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Wright (Marion Thompson) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Related Materials

  • Contributing Institution: Pepperdine University. Special Collections and University Archives.
    Title: Marion Thompson Wright Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 0177
    Physical Description: 2 Linear Feet 2 Hollinger Boxes, 1 carton.
    Date (inclusive): 1939-1987
    Abstract: Marion Thompson Wright was an African American scholar in the fields of history, sociology, and education. She was the first African American to receive a doctorate from Columbia University. Her papers contain her unbound doctoral dissertation, diplomas from Howard and Columbia Universities, personal correspondence, documents about her death and estate, taped interviews about her, and a small amount of photographs.
    Language of Material: English .

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased from Gabrielle Bacchus , Marion Thompson Wright's great- granddaughter in November 2019.


    The Marion Thompson Wright Papers are arranged into four series in chronological order: 1. Education and Academic Research; 2. Correspondence; 3. Personal Papers; 4. Legacy.

    Biographical / Historical

    Marion Thompson Wright was a leading scholar in African American education and sociology. She was born on September 12, 1902 in East Orange, New Jersey. She married William Moss at the age of sixteen and together they had two children, James and Thelma. Since universities did not accept female students who were married or had been divorced, Wright pretended to be unwed in order to enroll in Howard University. Her children were raised by their father, and later, Wright's mother. Wright later remarried to a man named Arthur M. Wright.
    Wright earned her B.A. in Sociology in 1927 from Howard University and her M.A. in history and education a year later, also from Howard. Wright became the first African American to receive a doctorate from Teacher College, Columbia University in 1940, with her dissertation titled, "The Education of Negroes in New Jersey", which was subsequently published in 1941. She was additionally the first Black woman to receive a phD in history in the United States.
    She became a full time faculty member at Howard University in 1950. She frequently published in The Journal of Negro History multiple times on the topic of African Americans in New Jersey. Wright's research was also used in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education in the fight to desegregate schools.
    Wright passed away on October 12, 1962 at the age of 60.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Marion Thompson Wright Papers, Collection no. 177, Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, Pepperdine University.

    Processing Information

    This collection was arranged and described by Kelsey Knox, January 2021.

    Scope and Contents

    The Marion Thompson Wright Papers contain materials related to several areas of Wright's life. The collections contains Wright's diplomas from Howard University and Columbia University, along with her dissertation, "The Education of Negroes in New Jersey" and programs for each of her commencements. It contains some research material as well as articles in which Wright is quoted. A large quantity of the collection is personal correspondence between Wright and her son, James Moss, as well as a few letters from others. Another bulk of the collection is about Wright's death and the execution of her estate. the majority of the collection are documents, but there is also a small amount of photographs, as well as some cassette tapes with interviews about Wright.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright restrictions may apply.

    Related Materials

    Special Collections also holds Marion Thompson Wright's book collection, comprised primarily of first edition volumes signed by their authors, as well as Wright's own publications. These volumes can be found in the library catalog. This collection came with a small amount of photographs as well.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms