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Jacob Gordon papers

Call Number: RH MS 1241


The Jacob Gordon papers are those of the founding chair of the University of Kansas' African & African American Studies Department. During his time at the University of Kansas, Dr. Gordon was also a research fellow in the Institute of Life Span Studies and the director of the Center for Multicultural Leadership. The collection focuses on Dr. Gordon's time and work at KU, but includes a smaller portion related to his time prior to arriving in Kansas, and many of his accomplishments and projects after his retirement from KU in 2004. These include founding the African Studies Association of Africa (ASSA) and participation in the Fulbright Specialist Program at the University of Ghana.


  • 1949 - 2018


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 Jacob Gordon

Jacob U. Gordon was born 25 October 1939 in Sapele, Nigeria to Ojegba and Ateriomatse Gordon. After earning a degree at the University of Ethiopia, Dr. Gordon came to the United States, where he graduated from Bethune-Cookman College (1962), Howard University (1964), Michigan State University (1969), and Union Theological Seminary (1971). He also held a post-doctoral fellow position at the University of Southern California in 1978. Dr. Gordon served as Associate Professor and Chairman of the History and Political Science Department at Albany State University (Georgia) from 1967-1970.

In 1970, Dr. Gordon started at the University of Kansas, where he founded and chaired the Department of African and African American Studies from 1970 to 1980. In 1980, Dr. Gordon became a research fellow at KU's Institute for Life Span Studies. That same year he also began a 20-year relationship with the Center for Multicultural Leadership (CML), originally the Center for Black Leadership, Development, and Research; he eventually became CML's Executive Director.

Dr. Gordon retired from the University of Kansas in 2004, at which time he began work as President and chief executive officer (CEO) of the non-profit American Health Coalition. He also continued to work as a consultant and evaluator on various projects in Kansas, Missouri, and Florida with Gordon and Associates, Inc.

In 2012, Dr. Gordon was selected for the Fulbright Specialist Program to work with the Institue of African Studies at the University of Ghana, where he was selected for the Kwame Nkrumah Endowed Chair. His work with the program focused on documenting African leadership and governance, which manifested in his project African Presidential Papers and Libraries and his books Anthology of African Presidential Leadership and Governance and Revisiting Kwame Nkrumah: Pathways for the Future.

Dr. Gordon is currently a part of the National Alumni Association with Bethune-Cookman University and the International Bullying Prevention Association. He published his memoir, Double Heritage: A Memoir in 2018, the early draft of which is included in this collection.

Both during and after his time in academia, Dr. Gordon researched and published a wide range of books, articles, and other materials on such topics as the African diaspora, African studies, African and African American leadership, education, substance abuse, and civil rights. While at KU, he managed a large number of grants, including the Kellogg Foundation Grant for the African American Male Leadership Academy. Dr. Gordon served on a variety of committees and councils, including serving as Chair of the Kansas State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, as Executive Director of the Kansas Multicultural Association on Substance Abuse, as member and President of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, and as co-founder and CEO of the National Council of African-American Men.

Dr. Gordon received a number of awards for his service, including the Wally and Marie Steeples Faculty Award for Outstanding Service from KU, the Kansas African American Commission Award for Outstanding Leadership, and the Governor's Award for Outstanding Service in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment.

Dr. Gordon became a naturalized United States citizen on 8 April 1969. He and wife Beverly (Anderson) Gordon had four children: Jacob, Jr., Jason, Jevon, and Edythe. After Beverly's death, Dr. Gordon married Thelma Hunter (born 10 October 1944); after moving to Kansas, Thelma H. Gordon worked in the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, becoming Secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging in 1999. Jacob Gordon later married Barbara Elizabeth McDade-Gordon, a University of Florida geography professor, on 8 March 2008.


16 Linear Feet (23 boxes + 11 oversize folders)

Scope and Contents

The Jacob Gordon papers focus on Gordon's career, activites, and personal life, providing information about his professional interests before, during, and after his career with the University of Kansas, including course and departmental information from the African and African American Studies Department.

The collection includes information from numerous organizations with which Gordon was involved, including the American Health Coalition, Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, the Fighting Back Project, the National Council of African American Males, the Southern Conference on African American Studies, the Union of Nigerian Students, the Center for Black Leadership, Development and Research/Center for Multicultural Leadership, Black Republicans, African Studies Association of Africa, the International Bullying Prevention Association, and the National Alumni Association at Bethune-Cookman University.

