African American Heritage Project, 1904-2009 | East Texas Research Center

By Anne Kendall & Linda Reynolds

Collection Overview

Title: African American Heritage Project, 1904-2009Add to your cart.

ID: A/202

Primary Creator: Wade, Birdie Belle Davis

Extent: 6.5 Linear Feet

Subjects: African Americans -- Texas -- Nacogdoches County, Biographical sources, Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.), Genealogy, Nacogdoches (Tex.) -- Photograph collections, Women -- Texas -- Nacogdoches County


The East Texas Research Center is the depository for the materials of the African American Heritage Project which was started by Birdie Wade. The ETRC is also in the process of creating an interactive and educational website for the African American Heritage Project.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Materials documenting the African American Community in East Texas. Materials include newspaper clippings, photographs and genealogy.

Collection Historical Note

Mrs. Birdie Belle Davis Wade was born in the Nat Community west of Nacogdoches in the 1920s. She was a loyal friend and a good family person. She interpreted "friend" and "family" in the broadest sense possible to mean more than her immediate relatives; Miss Birdie's "family" was her church, her community, her race, and in fact anyone who was in need of help in Nacogdoches. In addition to a long career as a homemaker and mother, Birdie had a distinguished career with the Texas Department of Human Services and the Nacogdoches Independent School District. As a humanitarian, she was instrumental in the establishment of such as the Harvey House, the Telephone Reassurance Program, the Nacogdoches Clean-Up Program, the Sharing Post, and served tirelessly on Parks Planning, Community Health, and Police Department Boards.

Birdie Wade founded and became the driving force behind Nacogdoches' African American Heritage Association and Project. The plans for what turned into the AAHP began in Mrs. Birdie's home around one of her famous suppers. (Birdie knew that getting everyone together to talk while they ate was a time-honored tradition in most cultures.) Birdie put together and ruled over a "salon" of people interested in preserving the Black Heritage of this East Texas area. She organized, managed, and inspired the project up until the time of her death in 2005.

The mission of the African American Heritage Project - to research about and bring into the public domain knowledge of the life and culture of the African American community - had to take a back seat to the collection of materials related to this interest. The Project had to begin with a search for documents, pictures, printed materials, and family archives that might relate to the subject. While the work of the Project has had some successes in the collection of documents, it has had to rely extensively on recording oral histories from all segments of the Nacogdoches community members regarding the historical aspects of African American life and culture. At considerable personal expense, Birdie kept the Project in the front of the community as a whole. She worked with the local Association of Black Ministers, the City Commission, the NISD, the Daily Sentinel, and planners of the Blueberry Festival to educate people in the region about the mission of the AAHP. She visited neighboring counties to enlist their support and lay out for them the possibility of getting a regional project underway. She helped to apply for grants to keep this project underway, but her efforts at securing grants did not bare much fruit during her lifetime. She did, however, secure the cooperation of many individuals. She also helped to secure the backing of the Nacogdoches County Historical Foundation and the City in efforts to preserve the Zion Hill Church building as a future home for a Black Heritage Museum. The collection of materials on African American Heritage now in the East Texas Research Center is Birdie Wade's legacy to the Project she founded. The best way to honor her memory is to continue her efforts to collect and preserve the heritage of the African American community in East Texas.


Born: Nat Community of Nacogdoches County March 8, 1921

Died: Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005 in Nacogdoches.

Parents: Henry Davis and Frances Ann Wade

Spouse: Leon Wade

Daughters: Mary Wade Fraction, Ona Faye Wade Gee, Jo F. Wade West, Betsy L. Wade

Sons: Grimes "Chip" Wade, Anthony Wade, Robert Wade


Bachelor of Science, in Sociology 1976; Mrs. Wade was not able to attend college when she was younger.


