Tuskegee, 1943. Item #99-8228
Oblong 2.5 x 6", dark blue leather, gilt lettering on cover, pastel colored pages, all edges gilt, unpaginated. Covers have light wear, spine torn/splitting, covers a little loose else contents good. Ink name inside covers "Hertha A. Priest Tuskegee Institute Alabama summer '43". Hertha Annelle Priest (later Jenkins) graduated with a Masters Degree in Arts in 1939 from Wayne State University and was a pioneering member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority founded by African-American women. She was the first African American vocational guidance counselor in the Detroit Public School system. A few years after graduating she spent the summer of 1943 as a house mother at White Hall, the main women's dormitory at Tuskegee Institute. There are over 100 entries with very few blank pages. The messages are warm and affectionate, almost all are dated between August 8-29, 1943 (a couple have the wrong year). Many have listed their home addresses. Not all the contributions are from the young women to their "mother" but also people that she met during her brief stay there. Some of the contributors: J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr., mathematician who worked on the Manhattan Project; Warren E. Henry, physicist who conducted top secret work on military radar systems (both men played bridge with Priest); Luther H. Foster, Jr., business manager at Tuskegee and later its fourth president; Edward C. Miller, an architect who designed many of the buildings at Moton Field, Tuskegee; Gilbert A. Cargill, a primary flight instructor at Moton Field; Walter J. Love, Tuskegee ROTC instructor; Neal McFadden, Miss Tuskegee; R.M. Hooker, Academia Militar de Nicaragua plus many others. Of interest is the three page (only multiple page) entry from Jessie P. Guzman, Dean of Women, who wrote "I have been very much interested in the reaction of our girls to your presence among them this summer. They do not know, and perhaps you do not either, that one of our purposes in wanting you here this summer was with the hope that Tuskegee would have a stronger appeal than Detroit has, but I find the odds are against Tuskegee. I am glad that the girls have received you so warmly and I join them in extending you an invitation to return to Tuskegee whenever possible." Additionally, Guzman was a writer, archivist, historian, educator. The contributors came from seventeen states and two countries, Nicaragua and the Virgin Islands. An interesting time period in Tuskegee's history.