Types of materials found in the collection include correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, meeting information, project documentation, publications, membership information, certificates, emails, and other related materials.


Because the collection arrived over several years, it has been arranged into multiple series of Career and Personal materials at separate call numbers, as well as series for Other Family Members and Correspondence. Materials are typically organized alphabetically by topic or chronologically within each series and sub-series. Materials located at RH MS 1426 are organized largely by the organizations Dr. Gordon participated in or founded.

Physical Location

RH MS 1241

Physical Location

RH MS 1295

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1241

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1241(f)

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1295

Physical Location

RH MS Q346

Physical Location

RH MS R311

Physical Location

RH MS R312

Physical Location

RH MS 1378

Physical Location

RH MS 1426

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Jacob Gordon, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018.

Related Materials

Gordon, Jacob U. 2002. African Leadership in the Twentieth Century: An Enduring Experiment in Democracy. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2002. Located at Watson Library at Jq1879.A15 G673 2002.

Gordon, Jacob U, comp. African-American Male: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. Located at Watson Library at Z1361.N39 G67 1999.

Gordon, Jacob U. 2003. African Perspectives in American Higher Education: Invisible Voices. Edited by Festus E. Obiakor and Jacob U. Gordon. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers. Lb2376.3.A33 A47 2003, Anschutz Library.

Gordon, Jacob U, ed. 2004. The African Presence in Black America. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World ; London : Turnaround. E185 .G674 2004, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U. 1977. African Studies at Kansas, 1965-75: A Selection of Doctoral Dissertations on Black History, Africa, and the African diaspora. Selected, edited, and with an introduction by Jacob M´ofe Gordon, Sr. Lawrence: Dept. of African Studies, University of Kansas. Ua C212, University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library and E185.5 .A2483, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U, ed. 2004. African Studies for the 21st Century. New York: Nova Science Publishers. Dt19.8 .A359 2004, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U. 2000. Black Leadership for Social Change. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. E185.615 .G666 2000, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U. and James M. Rosser, eds. [1974.] The Black Studies Debate. Lawrence: University of Kansas. Ua D19, University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library and E184.7 .B54, Watson Library.

Black Values and Public Policy Project records, RH MS 1163, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Gordon, Jacob U. 1974. Introduction to African Studies: Africa and the African. Lawrence, Kan.: Extramural Independent Study Center, University of Kansas. Located at Ua D35, University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Gordon, Jacob U, ed. 1994. Managing Multiculturalism in Substance Abuse Services. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications. Located at Hv4999.2 .M36 1994, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U. 1993. Narratives of African Americans in Kansas, 1870-1992: Beyond the Exodust movement. Lewiston, Ny: E. Mellen Press. Located at RH C8558, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library and E185.96 .G67 1993, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U, ed. 1986. Proceedings : Black Leadership Symposium. Lawrence, Kan.: Center for Black Leadership Development and Research. Located at RH D7059, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library and E184.5 .B58 1985, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U, ed. 1992. The Role of Higher Education in Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention. [Lawrence, Kan.]: Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies. Located at RH C8754, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library and Ua C213, University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Gordon, Jacob U. and Jocelyn M. Freeman, prep. [1996.] Substance Abuse and Higher Education: The Case of Kansas and Missouri. [Lawrence, Kan.]: Institute for Life Span Studies, The University of Kansas. Located at Hv4999.2 .G67 1996, Watson Library.

Gordon, Jacob U, ed. 1976. "The Lansing Prison: Penal Institution in Transition." Transcript. Produced by the University of Kansas in Association with the Kansas Committee for the Humanities. [Lawrence, Kan.] Located at RH D4076, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Gordon, Thelma H. 1972. "Case Studies of Selected Senior High School Student Problems." Lawrence, Ks: University of Kansas. Located at Thesis 1972 Anschutz Library, and Thesis 1972 G658, Library Annex.

Gordon, Jacob U. Revisiting Kwame Nkrumah: Pathways for the Future. Trenton: Africa World Press, 2017. Located at RH C12301, Kenneth Spencer Research Library; and Dt512 .G67 2017, Watson Library.

Processing Information

Some material in this collection formerly located at PP 109.

Guide to the Jacob Gordon Collection
Jacob Gordon papers
Finding aid prepared by ad, 2005; revised by sda, 2013; awo, 2015; eh, 2017; eh, 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
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
Jacob Gordon papers, RH MS 1241, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States