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William Pickens papers

Call Number: JWJ MSS 125

Scope and Contents

Manuscript and printed works, scrapbooks, ephemera, and realia documenting the career of William Pickens. Writings of Pickens and others on African-American culture, emancipation and civil rights are present, as are scrapbooks, ephemera, and commemorative items documenting Pickens' academic accomplishments, including with Phi Beta Kappa, career as a civil servant in the United States Savings Bonds Program of the Treasury Department, and civil rights activist. Photographs of Pickens' Yale College class and of Pickens at a 1948 reception for W. E. B. Du Bois are also present.


  • 1875 - 1991
  • Majority of material found within 1910 - 1954


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The William Pickens Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William Pickens III, 2001


Organized into two series: I. Writings, 1899-1991. II. Scrapbooks, Ephemera, and Realia, 1875-1991.


2.29 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

William Pickens

William Pickens (1881-1954, Yale 1904), American educator, essayist, and orator. Pickens was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa upon graduation from Yale and then received a master's degree from Fisk University in 1908 and a Doctor of Letters from Selma University in 1915. Pickens was a field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he wrote extensively on racial issues.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization in 2014.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

Former call number: Uncat MSS 392.

Guide to the William Pickens Papers
In Progress
by Alison Clemens
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.