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The Franklin Beauty School Collection

Identifier: RG-D-0044

Scope and Contents

The Franklin Beauty School Collection records consist of many different types of documents from the operation of the beauty school. These include student registration forms, the Franklin Beauty School's publications and flyers, correspondence relating to students, payroll records, taxes and business records. There are also records relating to agencies and organizations auxiliary to The Franklin Beauty School, but were important to the school's practice. Documents were retained from trade organizations such as the City Wide Beautician's Association as well as state agencies governing labor laws, including the Texas State Board and the Texas State Employment Commission. J.H. Jemison's personal business records are included in this collection as well.


  • 1937-1977

Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions


Historical Note

In the segregated Southern United States, cosmetology offered women of color employment options substantially more desirable than domestic work, field labor, or assemblage in a factory. Not only did the Black beauty schools train their students in cosmetology, but also bestowed them with an understanding of culture, gender norms, socio-political issues, and marketing strategies.

In the late Nineteenth Century, African-American women began making and selling hair dress and tonics. Jim Crow Laws created barriers for minorities in obtaining small business loans for beauty schools and salons. As they grew, black entrepreneurs were forced to be resourceful in saving their own money and collaborating with others having like goals. Racial segregation ensured a viable market in this area for the fledgling Black entrepreneurs. Until the end of World War II, Black-owned companies dominated the beauty industry within the Black community.

Post-World War II African-American populations were growing rapidly nationwide; particularly in the South. In 1935 when the Jemisons came to Houston, the city was inhabited by 64,000 African-Americans. Texas laws requiring beauty operators to complete 1,000 hours of training. The thriving African-American population, and leadership within the Black community provided a fruitful environment for new businesses in ethnic beauty culture.

Biographical Note

The Franklin School of Beauty was formally established by Nobia Franklin in 1917 after several years of creating and selling beauty products from her home in San Antonio, Texas. Following a few initial moves that included Houston, the school was eventually based in Chicago.

When Nobia died, her property and business were left to her daughter Abbie. When she came of age, Abbie married J. H. Jemison, who then managed the Franklin Beauty School. The young couple soon made the decision to close the Chicago location and re-open the salon and school permanently in Houston in 1935. Positive decisions were made that greatly facilitated the expansion of the business. It soon became apparent that J. H. possessed the marketing and leadership acumen that would make the Franklin Beauty School a great success in Houston. In partnership with Abbie, Jemison spent 35 years in business making a vast contribution to raising the civil status of young beauticians of color.

J. H. Jemison also dedicated himself to leadership in the community. His involvement was pivotal in such endeavors as desegregating Houston's city golf courses, establishing a Girl Scout camp so young black girls could participate in camping activities, and serving as President of the Youth Council of the N.A.A.C.P.


52 Linear Feet ((45 Boxes) Manuscripts: 36 record storage boxes, 1 document box, 1 oversize document box, 1 long box, 4 flat boxes. Photographs: 3 - 5 x 7 boxes, 7 - 4 x 5 boxes, 1 - 8 1/2 x 11 box, 5 document boxes, 1 record storage box, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



There are 45 boxes housing this collection in record groups.

Acquisition Information

Donated by J. H. Jemison in April 1983.

Processing Information

Processed by Tammy Jordan, December 2005

RG D 0044 Franklin Beauty School Collection
An Inventory of Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library
Updates Needed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish.

Repository Details

Part of the Gregory School Repository


The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002