Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers, 1929-1976
Biographical Note: Dr. T.R.M. Howard
Scope and Content: Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers, 1929-1976
Biography | Manuscripts | Correspondence
Programs | Howard For Congress | Serials
Clippings | Scrapbooks | Oversized Clippings
Audiovisual (A/V) | Photographs | Memorabilia
|Provenance:||Donation of David Beito and Linda Royster Beito, 2009, which they received as a gift from Edith Boyd, Helen Howard’s sister-in-law. Additional donations were received from the research files of David and Linda Royster Beito, 2008 and 2010.|
|Size:||3 linear feet (7 archival boxes)|
|Repository:||Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library (Chicago Public Library), 9525 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60628|
|Citations:||When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is:|
Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers [Box #, Folder #], Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library
|Processed by:||Traci Parker, Harsh Archival Processing Project|
|Supervised by:||Michael Flug, Senior Archivist, Harsh Archival Processing Project|
Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard (1908-1976)
Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard was a physician, civil rights activist and entrepreneur. He was born Theodore Roosevelt Howard to Arthur and Mary Howard on March 4, 1908 in Murray, Ky. He later adopted the name “Mason” in honor of Will Mason, his childhood mentor and a prominent local white doctor and member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Howard attended three Seventh-day Adventist colleges: Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala., from which he graduated in 1927; Union College in Lincoln, Neb., where he received his bachelor of science degree in 1931; and the College of Medical Evangelists in Loma Linda, Calif., from which he received his doctor of medicine degree in 1936. While at Union College, Howard was an active member of the American Anti-Saloon League and won the League’s national contest for best orator in 1930. During his years in medical school in California, Howard took part in civil rights and political causes and wrote a regular column for the California Eagle, then the primary black newspaper of Los Angeles.
In California, Howard married the prominent black socialite Helen Boyd in 1935. The couple remained married for 41 years and had an adopted son, Barrett Boyd. Howard also fathered several children outside of his marriage.
Throughout his medical career, Howard served as associate professor of clinical medicine and surgery at Meharry Medical School, medical director of the Riverside Sanitarium and Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. He also served as chief surgeon at the Taborian Hospital in Mound Bayou, Miss., and at the Friendship Clinic and Hospital in Mound Bayou. In 1957, Howard was elected president of the National Medical Association, the highest office any black physician could hold at that time. He was a member of the Cook County Association of Physicians and Surgeons. He served as president of the Mississippi Medical and Dental Association, and as medical director of S. B. Fuller Products Company. Howard also founded the Howard Medical Center in 1956 and the Friendship Medical Center on the South Side of Chicago in 1972.
As a doctor, Howard also became well known as a leading abortion provider and was arrested in 1964 and 1965 but never convicted. Howard regarded this work as part of his civil rights activism.
As a civil rights leader, Howard founded the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) in 1951. His compatriots in the council included Medgar Evers, the Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company and Aaron Henry. The RCNL mounted a successful boycott against service stations that denied the use of restrooms to blacks and organized yearly rallies in Mound Bayou for civil rights. Following the brutal murder of Emmett Till, Howard became heavily involved in the search for evidence and gave over his home to be a “black command center” for witnesses and journalists. He gave dozens of speeches around the country, talking about Till’s murder and other examples of racial violence in Mississippi. In 1956 during a Ku Klux Klan reign of terror in Mississippi, Howard was forced to leave the state. He subsequently settled in Chicago.
In 1958 Howard ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican against powerful incumbent Chicago Democrat William Levi Dawson, an African American and close ally of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. Although Howard received much favorable media publicity and the support of black leaders opposed to the Daley administration, Dawson overwhelmed him at the polls. Howard was unable to counter either Dawson’s efficient political organization or rising black-voter discontent with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s civil rights record.
Howard’s other accomplishments included helping found the Chicago League of Negro Voters and Operation PUSH. He was first vice president of the Tri-State Bank in Memphis, Tenn., a member of the Board of Directors of Universal Life Insurance Company of Memphis, chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Business League for five years and a member of the Board of Directors of the Cosmopolitan Chicago Chamber of Commerce. Howard also served on the Board of Trustees of Tougaloo College and Natchez College in Mississippi.
After many years of deteriorating health, Dr. T.R.M. Howard died on May 1, 1978.
- Beito, David T. and Linda Royster Beito. Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power.Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
- Beito, Linda Royster and David T. Beito. “Howard, T.R.M.” African American National Biography. Eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Vol. 4. Ed. Sarah Hacker-Jones. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Green, Laurie Beth. Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
- Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle.Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
The Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers include a wide range of materials that reflect Howard’s career as a physician, civil rights activist and entrepreneur as well as his personal interests and pursuits. This collection is arranged into 12 separate series: Biography, Manuscripts, Correspondence, Programs, Howard For Congress, Serials, Clippings, Scrapbooks, Oversized Clippings, Audiovisual (A/V), Photographs and Memorabilia.
