Skip to Main Content

Black and African American Collections in the University Archives: Personal Papers

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2024 10:44 AM

Georgia Burnette papers, MS 264
Georgia Burnette (née Mackie) was born in Buffalo, New York in 1929. She attended the University at Buffalo's School of Nursing in the early 1950s, one of two African American students accepted into the program. She graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, later earning a Master of Education degree from Niagara University in 1976 and a Master of Science degree in Nursing from the University at Buffalo in 1981. Professionally, Burnette was the Associate Director of Nursing at Buffalo General Hospital, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Niagara University, and Director of Nursing at both the Roswell Park Cancer Center and the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. After retiring, she continued to be active in the Buffalo African American community, working with The Buffalonians, Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier, Child and Family Services, Reach-Out Program, and B.U.I.L.D. (Build Unity, Independence, Liberty and Dignity) of Buffalo. Burnette was also a prolific writer, with dozens of published articles on travel, Juneteenth celebrations, family reunions, health, and African American veterans.

Frank J. Corbett papers, 48/F/1354
Frank J. Corbett's education included a Bachelor of Arts from Johnson C. Smith University in 1940 and a Master of Arts degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, Illinois in 1948. He served in the U.S. Army from 1941-1946 where he attained the rank of Captain, and from 1948-1950 he was the Director of the Randall House in Chicago. Corbett was the Community Organization Secretary for the Urban League of Flint, Michigan; from 1957-1962 He served as the Executive Director of the Intergroup Council of Bridgeport Connecticut. From 1962-1968 Corbett worked at Community Progress Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut as an area coordinator and later as an Associate Director. In 1968 he accepted a position as a faculty member at the State University of New York at Buffalo in the School of Social Work. Corbett was a faculty member until 1988 and in his time at UB, served as Director of the Office of Urban Affairs from 1970-1986, Director of the MS degree program in Applied Public Affairs from 1977-1987, and Director of the University at Buffalo Institute for CBO Education and Training from 1982-1986. During Corbett's time as a faculty member of UB he received several honors from the school and other organizations including: the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service, 1980; the University of Buffalo Foundations’ Outstanding Professional Service Award, 1979; the Outstanding Academic Service Award of the Office of Minority Student Affairs, 1975; and the Buffalo Urban League's Evans-Young Distinguished Humanitarian Award, 1992.

B. Gwendolyn Greene papers on the Buffalo Urban League, MS 255
Materials concerning the Buffalo Urban League and its Director, William L. Evans, as collected by B. Gwendolyn Greene (Betty Gwendolyn). Greene was born in Buffalo, New York on April 4, 1922. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Virginia State University in 1943, and served as Assistant Dean of Women at Virginia. In 1952 she earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh, and subsequently held several positions: Program Director in Residential Treatment for the Children's Aid Society; Program Director for the Huntington House in Syracuse, NY; Director of Service to Military Families and Veterans for the Buffalo Red Cross; and active member of the Buffalo Urban League.

Eva M. Noles papers, MS 125
Eva Malinda Noles (née Bateman) was born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 5, 1919. Her family relocated to Youngstown and Chicago before settling in Buffalo, NY in 1928, where she would later become the city's first African American nurse. When she graduated from Hutchinson Central High School, she applied and was accepted to E. J. Meyer Memorial Hospital School of Nursing (now the Erie County Medical Center). In 1940, she finished at the top of her class and became the first Black woman to be trained as a registered nurse in Buffalo. After establishing herself in the field, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (1962) and a Master of Arts degree in Education (1967) from the University at Buffalo. Noles began her career working at Meyer, Sisters and Columbus Hospitals before she was hired as a staff nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in 1945. She climbed the ranks until she became the Director of Nursing in 1971, retiring in 1974.

Eva Noles dedicated her life to nursing, education, and outreach. She has served on many local and national committees, including New York State Board of Nursing and the American Nurses Association. She also served as a board member with the Buffalo General Hospital Board of Trustees, Community Mental Health Center of Buffalo, and Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross. She has received many awards for her dedicated community service, including the Achievement Award of the Buffalo Branch, American Association of University Women and the Uncrowned Queens Institute's Culture Keepers award for outstanding contributions to African American culture in Western New York. Noles is the author of several publications including Black History: A Different Approach - A Compilation (Buffalo, NY Noles Publishing, 1988); Buffalo's Blacks: Talking Proud (Buffalo, NY Noles Publishing, 1986); and Six Decades of Nursing at Roswell Park, 1914-1974 (Buffalo, Roswell Park, 1975).

The Eva M. Noles papers includes 11 scrapbooks documenting her professional career. A large selection of awards (certificates, plaques, and commemorative plates) gives further insight into her achievements as a nurse, writer, and volunteer. Photographs and memorabilia document events, exhibits, and the many milestones of her career.

Lydia T. Wright papers, MS 15
The collection includes press clippings, speeches, and correspondence related to efforts to integrate the school system of Buffalo, New York as well as other civil rights issues including the 1963 March on Washington. Collection also includes personal memorabilia and family papers. The collection also contains material relating to community organizations with which Dr. Wright was affiliated including the African Cultural Center, the East Side Community Organization and Build-Unity-Integrity-Liberty-Dignity (BUILD), a community action organization. Personal material in the collection includes photos of the Les Amis Social Club, buttons and photographs from the 1963 March on Washington as well as photographs of Dr. Wright at official function as a member of the School Board.

As the first African American appointed to the Buffalo Board of Education, Dr. Lydia T. Wright broke many racial barriers in order to introduce major changes to the Buffalo public school system. Dr. Wright attended the University of Cincinnati and Fisk University and received her medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. After her marriage to Dr. Frank G. Evans in 1951, the couple moved to Buffalo where they opened a practice on Jefferson Avenue. During her 36-year career as a pediatrician, Dr. Wright served on the staff of several local hospitals and on the faculty of the University at Buffalo's medical school. In 1962 she made history when she was appointed the first African American on the Buffalo Board of Education. Dr. Wright's work on the Buffalo Board of Education raised the standards for all students attending the public schools. She has been recognized for her work through numerous awards and recognitions including the Red Jacket Award of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society presented to the Wrights in 1980 for their service to the city of Buffalo. Over her career, Dr. Wright served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood (1960-1962), was a Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and listed in the first edition of Who's Who of American Women.

See also the Buffalo Public Schools Desegregation records, MS 104, and the David G. Jay Papers, MS 103