Urban League of Nebraska [RG5335.AM]


RG5335.AM:  Urban League of Nebraska (Omaha, Neb.)

Records:  1928-1994, mostly 1928-1979
Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska:  Community service organization
Size:  3 cu.ft.; 4 boxes


The National Urban League was formed in New York City in 1910 to assist African Americans as they adjusted to urban life following their migration to Northern cities from the rural South.  Branches were soon established in major cities around the country and the Omaha Urban League was founded in 1927.  Its major accomplishments for the next twenty years were to organize community-wide self-help projects, to locate employment for newly arrived adults, to serve as a voice for the African American community in an effort to improve race relations in the city, and to provide recreational opportunities not available to its constituency due to segregation.

After World War II the Omaha Urban League tried to help meet the needs of its African American clientele and to remain a vital part of the changing community by emphasizing employment assistance more than ever.  Their activities included negotiating with businesses to end workplace segregation.  Other Omaha Urban League services at mid-century included providing assistance and referrals in the areas of education, housing, and health.

By the 1970’s, the Omaha Urban League was an active part of the Omaha community.  It underwent a name change during this period and became the Urban League of Nebraska.  The organization’s thirty-six member board simultaneously oversaw a job bank, a college scholarship fund, a prison outreach program, a phone referral system and a weekly television broadcast designed to improve race relations through dialog. In addition, the Urban League of Nebraska had built a network of relationships with other service organizations enabling them to put members of the African American community in contact with those organizations who could best assist in the locating of housing, drug rehabilitation, and other services.  The Urban League consistently emphasized racial integration and Euro-Americans provided ongoing service as members of the League’s Board of Directors.


The Urban League of Nebraska Collection is organized into eight Subgroups.  They are:  1) Board of Directors Materials; 2) Constitution and Bylaws; 3) Committees; 4) Special Projects; 5) Annual Banquet Materials; 6) Published Materials; 7) History of the Collection; and 8) Miscellaneous.  Several of the Subgroups are further arranged in Series and Subseries.  The materials within each series are arranged chronologically unless otherwise noted.

Subgroup 1, Board of Directors, is comprised of five Series:  1) Board Meeting Minutes, 1928-1978; 2) Monthly Reports from Committees to the Board of Directors 1971-1976; 3) Annual Reports, 1934-1974; 4) National Urban League Reports and Records pertaining to all branches, and specifically to the Omaha branch, 1961-1978; and 5) Correspondence, 1946-1977.

The Board Meeting Minutes of Series 1 are arranged chronologically.  Series 2 contains 30 day Reports from Committees to the Board of Directors, which were included in the Board’s Monthly Report.  Series 3 includes the Omaha Urban League’s Annual Reports, 1934-1974.  Series 4 contains a brief history of the National Urban League, and National Conference Reports, as well as other National Conference Materials.  Series 5 is comprised of Omaha Urban League correspondence files and includes both intra-agency correspondence and correspondence with the National Urban League, 1946-1978.

Subgroup 2 contains drafts and a final copy of Constitutions and Bylaws 1973-1978, and undated.  Some photocopies are present.

Subgroup 3, Committees, includes materials from sixteen different committees, arranged chronologically within folders.  The researcher will notice that the Education Committee, the Industrial Relations Committee and the Education Task force (under Series 8, “Policy Committees”) all have materials relative to the desegregation of Omaha Public Schools.

Series 1, Affirmative Action, contains materials from the Affirmative Action Committee, including a voter registration project and an Affirmative Action Proposal.  Series 2, Education Committee, includes documents relating to the school desegregation efforts by the Education Committee.  Series 3, Executive Committee, contains committee meeting minutes, correspondence, and executive directors’ reports.  Especially interesting in this Series are the Executive Secretaries Reports.  Whitney Young, Executive Secretary of the Omaha Urban League from 1950 to 1954, went on to serve as the National Urban League Director from 1961 until his death in 1971.  As National Urban League Director, Young is said to have expanded the organization geographically and politically.  As the head of the Omaha Urban League Young is eulogized as having run an aggressive organization, actively seeking out cooperation with the Euro-American community to end segregation and all forms of discrimination in city life.  This Series includes a May 1950 Executive Secretary Report by Mr. Young describing the league’s desegregation attempts in Omaha, as well as his own goals for the organization.  Also noteworthy are the “Executive Secretary’s Reports” by James Evans.  Evans accepted the leadership role in the Omaha Urban League in February of 1973.  His tenure as leader of the organization marked a period of controversy, and many employees were terminated or resigned in opposition to his corporate leadership style.  Evans however, like Young, aggressively addressed issues of race relations in Omaha.  [See Subgroup 1, Series 5:  Correspondence for a description of the events leading up to the termination of Executive Director James Evans in 1976].

