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George and Evelyn Harper papers

Call Number: RH MS 671


The papers of George and Evelyn Harper are those of a native Kansan couple. George Harper served as Atchison, Kansas' first African American mayor and Evelyn Harper became a leader in education.


  • Creation: 1933 - 1987


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 George and Evelyn Harper

George Harper was born in 1918 in Atchison, Kansas. After attending Atchison public schools (Lincoln School and Atchison High School), Harper attended St. Benedict's College. He then worked as a superintendent at Kerriford Quarries in Nebraska and Missouri as well as a maintenance mechanic at the Rockwell Transportation and Equipment Division. There he served as president of the Local Union 6934 of the United Steel Workers of America. While working as a mechanic, Harper was also a City Commissioner; he was first elected in 1973, becoming the city's first African American City Commissioner. He was reelected in 1975 and 1977. In 1979, Harper became Atchison's first African American mayor. He served in that position until his retirement in 1981.

Harper was active in the community, serving on the advisory council for the Atchison Community Development Corporation and as a member of the Atchison Co. Committee for Correction Reform and the Atchison Recreation Commission. He was also an active member of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

On 12 June 1947, George married Evelyn R. Wofford. Evelyn Wofford was born 15 June 1913 in Kansas City, Kansas to Hence and Laura Wofford. After attending schools in Oklahoma and Wisconsin, Evelyn attended New York University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree. She received her Master of Arts in Sociology from Columbia University and her Education Specialist Degree from the University of Kansas. In 1937, Evelyn began work at Oklahoma's Langston University and, six years later, she became an elementary and junior high school principal. Upon returning to Kansas, Evelyn worked as an Executive Secretary at Kerford Quarry before continuing her work in school's in 1947. At that time she became principal at Lincoln School (Atchison), where she worked until 1955, when she became a reading teacher at Atchison High School. In 1973, she became the School's Associate Principal and, in 1976, she became Principal of Atchison Junior High. She held that position until her retirement in 1983. She was recognized for her work in education with several awards, including the Kansas Teacher of the Year (1966) and the Master Teacher Award (1966).

Evelyn was very active in various organizations, acting as President for a number of them, including the Les Dames Literary Club, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the Kansas State Teacher's Association, the Kansas Council of the International Reading Association, the Atchison branch of the American Association of University Women, and the Kansas branch of the National Education Association. She also was a charter member and president of the Topeka Chapter of Links, Inc. She also served as Vice Area Director and Area Director for the Central Area of that group.

Evelyn Harper died 23 May 1992 in Atchison. George Harper followed her on 19 March 2004.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Papers of George and Evelyn Harper date from 1933 to 1987 and are divided into two series: George Harper and Evelyn Harper. George Harper's papers consist mainly of photocopies of two scrapbooks kept by Harper; items include clippings, certificates, and awards. Evelyn Harper's papers are divided into three subseries: Career Papers, Organizations, and Personal Papers. Career Papers include correspondence, clippings, and items from her various professional positions. Organizations include correspondence, clippings, and conference information. Personal Papers include correspondence, clippings, and educational information. Folders within each series and subseries are arranged in alphabetical order by subject.

Photographs from the George and Evelyn Harper Collection are located at RH MS-P 671.

Series List

The Papers of George and Evelyn Harper date from 1933 to 1987 and are arranged in three series and three subseries. George Harper, 1957-1987 Evelyn Harper, 1933-1982 Subseries: Career Papers, Organizations, and Personal Papers. Photographs

Physical Location

RH MS 671

Physical Location

RH MS-P 671

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Evelyn Harper, 1988. Loan, George Harper, 1988. Gift, George Harper, 1993.

Related Materials

Harper, Evelyn W, Planning a teacher's handbook for a developmental reading program. Thesis (M.A.Ed.), University of Kansas, Education, 1963, At Thesis 1963 Harper, Evelyn, Anschutz Library and as Thesis 1963 Harper, Evelyn, Annex 2.

Processing Information

Photos previously shelved at: RH MS-P 500

Guide to the George and Evelyn Harper Collection
George and Evelyn Harper papers
Finding aid prepared by mbw, 2006; revised by skt, 2010 ; Finding aid encoded by mbw, 2006; revised by skt, 2010
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
George and Evelyn Harper Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 671, 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