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Collection Number: 03597

Collection Title: Southeastern Cooperative League Records, 1939-1952

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 4.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2,850 items)
Abstract The Southeastern Cooperative League, an interracial organization established as the Southeastern Cooperative Education Association in 1940, became a federation of cooperatives in 1941. It worked to promote agricultural, consumer, manufacturing, and housing cooperatives throughout the Southeast from 1940 until its demise in the early 1950s. The collection includes correspondence of Southeastern Cooperative League officers Lee M. Brooks, Edward Yeomans, Elizabeth Lynch, Charles MacGill Smith, and Morris R. Mitchell; organizational records; educational materials; and materials relating to the cooperatives that were members of the Southeastern Cooperative League.
Creator Southeastern Cooperative League.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
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 Southeastern Cooperative League Records #3597, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Morris R. Mitchell, executive secretary of the League from 1946 to 1952, in October 1962.
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 Historical Information

The Southeastern Cooperative League grew out of the earlier Southeastern Cooperative Education Association (SCEA), established in 1940 by an interracial group of university professors and religious and labor leaders. The SCEA, which had resulted from interest aroused in cooperative education by two conferences on this topic in 1939 and 1940, sought to promote cooperatives in the southeastern states through public education. These states were Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. In 1941 the SCEA became a federation of cooperatives, renaming itself the Southeastern Cooperative League and affiliating itself with the Cooperative League of the U.S.A. In this new capacity it worked mainly to coordinate the efforts of member cooperatives, to provide them with guidance and information, and to sponsor educational conferences and workshops. The League hoped to establish a wholesale house for cooperative stores, but these plans never materialized. The League patterned its organization on the philosophy of the nineteenth-century Rochdale cooperative movement in England.

In its early years the League supported its efforts primarily through grants from the General Education Board and the Julius Rosenwald Fund. It also raised revenue through membership fees and the sale of literature. Later financial aid came from the Rochdale Institute and the National Cooperative League and from individual contributions. An executive committee, made up of the organization's officers and two representatives of cooperatives from each state, governed the League. The Executive Committee served primarily in an advisory capacity, while a handful of officers carried out the bulk of the organization's work.

Lee M. Brooks, University of North Carolina professor of sociology, served as the first president of the League, resigning in 1949. Edward Yeomans, a professor at West Georgia College, served as the organization's secretary-treasurer from 1940 to 1944, and operated the League's office in Carollton, Georgia. He acted as the primary organizer for the League. From 1941 to 1943 Elizabeth Lynch, assistant secretary, and Charles MacGill Smith, field representative, supported Yeoman's efforts. Because of wartime difficulties, the League found itself unable to respond adequately to its members' needs and existed mostly in name from 1942 to mid-1946. During this period it ceased to operate except as an information clearinghouse, with even this function dropping off dramatically. The League stayed alive primarily through the efforts of Morris R. Mitchell, founder of the Macedonia Cooperative Community in Clarkesville, Georgia. Mitchell became executive secretary in July 1946, and reopened a League office in Clarkesville. Under his direction, the League underwent a reorganization, with several new Executive Committee members added and D.R. Graham succeeding Lee M. Brooks as president. The League restored some of its educational and promotional functions, but it never again flourished, and finally folded in the early 1950s.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The office correspondence of Lee M. Brooks, Edward Yeomans, Elizabeth Lynch, Charles MacGill Smith, and Morris R. Mitchell makes up over half of this collection. This correspondence, arranged chronologically, appears in Series 1. Series 2 contains the organizational records of the Southeastern Cooperative League, including financial information, by-laws, minutes and reports, membership records, and publicity materials. Information on workshops and conferences sponsored by the League, cooperative schools recommended by the League, and study tours it sponsored appears in Series 3. Series 4 contains materials related to individual cooperatives that were members of the League.

The collection offers special opportunities for researchers interested in the southern cooperative movement, race relations, and African American history. A federation of cooperatives, the League maintained records rich in information on the difficulties of organizing in the South. The interracial aspects of the organization emerge both from the correspondence and from materials on interracial conferences and schools sponsored by or recommended by the League. Students of African American history will be particularly interested in the correspondence from African American Executive Committee members and League supporters and members (Series 1) and in the sources available on several individual African American cooperatives, including several well-organized efforts in Virginia and North Carolina (Series 4).

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1939-1952.

About 2,500 items.

Arrangement: chronological

Chiefly correspondence among the organization's officers concerning staffing, funding, projects, conferences, publicity, and other promotional activities. Also included is correspondence with member cooperatives, individuals interested in the cooperative movement, and League financial and ideological supporters. Note that some correspondence may be found on local cooperatives not mentioned in the inventory.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1939-1942.

About 1050 items.

