Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers

Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers, 1929-1976
Dates: 1929-1976
Size: 3 linear feet (7 archival boxes)
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research collection of Afro-American History and Literature, 9525 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60628
Collection Number: 2009/06
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.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: 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

Biographical Note

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, 1976.


  • 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.

Scope and Content Note

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.

Container List

Dr. T.R.M. Howard Papers, 1929-1976

Series 1: Biography, 1976
Box 1 Folder 1 Biography, T.R.M. Howard’s Funeral Program, 1976
Series 2: Manuscripts, 1929-1961
Box 1 Folder 2 Manuscripts, The Challenge of This Hour, 1955
Box 1 Folder 3 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Crime – Its Cause and Cure: Is Prohibition the Cause?/Ten Years of Prohibitions, c. 1930s
Box 1 Folder 4 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Foreword to “Time Bomb: Mississippi Exposed and the Full Story of Emmett Till” by Olive Arnold Adams, 1956
Box 1 Folder 5 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, The Issue Is Freedom: First Class Citizenship...For All Americans, 1958?
Box 1 Folder 6 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, The Mississippi Negro’s Stand on Segregation in Public Schools of Mississippi, 1954
Box 1 Folder 7 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Not Bread But Freedom, 1956
Box 1 Folder 8 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Presidential Address, 62nd Annual Meeting of the National Medical Association, 1957
Box 1 Folder 9 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Prospectus of the First Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Regional Council of Negro Leadership, 1952
Box 1 Folder 10 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, The Role of Christian Church in this Changing Social Order, 1958
Box 1 Folder 11 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Some Problems of Negro Women, 1958
Box 1 Folder 12 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Speech Before the Varsity Club, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 14 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Speech re: Congressional Election, 1958
Box 1 Folder 15 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Speech re: Reverend E.E. Franklin’s 3rd Anniversary, 1961
Box 1 Folder 16 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Speech re: State of Mississippi, 1955
Box 1 Folder 17 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Ten Years of Prohibition, 1929
Box 1 Folder 18 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, This Is A Sick World, 1955
Box 1 Folder 19 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, Untitled Document re: Convention of the Anti-Saloon League of America, c. 1930s
Box 1 Folder 20 Manuscripts, Howard, Theodore, What Color Are Your Germs? in The Physicians Forum Bulletin, 1956
Box 1 Folder 21 Manuscripts, Unknown Author, The Cure, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 22 Manuscripts, Other, Brown, Oscar, Jr., Building Negro Leadership, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 23 Manuscripts, Other, College of Medical Evangelists, The Old and The New, c. 1935
Box 1 Folder 24 Manuscripts, Other, Mound Bayou Foundation, Mound Bayou, Bolivar, MS, 1929
Box 1 Folder 25 Manuscripts, Other, Núñez de Arce, Gaspar, Poetry, c. 1875-1903
Box 1 Folder 26 Manuscripts, Other, Williams, Donald, Oral History with Reverend Duncan Gray, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 27 Manuscript Fragments, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 28 Manuscript Fragments, Anti-Saloon Movement, 1932
Series 3: Correspondence, 1930-1958
Box 1 Folder 29 Correspondence, Adams, J.R., 1931
Box 1 Folder 30 Correspondence, Adamowski, Benjamin S., 1958
Box 1 Folder 31 Correspondence, Alcorn, Meade and Clare Williams (Republican National Committee), 1958
Box 1 Folder 32 Correspondence, The Anti-Saloon League of America, 1931
Box 1 Folder 33 Correspondence, Bailey, Ernest A., 1931
Box 1 Folder 34 Correspondence, Barnett, C.A. (Associated Negro Press), 1930
Box 1 Folder 35 Correspondence, Bartlett, Helen M., 1931
Box 1 Folder 36 Correspondence, Benson, Mrs. M., 1958
Box 1 Folder 37 Correspondence, Cooper, Harold (Nebraska for World Peace), 1930
Box 1 Folder 38 Correspondence, Francois, Joseph L., 1930
Box 1 Folder 39 Correspondence, Furr, Archie M. (Lincoln Kiwanis Club), 1930
Box 1 Folder 40 Correspondence, Guyer, Stanley H. (Illinois Republican State Central Committee), 1958
Box 1 Folder 41 Correspondence, Higgins, Mame Mason, 1958
Box 1 Folder 42 Correspondence, Holsaple, R.N. (Michigan Anti-Saloon League), 1930