Series 4 contains correspondence and reports from the Health and Welfare Committee.  Series 5 is made up of The Human Relations Committee Series contains minutes from 1950 and 1951 and a draft of an anti-discrimination ordinance that Whitney Young may have helped to write.  Series 6 has the minutes from the Industrial Relations Committee for February 1959, material relating to the request by the Omaha Urban League that Omaha Public Schools begin hiring African American teachers,1957-1959, and desegregate Omaha Public Schools, 1961, 1963.  Series 7 includes pamphlets outlining the policies of the Omaha Urban League; and personnel and pay rosters.  Series 8, Policy Committees.  Executive Director James Evans reorganized already functioning policy committees (popularly referred to as Task Forces) and streamlined their operations so that they reported directly to him and to the Board of Directors rather than to the committees.  Under Evans’ leadership the Education Task Force became especially active in the area of school desegregation, working to improve Omaha Public Schools’ service to African American and Native American students.  Series 9 contains the materials from eight other committees:  the Activities Committee, 1971, 1976; Program Committee, 1973-1977 (see also SG5:  Annual Banquet); Scholarship Committee, 1969-1973; Building Committee, 1974; Liaison Committee, 1976; Membership Committee, 1973-1974; Nominating Committee, 1973-1975; Political Action and Awareness, 1973-1975; and Other Ad Hoc committees.

Subgroup 4, Special Projects, includes six series that outline special projects run by the Omaha Urban League.  Series Six is especially interesting as it includes a description of the North Freeway project, which the Omaha Urban League supported, but over which the African American community of Omaha was divided.

Series 1 describes the Urban League’s Prison Project informally called “out mates.”  This organization provided various forms of support for imprisoned men.  Series 2, Urban League Television Program, contains a contract between the Urban League and CBW Productions for a weekly television broadcast beginning in May 1978.  Series 3, Council of Business Women, includes correspondence about the formation of secretarial training for African American women.  Series 4 contains information about the Urban League’s Neighborhood Rehabilitation Service Unit, which re-trained unemployed persons in fields where workers were in demand.  Series 5, Vista Volunteers, includes the grants and other Administrative materials relative to operating a Vista Volunteer program.  Series 6, Special Projects with Multiple Sponsors, includes information about the North freeway built through the African American community in the early 1980’s and the Urban Leagues role in that project.  Also in this series is information about the Urban League’s participation in the Legal Defense Fund and other community wide projects.

Subgroup 5 contains Annual Banquet materials from both the Urban League Guild, a group of women who planned supportive activities for Urban League constituents (Series 1), and Annual Banquet materials that originated in the Urban League’s Program Committee (Series 2).  The latter includes a speech given by Vernon Jordan at the April 20, 1974 Annual Dinner in Omaha.

Subgroup 6, Published Materials, is arranged in six Series: 1) Urban League Oral History Project; 2) Publications by the O.U. L; 3) Publications by the O.U.L. with multiple authors; 4) Publications by the National Urban League; 5) Publications by other groups (topically arranged); and 6 ) Newspaper Clippings.  Of particular interest in Series 4, N.U.L publications, are materials from the Whitney Young Jr. Memorial Foundation and biographical sketches on Mr. Young distributed by the National Urban League (see also Subgroup 4, Series 1:  Urban League Guild, for a locally produced Eulogy of Whitney Young).  Note that Series 5 includes the publications of other groups, which were collected by Urban League Board members or distributed by the Urban League.  Series 6 contains clippings and copies of photographs collected by Urban League board members.

Subgroup 7 includes correspondence and Library of Congress records relating to the history of the Collection.

Subgroup 8, Miscellaneous Files, includes the Papers of Marvin Oberg, a Euro-American business executive in Omaha who worked to increase minority representation in his firm and to encourage other companies to end discriminatory hiring practices.

Note:  See the photo component [RG5335.PH] for related images.


