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MSS 0017 Christia Adair Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 0017

Scope and Contents

The Christia V. Adair Collection is comprised of newsclippings, photographs, programs, correspondence, publications, artifacts, and textiles from 1894 to 1985 which she had accumulated during her life. Many of the materials document her family history, her career in civil rights and suffrage for women, and also personal items that had special meaning to her.

Dates

  • 1894 - 1985

Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Christia V. Adair Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical note

Christia V. Daniels Adair, a black civil rights activist and suffragist, was born on October 22, 1893, in Victoria Texas. She was one of four children of Hardy and Ada Daniels. She attended a small school in Edna, Texas. In 1910, along with her brother, she moved to Austin to attend high school at Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson College). She went on to attend Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) before returning to Edna to teach elementary school. In 1918 she married Elbert H. Adair, a brakeman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The couple moved to Kingsville, Texas where Christia Adair started a Sunday school and joined a group of women opposed to gambling. She also became one of the few African American suffragists in the state. Despite the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, she was offended to find that she still could not vote in certain elections. In Texas at the time, laws prevented her from voting in primary elections because she was African American. This was an insult to Adair and prompted her to become an active member in the Civil Rights movement.

In 1925, the Adairs moved to Houston, where Mrs. Adair became an early member of the local branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Elbert Adair died in 1943, and for the next sixteen years Christia Adair remained active in the NAACP, which she served as executive secretary for twelve years. As a member of the NAACP, she became involved in Smith vs. Allwright, when the branch brought suit against a local election judge for denying the vote to a local black dentist, Dr. Lonnie Smith. The case, argued by NAACP special counsel Thurgood Marshall, was decided in favor of Smith by the US Supreme Court in 1944. This and similar NAACP activities made the chapter a target for its opponents. Bomb threats were not uncommon. In 1957 Houston police attempted for three weeks to locate the chapter’s membership list. While the official charge was barratry-the illegal solicitation of clients by attorneys-Adair believed the real purpose was to destroy and break up the organization and its advocacy of civil rights. She testified for five hours in a three-week trial over the attempted seizure of NAACP records.

She also helped desegregate the Houston Public Library, airport, veterans’ hospital, and city buses. With Frankie Randolph, she founded the Harris County Democrats, an integrated alternative to the county’s segregated Democratic organization.

Christia Adair was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and was the first African American woman elected to its general board. She was chairman of the Christian Social Concern program at Boynton United Methodist Church and served on its national board of missions. She was also active in the Texas Club, part of the National Association of Colored Women’s and Girls’ Club. She was one of fifty interviewed for an oral history of black women conducted by the Radcliffe College Schlesinger Library of History of Women in America, and in 1974 the Houston chapter of the National Organization for Women honored her for her suffrage activism. She worked as a county clerk of absentee voting well into her eighties. On her eighty-fourth birthday a county park in Houston was dedicated in her name. Christia Adair died on December 31, 1989. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.”,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/AA/fad19.html (accessed April 7, 2010))

Extent

2.7 Linear Feet

Arrangement note

The collection is arranged by subject and material type.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: The Heritage Society, December 2009

Processing Information

Processed by: Vince Lee. March, 2010
Title
MSS 0017 Christia Adair Collection
Status
Completed
Date
March, 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Gregory School Repository

Contact:

The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
832-393-1440
HPL.Gregoryschool@houstontx.gov
M Closed | T 10-6 | W 10-6 | Th 12-8 | F 10-5 | Sa 10-5 | Su Closed
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002
M Closed T 10-6 W 10-6 Th 12-8 F 10-5 Sa 10-5 Su Closed
TXR.Reference@houstontx.gov
832-393-1662