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Erna Prather Harris collection

Call Number: RH MS P732


The Erna Prather Harris collection memorializes journalist and social activist Harris.


  • Creation: 1995


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Erna Prather Harris

Erna Prather Harris was born June 29, 1908 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. In 1936, she became one of the first African American women to earn a degree in journalism from Wichita State University. After graduation, unable to find employment due to the Depression, Harris began her own paper, The Kansas Journal; her stand against conscription forced the paper to close in 1939. Harris moved to Los Angeles in 1941, where she worked for eight years at the Los Angeles Tribune. She later briefly moved to Seattle before settling in Berkeley, California in 1952. There, Harris ran a print shop.

As a journalist, Harris was involved in a number of incendiary issues. During World War II, she openly editorialized Japanese American internment and worked for open immigration laws to assist Jews fleeing Europe. She also exposed the Red Cross for segregating African American blood plasma from that of European American donors. Even when not writing, Harris remained active in such issues, working as an anti-war activist during Vietnam and supporting environmentalist groups.

In addition to her journalistic work, Harris was highly active in a multitude of organizations, including the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley, Books Unlimited, and Co-op Legal Services. She served on WILPFs National Board and as a delegate to several WILPF International Congresses. She also founded and served on the board of U.A. Housing Inc, a limited-equity, affordable co-op housing group.

In recognition of her lifetime of human rights work, the Graduate Theological Union's Urban Black Studies Department (Berkeley) awarded Harris an honorary Doctor of Human Letters in 1978. Erna Prather Harris died March 9, 1995.


2 folders

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Erna Prather Harris collection dates from 1995 and chiefly consists of memorial items. With the exception of a memorial service program, all items are photocopies.

Physical Location

RH MS P732

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Charles Smith, 1995

Guide to the Erna Prather Harris Collection
Erna Prather Harris collection
Finding aid prepared by mbw, 2007; Finding aid encoded by mbw, 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in <language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Support for the processing of this Collection was provided by the Dana and Sue Anderson African American Collecting Program Endowment Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Erna Prather Harris Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS P732, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States