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Collection Number: 05168

Collection Title: Charles Miles Jones Papers, 1924-1990s

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Size Linear feet: 2.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately Items: About 1800 items)
Abstract Charles Miles Jones, Christian minister and social justice activist, spent the majority of his ecclesiastical career in Chapel Hill, N.C., at the head of the Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church and then as the first minister of the Community Church. The collection includes correspondence, church documents and publications, clippings, and other items reflecting Jones's ministry and concern for civil rights. Materials generally focus on his public rather than personal life with a special emphasis on the 1952-1953 investigation of his Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church ministry. General correspondence includes letters from supporters (among them Frank Porter Graham) and detractors, commenting on the investigation, Jones's sermons, and several well-publicized actions in support of social justice causes. Also included is official correspondence of the investigation and formal documentation of the proceedings, as well as scattered church newsletters, copies of a 1945 petition to remove Jones and the elders' rejection of it, and other items. The Community Church period is chiefly represented by financial and administrative materials, while Jones's activist role is reflected in pamphlets, official correspondence, and Fellowship of Southern Churchmen documents. Among the materials on Jones's activism are several items relating to his involvement in the 1947 "Journey of Reconciliation" (or "Freedom Ride"), including "We Challenged JIM CROW!" a pamphlet by George House and Bayard Rustin; a handwritten account of Jones's involvement; photocopies of court transcripts; and notes. Other papers consist mainly of clippings, honors accorded Jones, memorials upon his death, and materials relating to the published biography of him written by grandson Mark Pryor.
Creator Jones, Charles Miles, 1906-1993.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Charles Miles Jones Papers #5168, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Bettie Bradford of Chapel Hill, N.C., in July 2004 (Acc. 99849).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Charles Miles Jones, a Christian minister and social justice activist, was born 8 January 1906 in Nashville, Tenn. He studied at Maryville College near Knoxville, Tenn., 1924-1927, and at Columbia University in New York for one summer, but did not complete his undergraduate degree. He then spent just over a year running a cafe in Texas with his father.

In 1929, Jones entered Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., planning to pursue a career in church choir work. By the time of his graduation in 1932, he had decided to become a minister instead. Shortly before relocating to lead the Presbyterian church in Gordonsville, Va., he married Dorcas McKinney on 21 November 1932. They would later adopt a daughter, Mary, and have two more daughters, Bettie Miles, or "Beppie," and Virginia, also called "Pooh."

Jones pastored churches in Keswick, Va., and Brevard, N.C., before taking over the ministry of the Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1941. Although Jones was generally a popular figure, his social justice-focused sermons, welcoming of African Americans to services and meetings, and de-emphasizing of certain elements of Presbyterian doctrine created rifts in the congregation. A 1945 petition for his removal was turned down by the elders. Jones's direct involvement in civil rights activities further polarized his parishioners and other members of the Chapel Hill community. Most notably, Jones played a pivotal role in the Chapel Hill leg of the 1947 "Journey of Reconciliation" (also known as the first "Freedom Ride"), a journey by an interracial group committed to testing the 1946 United States Supreme Court's decision in Morgan versus Commonwealth of Virginia that said that state laws relating to segregation on interstate buses were unconstitutional. In 1952, another petition to the regional governing body of the church brought an investigation and subsequent repeated demands that Jones resign, which he did in 1953.

That year, Jones and a number of supporters formed the Community Church in Chapel Hill with a stated focus on "unity in Christian essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and charity in all things." His activism on behalf of causes such as desegregation of local businesses and labor rights, and against opponents like the Ku Klux Klan intensified during the 1950s and 1960s, both individually and as a member of groups including the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen.

After 14 years heading the Community Church, Charles Jones retired from the ministry in 1967, returning to the restaurant business until 1974. He died 6 April 1993.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes correspondence, church documents and publications, clippings, and other items reflecting Charles Miles Jones's work as a Presbyterian minister and concern for civil rights. Materials generally focus on his public rather than personal life with a special emphasis on the 1952-1953 investigation of his Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church ministry. General correspondence includes letters from supporters (among them Frank Porter Graham) and detractors, commenting on the investigation, Jones's sermons, and several well-publicized actions in support of social justice causes. Also included is official correspondence of the investigation and formal documentation of the proceedings, as well as scattered church newsletters, copies of a 1945 petition to remove Jones and the elders' rejection of it, and other items. His work as minister of the Community Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., is chiefly represented by financial and administrative materials, while Jones's activist role is reflected in pamphlets, official correspondence, and Fellowship of Southern Churchmen documents. Among the materials on Jones's activism are several items relating to his involvement in the 1947 "Journey of Reconciliation" (or "Freedom Ride"), including "We Challenged JIM CROW!" a pamphlet by George House and Bayard Rustin; a handwritten account of Jones's involvement; photocopies of court transcripts; and notes. Other papers consist mainly of clippings, honors accorded Jones, memorials upon his death, and materials relating to the published biography of him written by grandson Mark Pryor.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated.

About 600 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence focuses mainly on Charles Jones's public rather than personal life. He frequently received letters from church members and visitors offering opinions on recent sermons or his ministry in general. Other letters, both of support and criticism, followed several controversial incidents, including his aid of two men challenging Jim Crow laws in 1947 and his comments on interracial marriage, made at the Greensboro (N.C.) Human Relations Institute in 1963. Copies of Jones's responses to many of these letters are also present. Most correspondence comes from the period of the 1952-1953 investigation, and contains references to the ongoing conflict between the minister and the regional governing body of the church, Orange Presbytery. However, official correspondence of the proceedings is interfiled with the investigation materials in Series 2. Other official correspondence, related to Jones's activist work, can be found in Series 4.