Subgroup 1: Board of Directors, 1928-1978
Series 1 – Board meeting minutes and list of members, 1928-1960
Box 1

  1. List of Board Members, 1928-1960
  2. Board Meeting Minutes, 1946-1948
  3. Board Meeting Minutes, 1971-1972
  4. Board Meeting Minutes, 1973
  5. Board Meeting Minutes, 1974
  6. Board Meeting Minutes, 1975
  7. Board Meeting Minutes, 1976
  8. Board Meeting Minutes, 1977
  9. Board Meeting Minutes, 1978
  10. Joint Regional/State Urban League Meeting Minutes, Sept.1976

Series 2 – Monthly reports to the Board of Directors, 1971-1976

  1. Monthly Reports to the Board of Directors, Feb. 1973-Nov. 1976
  2. Fiscal Reports, 1971-1976

Series 3 – Annual reports, 1934-1974

  1. Annual Reports, 1934, 1935
  2. Annual Reports, 1936-1938, 1949
  3. Annual Reports, 1940-1944
  4. Annual Reports, 1946-1949
  5. Annual Reports, 1950-1954
  6. Annual Reports, 1963-1965, 1967
  7. Annual Reports, 1970-1974
  8. Annual Report Summaries, 1954-1958, 1961

Series 4 – National Urban League reports and records, 1966-1978

  1. National Conference Materials and Reports, 1966-1978
  2. The National Urban League, Volume I, 1910-1960:  A Register of Its Records in the Library of Congress, 1976
  3. Terms of Affiliation, 1961, 1970-1971

Series 5 – Correspondence, 1923-1978

  1. Interagency Correspondence, 1946-1978
  2. Correspondence w/National Urban League, 1961-1977
  3. Correspondence w/other Organizations and Individuals, 1923-1977

Subgroup 2: Urban League Constitution and By Laws, 1973-1978, n.d.

  1. Constitution and By Laws, (Early versions undated)
  2. Bylaws, 1973-1978

Subgroup 3: Committees, 1946-1979
Series 1 – Affirmative Action Committee, 1972-1973

  1. Affirmative Action Proposal (1973) and Voter Registration Drive

Series 2 – Education Committee, 1967-1975

  1. Publications, Press Releases and School Desegregation Materials, 1967-1973
  2. Correspondence, 1972-1975
  3. Projects and Reports, 1969-1970

Series 3 – Executive Committee, 1946-1978

  1. Meeting Minutes, 1971-1978
  2. Executive Secretary’s/Director’s Reports, 1946-1978
  3. Correspondence, 1974-1976
  4. Administrative Materials, 1973

Series 4 – Health & Welfare Committee, 1962-1974

  1. Correspondence, 1976
  2. Surveys and Reports on Omaha, Nebraska
  3. Program Materials, 1962-1974

Series 5 – Human Relations Committee, 1952-1979
Box 2

  1. Meeting Minutes, 1952-1953
  2. Correspondence, 1952-1979
  3. Draft Anti-Discrimination Ordinance
  4. Published Materials (materials disseminated by the committee), 1952, & undated
  5. Miscellaneous

Series 6 – Industrial Relations Committee/Department, 1959-1974, n.d.

  1. Minutes, February 1959
  2. Desegregation Programs Proposals and Reports, 1961, 1963
  3. Discrimination in Hiring Omaha Public Schools Materials, 1957-1959
  4. National Conference Committee Report, 1974
  5. Miscellaneous Employment Assistance, 1972, and undated

Series 7 – Personnel Committee, 1946-1978

  1. Reports and policies, 1946, 1974
  2. Correspondence, 1973-1975
  3. Guidebooks and Manuals, 1977
  4. Appraisals, Rosters, Pay Scales, 1972-1978

Series 8 – Policy Committees, 1970-1978

  1. Education Task Force meeting minutes, 1971-1973
  2. Education Task Force correspondence, 1970-1972
  3. Education Task Force membership lists/reports, 1973-1978
  4. Other Task Forces’ materials (Employment, Housing, etc.), 1972-1974

Series 9 – Other Committees, 1969-1975

  1. Activities Committee, 1971, 1976
  2. Program Committee, 1973-1977 (See also Annual Banquet Series)
  3. Scholarship Committee, 1969-1973
  4. Building Committee, 1974
  5. Liaison Committee, 1976
  6. Membership Committee, 1973-1975; and some undated older materials
  7. Nominating Committee, 1973-1975
  8. Political Action and Awareness, 1973-1975
  9. Ad hoc committees, 1974

Subgroup 4: Special Projects, 1964-1978, n.d.
Series 1 – Prison Project, 1973, n.d.

