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Guide to the Eudora C. Proctor Papers
MS 28  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Eudora C. Proctor papers
    Dates: 1921-1991
    Collection number: MS 28
    Creator: Proctor, Eudora C., 1917-1993.
    Collection Size: 3.75 linear feet (7 boxes)
    Repository: African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Eudora Proctor Papers includes photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, musical programs, song books, and legal and financial records related to Proctor’s career as an entertainer, member of the USO, cosmetologist, and creator of the Eudora National S.L. E. Organization.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Eudora C. Proctor Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Eudora C. Proctor papers, MS 28, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 04/27/2013.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Eudora “Dodo” Proctor (1917-1993) was born on September 29, 1917 to Clyde Proctor and Ellen Proctor. Her father, a musician and baseball player, traveled frequently which eventually led her mother to move Eudora and the rest of the family to Fresno, California to live with Ellen Payne’s father, William Payne, in 1920. In 1924, Eudora moved to Oakland, California and moved into the Fannie Hall Children’s Home and Day Nursery. After learning to dance from Bill Robinson’s radio programs, she began working at The Barbary Coast night club at age 12.
    In 1939, Proctor landed a role in the Golden Gate International Exposition’s production of The Swing Mikado. While performing in the The Swing Mikado, Proctor and three other members of the production, Milton Lovett, Harry Villa, and Eloise Clay, formed their own song and dance group Lovett, Villa, and the Rhythm Queens. During the early 1940s, the group toured around the U.S. and Canada performing shows in night clubs with notable performers including Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole. In the early 1940s at the suggestion of Fats Waller, the group changed its name to The Four Kit Kats, and Proctor was promoting herself as the Queen of the Taps or the Queen of Rhythm.
    With outbreak of World War II, Milton Lovett was drafted into the army and Harry Villa joined the merchant marines forcing a hiatus of The Four Kit Kats. Proctor eventually joined USO Troop #339, one of only two African American USO troops during the war, and traveled to Liberia, Egypt, and the Middle East perform shows for African American soldiers. The troop consisted six members, Dave and Wittye Wiles as master of ceremonies and singers, Cora Green, singer, Dodo Proctor, dance, Chauncey Lee, guitarist, and Lillian Thomas, pianist.
    Following the war, Proctor continued to work as a performer and dance instructor, and she also worked as various positions as a nurse’s aide, clothing designer, and a beautician, eventually opening her own beauty parlor, Eudora’s House of Beauty, in Oakland in the 1950s. In the 1970s, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematous which forced her to retired as a cosmetologist and led her to start a non-profit organization, Eudora National S.L. E. Organization, dedicated to providing support and care to those suffering from lupus.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Eudora Proctor Papers includes photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, musical programs, song books, and legal and financial records related to Proctor’s career as an entertainer, member of the USO, cosmetologist, and creator of the Eudora National S.L. E. Organization. The papers are organized into six series: entertainer, biographical, Eudora’s House of Beauty, Eudora National S.L. E. Organization, assorted photographs, and printed material. The bulk of the collection are photographs, including publicity stills inscribed by various entertainers that were given to Proctor, photographs of Proctor’s African American USO troop performing shows and traveling in Liberia, Egypt, and the Middle East during WWII, and a large number of photographs of Proctor’s family and friends in the 1950s-1980s.
    The entertainer series includes contracts, musical programs, photographs, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook documenting Proctor’s time in the USO and as a member of the tap dance group The Four Kit Kats in the 1950s. The biographical series consists of Proctor’s personal correspondence, financial and legal records, notes related to her research into her family’s genealogy, and manuscript and typescript drafts of her autobiography. Both the Eudora’s House of Beauty and Eudora National S.L. E. Organization series contain mostly administrative records, including Eudora’s House of Beauty’s financial records, a small number of letters related to financial matters, and business cards. The Eudora National S.L. E. Organization series includes a few of the organization’s reports, a membership roster, a handwritten draft of a speech delivered by Proctor, and four short testimonials of individuals living with lupus.

    Arrangement

    Series I. Entertainer Series II. Biographical Series III. Eudora’s House of Beauty Series IV. Eudora National S.L.E. Organization Series V. Assorted photographs Series VI. Printed material

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    United Service Organizations (U.S.)--1940-1950.
    The Four Kit Kats (musical group).
    World War, 1939-1945--African Americans.
    World War, 1939-1945--Africa, North.
    Lupus erythematosus, Systemic--Personal narratives.
    Beauty culture--United States--History--20th century.
    Hairdressing of African Americans--History.