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Walls (Murray B. Atkins) papers, Spring 1981

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Peggy Mudd


Walls (Murray B. Atkins) papers


Spring 1981


University Archives and Records CenterLouisville, Kentucky 40292

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to researchers

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], Murray B. Atkins Walls Papers, 1866-1980, University Archives and Records Center, University of Louisville, Louisville.


62 items, 3.17 linear ft.


The papers of Murray B. Atkins Walls, (1899-) date from 1866 to the present. The bulk of the material relates to the lives and careers of Murray Atkins Walls, a civil-rights activist, and her husband, Dr. John H. Walls, (1889-) a prominent Louisville black physician. Most of this material dates from 1929 to 1980. Also included are records dealing with Mrs. Walls' father, Dr. C.R. Atkins, a noted Indianapolis physician, as well as records concerning others in the Atkins family. These Atkins family records date from 1866 to 1938.

The papers occupy approximately 1.25 linear feet. Donated by Mrs. Walls in 1979, the papers have been arranged into series according to individuals, types of material, and topics. There are no restrictions on access.

1899 Born in Indiana
1920 Graduated from Butler University, member Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
1927-1936 Taught at Crispus Attucks High School, Indianapolis
1920's-30's Active in Y.W.C.A., Indianapolis
1935 Married John H. Walls
1930's Worked as volunteer at Louisville Red Cross Hospital
1937-1944 Worked as Supervisor of Tenant Selection, Louisville Municipal Housing Commission
1940-1979 Active in Louisville Council of Girl Scouts, helping to integrate its program in 1954
1940's Member Louisville Housewive's League
1941-1952 Leads fight to desegregate Louisville Free Public Library
1944 Hired as Personnel Director for Negroes, Kaufman-Strauss Department Store, Louisville
1950's Member of Women's Auxiliary to Kentucky Bluegrass Medical Association
1956-1957 Served on Louisville Mayor Broaddus' "Committee of 100"
1956-1963 Member Kentucky State Board of Education
1960's Worked as family re-location advisor for Urban Renewal and Community Development Agency
1961 Appointed to Louisville Mayor Hoblitzell's Civic-Religious Advisory Committee
1964 Made a member of Louisville and Jefferson County Human Relations Commission
1979 Moved to Berkeley, California
1982 Returned to Louisville

Scope and Content

The Murray B. Atkins Walls, 1866-1980, papers mainly document her career as a leader in the struggle for integrated facilities, open housing and civil rights in Louisville, Kentucky from the mid-1930's through the 1970's. Less fully-documented is the life and career of her husband, Dr. John H. Walls, a black physician who practiced in Louisville for over 50 years, who was also very active in the cause of civil rights. The papers also include a small series on the Atkins family and Mrs. Walls' father Dr. Calvin R. Atkins, a prominent physician in Indianapolis during the period 1898 to 1923.

The record material consists basically of newspaper clippings, civic and personal correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, texts of speeches, newsletters, programs, awards and citations, all of which were collected and saved by Murray Walls throughout the years, The materials are arranged by subjects in a manner similar to Mrs. Walls' original arrangement.

The best documented aspect of Murray Walls' career is her long-time leadership of the Louisville Council of Girl Scouts (1940-1979) which she helped to achieve integration in 1954. Other activities of hers are sketchily outlined, such as her teaching career at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis (1927-1936) her employment as Tenant Supervisor for Louisville Municipal Housing Commission (1937-1944) her crusade to provide adaquate public housing and open housing legislation, her long fight to desegregate the Louisville Free Public Library (1941-1952) and her memberships on the Kentucky State Board of Education (1956-1963) and the Louisville-Jefferson County Human Relations Commission (1961-1970.)

The collection provides a brief, incomplete picture of the life and career of Dr. John H. Walls from 1918 to 1980. Some of his activities as an executive board member of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP (1925-1971)are outlined. His early life in Mason, Tennessee, his school years at Meharry Medical College and his summers spent working as a Pullman porter (1913-1917?) while a student are discussed in a 1973 Courier-Journal article. The collection does document the highpoints of his civic and professional career, but contains little detail.

