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Collection Number: 05252

Collection Title: Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002

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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 FAQ section for more information.


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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 600 items)
Abstract Physics professor and activist Joseph Ward Straley (1914-2005) was born in Paulding, Ohio. Straley joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina in 1945; he retired from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980. Straley was dedicated to a wide range of social justice issues, including desegregation, civil rights, freedom of speech, academic freedom, and injustice in Central America. He, along with the Reverend Charles Jones, helped start the racially integrated Community Church of Chapel Hill in 1953; served as chair of the Committee of Concerned Citizens, a group of Chapel Hill residents dedicated to civil rights, 1964-1965; was co-chair of the Orange County Energy Conservation Task Force, 1975; and was active in the Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central America, 1987-2002. Straley was also an elected member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, 1980-1984. Straley and his wife Lucy had a daughter, Lesley, and two sons, Joseph Jr. and David. The collection includes essays, correspondence, pamphlets, newsletters, clippings, audiotapes, a videotape, photographs, Straley's FBI file, and other items relating to Straley's education, causes in which he was interested, and other topics. There are materials relating to the North Carolina Speaker Ban law, to which Straley was opposed; clippings of opinion and other pieces Straley wrote chiefly about Central America; materials on communism, including a 1949 letter to University of North Carolina Chancellor R. B. House from Straley about his not being a Communist; sermons by Charles Jones and materials relating to him and to the Community Church; materials relating to African American politician Howard Lee's unsuccessful 1976 North Carolina lieutenant governor bid; and notebooks from Straley's 1984-1985 trip to Central America that contain detailed information on meetings Straley had with local activists and other residents.
Creator Straley, Joseph W., 1914-
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
Use of audio or video materials may require production of listening or viewing copies.
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 Joseph W. Straley Papers #5252, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from David Straley of Durham, N.C., in December 2005 (Acc. 100307).
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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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

Physics professor and activist Joseph Ward Straley was born 6 October 1914 in Paulding, Ohio. Upon earning his Ph.D. in physics from the Ohio State University in 1941, Straley taught briefly at the University of Toledo before joining the faculty of the University of North Carolina in 1945. He retired from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980.

Straley was dedicated to a wide range of social justice issues, including desegregation, civil rights, freedom of speech, academic freedom, and injustice in Central America. He, along with the Reverend Charles Jones, helped start the racially integrated Community Church of Chapel Hill in 1953; served as chair of the Committee of Concerned Citizens, a group of Chapel Hill residents dedicated to civil rights, 1964-1965; was co-chair of the Orange County Energy Conservation Task Force, 1975; and was active in the Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central America, 1987-2002. Straley was also an elected member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, 1980-1984.

Straley and his wife Lucy had a daughter, Lesley, and two sons, Joseph Jr. and David. Straley died in September 2005 at the age of 90.

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Papers of physics professor Joseph W. Straley, who taught at the University of North Carolina, 1945-1980, include essays, correspondence, pamphlets, newsletters, clippings, audiotapes, a videotape, photographs, Straley's FBI file, and other items relating to Straley's education, causes in which he was interested, and other topics. There are materials relating to the North Carolina Speaker Ban law, to which Straley was opposed; clippings of opinion and other pieces Straley wrote chiefly about Central America; materials on communism, including a 1949 letter to University of North Carolina Chancellor R. B. House from Straley about his not being a Communist; sermons by Charles Jones and materials relating to him and to the Community Church in Chapel Hill, N.C.; materials relating to African American politician Howard Lee's unsuccessful 1976 North Carolina lieutenant governor bid; and notebooks from Straley's 1984-1985 trip to Central America that contain detailed information on meetings Straley had with local activists and other residents.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002.

About 600 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical.

Folder 1

Academics, 1936-1944 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 1

Transcripts and report cards from the Ohio State University and correspondence relating to Straley's employment at the University of Toledo and the University of North Carolina.

Folder 2

American Association of University Professors (AAUP), 1964-1968 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 2

Straley was president of the North Carolina Conference of the AAUP when the North Carolina Speaker Ban law, an effort to prevent Communists from appearing on state-owned college and university property, was in place. He was a vocal opponent of the ban, which was declared unconstitutional in 1968.

