Helen Jackson Claytor papers: 1924-2005 (bulk 1955-1985)
Summary Information
Title: Helen Jackson Claytor papers
Creator: Claytor, Helen Jackson.
Inclusive dates: 1924-2005
Bulk dates: 1955-1985
Extent: 6 linear feet
Extent: 1 oversize volume
Extent: 1 oversize folder
Abstract:
Grand Rapids, Michigan, clubwoman, officer in the Grand Rapids chapter of the Young Women's Christian Association, president of the national YWCA, 1967-1973. Primarily speeches delivered on topics relating to the YWCA, civil rights, citizenship, and the family; speeches reflect in part her thoughts as a black woman on questions of school and housing segregation; and photographs.
Call number: 8763 Aa 2; Ac
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Gregory Kinney (December 1986) Lanell E. James (January 2007)

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of Helen Jackson Claytor (donor no. 7193) and came to the library in 1984. A second acquisition was received on June 29, 2006, and came from her daughter Judith Claytor.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Helen Jackson Claytor papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

Helen Jackson Claytor was born April 12, 1907 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was here that she began her lifelong association with the Young Women's Christian Association as a member of the girl reserves. She graduated from the University of- Minnesota with an education degree in 1928.

Unable to find a teaching job, Claytor took a position with the YWCA in Trenton, New Jersey for two years and then moved to a similar position in Kansas City. There she married Earl Wilkins, a journalist and the brother of NAACP director Roy Wilkins. Claytor gave up her job until her husband became seriously ill, at which time she began to work for a black YWCA chapter in Kansas City. Following Earl Wilkins' death, Claytor accepted a position with the national YWCA as secretary for Interracial Education. In 1943, she married Dr. Robert Claytor of Grand Rapids, Michigan. After completing a study of race relations for the YWCA national board, Mrs. Claytor resigned her staff position but remained active in local and national YWCA affairs.

In 1949, Claytor was elected president of the Grand Rapids, YWCA. She was the first black woman to head an integrated YWCA chapter. She served on the national board of the YWCA, 1946-1973, and was also a member of the YWCA World Council, 1946-1952 and 1967-1972. Mrs. Claytor was elected to two terms as president of the national YWCA, 1967-1973.

Helen Claytor died May 10, 2005.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Helen J. Claytor papers primarily document her leadership in both the National and Grand Rapids YWCA, her community work on a local and national level, as well as the speeches she delivered, ca. 1940-1985, on topics relating to her activities in the YWCA, the civil rights movement, and the Episcopal Church.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • African Americans -- Michigan -- Grand Rapids.
  • Civil rights -- United States.
  • Grand Rapids (Mich.) -- Race relations.
  • Women -- Michigan -- Grand Rapids -- Societies and clubs.
  • Young Women's Christian Associations.
  • African American women -- Michigan.
  • African Americans -- Women.
  • Lebanon.
  • Women.
  • Young Women's Christian Associations.
  • Photographs.
  • Young Women's Christian Association (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
  • Claytor, Helen Jackson.
  • Claytor, Helen Jackson.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Biographical/ Personal 1924-2005 [series]

The first series, Biographical/Personal (approx. 1 linear feet) spans the dates 1924-2005, and includes various awards and their corresponding acceptance speeches, date books and calendars, biographical sketches and resumes, and several folders of magazine articles by or about Mrs. Claytor. Of particular note is a scrapbook chronicling her life from 1924 to 1988.

Box   1  
Date Books and Calendars 1950-1980s (3 folders)
Box   1  
Sketches/Resumes undated, 1963, 1965, 1985
Box   1  
Funeral/ Memorial Service 2005
 
Correspondence
Box   1  
Cards and Letters undated, 1946, 1960-2003 (2 folders)
Box   1  
White House Invitations 1968-1970
 
Awards 1967-1985
Box   1  
Michigan State Medical Society Award 1971

(photographs)

Box   1  
Beahan Award 1993
Box   1  
"E" Quality Award 2000
Box   1  
The Mayor's All-America City Award January 1, 1964
Box   1  
Michigan Women Hall of Fame 1985 (2 folders)
Oversize Folder   1  
Michigan Youth Commission, certificates of appointment

(located at Ac)

 
Helen Claytor Day 1973
Box   1  
Correspondence
Box   1  
Album
Box   1  
Helen J. Claytor Merit of Distinction Award 1983
Box   1  
Junior Achievement Award (includes photographs) May 16, 2001
Box   1  
Various Awards and Distinctions 1948, 1955, 1967-2002 (2 folders)
 
