George A. Myers Papers

The George A. Myers papers, 1890-1929, consist of approximately 4,000 items of correspondence, newspaper clippings and biographical material. The papers are arranged chronologically and are contained in 18 document boxes. The microfilm edition consists of eight rolls. Two small folders of newspaper clippings and biographical material were not filmed.

The major portion of correspondence is incoming. There is also a pencil and typewritten copies of a portion of Myers’ outgoing personal correspondence. The papers span the period of 1890-1929 with the bulk of the correspondence falling between 1896 and 1916.

While the collection is arranged chronologically, it is most easily described topically because the political, business and personal correspondence overlaps.

The political correspondence portrays Myers’ activity at the national, state and local levels. It shows his influence and the extent of his contacts with various politicians ranging from Senator Marcus A. Hanna, chairman of the Republican National Committee, to J. Madison Vance, spokesman and delegate for Louisiana’s first congressional district Republicans. The correspondence also shows Myers to be concerned with promoting a strong Black Republican vote, a fair share of party patronage and representation in policy matters affecting the Black vote.

George Myers’ influence in national politics spans only eight years, 1896-1904. However, the correspondence contains valuable information on the activities of Black people in the southern Republican party and their relations with southern white republicans. Most of the correspondence is centered around his activity in the formation of Black delegate support for William McKinley at the Republican National Convention of 1896. The letters of Samuel Thompson to Myers provide information on Black Republican activities at the party’s national headquarters as well. There is also correspondence from J.E. Hawkins pertaining to Black Republicans in Texas. The correspondence between Mark Hanna, Charles Dick and Myers relates primarily to party patronage.

On the state level, the political correspondence covers the period 1893 through 1914 with the greatest emphasis on the 1897-1903 period, Myers’s tenure on the Ohio Republican Central Executive Committee. The correspondence covers all facets of political activity, state conventions, gubernatorial and legislative campaigns, turning out a strong Black Republican vote and securing patronage positions for Black people, and lobbying at legislative sessions for the reflect of Mark Hanna to the U.S. Senate and in opposition to discriminatory legislation. After 1904, the correspondence consists of exchanges of opinion between Myers, Jere A. Brown, Ralph W. Tyler, Charles Cottrill, John P. Green and William H. Parham about political candidates and the degree of support of Black politicians for the Republican party.

The correspondence with Senator Charles Dick, Governor George Nash and John Malloy centers primarily around patronage. However, there are exchanges relating to political conditions and campaigns which suggest Myers’s influential role in state politics.

The Ohio campaign of 1897 was crucial to the Republican Party in the state. It also marked Myers’s first term on the Central Executive Committee. There is a great deal of correspondence discussing campaign strategy concerning the Black vote in the wake of the Urbana lynching. The correspondence includes exchanges between Myers and Governor Asa Bushnell, party chairman George Nash, and reports from Black politicians on local conditions and the strength of the Republican Party in their precincts or towns. The letters point out the significance that the Republicans attached to the Black vote.

Myers’s involvement in Cleveland politics as reflected in the correspondence takes much the same line as his activity on the national and state levels: campaign organizer, consultant on patronage and sage concerning local conditions. There is also material relating to his involvement in improving and opening city educational, medical and social services for Black residents. Also included is a review by Myers, presented to the Chamber of Commerce, on conditions in the Black community and steps needed to make improvements. The local material also includes information on segregation and discrimination in Cleveland’s trade schools, parks and hospitals.

Myers’s business correspondence is primarily routine, concerned with ordering equipment and supplies for his barber shop. However, the correspondence with James Bradford contains some of his reflections on how to operate a business and the George Rogers letters contain his ideas on improving a barber’s equipment.

The personal correspondence is notable because it contains the opinions and viewpoints of many Black middle-class men as they confronted life in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The observations of James Bradford, John P. Green, F.J. Loudin, Ralph W. Tyler and Judge Robert Terrell contain insights into the attitudes of the developing Black middle class and are extremely informative. The personal correspondence with Jere A. Brown, C.P. Lancaster and William H. Parham provides additional information on Black Elk and Masonic organizations. The pencil and typewritten copies of Myers’s letters to James Ford Rhodes contain the best evidence of his personal attitudes and ideas about politics and American society. The correspondence from Reverend William T. Anderson, an army chaplain, provides excellent descriptions of Black troops in Cuba during and after the Spanish-American War and equally fine descriptions of social conditions confronting Black Americans traveling through or living in the South.

The Myers collection provides an excellent opportunity for the researcher to examine the activities and opportunities available to Black middle-class politicians in Ohio and the south, and the opportunity to study the response of these men to the rising tide of racism in the United States.