Related papers at the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection include the Lucy Smith Collier Papers, the Leonidas Berry Papers, the Timuel Black Papers and the Bennett Johnson Papers,
Series 1: Biography, 1976
The biographical portion contains the funeral program of Dr. T.R.M. Howard. Additional biographical information can be gleaned from other series in the collection.
Series 2: Manuscripts, 1929-1961
This series largely comprises Howard’s speeches and writings detailing his position on racial discrimination and black citizenship, the Prohibition movement and religion. Also documented are his addresses before institutions and organizations such as the National Medical Association, the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and the Anti-Saloon League of America, and Howard’s speeches from his run for U.S. Congress against the incumbent Chicago Democrat William Levi Dawson.
The Manuscript series also includes an article by Oscar Brown Jr., poetry by Gaspar Núñez de Arce, an oral history with the Rev. Duncan Gray on the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and the civil rights movement in Mississippi, and a general history of Mound Bayou, Miss.
Series 3: Correspondence, 1930-1958
This series consists primarily of correspondence sent to Dr. T.R.M. Howard. Notable correspondents include Claude A. Barnett of the Associated Negro Press and President Richard Nixon. Also included is correspondence from members of the Republican National Committee, the Anti-Saloon League of America, Nebraska Society for World Peace, Lincoln Kiwanis Club and the Illinois State Central Committee.
Series 4: Programs, 1930-1982
This series contains programs from events and activities where Howard was the guest speaker, including the 317th Anniversary of the Negro in America in Murray, Ky., a college symposium and ovation at the Free Baptist Church in Nebraska, the Finals in College Oratorical Contest in Lincoln, Neb. and the First Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Regional Council of Negro Leadership in Mound Bayou, Miss. Also included are programs from events sponsored by organizations that Howard participated in, such as the Anti-Saloon League of America and the Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs. The programs are listed alphabetically.
Series 5: Howard For Congress, 1958
This series documents T.R.M. Howard’s run for U.S. Congress as a Republican against the incumbent Democrat William Levi Dawson. It includes letters, flyers, clippings, programs and other manuscripts that demonstrate the favorable media publicity and the support he received from African American leaders (especially those opposed to the Richard J. Daley administration) and Illinois Republicans, his efforts to counter Dawson’s political organization and his eventual loss to Dawson at the polls in fall 1958.
Series 6: Serials, 1928-1956
This series contains issues of magazines and newsletters collected by T.R.M. Howard that feature articles about his life and career and topics of personal interest to him, as well as publications from organizations to which Howard belonged and/or was affiliated. Of note are two editions of The American Negro (one of which features the murder of Emmett Till; Howard was heavily involved in the search for justice for Till and his family) and two publications from his tenure in Alabama and Nebraska respectively—The Oakwood Bulletin and The Nebraska Baptist Messenger. Serials have been arranged alphabetically by serial name.
Series 7: Clippings, 1930-1976
This series covers the events of Howard’s career as a physician and civil rights activist. It also documents aspects of his personal and social life in the 1960s and 1970s. Of note are Howard’s articles from his time at the California Eagle, the primary black newspaper in Los Angeles in the 1930s. The clipping series is arranged chronologically.
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1929-1969
This series contains two scrapbooks compiled by Howard. The scrapbooks include manuscripts, correspondence, programs, clippings and memorabilia that detail the events of Howard’s career as a physician, orator and civil rights activist. In an effort to preserve the scrapbooks, photocopies of these scrapbooks were made and are included in this series.
Series 9: Oversized Clippings, 1934
This series contains oversized clippings. Of interest is an article from Our World magazine about Howard’s medical practice and humanitarian efforts in Mound Bayou, Miss.
Series 10: Audiovisual (A/V), 1956-1963
This series consists of two audiotapes. The first is a recording of Howard at a New York City civil rights rally with A. Phillip Randolph and other black leaders in May 1956; and the second is a recording of Medgar Evers’ memorial service in Jackson, Miss., in 1963.
Series 11: Photographs, 1935-c. 1970s
This series includes photographs of Howard, his family and friends, and his Friendship Clinic in Mound Bayou, Miss.
Series 12: Memorabilia, 1930-1937
Howard’s memorabilia consists of an Omega Psi Phi Fraternity pin, a photocopy of his Anti-Saloon League of America membership, sheet music of the College of Medical Evangelists’ Alma Mater, a postcard of the Los Angeles County General Hospital and a handkerchief.
Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers, 1929-1976