Texas Department of Human Services

Teacher with NISD


She helped organize:

The African American Heritage Association and Project in Nacogdoches County

The Nacogdoches Westwood Subdivision Home Owners' Association

The Nacogdoches Harvest House Committee

The Nacogdoches Westside Neighborhood Watch Program

The Nacogdoches Telephone Reassurance Program

The City of Nacogdoches Clean-Up Program

The Oak Hill Plaza Housekeeping and Child Care Skills Program

The Nacogdoches Sharing Post

The Center Point Quilting Club

She assisted in securing a grant for the Nacogdoches Soccer Field and Ritchie Park.

She also served with:

The East Texas Community Health Board

The Nacogdoches Police Department Board to Secure Resources

The Nacogdoches Master Parks Planning Committee

The Lanana Creek Trail Extension Committee

St. Paul's Methodist Church History Committee


2004 Woman of the Year by the American Association of University Women.

Received the Texas Volunteer Service Award during the Clements' administration.

Subject/Index Terms

African Americans -- Texas -- Nacogdoches County
Biographical sources
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
Nacogdoches (Tex.) -- Photograph collections
Women -- Texas -- Nacogdoches County

Administrative Information

Repository: East Texas Research Center

Access Restrictions: Open for research.

Finding Aid Revision History: Box 4, Folders 37 and 38 added 9/17/2012 by Kyle Ainsworth

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Painting, Newspapers, Newspaper clippings (oversized)],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[OH 1],
[Video 1],

OH 1Add to your cart.
Series 1: Cassette TapesAdd to your cart.

Pearl Lilly Alridge, June 2, 2000 [OH-115]

Pearl Alridge(OH-138 side B) [OH-137]

Gale Benton, November 21, 2003 [OH-158]

Gale Benton, April 29, 2000 [OH-163]

Gale Benton, July 13, 2000 (at end of OH-122 tape) [OH-123]

Almeda Berell, December 1, 2003, (micro cassette) [OH-148]

Mary Berry, July 23, 2002 [OH-150]

Classie Bolden, April 29, 2000 [[OH-164]

Velma Brown, December 2, 2003, [OH-160]

Rev. John L. Carpenter, Sept. 14, 1999 (Sermon) [OH-124]

Annie B. Clay, August 11, 2000 (OH-141 on side b) [OH-140]

Nowel Cotton, May 5, 2003 [OH-165]

Rosa Foster, December 2001 [OH-125]

Mossey Handy, December 11, 2003 [OH-157]

Rev. J.E. Johnson, February 24, 1999 [OH-126]

J.E. Johnson, June 20, 2000(OH-137 side A) [OH-138]

Gertrude Powers Lewis, August 4, 2002 [OH-151]

R.E. Kennedy, November 25, 2003 [OH-161]

John H. Lewis, July 20, 2000 [OH-169]

John H. Lewis, August 11, 2000 [OH-168

] Kyle Lewis, December 4, 2003, (micro cassette) [OH-149]

Mammie Mitchell Lewis, August 4, 2002 [OH-154]

Alberta McClain & Lucille Lewis, August 19, 2000 (OH-140 on side A) [OH-141]

Annie B McClendon, April 20, 2000 [OH-127]

Rev. Donald McDaniels, Sept. 12, 1999 [OH-128]

Miller Medkins, n.d. (micro cassette) [OH-146

J.C. Morrison, n.d. (OH-167 on side B) [OH-166]

Myrtle Christopher Neal, February 23, 1999 [OH-110]

Sermon by Marie Nutall, "Down But Not Out", October 10, 1999 [OH-118]

Ms. Pate, December 5, 2003, [OH-162]

Doris J. Patton, August 18, 2000[OH-129]

Rev. John L. Ramsey, August 25, 2000 (OH-145 on side B) [OH-144]

Ida Roberts, December 13, 2001 [OH-130] Vasti Roberts, (micro cassette) [OH-147]

Alma (Hale) Robinson, December 4, 2003 [OH-156]

