Skip to main content

Southern Conference for Human Welfare collection

 Collection — Box: 1-38
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0056

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, minutes of meetings, drafts of speeches, financial records, photographs, clippings and other printed matter from the files of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare make up this collection. These papers were donated to Trevor Arnett Library in 1950 by Clark Howell Foreman, one time president of the Conference. They span the years 1938 to 1972, with the greatest concentration of material falling in 1946-1948. This Collection is particularly rich in information on the activities of the Committee for North Carolina and the Committee for Washington, and includes what is, presumably, Clark Foreman's complete personal file vis-a-vis SCHW. There is also a great deal of printed material issued by the National Office and state committees present in the collection.

The collection is divided into six series. Clark Foreman's papers contain a great deal of correspondence and reports relating to the formation of the Conference and its ongoing activities in general. The records for the Committee on North Carolina and Washington contain much information on the activities and specific areas of concern for these two parts of the South. There is scant information on the activities of most of the other states. The records of the Committee to Abolish the Poll Tax, an organization closely allied to the SCHW, contain correspondence of national figures who at the time, were working to remove the poll tax as an obstacle to voting. Finally, a small group of photographs are included, most of which document activities and life in Washington D.C.

Complementary to this collection is a large collection of Southern Conference for Human Welfare materials at Tuskegee Institute.


  • Creation: 1938-1972


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 / Historical

The Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW) was formally organized in Birmingham, Alabama in the fall of 1938. It was inspired by the findings of the National Emergency Council's Report on Economic Conditions in the South and by the philosophies of the Southern Policy Conference, a group of Southern intellectuals. Its structure was based on representation from the thirteen Southern states (non-Southerners were welcomed as non-voting members) and the District of Columbia and New York (the latter existing for fund-raising purposes only). Motivated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous statement: "It is my conviction that the South presents right now the Nation's No. 1 economic problem-the Nation's problem, not merely the South's," the conference participants set about their task.

Its declared purpose was the perpetuation of Roosevelt's New Deal program and philosophy for the South. To this end it worked actively for removal of all obstacles to freedom of the ballot, for the abolition of discrimination against Southern industry, for protection of the rights of labor and of racial and religious minorities, and for the extension of Federal aid to farmers and to education. Hampered constantly by lack of funds, the Conference grew slowly. Its State Committees did not appear in viable form until 1944, and some of these were cut off in their formative stages by accusations of Communist domination of the Conference, and its investigation by the House Committee for Un-American Activities in 1947. Further weakened by internal disputes, the SCHW was transmuted in 1948 into the Southern Conference Educational Fund. The SCHW was the most significant attempt by Southerners, up to that time, to introduce a far-reaching agenda of improvement to their native land. It would long be remembered, not for what it achieved, but for what it aspired to and what it attempted.


16 Linear feet

Language of Materials



Materials are arranged into six series: Clark Foreman files; Committee for North Carolina; Committee for Washington; State Committees; Committee to Abolish the Poll Tax; and Photographs.

The first five series are arranged alphabetically; the Photographs series is arranged chronologically.

Southern Conference for Human Welfare collection, 1938-1972
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

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


404-978-2109 (Fax)