Box 1 Folder 43 Correspondence, Lawrence, Edw. K., 1931
Box 1 Folder 44 Correspondence, Marshal, Mrs. A., n.d.
Box 1 Folder 45 Correspondence, National Orange Show, 1934
Box 1 Folder 46 Correspondence, Nicholson, Thomas, 1930
Box 1 Folder 47 Correspondence, Nixon, Richard,1958
Box 1 Folder 48 Correspondence, Olson, Culbert, 1934
Box 1 Folder 49 Correspondence, Simpson, Richard (National Republican Congressional Committee), 1958
Box 1 Folder 50 Correspondence, Williams, Eloise J. and Helen Hopson, 1958
Box 1 Folder 51 Correspondence, Other, Hay, Royal, and others, n.d.
Series 4: Programs, 1930-1982
Box 1 Folder 52 Programs, 6th Annual Educational Program of Cornhusker Lodge No. 579, Lincoln, NE, 1931
Box 1 Folder 53 Programs, 24th National Convention Anti-Saloon League of America, Detroit, 1930
Box 1 Folder 54 Programs, The 317th Anniversary of the Negro in America, Murray, KY, 1936
Box 1 Folder 55 Programs, The AK-SAR-BEN, 1930
Box 1 Folder 56 Programs, Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs, Lincoln, NE, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 57 Programs, College Symposium and Ovation at Free Baptist Church, NE, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 58 Programs, Finals in College Oratorical Contest, Ten Years of Prohibition, Lincoln, NE, 1930
Box 1 Folder 59 Programs, The Golden Bowl: A Pageant of a Greater World Brotherhood, Lincoln, NE, 1931
Box 1 Folder 60 Programs, A Group of Sabbath Evening Services, Methodist and United Presbyterian Churches, North Bend, NE, c. 1930s
Box 1 Folder 61 Programs, Hear T.R.M. Howard, Arlington Methodist Church, Arlington, NE, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 62 Programs, Mississippi Regional Council of Negro Leadership, Mound Bayou, MS, 1952
Box 1 Folder 63 Programs, The Negro in American History, Oakwood Club of Detroit, 1938
Box 1 Folder 64 Programs, A Pictorial History of Mound Bayou – 95th Founder’s Day Celebration, Mound Bayou, MS, 1982
Box 1 Folder 65 Programs, Regional Council of Negro Leadership, Jackson, MS, 1952
Box 1 Folder 66 Programs, Republican Rally: Roscoe Conkling Simmons, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 67 Programs, Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College Third Sunday Service, Nashville, TN, 1937
Box 1 Folder 68 Programs, Untitled, n.d.
Box 1 Folder 69 Programs, Untitled [Church Program], n.d.
Box 1 Folder 70 Programs, Women’s Banquet, Lindell Hall, Lincoln, NE, 1930s
Series 5: Howard For Congress, 1958
Box 2 Folder 1 Howard For Congress, 1958
Box 2 Folder 2 Howard For Congress, Clippings, 1958
Box 2 Folder 3 Howard For Congress, Clippings, February-December 1958
Series 6: Serials, 1928-1956
Box 2 Folder 4 Serials, The American Negro, November 1955
Box 2 Folder 5 Serials, The American Negro, February 1956
Box 2 Folder 6 Serials, Clinical Excerpts, 1940
Box 2 Folder 7 Serials, Nebraska Baptist Messenger, October 1930
Box 2 Folder 8 Serials, The Oakwood Bulletin, March 1928
Series 7: Clippings, 1930-1976
Box 2 Folder 9 Clippings, 1930-1933
Box 2 Folder 10 Clippings, 1934-1935
Box 2 Folder 11 Clippings, 1940s
Box 2 Folder 12 Clippings, 1951-1954
Box 2 Folder 13 Clippings, 1955
Box 2 Folder 14 Clippings, 1956
Box 2 Folder 15 Clippings, 1957-1959
Box 2 Folder 16 Clippings, 1960
Box 2 Folder 17 Clippings, 1961
Box 2 Folder 18 Clippings, 1964-1969
Box 2 Folder 19 Clippings, 1973-1976
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1929-1969
Box 3   Scrapbook 1 [Original]
Box 3 Folder 1 Scrapbook 1-1
Box 3 Folder 2 Scrapbook 1-2
Box 3 Folder 3 Scrapbook 1-3
Box 3 Folder 4 Scrapbook 1-4
Box 3 Folder 5 Scrapbook 1-5
Box 4   Scrapbook 2 [Original]
Box 4 Folder 1 Scrapbook 2-1
Box 4 Folder 2 Scrapbook 2-2
Box 4 Folder 3 Scrapbook 2-3
Box 5   Loose Papers from Scrapbook
Box 5 Folder 1 Scrapbook, Loose Pages, c. 1930s-1969, n.d.
Series 9: Oversized Clippings, 1934
Box 6 Folder 1 Clippings, c. 1930-1934 [Oversized]
Box 6 Folder 2 Clippings, from Our World Magazine, c. 1950s?, [Oversized]
Series 10: A/V, 1956-1963
Box 7 A/V 001 T.R.M. Howard at NYC Rally with A. Phillip Randolph, et al., May 1956?
Box 7 A/V 002 Medgar Evers Memorial Service, June 28, 1963
Series 11: Photographs, 1935-c.1970s
Box 7 Photo 001 T.R.M. and Helen Howard, Riverside, CA, June 1935
Box 7 Photo 002 T.R.M. Howard and Helen Howard at Friendship Clinic, Mound Bayou, MS, n.d.
Box 7 Photo 003 T.R.M. Howard, Helen Howard and Barrett Howard, c. 1960s-1970s
Box 7 Photo 004 T.R.M. Howard and Helen Howard at Friendship Clinic, Mound Bayou, MS, n.d.
Box 7 Photo 005 T.R.M. Howard and unknown persons, n.d.
Box 7 Photo 006 T.R.M. Howard, c. 1940s
Box 7 Photo 007 F. A. High, Superintendent of Anti-Saloon League of Nebraska, n.d.
Series 12: Memorabilia, 1930-1937
Box 7 T.R.M. Howard’s Fraternity Pin, Omega Psi Phi, n.d.
Box 7 Memorabilia, n.d.
Box 7 Memorabilia, Anti-Saloon League of America, 1930
Box 7 Memorabilia, Sheet Music, College of Medical Evangelists, Alma Mater, 1937
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