Magazine and Newspaper Articles (by and about Helen Claytor)
Box   1  
Various Articles (by and about) undated, 1941-1977, 1990, 1993-2002 (2 folders)

(see also oversize folder)

Box   1  
Religious Faith Series in Grand Rapids Press 1955
Box   1  
Flair Section of the Grand Rapids Press 2000
Oversize Volume   1  
Scrapbook circa 1924-1988 (scattered dates)
 
Degrees 1928-1985
Box   2  
Aquinas College (Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree) 1985
Box   2  
Eastern Michigan (Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree) 1968

(includes photographs)

Box   2  
University of Minnesota 1928, 1967-1968
Box   2  
Western Michigan University (Doctor of Public Service Honorary Degree) 1972
 
Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) 1939-1990 [series]

The second series, Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) (approx. 1.5 linear feet) spans the dates 1939-1990 and contains materials related to Helen Claytor's leadership activities in the YWCA. It is divided into three subseries: General, Grand Rapids Branch, and National Branch. General includes various newspaper clippings related to Helen Claytor's career from 1940 to 1990, her personal notes on religion and worship, as well as several professional photographs. Grand Rapids Branch, 1949-1985, includes committee materials, early Board of Director documents, and correspondence. National Branch, 1939-1989, includes general administrative materials, correspondence, as well as large topical file covering civil rights, housing, race relations, women, and youth. Of particular note is Helen Claytor's 1944 groundbreaking manuscript, "Interracial Practice in Community YWCA's."

 
General 1940-1990
Box   2  
Newspaper Clippings 1940s-1990s (5 folders)
 
Notes 1940-1985
Box   2  
Religion and Worship 1950-1968
Box   2  
YWCA Conventions 1940-1965, 1968-1985 (2 folders)
Box   2  
Miscellaneous Press and Publications 1955-1980
Box   2  
Presidential Nomination Materials 1967
Box   2  
Photographs (Professional) 1964-1985
 
Grand Rapids Branch 1949-1985
Box   2  
Annual Meeting Materials 1957, 1968-1980
Box   2  
Association Review 1954, 1970, 1976 (2 folders)
Box   2  
Board of Directors 1949, 1967
Box   2  
Capital Fund Campaign Committee 1980-1985
Box   2  
Constitution and By-laws 1960, 1980
Box   2  
Correspondence 1950-1967, 1985
Box   2  
Council of Michigan YWCA's undated
Box   2  
Michigan Youth Commission's "Open-Ended" Conference 1967
Box   2  
Programs 1950-1951, 1968, 1979
 
National Branch 1939-1989
 
General 1949-1989
Box   3  
Bureau of Communications 1949, 1953-1971
Box   3  
Constitution and By-laws circa 1970s (2 folders)
Box   3  
Correspondence 1950-1967, 1988-1989
Box   3  
Financial Materials 1960
Box   3  
Programs 1964, 1967
 
Topical Files 1939-1988
Box   3  
Civil Rights 1949, 1959, 1963
 
Commission to Study the YWCA as a Christian Movement
Box   3  
Undated 1960-1964
Box   3  
1965 (3 folders)
Box   3  
1966
Box   3  
Reports and Printed Works undated, 1964-1965
Box   3  
Housing: "Open Doors: A YWCA Guide for Open Housing," 1960
 
Institute for Leadership in Intergroup Relations 1960, 1969
Box   3  
Leadership Kit February 1-5, 1960
Box   3  
Notes and Correspondence undated, 1960, 1969
 
Race Relations undated, 1939-1971
Box   3  
Correspondence undated, 1955-1971
Box   3  
Notes 1939 (2 folders)
 
Institutional Racism (One Imperative: Eliminate Racism)
Box   3  
Action Audit for Change 1970-1971
Box   3  
"Interracial Practices in Community YWCA's" 1944
Box   3  
Miscellaneous Printed Works undated, 1970
Box   4  
National Racial Justice Institute 1969
Box   4  
Women, Correspondence and Notes undated, 1952-1968, 1988
 
Youth 1967
Box   4  
Press Conference of Youth Opportunity 1967
Box   4  
Summer Youth Demonstration Project 1967
 
Grand Rapids Community Work 1952-1983 [series]

The third series, Grand Rapids Community Work (approx. 1.5 linear feet) spans the dates 1952-1983, and contains materials related to Helen Claytor's community relations activities in Grand Rapid. The Grand Rapids materials, 1952-1983, are organized by topic covering education, housing, urban renewal, and busing, and includes committee materials, correspondence, personal notes, newspapers clippings, reports, and essays.