Mostly in-house correspondence among Lee M. Brooks, Edward Yeomans, Elizabeth Lynch, Charles MacGill Smith, and Executive Committee members concerning the organization and plans of the League, its decision to become a federation, staffing, funding, in-house projects, plans for conferences, and publicity. Also included are requests for financial assistance, information, literature, films, and speakers by local cooperatives, and information on the Red Circle Stores Association, Inc. (Richmond, Va.), the Richmond Consumers Cooperative, Inc., the Blacksburg Consumer Cooperative (Blacksburg, Va.), and the Tyrrell County Consumers Co-operative Club (Columbia, N.C.). Correspondents of note are Albon L. Holsey, E. R. Bowen, Wallace Campbell, John Hope II, C. B. Loomis, James Myers, W. A. Shields, C. Jack McLanahan, and Samuel Rosenberg.

Folder 1-14

Folder 1

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder 4

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

1939-1942 #03597, Subseries: "1.1. 1939-1942." Folder 1-14

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1943-June 1946.

About 150 items.

Mostly letters discussing the financial difficulties faced by the League, fundraising possibilities, the closing of the Carrollton office, the resignations of Yeomans, Lynch, and Smith, and the uncertain status of the organization. Also included are requests for information and assistance. Correspondents of note are C. Jack McClanahan and C. B. Loomis.

Folder 15-17

Folder 15

Folder 16

Folder 17

1943-June 1946 #03597, Subseries: "1.2. 1943-June 1946." Folder 15-17

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. July 1946-1949.

About 1,250 items.

Primarily the correspondence of Morris R. Mitchell, with scattered correspondence of Lee M. Brooks and Edward Yeomans (who maintained correspondence for the League after his resignation). Most letters are about the League's reorganization, the opening of a new office, fundraising, the organization's relationship with the Cooperative League of the U.S.A. and Eastern Cooperatives, Inc., the organization's legal status, Mitchell's speaking engagements, and several European study tours sponsored by the League. Also included is Mitchell's correspondence concerning the possible founding of a university associated with Rochdale Institute, and his decision to take a teaching position in Putney, Ver. Correspondents of note are George Meany, Charles S. Johnson, Frank P. Graham, Hubert Jackson, Russell J. Brooke, Jerry Voorhis, and Samuel Rosenberg. Correspondence contains information on the Cedartown Cooperative, Inc. (Cedartown, Ga.). There is no correspondence for 1950.

Folder 18-39

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

Folder 22

Folder 23

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

Folder 37

Folder 38

Folder 39

1939-1942 #03597, Subseries: "1.3. July 1946-1949." Folder 18-39

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. 1951-1952.

About 50 items.

Mostly correspondence about European study tours Mitchell led. Also included are letters requesting information and aid. Of special note is correspondence with Gillis E. Cheek of Shaw University concerning North Carolina cooperatives.

Folder 40

1951-1952 #03597, Subseries: "1.4. 1951-1952." Folder 40

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Organizational Records, 1939-1949.

About 230 items.

Includes limited financial records, publicity materials, and miscellaneous office records.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Financial Records, 1940-1949 and undated.

18 items.

Arrangement: chronological

Balance sheets, literature sales records, and study tour expenses, as well as a ledger of finances from May-November 194?

Folder 41

Finances, 1941-1948 #03597, Subseries: "2.1. Financial Records, 1940-1949 and undated." Folder 41

Folder 42

Finances: Ledger #03597, Subseries: "2.1. Financial Records, 1940-1949 and undated." Folder 42

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Publicity Material, 1939-1949.

About 90 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical by type

Includes copies of the League's newsletter, the Southeastern Cooperator (1940-1943, incomplete), copies of the Carroll County Cooperative Project's Newsletter, press releases, newspaper clippings, and a promotional pamphlet.

Folder 43

Newsletter: Southeastern Cooperator #03597, Subseries: "2.2. Publicity Material, 1939-1949." Folder 43

Folder 44

Newsletter: Carroll County Cooperative Project #03597, Subseries: "2.2. Publicity Material, 1939-1949." Folder 44

Folder 45

Newspaper Clippings #03597, Subseries: "2.2. Publicity Material, 1939-1949." Folder 45

Folder 46

Press Releases #03597, Subseries: "2.2. Publicity Material, 1939-1949." Folder 46

Folder 47

Promotional Pamphlet #03597, Subseries: "2.2. Publicity Material, 1939-1949." Folder 47

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949.

About 120 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical by type.

