between women in the two countries. Harris was also active in many CO-OPs in the Berkeley area, working closely with the Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley, Books Unlimited, CO-OP Legal Services, and U.A. Housing, Inc.
    For her contributions to peace and human rights, Harris was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Urban Black Studies Department of the Graduate Theological Union in 1978.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Erna P. Harris Papers consists of photographs of family and friends of Erna P. Harris, Gaynelle Harris’ certificates attending school in Enid, Oklahoma, and assorted printed material. Photographs include a few portraits of Erna Harris, though the majority of the photographs are portraits of Harris family and friends. The papers also include Erna Harris’ funeral program, an address book, a book review, a recipe for banana angel food cake, and assorted political and CO-OP buttons.


    Series I. Photographs Series II. Gaynelle Harris Series III. Assorted printed material Series IV. Buttons

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Harris, Erna P.
    African American families--California.