Urban League of Pittsburgh Records

What's online?

The Urban League of Pittsburgh online collection contains images from 1923 through 1958 showing group portraits from conventions and youth conferences, individual portraits of Urban League Fellows and Urban League staff, housing and work conditions for black employees, and children at Camp James Weldon. Images were selected that best visually document the history and activities of the Urban League of Pittsburgh.

What's in the entire collection?

The collection, held by the Archives Service Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh, comprises approximately 2,000 images taken between 1918 and 1967, as well as records from 1917 from 1967, with the bulk of the records concerning 1918-1945, including minutes, correspondence, department reports, employment records, and Urban League Fellows' theses.

The strength of the collection lies in the areas of black employment and training. Federal housing projects, youth employment, worker discrimination, and Negro welfare work are all documented in great detail. There is extensive material about the National Urban League, Negro Industrial Welfare Workers, National Vocation Opportunity Campaign, and Camp James Weldon Johnson included in the records.

About the Urban League of Pittsburgh

In 1917, John T. Clark of the National Urban League performed a survey of the needs of Pittsburgh's black community. A few months later, in 1918, Dr. Francis Tyson and the Pittsburgh Council for Social Services Among Negroes asked that Clark be sent to Pittsburgh to establish an Urban League branch. The first office was established at 505 Wylie Avenue in the Hill District.

During the Depression of the 1930s and the years of World War II, the League continued to expand its activities. The areas of health, education, home economics, and industrial welfare work all had their own League departments. In 1939, Camp James Weldon Johnson was established as a summer camp for black youth, a privilege black children had been previously denied. The growth of government spending and programs during the Depression led to one of the most active times for the League. The Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, and the National Youth Administration all provided new opportunities for Pittsburgh's black community.

Throughout its history, the Pittsburgh Urban League has been active in National Urban League affairs, including hosting two annual meetings of the League. Many employees of the Pittsburgh League have gone on to become prominent in other Urban Leagues and social welfare organizations.

For a complete history of the organization, see, "The Pittsburgh Urban League" by Ruth Lucretia, M.A., University of Pittsburgh, 1936 and Daybreaks: The Story of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, the First Sixty-five Years (Pittsburgh, Urban League of Pittsburgh, 1983).

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