Manuscript and Visual Collections Department
William Henry Smith Memorial Library
Indiana Historical Society
450 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-3269
101 manuscript boxes, 3 oversize manuscript boxes, 5 photograph boxes, 2 oversize photograph boxes, 12 bound volumes, and 2 artifacts
The Madam C. J. Walker Collection is comprised of 104 manuscript and oversized manuscript boxes, 7 photograph and oversized photograph boxes, 12 bound volumes and 2 artifacts. The collection is divided into thirteen series and it includes the papers of the Walker Manufacturing Company principals, records of the Walker Manufacturing Company, and materials related to other companies located in the Walker Building in Indianapolis.
The first and second series include correspondence and the personal, business, and death records pertaining to Madam C.J. Walker. Series three through five include material related to individuals who also were an integral part of the Walker Manufacturing Company. Chief among these were Madam C.J. Walker’s daughter, A'Lelia. The collection contains her personal and business correspondence, and records pertaining to her estate. To a lesser extent, there are papers related to Mae Walker Perry, the adopted daughter of A'Lelia Walker.
There is also business and personal correspondence pertaining to other company principals including business manager Freeman B. Ransom; general managers Robert L. Brokenburr and Willard B. Ransom; and Anjetta Breedlove, Madam Walker's niece who served as an agent of the company. Although most of their correspondence appears in box 6, much of it is subsumed within the general correspondence of the company. The bulk and core of the collection are the records of the Walker Manufacturing Company that comprise series six through ten, and twelve. Included are the articles of incorporation, procedures, contracts, minutes, and real estate concerns (boxes 7 and 8), external and internal correspondence (boxes 9 and 10); marketing materials and advertisements (boxes 10 and 11); and press releases, clippings and company publications (boxes 12 and 16).
Several publications depicting cosmetology techniques are included in the collection. They are The Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Manual (TT 972 .M32 1940); Modern Textbook of Cosmetology (TT 971 M6 1956); The Successful Hairdresser (TT 957 .W55 1950); Rohrer's Hair Dyeing (TT 972 .R65 1924); and Rohrer's Artistic Marcel Waving (TT 972 .R6 1924). Also contained in the collection is information about the Walker Beauty Colleges (box 13) and the National Beauty Culturists and Benevolent Association of Madam C. J. Walker Agents (boxes 14 and 15). Series 12, the financial records of the Walker Manufacturing Company are found in boxes 27–101.
The variety of material including payroll sheets, audits, Dunn & Bradstreet and in-house financial reports, orders, journals and ledgers, statement of accounts, check records and invoices give a financial picture of the company spanning over a 60-year period. Due to the gaps in years for many types of records, the view is not complete. Several companies developed after the Walker Building opened in Indianapolis in 1927. Though separate entities, many of the companies were linked to the Walker Manufacturing Company by name. The materials within the collection pertaining to these companies are primarily financial records and make up series 11. They include ledgers of the Walker Casino (box 16), Walker Coffee Pot and Walker Drug Store (boxes 17–22) and the Walker Theatre (boxes 23–26). The visual materials in the Madam C. J. Walker collection (series 13) are contained in five boxes and two oversized boxes.
The collection includes images of individuals and groups, both identified and unidentified; properties; and company advertisements. In box 1, there are several folders containing visuals of individuals, many of whom were affiliated with the Walker Manufacturing Company including Madam C. J. and A'Lelia Walker, Mae Walker Perry, A'Lelia Perry Bundles, S. Henry Bundles, F. B. Ransom, Robert L. Brokenburr, Marion R. Perry, Marjorie Joyner, W. B. Ransom, and Violet Reynolds. Also included are photographs of prominent individuals including James Weldon Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Booker T. Washington. Several oversized and circuit photographs of groups, mostly the annual national convention of Madam C. J. Walker agents, complete the box.
The two artifacts within the collection are ornate badges from the various Walker conventions. Madam Walker and the Walker Manufacturing Company owned many properties. Box 2 contains photographs of well-known buildings including Madam Walker's house in Indianapolis (640 N. West Street); the Walker Building in Indianapolis; and Villa Lewaro, her home on the Hudson River in New York. Also contained within this box are photographs pertaining to beauty schools: classes, classrooms, graduates, hairstyle shows, and interiors of various buildings. The Walker Manufacturing Company did massive advertising and marketing. Photographs of models, hairstyles, hair treatments and styling, and product advertisement are contained in boxes 3, 4, and 5.