Also included in the collection are a few letters and telegrams from notables such as W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes from the 1930's and from Whitney Young, Jr. during the 1960's. Mrs. Walls also has collected newspaper clippings and autographs of several prominent black entertainers, artists and civil rights leaders such as Paul Robeson, Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Roy Wilkins. She has also included some genealogical material on the Atkins family and some scant biographical information on her father, Dr. Calvin R. Atkins. The collection contains many photographs, mainly of the Atkins family, of Mrs. Walls Girl Scout and public housing activities and of her and Mr. Walls friends and associates.

The bulk of the Walls' papers cover the years 1927 to 1965 and are an enlightening source for the the history of the civil rights movement in Louisville during that time period. The history of blacks in medicine is also touched briefly.

**Note to researchers: The University of Louisville Archives and Records also possesses a set of oral history interviews done with Murray and John Walls in 1977 which supplement and clarify much scattered information contained in the Walls' papers.

User Restrictions

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville and there are no additional restrictions.

Collection Inventory

Scope and Content Note:

Box 1, .25 linear feet

Arranged by type of material

Letters, postcards, geneological records, newspaper clippings, church record book from Hardinsville CME Church, Hardensville, Ky. (1891-96 & 1901,) Howard University Commencement invitation (1894,) texts of speeches mentioning or eulogizing Dr. Calvin R. Atkins.

Speech by Dr. Aldridge Lewis mentioning Dr. Calvin R. Atkins, (1938?)
[box: 1, volume: f.1]
"My Old Kentucky Home" Songbook, inscribed by M.A.W. (copyright-inscription-, 1853
[box: 1, volume: f.2]
Dr. Calvin R. Atkins miscellaneous papers, (1898-1923)
[box: 1, volume: f.3]
Atkins family correspondence--birthday cards, postcards, (1914-1918)
[box: 1, volume: f.4]
George W. Murray, invitation to commencement, Howard University Pharmaceutical School, (1894)
[box: 1, volume: f.5]
Church Record Book, Hardensville CME Church Hardensville, Ky, (1891-1901)
[box: 1, volume: f.6]
Biographical material, Atkins family, (1866-1923)
[box: 1, volume: f.7]
Scope and Content Note:

Box 1, .50 linear feet

Arranged by subject

Newspaper clippings, correspondence, texts of speeches, printed materials and photographs, collected by Mrs. Walls, concerning her career as a teacher in Indianapolis (1927-1936) her marriage to Dr. Walls and her work as Tenant Selection Supervisor for the Louisville Municipal Housing Commission (1937-1944.) Her involvement during the 1950's and 60's in the Open Housing fight in Louisville and the movement to desegregate the Louisville Free Public are both documented. The most complete file is that concerning her work to integrate the Louisville Council of Girl Scouts during the 1950's. Included also are her various civic awards and citations.

Biographical material, Murray A. Walls
[box: 2, volume: f.1]
Award from Y.W.C.A. and National Council of Jewish Women, (1962)
[box: 2, volume: f.2]
Wheatley School Dedication, (1962)
[box: 2, volume: f.3]
Louisville Jefferson-County Human Relations Commission, (1961-1970)
[box: 2, volume: f.4]
Mayor's Civic-Religious Advisory Committee, (1961)
[box: 2, volume: f.5]
"Committee of 100", (1956-1957)
[box: 2, volume: f.6]
Kentucky State School Board, (1956-1963)
[box: 2, volume: f.7]
Auxiliary to Kentucky State Blue Grass Medical Association, (1950's)
[box: 2, volume: f.8]
Alpha Kappa Alpha, (1945-1979)
[box: 2, volume: f.9]
Kaufman-Straus Co., Black employment, (1944 and 1976)
[box: 2, volume: f.10]
Housewives' League, (1943-1949)
[box: 2, volume: f.11]
Public Library Integration, (1941-1958)
[box: 2, volume: f.12]
Girl Scouts' Activities, (1954-1978)
[box: 2, volume: f.13]
Girl Scouts' Activities, (1940-1954)
[box: 2, volume: f.14]
Public Housing Scrapbook, (1938-1943 and 1966)
[box: 2, volume: f.15]
Auxiliary to Falls City Medical Society, (1940)
[box: 2, volume: f.16]
Open Housing/Public Housing speeches, clippings, (1937-1966)
[box: 2, volume: f.17]
Personal correspondence and clippings, Attucks High School, (1934-1977)
[box: 2, volume: f.18]
Y.W.C.A. Indianapolis, (1929-1934)
[box: 2, volume: f.19]
Awards and Citations
[box: 2, volume: f.20]
Scope and Content Note:

Box 1, .25 linear feet

Arranged by subjects

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, printed materials concerning Dr. Walls career as a physician in Louisville and his leadership in the Louisville chapter of the NAACP (1925-1971.) Included also are his various civic awards and citations.