 
Education 1953-1981
 
Board of Education 1955-1981
Box   4  
Citizen's Committee Minutes 1965-1966
Box   4  
Committee for Better Education 1955, 1967-1968
Box   4  
Calendars and Notes 1961-1970, 1981
Box   4  
Committee on Compulsory Education undated, 1966
 
Desegregation 1954-1966
Box   4  
Correspondence 1954, 1966
Box   4  
Newspaper Clippings 1966
 
Racial Imbalance Committee 1953-1968
Box   4  
Maps and Statistics 1965-1968
Box   4  
Newspaper Clippings 1966
Box   4  
Reports and Supplemental Writing 1953-1966 (2 folders)
 
Housing: Human Relations Commission (Housing Committee) 1952-1965
Box   4  
Correspondence and Notes 1963
Box   4  
Incorporation Materials and Policies 1963
Box   4  
Minutes 1959-1965
Box   4  
Press Materials, undated 1955, 1965
Box   4  
Reports (submitted by other organizations) undated, 1952-1957, 1960-1962 (3 folders)
Box   4  
Short Essay Analysis (submitted by other organizations) 1956-1963
Box   4  
State Advisory Committee 1956
 
Urban Renewal 1960-1963
Box   5  
Urban Renewal Advisory Committee (State of Michigan) 1962
Box   5  
Newspaper Clippings 1960, 1961, 1967
Box   5  
Workable Programs 1957, 1960-1963 (2 folders)
 
Other Topics 1970-1983
 
Busing 1970-1973
Box   5  
Essays 1970-1973
Box   5  
Newspaper Clippings 1972-1973
Box   5  
Church Women United 1993
 
Creston Neighborhood Association 1981-1982
Box   5  
Awards and Notes 1981
Box   5  
Board of Directors 1981
Box   5  
Newsletters 1981-1982
Box   5  
Community Relations Commission, Commemorative Anniversary Celebration 1983
 
Hospice of Grand Rapids 1981-1983
Box   5  
Board of Directors 1981-1983
Box   5  
Nominating Committee 1981-1982
 
National Conferences / Committees 1960-1971 [series]

The fourth series, National Conferences / Committees (0.5 linear feet) spans the dates 1960-1971 and primarily documents Helen Claytor's participation in the White House conference called "To Fulfill These Rights," and include agendas, memorabilia, correspondence, newspaper clippings, reports, and photographs.

Box   5  
Conference on Children and Youth 1960

(includes photographs)

 
To Fulfill These Rights (White House Conference) 1965-1966
Box   5  
Agendas and Participants 1965-1966
Box   5  
Correspondence 1965-1966
Box   5  
Newspaper Clippings 1966
Box   5  
Notes and Memorabilia 1966
Box   5  
Programs and Booklets 1966
Box   5  
Reports 1965-1966
Box   5  
Women's Advisory Committee for the Office of Economic Opportunity 1971
 
Speeches undated, 1940-1985 [series]

The last series, Speeches (approx. 1.5 linear feet), spans the dates 1940-1985. This series has been arranged in two broad categories based on the audience to which they were given. The first group includes speeches Mrs. Claytor delivered to various YWCA groups in her capacity as a YWCA staff member or officer. The speeches cover a range of topics including, the interracial practices and policies of the YWCA, the YWCA as a vehicle for social change, the YWCA position on post-World War II nationalist movements, the importance of volunteer service organizations, and the role of women and women's organizations in the United States. The second category of speeches reflects some similar themes, but was delivered to non-YWCA audiences. There are a number of speeches, ca. 1940-1981, on civil rights and racial equality in general, and several addressing the questions of school and housing segregation in Grand Rapids. Other topics include citizenship, women's organizations, the family, and religious worship.

The speeches have been foldered by individual speech title or by speech subject. Mrs. Claytor often used several versions of a speech and frequently incorporated parts of one speech into another. As a result, a text may contain several pagination sequences. An attempt has been made to reconstruct the original speech and file with it speeches that incorporated part of the original text. In some cases, the more significant speeches in a subject file have been individually cited in the contents list.