Ottis Sadler Jr., April 30, 2003 [OH-131]

Johnnie M. Sanders, July 11, 2000 [OH-119]

Ernest Sexton, July 17, 2000 [OH-132]

Ernest Sexton, n.d.(OH-166 on side A) [OH-167]

Lois Mozell Mergerson Stansberry, [OH-159]

Carrie Tankersley, June 11, 2000 [OH-106]

Carrie Tankersley, June 19, 2000 [OH-112]

Louise Davis Taylor, August 25, 2000 (OH-144 on side A) [OH-145]

Odell Tutt & Hazel Jean Tutt Whitaker, August 4, 2002 [OH-153]

Birdie Wade, History talk, April 27, 2000 [OH-117]

Arthur Weaver, April 19, 2002 [OH-133]

Arthur Weaver, April 26, 2002 (2 tapes) [OH-134]

Arthur Weaver, December 10, 2003 [OH-155]

Coretta Whitaker, May 13, 1998 [OH-111]

Georgia Lewis Whitaker- August 4, 2000, [OH-152]

Taylor D. Whitaker, December 1, 2001 (OH-136 on side B) [OH-135]

Zeffie White, December 1, 2001(OH-135 on side A) [OH-136]

Zeffie White, June 20, 2000 (OH-142 on side A) [OH-143]

Charles D. Williams & Nathaniel Cleaver, July 13, 2000(OH-123 at end of tape) [OH-122]

Rufus Williams, Jan. 30, 2000 [OH-116]

Rufus Williams, February 13, 2000 [OH-113]

Rufus Williams, April 9, 2000 [OH-114]

Rufus Williams, June 19, 2000 (OH-143 on side B) [OH-142]

Walter Williams, February 7, 2000 & February 9, 2000 [OH-109]

Dr. Willis "Mind your manners", July 27, 1999 [OH-120]

Ms. Clara Young, July 19, 2000 [OH-107]

Support of Adult service laws on the books for the first time[OH-108]

The Best of Al Green, n.d.

Series 2: CD'sAdd to your cart.

Pearl Lilly Aldridge, June 2, 2000 [OH-115]

Gale Benton, July 13, 2000 [OH-123]

Rev. John L. Carpenter, September 14, 1999 (sermon) [OH-124]

Annie B. Clay, August 11, 2000 [OH-140]

Rosa P. Foster, December 7, 2001 [OH-125](2 copies)

Rev. Jackie E. Johnson, February 24, 1999 [OH-126]

John H. Lewis, July 20, 2000 [OH-169]

John H. Lewis, August 11, 2000 [OH-168]

Alberta McClain & Lucille Lewis, August 19, 2000 [OH-141]

Rev. Donald McDaniels, September 12, 1999 [OH-128]

Doris Patton August 18, 2000 [OH-129]

Rev. John L. Ramsey, August 25, 2000 [OH-144]

Ida Roberts, December 13, 2001 [OH-130]

Ottis Sadler Jr., April 30, 2003 [OH-131]

Ernest Sexton, June 17, 2000 , [OH-132] (2 copies)

Ernest Sexton, n.d. [OH-167]

Louise Davis Taylor, August 25, 2000 [OH-145]

Carrie Tankersley, June 11,2000 [OH-106]

Arthur Weaver, April 19, 2002, [OH-133] (2 copies)

Arthur Weaver, April 26, 2002, (2 cd's), [OH-134] (2 copies)

Taylor Whitaker, December 1,2001 [OH-135]

Zeffie White, December 1, 2001 [OH-136]

Charles Williams and Nathaniel Cleaver, July 13, 2000 [OH-122] (2 copies)

Rufus Williams, January 30, 2000 [OH-116]

Rufus Williams, February 13, 2000 [OH-113]

Rufus Williams, June 19, 2000, [OH-142]

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Painting, Newspapers, Newspaper clippings (oversized)],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[OH 1],
[Video 1],


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