Library receives the papers of Littleton Mitchell


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7:52 a.m., April 7, 2010----The University of Delaware Library has announced the receipt of the papers of Littleton P. Mitchell (1918-2009) and Jane Mitchell (1921-2004) as a gift of the Mitchells' son, Philip Vann Mitchell, who followed the wishes of his father.

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The gift was announced on Tuesday, April 6, by Susan Brynteson, vice provost and May Morris Director of Libraries, at a lecture attended by more than 450 persons given in honor of the Mitchells by William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Philip Vann Mitchell was present for the announcement of this gift and was acknowledged with an enthusiastic round of applause by the audience.

Littleton Mitchell was born on Nov. 27, 1918, in Milford, Del. He attended Milford Colored School and Howard High School, from which he graduated in 1939, and West Chester State College.

His attendance at West Chester State College was interrupted by enlistment in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Mitchell served as a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. He was discharged from the army in 1946 and returned to West Chester State College where he completed his bachelor of science degree.

Littleton Mitchell retired in 1984 from his career as a teacher and counselor at Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City. He was the first African American educator to teach white school children in Delaware, and through numerous organizations and in partnership with his close friend Louis L. Redding, he championed equal rights for African Americans and other disenfranchised citizens in areas of education, public housing, public services, and voting rights. He served 30 years, from 1961 to 1991, as president of the Delaware State Branch of the NAACP.

Among a host of honors, Littleton Mitchell received the University of Delaware Medal of Merit in 1993 in recognition of his work as a community activist. He was also honored by the Delaware State Branch of the NAACP at the first annual Black History Month celebration in 1993, and by the American Civil Liberties Union with the Gerald E. Kandler Memorial Award in 1994. The Delaware Bar Association gave him the Liberty Bell Award in 2004.

Jane Mitchell, Class of 1963, was awarded the University of Delaware Medal of Merit in 1980 for being renowned in the field of nursing. She was named to the University's Alumni Wall of Fame in 1998. Jane Mitchell was the first African-American nurse to work in a Delaware hospital. Her service included serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware; as a member of the Delaware State Board of Nursing, and as a member of the University of Delaware Nursing Visiting Committee.

The bulk of the Littleton and Jane Mitchell collection consists of Littleton Mitchell's papers relating to his public service with the NAACP and various other organizations. There is also a significant group of Jane Mitchell's professional papers, as well.

One of the largest components of the collection is photographs, particularly family photographs, photographs of community gatherings, and photographs taken during professional meetings Littleton and Jane Mitchell attended. There is also a considerable amount of media, including videotapes and audiocassettes. In addition, there is a large group of framed plaques and awards which the Mitchells received over the course of their distinguished careers. The collection came in 47 boxes plus oversized items.

“The Mitchell papers after processing will serve as an extensive resource for the study of black education in Delaware and the history of the Delaware NAACP and the national NAACP as well as many other topics,” Brynteson said. “The University of Delaware Library is indeed proud to be the home of Lit and Jane Mitchells' papers.”

Leland B. Ware, Louis L. Redding Professor of Law and Public Policy, and Timothy D. Murray, head of the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library, as well as Judge Charles H. Toliver IV, facilitated in bringing the Littleton and Jane Mitchell papers to the University of Delaware Library.