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William Ashby Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MG Nwk Ashby-(Main)

Scope and Contents

Organized in 5 boxes :

Box #1. Manuscripts of "Tales without Hate" ("Some Unimportant Incidents in the Life of An Unimportant Man Who Is Eighty and Still Alive") & "More Tales Without Hate" (2 folders)

Box #2. Manuscripts of "What Are You Going To Do With Me?" "A Morning in Hell," and "Jewel Bowser" (3 folders) (1961-65), one folder of correspondance/misc.

Box #3. Manuscripts of "The Harelip", "Weep 'Weep' My Beloved Land" and "Reflections on the Life of Negroes in Newark, 1910-1916" (1972), one folder of correspondance/misc (1972-1990), one large envelope "Tales Without Hate"

Box #4. Arnold Family papers (1851-), Ashby family papers (1800s + 1 playbill for a play written by Ashby), 3 folders of photographs, signed copy of Road to Damascus (loose), book of correspondance (loose), Kathryn Ashby diploma (loose), 2 folders of unprocessed correspondence (1917-1982).

Box #5: 80th birthday signatures (loose), 90th/100th birthday (honors/correspondance), Photographs, Lincoln University publications (honoring Ashby), clippings (including letters about the clippings from Walt Chambers), 80th Birthday (honors, etc.), Misc Awards/Honors/Publications (inlcudes appt to Newark Commision of Conversation and Revitalization), Funeral Programs.

OV Box (In NJ Room on top of cabinet): Yale University diploma (1916, theology), biographical material, resolutions and awards, photographs, a sketch of William Ashby, Kathryn Ashby masters degree , award from Bamberger's.


  • 1917 - 1990


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff. Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Biographical / Historical

William Mobile Ashby was born in Carter's Grove, VA, on October 15, 1889, and raised in Newport News, VA, one of twelve children; in 1904, after graduating from school in Newport News he traveled north by ship to see his mother, who had settled in Roselle, NJ to seek work as a domestic. After working for a Newark restaurant, and receiving special tutoring from Rev. John H. Locklear, a Lincoln graduate, he was accepted by Lincoln University and received his BA degree at age 22 in 1911. Soon afterward, still working in Newark as a waiter, he heard Eugene V. Debs speak at the Labor Lyceum on Springfield Avenue and was deeply impressed. Determined to find a calling in which he could "serve his fellow men," he left the city for Yale University, where he completed a course of study in social work in 1916. He married, in 1914, Mary A. Arnold of Hopewell, NJ, who became his devoted companion for more than 70 years of marriage. The couple had a daughter, Katherine Arnold Ashby. In 1917 Ashby became the first African-American full-time social worker in New Jersey . At the urging of Urban League officials in New York he soon established the Negro Welfare League of New Jersey (later the Essex County Urban League - the organization's first branch in New Jersey), with premises first on Mulberry Street and then in their own building at 58 West Market St. In 1927 he became a caseworker in Newark, and then left New Jersey to serve as Director of the Springfield, IL Urban League (1932-1944).

He returned to the state as Director of the Eastern Union County Urban League (1944-1953), based in Elizabeth. After his retirement from the Urban League he became active with the Newark Human Rights Commission and the New Jersey Commission on Civil Rights, and served as Business Manager of the Newark Board of Education in the 1970s. He was also a member of the Newark NAACP (Secretary), the Lincoln University Alumni Assocation, the United Way of Newark, the Newark Human Rights Commission, the Newark Senior Citizens' Commission, the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee (Co-Founder, Secretary), and numerous other civic organizations.

Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson declared October 30, 1974 "William Ashby Day" in the City, in honor of his 85th birthday. Ashby was honored again by the Municipal Council of the City of Newark in 1979 as a distinguished citizen of Newark and a pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement. The William M. Ashby Community Affairs Building in Trenton and William Ashby Park in Newark were named in his honor. He died at age 101 on May 17, 1991.


2.09 Linear Feet (5 document boxes)

Language of Materials