 
YWCA Groups [subseries]
 
undated, 1940s
Box   5  
"One World Under God"
Box   5  
"New Trends in the YWCA"
Box   5  
"The YWCA and the Good Life"
Box   5  
"External Tensions in the Community and World"
Box   5  
"From Faith to Action in the YWCA"
Box   5  
"Building a Responsible Unity"
Box   5  
"Reaching Individual Security Through World Cooperation"
Box   5  
"World Citizenship"
 
1941-1949
Box   5  
"Relation of the YWCA to National Defense," 1941
Box   5  
"YWCA as a Movement," 1941
Box   5  
"YWCA and World Fellowship," 1944, 1952
Box   5  
"The YWCA and the Coming World Order," circa 1945
Box   5  
Reports on YWCA World Council Meeting, Hangchow, China 1947
Box   5  
YWCA World Council Committee on Status of Women 1948
Box   5  
"The YWCA: An Institution and a Social Force," 1948, 1953
Box   5  
"Grand Rapids YWCA President's Report 1949, 1950
Box   5  
"Women of Valor," 1949, 1953
 
1951-1959
Box   5  
Reports on YWCA World Council Meeting, Beirut 1951-1952
Box   5  
"Through the Barriers of Nationalism," 1951
Box   5  
"The YWCA Does a Vital Job," 1952
Box   5  
"YWCA and the Refugee Problem," 1952
Box   5  
Speeches on Mid East Tour (includes photographs) 1953
Box   5  
YWCA Centennial Speeches 1953-1954
Box   5  
Speeches on "Y Teens," 1954-1955
Box   5  
YWCA Public Affairs Program 1955
Box   5  
Workshop on Cooperation 1956
Box   5  
"Balancing," 1957-1959
 
1960-1970
Box   5  
"The Value of Committed Volunteers to the YWCA," 1960

(includes other notes on voluntarism)

Box   5  
Role of YWCA in the 1960s
Box   5  
"National Interest in Intergroup Relations," 1960
Box   5  
"Looking in to the 1960s" 1961
Box   5  
"Winds of Change," 1962
Box   5  
"New Dimensions and New Demands," 1962
Box   5  
"Youth Work Comes Alive," 1962
Box   5  
"Where You Can Belong," 1962
Box   5  
YWCA Leadership Workshop 1962
Box   5  
"The Meaning of Belonging to the YWCA," 1963, 1964, 1966
Box   5  
"She Would Rather Light a Candle," 1964
Box   5  
Speech to World Fellowship Meeting, Detroit 1966
Box   6  
"The YWCA as a Christian Movement," 1966, 1967
Box   6  
Speeches for YWCA Chapter Anniversaries 1966-1970
Box   6  
Minneapolis, 75th Anniversary 1966
Box   6  
Cleveland, 100th Anniversary 1968
Box   6  
Greenwich, 50th Anniversary 1968
Box   6  
Mt. Vernon, 50th Anniversary 1968
Box   6  
Los Angeles, 75th Anniversary 1969
Box   6  
Germantown, 100th Anniversary 1970
Box   6  
Workshop Speeches 1967-1968
Box   6  
YWCA National Convention 1967
Box   6  
Speeches at National Board Meetings 1968-1970
Box   6  
"Black Leadership in the YWCA," 1969
Box   6  
Speeches to Regional YWCA Meetings 1969
Box   6  
"Unity in a Shared Struggle," 1970
 
1971-1985
Box   6  
YWCA World Council Meeting 1971
Box   6  
Speeches at YWCA Chapter Meetings 1972-1979
Box   6  
"The 'Y' and I," 1974
Box   6  
"The 'W' Makes a Difference," 1975
Box   6  
Speech to Detroit World Service Council 1977
Box   6  
"Membership: A Survival Issue for the YWCA 1977
Box   6  
"New Trends in Voluntarism," 1978
 
Non-YWCA Groups undated, 1940-1981 [subseries]
 
Race Relations undated, 1940-1981
Box   6  
Undated, circa 1940-1949
Box   6  
1950-1959
Box   6  
1960-1981
Box   6  
School Desegregation in Grand Rapids 1954
Box   6  
Housing Segregation in Grand Rapids 1950s
Box   6  
Grand Rapids Human Relations Commission 1952-1962
Box   6  
Human Relations Speeches 1953-1969
Box   6  
National Steering Committee for Civil Rights 1963
Box   6  
Speech to National Association of Social Workers 1965
Box   6  
Role of Women's Organizations undated, 1944, 1962
Box   6  
Speeches to Women's Organizations 1959-1969
Box   6  
"Mother Speech," 1949, 1968, 1971, 1981
Box   6  
Freedom Agenda Forum 1956
Box   6  
Freedom and Responsibility 1968
Box   6  
Worship Speeches 1955-1969
Box   6  
Speeches to Church Groups 1955-1978
Box   6  
White House Conference on Children 1960
Box   6  
Testimonials and Introductions by Helen Claytor 1967-1968
Box   6  
Book Reviews circa 1964, 1978