  1. Prison Project, 1973, and undated

Series 2 – Urban League Television Program, 1978

  1. Urban League Television Program, 1978

Series 3 – Council of Business Women, 1964-1965

  1. Council of Business Women, 1964-1965 (See also SG 8, F1, Oberg Papers)

Series 4 – Neighborhood Rehabilitation Service Unit, 1970-1973

  1. Neighborhood Rehabilitation Service Unit, 1970-1973

Series 5 – Vista Volunteers, 1973, n.d.

  1. Vista Volunteers, 1973, & undated

Series 6 – Special Projects with Multiple Sponsors, 1972-1974, n.d.

  1. North Freeway Project, 1972 & undated
  2. Legal Defense Fund, 1973
  3. WIN Program and 301 Program, 1973
  4. Other Special Projects, 1972-1974

Subgroup 5: Annual Banquet Materials, 1943-1978
Series 1 – Urban League Guild, 1961-1971

  1. Constitution and Bylaws, Guidelines, 1963
  2. Annual Guild Reports, 1961-1964
  3. Programs, 1961-1962
  4. Eulogy: Whitney Young, 1971
  5. Speakers Bureau and Tutorials, 1962-1964

Series 2 – Program Committee, 1943, 1947, 1956-1978

  1. Annual Banquet Programs and Materials 1943, 1947, 1956-1978

Subgroup 6: Published Materials, 1928-1994
Series 1 – Urban League Oral History Project, 1976-1990

  1. Questions and Background Materials, 1976-1990
  2. Interviews, 1979

Series 2 – Publications by O.U.L., 1937-1978
Subseries 1: Reports, 1948-1978

  1. Reports, 1948-1974
  2. Reports, 1974-1978

Subseries 2: Other O.U.L. Publications, 1937-1976
Box 3

  1. Newsletters, 1937-1973
  2. Speeches, 1961, 1974
  3. Press Releases and Flyers, 1947, 1970, 1973
  4. Misc. O. U. L. Publications, 1976

Series 3 – Publications by the O.U.L. with Multiple Authors, 1940, c. 1955

  1. Pamphlet, The Negroes of Nebraska (Nebraska Writer’s Project, sponsored by The Omaha Urban League, 1940); Near North Side Committee Report, c1955

Series 4 – Publications by the National Urban League, 1928-1977
Subseries 1: Reports, Annual and Miscellaneous, 1928-1977

  1. Reports, Annual and Miscellaneous, 1928-1977
  2. Reports, Annual and Miscellaneous, 1960-1977

Subseries 2:  Other National Publications, 1960-1977

  1. Speeches, 1974-1977
  2. Newsletters, Press Releases and Flyers, 1960-1977
  3. Misc. National Urban League Publications, 1971, 1977
  4. Urban League Regional Publications, 1964

Series 5 – Publications by Other Groups, 1932-1994, n.d.
Subseries 1: Reports, 1932-1994, n.d.
Box 4

  1. Education and Integration of Schools, 1957, c1974 1977, & undated
  2. Housing and Population, 1957-1967
  3. Labor and Employment
  4. “Industrial and Business Life of Negroes in Omaha,” Thesis, 1932
  5. Miscellaneous Reports, 1965, 1973, 1974, 1994, & undated

Subseries 2:  Books and Periodicals, 1957-1994

  1. Book Chapters and Excerpts, 1971, 1976, & undated
  2. Periodicals and Magazine Excerpts, 1957-1994

Series 6 – Clippings and Copies of Photographs, 1945-1993

  1. Clippings (Chronologically arranged), 1960-1993
  2. Original of submitted article “The Urban League of Lincoln,” undated
  3. Copies of photos, 1945

Subgroup 7: History of the Collection, 1977-1978

  1. Correspondence, 1977-1978
  2. Library of Congress Records

Subgroup 8: Miscellaneous files
Series 1 – Marvin Oberg Papers, 1964-1979

  1. Correspondence, 1964-1979
  2. Programs, Clippings and Awards, 1964, & undated

Subject headings:

African Americans — Economic conditions
African Americans — Nebraska
African Americans — Social conditions
National Urban League
Oberg, Marvin
Omaha Urban League (Omaha, Neb.)
Race relations — Nebraska
Urban League of Nebraska (Omaha, Neb.)

TJ/kfk    03-05-2002

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