The League's by-laws, membership records, reports to the Executive Committee and Julius Rosenwald Fund, in-house memoranda, minutes of Executive Committee and other meetings, planning documents, lists of cooperatives in the Southeast, miscellaneous reports, forms, informational sheets, and instructional materials, information on wholesalers, printed and typescript articles concerning cooperatives, and miscellaneous publications, pamphlets, etc., on other cooperative organizations. Also included is one copy of Histoire des Equitables Pionniers de Rochdale by George-Jacob Holyoake

Folder 48

By-Laws #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 48

Folder 49

Development Plans #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 49

Folder 50

Forms, Informational Sheets, and Instructional Materials #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 50

Folder 51

Lists of Southeastern Cooperatives #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 51

Folder 52

Membership/Mailing Lists #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 52

Folder 53

Memoranda #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 53

Folder 54

Minutes #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 54

Folder 55

Miscellaneous Material #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 55

Folder 56

Miscellaneous Reports #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 56

Folder 57

Printed Articles #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 57

Folder 58

Reports to Directors #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 58

Folder 59

Rochdale History #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 59

Folder 60

Typescript Articles #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 60

Folder 61

Wholesalers #03597, Subseries: "2.3. Other Material, 1939-1949." Folder 61

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Educational Material, 1939-1949.

About 70 items.

Information on conferences, cooperative schools, and study tours either sponsored by or recommended by the League.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949.

About 50 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Programs, registration lists, agendas, reports, transcripts, and other information on sixteen conferences either sponsored by or recommended by the League. (Only some of these types of material are available for each conference.) Included are materials on the Southeastern Regional Conference on Cooperation (1939) and the Southeastern Regional Conference on Adult Education and Cooperation (1940) out of which the SCEA developed.

Folder 62

Second Southeastern Regional Conference, Adult Education, April 1939 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 62

Folder 63

First Southeastern Regional Conference on Cooperation, May 1939 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 63

Folder 64

Southeastern Regional Conference on Adult Education and Cooperation, May 1940 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 64

Folder 65

Institute on Cooperatives, May 1940 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 65

Folder 66

Third Southeastern Conference on Cooperatives, November 1940 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 66

Folder 67

Conference of Southeastern Mountain Workers, March 1941 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 67

Folder 68

Louisiana State University Conference on Cooperative Education, April 1941 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 68

Folder 69

Subregional Conference on Cooperative Education, May 1941 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 69

Folder 70

Southeastern Cooperative Education Association, Regional Conference, May 1941 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 70

Folder 71

Louisiana Conference on Social Welfare, May 1941 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 71

Folder 72

Conference on Consumer Cooperation, November 1941 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 72

Folder 73

Southern Cooperative League, Second Annual Meeting, January 1942 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 73

Folder 74

American Institute of Cooperation, Atlanta, Ga., January 1942 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 74

Folder 75

Hampton Institute Workshop on Cooperatives, March 1942 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 75

Folder 76

SCL-FSA Workshop on Cooperatives, July 1942 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 76

Folder 77

Cooperative Educational Institute, Raleigh, N.C., February 1949 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 77

Folder 78

Associated Cooperatives, Inc., Quarterly Co-op Conference, May 1949 #03597, Subseries: "3.1. Conference Material, 1939-1949." Folder 78

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.2. Cooperative School Material, 1945-1949.

Arrangement: alphabetical by title.

Material on the Rochdale Institute (newsletters, pamphlet, mimeographed course listings) and the Highlander Folk School's Farmer-Labor School (one mimeographed program).

Folder 79

Highlander Folk School (Farmer-Labor School) #03597, Subseries: "3.2. Cooperative School Material, 1945-1949." Folder 79

Folder 80

Rochdale Institute #03597, Subseries: "3.2. Cooperative School Material, 1945-1949." Folder 80

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.3. Study Tour Material, 1949.

13 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Mimeographed informational material sent to participants in the 1948 and 1949 League study tours Morris R. Mitchell led to Europe, and mimeographed reports and by-laws of Youth Argosy, Inc., through which the tours were organized. Of note is a 29-page typescript report by Edmond H. Runcorn on the 1949 study tour to England, Denmark, and Sweden.

Folder 81

Study Tour Material #03597, Subseries: "3.3. Study Tour Material, 1949." Folder 81

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948.

About 40 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical by title.

Membership applications, newsletters, mimeographed flyers, by-laws, financial statements, typescript reports, and pamphlets on nine local cooperatives, including several African American cooperatives in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Important information on these and other cooperatives not represented here may also be found attached to correspondence in Series 1.

Folder 82

Aberdeen Association, Inc., Hampton, Va. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 82

Folder 83

Hampton Roads Cooperative Association, Hampton, Va. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 83

Folder 84

Lynchburg Consumers Cooperative, Inc., Lynchburg, Va. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 84

Folder 85

North Carolina Council of Credit Unions and Associates, Inc. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 85

Folder 86

Red Circle Stores Association, Inc., Richmond, Va. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 86

Folder 87

Richmond Consumers Co-operative, Inc., Richmond, Va. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 87

Folder 88

Rockingham Co-operative Farm Bureau, Inc., Harrisonburg, Va. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 88

Folder 89

Tyrrell County Consumers Cooperative, Inc., Columbia, N.C. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 89

Folder 90

University-John Hope Homes Cooperative, Atlanta, Ga. #03597, Series: "4. Member Cooperative Material, 1941-1948." Folder 90

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Pictures, 1940s.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, February 1990

Encoded by: Tim Pyatt, July 1998

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