Folder 1

1941-1944 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1945-1951 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1952 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4-14

Folder 4

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

1953 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 4-14

Folder 15

1954-1957 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16-17

Folder 16

Folder 17

February-April 1963 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 16-17

Folder 18

1965-1989 #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

Undated #05168, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1941-1989 and undated." Folder 19

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated.

About 350 items.

Items include scattered programs and newsletters, both of the general congregation and the "Snuffbuckets," a group of University of North Carolina students who attended the church; materials pertaining to the controversy over a picnic, 1944, attended by some church youth and members of an African American military band; and copies of the 1945 petition for Jones's removal from the pulpit and the elders' response. The bulk of materials issues from the 1952-1953 inquiry that led to Jones's resignation. These include official correspondence; the initial judicial commission report; a transcript of the commission's interview with Jones; motions of support for the minister from church members, including University of North Carolina President Frank Porter Graham; and a lengthy complaint from the Jones contingent on the conduct of the investigation. A collection of five interviews of unknown origin, one undated and the others conducted in 1971-1972, cover various aspects of the 1952-1953 conflict from the point of view of several participants, including a member of the judicial commission.

Folder 20

Programs and newsletters #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21

Snuffbuckets #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

1944 picnic incident #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 22

Folder 23

1945 removal attempt #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 23

Folder 24-28

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

Investigation and resignation #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 24-28

Folder 29

Retrospective interviews #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 29

Folder 30

Miscellaneous #05168, Series: "2. Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church, 1941-1953, 1971-72 and undated." Folder 30

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Community Church, 1953-1967.

About 100 items.

Most of the materials collected from Charles Jones's participation in the formation and leadership of the Community Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., are financial and administrative in nature, including budget considerations for a building project and memoranda regarding officer elections. The handful of programs includes one inscribed by University of North Carolina School of Journalism faculty member Charles Phillips Russell, questioning the Christian slant of the church's mission statement. Jones's 1967 retirement from the ministry is reflected in draft and final copies of his farewell message to the congregation and items pertaining to the search for his successor.

Folder 31

Financial and administrative materials #05168, Series: "3. Community Church, 1953-1967." Folder 31

Folder 32

Programs #05168, Series: "3. Community Church, 1953-1967." Folder 32

Folder 33

Retirement #05168, Series: "3. Community Church, 1953-1967." Folder 33

Folder 34

Miscellaneous #05168, Series: "3. Community Church, 1953-1967." Folder 34

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Activism, 1940s-1960s.

About 200 items.

Items relate chiefly to Charles Jones's civil rights activism, with little information on his work on other social justice causes, such as labor rights. Of note are materials on Jones's activism are several items relating to his involvement in the 1947 "Journey of Reconciliation" (or "Freedom Ride"), including "We Challenged JIM CROW!" a pamphlet by George House and Bayard Rustin; a handwritten account of Jones's involvement; photocopies of court transcripts; and notes. Other incidents represented include Jones's aid of two men challenging Jim Crow laws at a Chapel Hill, N.C., bus station, 1947; work investigating White Citizens Council threats towards a progressive pair of agricultural workers in Holmes County, Miss., 1955, and Ku Klux Klan interference with a mixed-race painting project at an Elm City, N.C., church, 1964; picketing of local segregated businesses; and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen.

Folder 35

Bus incident ("Journey of Reconciliation"), 1947 #05168, Series: "4. Activism, 1940s-1960s." Folder 35

Folder 36

Holmes County, Miss., 1955 #05168, Series: "4. Activism, 1940s-1960s." Folder 36

Folder 37

Elm City, N.C., 1964 #05168, Series: "4. Activism, 1940s-1960s." Folder 37

Folder 38

Desegregation of local businesses #05168, Series: "4. Activism, 1940s-1960s." Folder 38

Folder 39-44

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

Fellowship of Southern Churchmen #05168, Series: "4. Activism, 1940s-1960s." Folder 39-44

Folder 45

Miscellaneous #05168, Series: "4. Activism, 1940s-1960s." Folder 45

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Other Papers 1924-1990s.

About 500 items.

Other papers consist chiefly of clippings, which are divided by decade. The Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church investigation, 1952-1953, and Jones's subsequent resignation are the most heavily-represented topics, but there is also substantial coverage of civil rights-related incidents, most of which directly involved Jones; other causes he was interested in, such as the high cost of funerals; and his resignation from the ministry, 1967. Jones also kept typed copies of press coverage, 1940s-1960s, dealing further with civil rights matters in which he was a participant. Awards and honors include the establishment of the Charles M. Jones Award by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (N.C.) branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. A small group of papers reflect the efforts, eventually successful, of Jones's grandson, Mark Pryor, to publish a biography of him. Fragments of autobiographical reminiscences and a copy of Jones's Maryville College transcript, 1924-1927, are also included.

Folder 46

Awards and honors #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 46

Folder 47

Clippings, 1940s #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 47

Folder 48-53

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

Folder 51

Folder 52

Folder 53

Clippings, 1950s #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 48-53

Folder 54-56

Folder 54

Folder 55

Folder 56

Clippings, 1960s #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 54-56

Folder 57

Clippings, 1970s-1990s #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 57

Folder 58-60

Folder 58

Folder 59

Folder 60

Typed copies of press coverage #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 58-60

Folder 61

Death and memorial #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 61

Folder 62

Jones biography #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 62

Folder 63

Miscellaneous #05168, Series: "5. Other Papers 1924-1990s." Folder 63

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jessica Tyree, October 2004

Encoded by: Jessica Tyree, October 2004

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