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Papers of Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon

Call Number: RH MS 529


William Tecumseh Vernon, after his ordination in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, served as President of the A.M.E.-sponsored Western University in Quindaro, Kansas. Vernon also served as Register of the United States Treasury from 1906-1911. Reverend Vernon was consecrated a Bishop of the A.M.E. Church in 1920, and was assigned to the 17th Episcopal District in South Africa where he served for four years. The collection consists primarily of family correspondence and genealogical information, as well as records related to Vernon's service to the A.M.E. Church.


  • Creation: 1897 - 1989


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 William Tecumseh Vernon

William Tecumseh Vernon was born July 11, 1871, in Lebanon, Missouri to Adam and Margaret Vernon. After receiving his Bachelors degree at Lincoln University, he became a teacher in Bonne Terre, Missouri and was later principal of an African American school in Lebanon, Missouri.

Vernon was later ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church and earned a D.D. (Doctor Divinatis) at Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio. In 1896, Reverend Vernon began 10 years of service as President of the A.M.E.-sponsored Western University in Quindaro, Kansas. He married Emily Jane Embry, an instructor of Latin and mathematics at Western University, in 1906. Later that year, Reverend Vernon was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as Register of the United States Treasury, at that time the nation's highest governmental post ever occupied by an African American.

During the later years of the Taft administration and before leaving government service in 1912, Vernon served as Supervisor of the United States Government Schools. From 1912-1920 he was President of Campbell College in Jackson, Mississippi, and later served as a pastor of Avery Chapel in Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1920, Reverend Vernon was consecrated a Bishop of the A.M.E. Church and was assigned to the 17th Episcopal District in South Africa. In the four years of his service, he was involved with the construction of many churches and schools. In 1923, he began a friendship with a young Nyasan named Hastings Kamuza Banda, who later became the leader of the Nyasa Independence Movement and President of Malawi.

After Bishop Vernon returned to the United States in 1924, he served as Bishop in areas throughout the South and Midwest. He returned to Kansas in 1933 to accept an appointment from Governor Alfred Landon as superintendent of the State Industrial Department at Western University. Five years later he retired.

Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon died July 25, 1944 and was succeeded in death three days later by his wife Emily.


3 Linear Feet (5 boxes + 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Bishop William T. Vernon papers are arranged in 5 series: Personal Records, Correspondence, A.M.E. Church, African Ministry, and Photographs.

Personal records pertaining to both Bishop Vernon and Mrs. Vernon include genealogical information, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous notes and speeches.

Correspondence includes primarily letters exchanged between Bishop and Mrs. Vernon and their family and fellow churchmen during their service of South African ministry, 1920-24; arrangement of letters in this series is chronological within each folder.

The A.M.E Church series includes ministerial lists, reports, and legal documents dating from the 1930s-1940s.

The last textual series, African Ministry, is composed of guidebooks and memorabilia pertaining to Bishop and Mrs. Vernon's travel to and ministry in Africa.

Within Personal Records, A.M.E. Church, and African Ministry, material is arranged alphabetically by document type. Oversize material has been physically separated from the rest of the collection and is located at RH MS R68.

Photographs in the collection, located at RH MS-P 529, document the life and family of Vernon, including many portraits as well as records of places in Quidaro, Kansas, and South Africa.

Physical Location

RH MS 529

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS-P 529

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Margaret L. Hutchinson, 1986

Guide to the Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon Collection
Papers of Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon
Finding aid prepared by adm and sc, 2004; revised by cl, 2010; revised by eear, 2013; revised by eh, 2017.
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
Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 529, 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