Biographical Material, Dr. John H. Walls
[box: 3, volume: f.1]
Correspondence about Courier-Journal article, (February 11, 1973)
[box: 3, volume: f.2]
NAACP Award, (1971)
[box: 3, volume: f.3]
Civil Rights correspondence, (1955-1959)
[box: 3, volume: f.4]
National Medical Association Convention, (1946)
[box: 3, volume: f.5]
Civic and Professional Correspondence and Awards, (1940-1978)
[box: 3, volume: f.6]
Alpha Phi Alpha, (1926-1961)
[box: 3, volume: f.7]
Scope and Content Note:

Box 1, .25 linear feet

Arranged by types of materials and names of correspondents or subjects

Photographs of Atkins family, of Murray and John Walls, their associates and friends. Quite extensive photographs of the Walls' trip to Europe in 1951. Correspondence between Mrs. Walls and W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes and Whitney Young, Jr. Newspaper clippings about prominent black entertainers and civil rights leaders. Personal letters from friends and acquaintances also included.

Personal correspondence, Walls family, (1938-1979)
[box: 4, volume: f.1]
Charlotte Hawkins Brown
[box: 4, volume: f.2]
Mattwilda Dobbs
[box: 4, volume: f.3]
Frederick Douglass
[box: 4, volume: f.4]
W.C. Handy
[box: 4, volume: f.5]
Richard B. Harrison
[box: 4, volume: f.6]
Langston Hughes
[box: 4, volume: f.7]
Charlayne Hunter-Gault
[box: 4, volume: f.8]
James Meredith
[box: 4, volume: f.9]
Helen Mill-Lamptey
[box: 4, volume: f.10]
Isaiah Montgomery
[box: 4, volume: f.11]
Paul Robeson
[box: 4, volume: f.12]
Alex Quaison-Sackey
[box: 4, volume: f.13]
Jane Vialle
[box: 4, volume: f.14]
Walter White
[box: 4, volume: f.15]
Roy Wilkins
[box: 4, volume: f.16]
Whitney Young, Jr
[box: 4, volume: f.17]
Walls family trip to Europe, (1951)
[box: 4, volume: f.18]
Atkins and Walls miscellaneous photographs
[box: 4, volume: f.19]
[box: 5]
Class Pictures
[box: 5]
Newspaper Clippings
[box: 6]
Scope and Content Note:

Unprocessed newsclippings from Louisville Newspapers on the civil rights movement in the 1960's and 70's.

U of L Archives Photographs
D.W. Griffith Film Festival, RG 31 V2
1) "West Texas" writer-director, Alan Gadney, blocks action for veteran actress, Florence Lake, during an opening sequence
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
2) "West Texas" - Cast of Western portion standing in front of a sod house constructed on location near Riverside, California
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
3) "West Texas" U.S.C. Cinema Department student crew filming on location of Western farm set built near Riverside, California
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
4) "West Texas" - Students from Dept. Of Cinema, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles, film ending scene set in, 1920
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
5) MOMA Film Library #1 (street scene)
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
6) MOMA Film Library #6 (little girl with a cow)
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
7) MOMA Film Library #8 (people lined up for provisions)
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
Scope and Content Note:

--All seven prints are 8'x 10'.

Virginia T. Chance, RG 196 -, 1962 ca
-- #1 Scrapbook - Along with many newspaper photographs, this scrapbook contains one 5'x 7', thirty-two 8'x 10', and five 4'x 5' gelatin silver prints; all of these show the children and teachers in the daycare working in class as well as outside. Many of these photographs are credited to Robert Steinau
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
-- #2 Scrapbook - This scrapbook contains twenty-two 4'x 5' prints, and thirteen 8'x 10' prints. All of them concern the daycare
[box: 1, folder: XVIII]
John H. and Murray Atkins Walls, RG 169
- Photographs in folder #19 are in the Photographic Archive's collection. (79.11) Proofsheets should be found in this folder
[box: 3, folder: 18 & 19]
- (7'x 19') Photograph of the Central Community Conference YWCA, Lake Geneva, 1925
[box: 5 (OVERSIZE)]

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