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E. H. Butler Library, Buffalo State, The State University of New York

Archives & Special Collections: Dunson, Jessie



The Monroe Fordham Regional History Center

Personal Papers: Dunson, Jessie

Title: Jesse Thomas Dunson Letters & Scrapbooks

Date Span: 1923-1964

Acquisition Number: N/A

Creator: Jesse Dunson

Donor: Frances McCallister Dunson; Mary Alice Winston Carey; Doris Winston Williams

Date of Acquisition: N/A

Extent: 1 reel of microfilm

Language: English

Location: Monroe Fordham Regional History Center, Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State 

Processed: Arranged as donated.

Introduction by Doris Winston Williams (his niece)

Jesse Thomas Dunson was a man of color, a collector, and an author of many interesting letters and articles. Out of no disrespect to my uncle, I will refer to him as "Jesse". I am, Doris Winston Williams of Buffalo, New York, the self-appointed family historian. The material on this film was obtained from Frances McCallister Dunson of Omaha, Nebraska on September 7, 1993 and Mary Alice Winston Carey of Boston Massachusetts.

I believe that this collection of papers are valuable not so much from a monetary sense, but from Jesse’s perspective of history. The collection of papers are from the early 1900 (about 1923 thru 1964) there are two scrap books filled with history of Black Theatre in Philadelphia, Penn. Jesse managed the Gibson New Dunbar Theatre. They contain many articles and programs on black performers (ex: Paul Robeson, Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, etc.) of that era. Some of the articles are in various languages, I would guess expressing something about the theatre. There are other articles included in the books showing how his interest in events varied.

Included are two books of letters, "Brother to Brother" and "Letters to My Niece" it was a pleasure for me to put them together. In reading Jesse's papers, you will recognize his passion for writing. You will read how he felt about the city and the people in his life. An intimate glimpse of a rooming house in the early sixties. Humor and wit are easily interwoven with serious subject matters giving the reader cause to reconsider -matters both old and new. Jesse discusses family matter with the pains, and joy. He also gives you a clear look at the country and people in it. Some' of his concerns dealt with .black and white issues, slum area, actors, actresses and sports.

Jesse was born on September 18, 1892 in Boston, Mass. His parents were Arthur and Severina Dunson. His brothers and sisters were: Ray Wilson, Guilds, Arthur B. W. Dunson, Edith Elmira Dunson, Arthur B Dunson Jr., Ethel Mae Dunson Winston (my mother) and Calvin Dunson (there is no record on ''him). Jesse served his country 'as a private during World War I. His occupation in the latter years' was listed as a salesman.

The following is to give you an idea of the alias used by Jesse when he wrote to his brother, Arthur B. Dunson: Ducky, D, Quiet-Riter, Wall-Streeter, Ten-Gallon Hatter. Dolly was Arthur first wife, Frances McCallister was his second wife, and the person who gave me the scrap books and letters to Omaha, Nebraska.

Mary Alice Minston Carey is my sister, I also have two other sisters and one brother. Mary was married to Charles Carey and has four sons and one daughter. Please note the way the envelopes were addressed to her. The Langhorne Penn., reference were relatives, (his father's two sisters and their families).

Thank you family members and friends for your contributions along with helpful suggestions on what to do with the family history collection. Special thanks to Director Monroe Fordham from the State University College at Buffalo, New York, Buffalo Historical Society, Carolyn Wall, of Buffalo, New York and my niece Darlene Graves, just to name a few.

I do hope that you enjoy this collection of papers and letters. It is my pleasure to be able to share them with you.

-Doris Winston Williams, 1994

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