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Clarence A. Bacote papers

 Collection — Box: 1-79
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0026

Scope and contents

The Clarence A. Bacote papers (1886-1990) will provide researchers with an opportunity to look into the activities of a man who was an important leader in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta. Beyond the biographical uses this collection offers is its documentation of the operations of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, and its access to statistical readings of the African American vote in Fulton County elections.

Dr. Bacote's papers contain a sizeable correspondence file which include letters from his colleagues in academe, politics, and civic and professional organizations. The documents of the political, professional, and governmental organizations in which Dr. Bacote participated are included as well. These two series form the core of the collection.

Dr. Bacote's career at Atlanta University and his major research efforts is documented in series five and six. These records consist of departmental records, committee minutes, student records, and original research notes dDr. Bacote created when he was investigating his dissertation on Goergia politics and his book on Atlanta University.

The remainder of the collection consists of an interesting file of newspaper clippings which is organized by topic and reflects many of the interests of Dr. Bacote. THis file also includes information on many members of his family as does series one. The Bacote papers also contain hundreds of printed material from political and academic organizations and some of the memorabilia and awards he accumulated over his professional life. The photographs in the collection depict many prominent Atlanta University figuresa nd events. Many of the prints focus on Dr. Bacote, but included in the collection is a fascinating photo album which documents scenes of Atlanta University, its students, and faculty during World War I.

The Bacote papers document an important period in the history of Atlanta, and of Atlanta University. The activities of one very prominent scholar and community leader help provide an important piece of the history of the university and its community.


  • Creation: 1886-1990


Rights statement

Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, Archives Research Center does not own the copyright for the manuscript or printed items in the Clarence A. Bacote papers. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of such rights for materials in this collection. No part of this finding aid may be copied without permission of the staff at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library Archives Research Center.

Biographical note

Clarence Albert Bacote (1906-1981) was born in Kansas City, Missouri, February 24, 1906, the only son and eldest of three children of Samuel William and Lucy (Bledsoe) Bacote. His father, a native of Society Hill, South Carolina, a graduate of Benedict College, Virginia Union, and Kansas City University, was a Baptist minister and a civic leader. His mother, a native of Topeka, Kansas, and a musician, devoted much of her time to church choral groups. He attended the University of Kansas, where he majored in History and took his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1926. He received a Master of Arts degree in History in 1929. On August 3, 1931, he married Miss Lucia Moore of Atlanta, Georgia. They had two children, Lucia Jean, and Samuel William II. In 1955, he attained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in American History from the University of Chicago. His doctoral dissertation, The Negro in Georgia Politics, 1880-1908, created much interest in the political background of Georgia.

Dr. Bacote was Assistant Professor of history at Atlanta University from 1930 to 1939, becoming full Professor in 1939 and department chair in 1963, a position he held until his retirement. He was the first person appointed to the graduate faculty of Atlanta University. At all Atlanta University commencement exercises Dr. Bacote served as University Marshall, leading the processional and placing the hoods on the recipients of graduate degrees.

Dr. Bacote was a member of the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, and the Executive Council of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He contributed numerous articles and reviews to the Journal of Negro History, the Negro History Bulletin, and Phylon. In 1969, he published The Story of Atlanta University, the most comprehensive history of that institution.

Dr. Bacote held serious convictions as to his responsibilities toward his community. In 1930, he became the first director of the Citizenship Schools sponsored by the Atlanta branch of the N.A.A.C.P. He served as chairman of the Registration Committee of the Atlanta Negro Voters League from 1944 to 1953. In 1946, he was elected chairman of the Atlanta All-Citizens Registration Committee whose purpose was to set up machinery to get African Americans registered and at the same time to conduct Citizenship Schools to better acquaint them with the operation of their government. This committee was responsible for the campaign which resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of African American registered voters in Fulton County. In 1952, he was elected vice-president of the Fulton County Democratic Club. He managed the successful campaign of Dr. Rufus Clement for election to the school board of Atlanta, and in 1958, ran successfully himself in the election for Fulton County Democratic Executive Committee.

In addition to these responsibilities, Dr. Bacote was a member of the Atlanta Charter Commission, the Georgia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Georgia Records Advisory Board, and the Georgia National Register Review Board. He was the first African American appointed to sit on the Fulton County Jury Commission and was vice-chairman of the Fulton County Democratic Party. As a student of politics and history, Dr. Bacote provided detailed analysis of local, state, and national elections for four decades. He was consulted by local television stations to provide live on-air election analysis.

Dr. Bacote retired from Atlanta University in 1977, whereupon he accepted a teaching position in the history department at Morehouse College where he served until his death in 1981.


34 Linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection is divided into 9 series.


On May 24, 1994 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced an award to the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library for the Department of Archives and Special Collections to process significant manuscript and archival collections on the lives and culture of prominent African Americans and institutions. The Clarence A. Bacote papers represent one of these collections. The staff wishes to acknowledge with much appreciation the NEH Award and takes great pleasure in presenting the Clarence Albert Bacote papers to the world community of scholars for examination, review and study. The collection represents an important contribution to the study of civil rights and African American culture in Atlanta and the state of Georgia.

The project was, in large part, made possible by the continued support and dedication of Dr. Prince Rivers, former Interim Director, who wrote and submitted the proposal to the NEH for funding. The processing of the Bacote papers was carried out by Paul Crater, Assistant Archivist, who was tireless and relentless in his efforts to successfully complete this project. He was assisted by Tanya Harding Moye, of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, and Nancy Hampton, graduate assistant and student at Clark Atlanta University. Finally, the project staff is indebted to Ms. Bernice Ray, Director of the Robert W. Woodruff Library, for her gracious and helpful support during the processing of the Bacote papers.

Wilson N. Flemister, Sr. Project Archivist

Clarence Bacote papers, 1886-1990
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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