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Pauline A. Young papers

 Collection — Box: 1-16
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0063

Scope and contents

The Pauline A. Young Papers document her life as an educator and civil rights and community activist in Wilmington, Delaware. The collection totals 12 linear feet and spans the period 1920 to 1991. The papers include biographical information about her and her family, materials on her career as a librarian and teacher, and documentation about her civic and community activities. The collection consists of correspondence, news articles, programs, reports, a few photographs and several scrapbooks.

The primary focus of the collection is Pauline Young’s untiring efforts for equality and racial harmony. The Correspondence, Letters to the Editor, Organizations, and Scrapbooks series contain documentation about her civil rights activities, particularly her work with the NAACP national, state, and Wilmington, Delaware branches, and with the Delaware Fellowship Commission, which was organized to promote better racial, religious and nationality understanding. There is a small amount of material related to her work with the Ardencroft Association, which is a governing body for the Village of Ardencroft in New Castle County, Delaware, where she resided.

The Family papers series includes bits of information about her mother and siblings. Of note are materials on Pauline’s uncle and aunt Paul Laurence and Alice Dunbar. Pauline Young was very proud of the Dunbar’s contributions to literature and she committed much effort to insuring that their legacy is preserved. After extensive investigation she finally settled on selling the Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar Nelson papers to the University of Delaware. The Pauline Young Papers include correspondence related to her efforts to select a repository to care for the Dunbar Papers, and a few programs, news articles, and photocopies of writings by the Dunbars.

The Collection includes a handful of photographs, and most are widely published copies of images of Pauline Young, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar Nelson. Of interest are four black and white snapshots of Paul and Alice Dunbar on horseback, and a color snapshot of W. E. B. DuBois relaxing at the beach. There are also a few photographs of the wedding of Grace Young (Pauline’s niece).

Ms. Young donated a number of books and periodicals with her papers. These have been cataloged as appropriate in the holding of the library. There is a microfilm copy of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers available in the library’s serials department. This microfilm, published in 1972 by the Ohio Historical Society, includes Dunbar materials from several archival repositories.


  • 1903-1991

Rights Statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Biographical note

Teacher, librarian, historian, lecturer, community activist, and humanitarian are just a few words to describe Pauline Alice Young.

Born on September 17, 1900 in West Medford, Massachusetts, Pauline was the third child of James R. and Mary Leila Young. She had three siblings, Laurence T., Ethel Corrine, and Leila Ruth. Her father was a successful caterer and her mother a teacher.

After the death of James Young the family moved from Massachusetts to Wilmington, Delaware. The children attended the Howard School where their mother, Mary, and aunt, Alice Dunbar taught (Alice Dunbar was an author and wife of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar). Pauline attended the Howard School from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. After graduation she matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania where she received a degree in Education. She pursued graduate studies at Columbia University and received a master’s degree in library service in 1935. She also did graduate work in educational tests and measurements at the University of Pennsylvania.

Pauline Young secured a position teaching English at Howard High School (formerly the Howard School) in 1919 and later served as the librarian. She worked at Howard High School for 30 years, retiring in 1955 at the age of 61. In recognition of her many years of service, in 1979 The Pauline A. Young Memorabilia Room was established in the old Howard High School building (now a career center). It is a repository for historical information, artifacts and memorabilia on the Black community in Delaware.

During her career, Pauline Young also taught history and Latin at Huntington High School in Newport News, Virginia; served on the faculty at the University of Southern California library school; worked as a member of the press staff for Tuskegee Institute; and was a librarian at the public libraries in New York City and Los Angeles. After retirement, Ms. Young became a Peace Corps Volunteer and worked for two years for the Jamaica Library Service.

Ms. Young was very knowledgeable about Black history and lectured extensively. She lectured at the Wilmington Public Library, Dickinson College, Morgan State University, Delaware State University and served as “Folk-Humanist-in Residence” at the University of Delaware. She authored a number of book reviews about Black literature, and in 1947 wrote a chapter on “The Negro in Delaware” for Delaware: A History of the First State, edited by H. Clay Reed. This work is recognized as a cornerstone for research on Delaware history.

Having grown up at the turn of the twentieth century, Pauline experienced and witnessed first hand the devastating impact of segregation in the United States. She was deeply committed to the struggle for equality and civil rights and her efforts pushed her to the forefront for change in the state of Delaware. Her mother and aunt were members of the NAACP and Pauline joined when she was twelve years old. She held numerous positions on the national, state and local levels including president, acting secretary, and chairman of the Education Committee of the Delaware State Conference of Branches; secretary, vice-president, and chairman of the membership and program committees of the Wilmington, Delaware Branch; and conducted membership campaigns in Wilmington (DE), Baltimore, Chicago, and Milwaukee. Pauline Young was a founder and served as secretary of the Delaware Fellowship Commission, which was organized to promote better racial, religious and nationality understanding, she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and the commemorative march in 1983. An outspoken critic against segregation and discrimination, the Pauline A. Young Papers are filled with letters to editors, organizations, institutions, and government officials where she protested against injustices and called for better race relations. She was active in her neighborhood and served on several committees for the Ardencroft Association, which is the governing body for the Village of Ardencroft in New Castle County, Delaware, where she lived.

Ms. Young traveled widely in the United States and abroad. In 1936, she attended the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, where she greeted Jesse Owens, who set records in winning 100 meters, 200 meters, and broad jump and ran on the victorious U.S. relay team. She also traveled to Egypt, Italy, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union.

Because of her life long commitment and contributions to education, history, and community service, Pauline Young received numerous awards. She was honored by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Monday Club, the National Association of University Women, and New Hope Baptist Church. In 1982, Pauline Young was elected to the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women.

Pauline A. Young died in June 1991.

[The information for this biographical statement was gathered from materials in the Pauline A. Young Papers.]


12 Linear feet

Language of Materials



Materials are arranged into eleven series: Personal papers; Writings about Pauline A. Young; Writings by Pauline A. Young; Correspondence; Letters to the Editor; Family papers; Paul and Alice Dunbar; Organizations; Photographs; Scrpabooks; and Oversize items.
Pauline A. Young papers, 1903-1991
Finding aid prepared by Tanji N. Gibson and Karen Jefferson, 1999.
Description rules
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

111 James P. Brawley Drive, SW
Atlanta 30314 USA
404-978-2109 (Fax)