Skip to main content

Jesse Milan papers

Call Number: RH MS 623


Jesse Milan, a longtime resident of northeast Kansas, was the first African American teacher to serve in the integrated Lawrence Unified School District #497. An active community leader, he later became an Assistant Professor of Education at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. Milan's papers consist of personal and family records, professional papers regarding the fields of education and public housing, and service records documenting his involvement in groups such as Optimist International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Episcopal Church.


  • Creation: 1931 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of Jesse Milan

Jesse Milan was born March 3, 1928 to Clarence W. Milan and Willie Mae Milan in Depue, Oklahoma. He graduated from Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas in 1946 before earning a B.S. in Education at the University of Kansas (Ku), and graduate degrees at both KU and the Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State University) in 1954 and 1969. Milan began his professional career with the Lawrence, Kan. Unified School District #497 as a physical education teacher and counselor in 1954 as the first African American employee of the school district. During the 1970s, Milan served both as an Assistant Professor of Education at Baker University (Ottawa, Kansas), as well as the Director of Housing Opportunity for Kansas City Kansas, under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He maintained his involvement in public housing throughout the 1970s and 1980s as an independent consultant through his own firm. Milan was an active member of the Church of the Ascension, Kansas City, Kansas; he served in various capacities throughout the 1970s-1980s, including church warden and board member for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. Milan was also active in the Northeast (Kansas) Chapter of the Optimist Club; he was appointed their Lieutenant Governor for the region in the late 1970s and served actively within the district through the 1990s. Milan has served in a variety of capacities for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and has been on the board of directors or served in another capacity for several local civic organizations, including the Mental Health Association in Wyandotte County, and national endeavors such as the 50th Anniversary Commission for the Brown v. Board of Education commemorations. For his work in education and ending discrimination, Baker University awarded Milan an honorary doctorate. Milan was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch as it passed through Kansas City both in 1996 and 2002. Milan married Alversa Brewster in 1955, with whom he had four children: Jesse Milan Jr, John Edward Milan, Julie Ann Milan, and Joy Lynne Milan. Mrs. Milan passed away April 5, 2014.


47.75 Linear Feet (67 boxes + 6 oversize boxes, 1 map folder, 5 VHS videotapes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Jesse Milan Papers consists of papers, photographs, and objects related to Milan's personal and religious life and his professional and civic/community organizational activities. The collection dates from 1931-2012 and includes correspondence, hand written papers, printed papers, flyers and posters, notes, books, objects and artifacts, plaques, newspaper and magazine articles, black and white and color photographs, color ink-jet prints, binders, and Vhs tapes.

Series List

The Jesse Milan papers consists of 8 series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Civic/Community Organizations, Photographs, Oversize Materials, Awards, Subject Files, and Audio Visual material.

Personal Papers
The personal papers series contains correspondence of the Milan family, family records, and newspaper clippings, as well as material documenting Milan's involvement in the Church of the Ascension and other religious materials. The series also includes information from the Mother to Mother Ministry. The papers are arranged alphabetically first by theme/topic then by folder and are located at RH MS 623 box 2 and RH MS 1324 boxes 25-26, 32-33, and 48-53.
Professional Papers
The professional papers series documents Milan's service to the Lawrence school district #497, Baker University, and the education field in general, as well as his experience in the public housing field. The series also includes speech notes and drafts that are organized chronologically as well as research materials and other records related to Milan's professional life and varied career. The papers are arranged alphabetically first by theme/topic then by folder and are located at RH MS 623 box 3 and RH MS 1234 boxes 5-24, 46, and 54.
Civic/Community Organizations
The series regarding civic and community organizations includes records of the Northeast Chapter and Milan's own records produced during his tenure as Lieutenant Governor of the Optimist Club, as well as documentation from Milan's involvement in other organizations such as Project Equality, the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission, and the NAACP, particularly when he was head of the State Conference's Committee on Legal Redress helping individuals with discriminiation complaints. The papers are arranged alphabetically first by theme/topic then by folder and are located at RH MS 623 box 3 and RH MS 1324 boxes 3-4, 27-31, 34-45, and 47.
The photographs are arranged in a rough chronology and are located at RH MS-P 623 box 1 and RH MS-P 1324 boxes 1-2. Oversize photographs are located at RH MS-P 623 (f).
Oversize Materials
The Oversize material includes papers and artifacts from Milan's personal, professional, and civic life that have been physically separated for storage purposes. Oversize materials are arranged by size/format then alphabetically and are located at RH MS R122, RH MS R378, and RH MS Q402.
The awards series includes awards and certificates from Milan's professional and civic life and are located at RH MS 1324 boxes 1-2a.
Subject Files
The subject files series includes information from a wide variety of Milan's personal and professional interests. The papers are arranged alphabetically by theme/topic and are located at RH MS 1324 boxes 55-60.
Audiovisual Material
The audiovisual material series includes VHS tapes, one homemade and the others commercially produced. Topics include Brown vs. Board of Education, the NAACP and voter empowerment, and news coverage from the late 1990s regarding predatory lending practices.

Physical Location

RH MS 623

Physical Location

RH MS-P 623

Physical Location

RH MS-P 623 (f)

Physical Location

RH MS R122

Physical Location

RH MS 1324

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1324

Physical Location

RH MS Q402

Physical Location

RH MS R378

Physical Location

RH Video 49

Physical Location

RH MS R357

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Jesse Milan, 1988-1989, 1994, 1997-1998, 2014, 2015. Gift, Katie Armitage, 1997.



Guide to the Jesse Milan Collection
Jesse Milan papers
Finding aid prepared by bkm, 2006. Finding aid encoded by bkm, 2006. Finidng aid revised by cl, 2010; ao, 2015; het, 2016; mwh, 2018, 2023.
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
Jesse Milan papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 625, 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