Folder 3

Campaign Bumper Stickers #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 3

Folder 4-9

Folder 4

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central America (CITCA) newsletters, 1987-2002 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 4-9

Folder 10

Clippings, 1986-1990 and undated #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 10

Primarily opinion and other pieces written by Straley pertaining chiefly to Central America.

Folder 11-12

Folder 11

Folder 12

Committee of Concerned Citizens, 1963-1964 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 11-12

Local group was dedicated to civil rights and ending segregation in Chapel Hill.

Folder 13

Communism, 1949 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 13

Included is a 28 May 1949 letter from Straley to Chancellor R. B. House stating that Straley was not a Communist.

Folder 14

Dunne, John, 1982-1983 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 14

Dunne was a University of North Carolina student in the early 1960s prominent in civil rights protests. He was arrested numerous times for attempting to integrate theaters, restaurants, and other facilities in Chapel Hill and was sentenced to prison during his senior year. The sentence was later commuted by Governor Terry Sanford, and Dunne completed his studies at Harvard University. He died of cancer in December 1982, and Straley assisted in organizing a memorial service for him in Chapel Hill. Included are papers relating to the service and his death.

Folder 15-16

Folder 15

Folder 16

Energy and physics essays #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 15-16

Folder 17-18

Folder 17

Folder 18

Straley's FBI file #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 17-18

Folder 19

Jones, Charles, 1964-1995 (bulk 1964) #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 19

Charles Miles Jones, Christian minister and social justice activist, spent most of his ecclesiastical career in Chapel Hill, N.C., first as the head of the Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church and later as the first minister of the racially integrated Community Church, which Straley helped found. Materials are chiefly sermons preached by Jones and information about him and about the Community Church.

Folder 20

Lee, Howard, 1976 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 20

Primarily materials relating to African American politician Howard Lee's unsuccessful 1976 North Carolina lieutenant governor bid.

Folder 21

McCarthy, Eugene, 1967-1969 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 21

Folder 22

Miscellaneous: General #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 22

Folder 23

Miscellaneous: Correspondence #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 23

Folder 24

Notebooks from trip to Central America, 1984-1985 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 24

Two notebooks containing detailed notes and transcripts of interviews from meetings with local activists and residents with whom Straley met during his travels.

Folder 25-26

Folder 25

Folder 26

Orange County Energy Conservation Task Force, 1975 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 25-26

Folder 27

Radical newspapers #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 27

Folder 28

Speaker Ban, 1963-1968 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 28

Folder 29

Town Council: Joe Straley's newsletter, 1979-1983 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 29

Folder 30

Town Council: Re-election: Expenses #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 30

Folder 31

Town Council: Re-election: General #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." Folder 31

Audiotape C-5252/1-2

C-5252/1

C-5252/2

William Sloan Coffin, 6 November 1988 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." C-5252/1-2

Audiotape C-5252/3

William Sloan Coffin, 6 November 1988 (master) #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." C-5252/3

Audiotape C-5252/4

Oscar Romero, 23 March 1980 #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." C-5252/4

Museum Item MU-5252

Political buttons #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." MU-5252

Oversize Image OP-P-5252/1

McCarthy Campaign peace poster #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." OP-P-5252/1

Image Folder P-5252/1

Photographs #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." P-5252/1

Three undated photographs: one of Lucy Straley; one of what appears to be the Duke University Chapel; and one of two individuals, possibly Straleys.

Videotape VT-5252/1

Bible Belt Justice in the Southern Part of Heaven (Running time: 29 minutes) #05252, Series: "Joseph W. Straley Papers, 1936-2002." VT-5252/1

Discusses the Reverend Charles Miles Jones, a Presbyterian minister who attempted to integrate his North Carolina church and was dismissed for his attempts. Includes interviews with Chapel Hill residents, including several founding members of the church he formed after his dismissal, the Community Church of Chapel Hill (United Church of Christ).

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jodi Berkowitz, July 2006

Encoded by: Jodi Berkowitz, July 2006

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