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Guide to the Bernice Middleton Papers
MS 55  
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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: Bernice Middleton papers
    Dates: 1938-1994
    Collection number: MS 55
    Creator: Middleton, Bernice.
    Collection Size: .5 linear feet (1 box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Bernice Middleton papers include certificates, correspondence, photographs, meeting minutes, funeral programs, newspaper clippings, and a handwritten autobiography documenting the life and career of Bernice Middleton.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    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 Bernice Middleton Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Bernice Middleton papers, MS 55, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 09/07/2013.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Bernice Middleton (1915-2002) was born in 1915 in Arkansas to Rev. T.J. and Pearline Middleton. The family moved to Idabel, Oklahoma, where T.J. Middleton was a pastor of the A.M.E. church until 1929, when the family moved to Rosston, Arkansas to live with members of Pearline Middleton’s family after the death of her father. Though the family was of limited means, Bernice Middleton was able to graduate high school as class valedictorian and earned a scholarship to attend nursing school at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. She eventually graduated with an R.N. license from the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and moved to California where she worked as a nurse in the armed forces. Following the outbreak of World War II, she moved to San Francisco to work at a veterans’ hospital in 1943.
    After working as a nurse at various hospitals and private practices in San Francisco in the 1940s, she returned to school at Wilberforce University in Ohio, graduating with a B.S. in 1952 and a B.D. in Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary. While at Wilberforce University, she earned a certificate in teaching and after graduation took a position as Assistant Dean of Women at Morris Brown University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1953. Returning to California, she was appointed Dean of Girls at the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley, where she taught for the next seven years, before teaching at Ceres Unified School District (1960-1967) and Modesto Junior College.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Bernice Middleton papers include certificates, correspondence, photographs, meeting minutes, funeral programs, newspaper clippings, and a handwritten autobiography documenting the life and career of Bernice Middleton. The papers are organized into six series: teaching, religious activities, civic organizations, autobiography, photographs, and assorted printed materials. Teaching material includes Middleton’s resume, diplomas, certificates, her performance evaluation at the California Institution for the Deaf and the Blind, and correspondence related to various teaching positions and letters of congratulations for teaching awards received by Middleton. Religious material includes meeting minutes, programs, and certificates related to her involvement in the African Methodist Episcopal church. The civic organizations series includes programs, membership rosters, correspondence, and certificates related to her participation in the Over 60 Health Center, National Council of Negro Woman, Inc., and masonic organizations.
    The papers also include Bernice Middleton’s 94 pp. handwritten autobiography describing her experiences as child growing up in Rosston, Arkansas from 1929-1937. In the autobiography, she describes her family's move from Idabel, Oklahoma to Rosston, Arkansas following her father's stroke and subsequent death, their financial struggles in Arkansas, her intermittent schooling and work picking cotton and as a domestic in a boardinghouse, and her later academic success in high school. Photographs in the collection are mostly portraits of Bernice Middleton and photographs of students at the California Institution for the Deaf and the Blind. Assorted printed material includes funeral programs of Bernice Middleton’s mother and brother, 1953 college yearbook at Morris Brown College, and an eleven page essay written on her life and career by Francine Elane Marsh.


    Series I. Teaching Series II. Religious activities Series III. Civic organizations Series IV. Autobiography Series V. Photographs Series VI. Printed materials

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Middleton, Bernice.
    Autobiography--African American authors.
    African Americans--Arkansas--History.
    African Americans--Arkansas--Social conditions.
    African Americans--Arkansas--History--Sources.