As you can see, I’m not great at tracking discrete amounts of time. I went on sabbatical, like for really reals, close to mid-June, so I’ll say that I’m in month 2. Why not. Per my last blog post, I was wrestling with a lot of things having to do with census data and how/whether my research methodology is sufficiently rigorous and centering of Black voices/the Black experience. Also if you want to know why I capitalize “Black” and not “white” please read Touré on the subject – his take made sense, so I just went with it. I am also not super consistent because not all style guides agree with me, and also because I could use a copy editor who follows me around and fixes things – but who couldn’t?
I’ve settled on an approach that is ultimately more time-consuming and will probably require reading glasses by the end, but which is still in keeping with the primary source-focused nature of my research. It also does a better job of centering the Black experience/Black voices. I’ve been spending lots and lots and lots of time at the microfilm readers at Denver Public Library’s Western History Department going through close to the entirety of the Colorado Statesman, a Denver-based, Colorado-focused Black newspaper that has coverage for the years I need (it ran ~1895-1961, but DPL has 1904-1954 accessible via microfilm). So far – I’m only at 1914 – I’ve located useful biographical information about the first two graduates to actually graduate from the University of Denver – DU’s technical first African-American graduate, Emma Azalia Hackley actually graduated from a private music school which was later absorbed by the University, and is very well documented already.
Fun fact, I also discovered that a good chunk of the public records that I’d discovered for Annie Marie Cox, DU’s third African-American woman to graduate (AB 1910), were actually records of a different woman with a very similar name, a few years older, who was also African-American and WENT TO THE SAME CHURCH. The only way I realized this is that both women were mentioned, separately, in a “Scott Chapel Notes” (predominantly Black Methodist church in Denver) article in the Colorado Statesman. Basically, thank goodness for the Colorado Statesman – the “real” Annie Cox actually has – to me – a much more interesting story.
Here’s her bio so far: “Annie Marie Cox was born to Dr. James Monroe and Hattie Robinson Cox in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1888. Her father was the first Black president of Philander Smith College, a HBCU with connections to the Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dr. Cox graduated from Clark University (now Clark Atlanta), and was the first graduate of the Methodist Gammon Theological Seminary, also in Atlanta. Before assuming the presidency at Philander, he served on the faculty for 11 years as a professor of ancient languages. [published encyclopedic sources say he wasn’t president after 1924 but he’s listed as “president, college” in the 1930 census]. Hattie Robinson Cox also taught at Philander Smith College.
While in Denver, Annie was active at Scott Chapel, the predominantly African-American Methodist church at 2201 Ogden. In 1909, the Colorado Statesman noted her father’s significance to the African-American community, calling her a “chip off the old block” and noted that Dr. Cox was “one of the leading educators of the South.” Annie graduated from the University of Denver with an AB in 1910, majoring in Latin and minoring in Greek and Science. She gave a nod to her Arkansas connections with her yearbook quote: “I’ll go home to Dear Old Dixie.” After graduation from the University of Denver, she received an offer of a teaching position in Oklahoma. She also taught rhetoric, literature, and modern languages at Philander Smith College, and retired as Instructor Emeritus of Modern Languages and English in 1966. She passed away in Oklahoma in 1978.”
As you might imagine, the Philander Smith College Archives have already been super-helpful (the information they provided fleshed out the biography significantly), and it’s been really incredible. Seeing the power of archival research from the other side has been enlightening – and not that I wasn’t already sympathetic to patrons, but things are so much easier when you can reach out directly to a friendly archivist if you have a remote inquiry!