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],

Video 1Add to your cart.

African American Leaders in the Justice System, Nacogdoches Courthouse, 2/9/2002

1st Annual black History "Step Show", SFA, 2/19/2002

Black History Service at Saint Paul C.M.E. Church, 2/28/99

Dennis Berell, St. Paul Black History Service and awards commemoration, 2/28/99

Interview of the Mill Pond 30th Wade Family Reunion,1998

Helena Abdullah at the African American 2000 Conference

Arthur Weaver Seminar-African American 2000 Conference, 4/7/00

East Texas Historical Association meeting discussing AAHP, 9/25/99

East Texas and Its People, 3/95

SFASU African-American Awards Banquet interview with guest Nathaniel West, Jr., 3/4/93

Ceremony honoring Constable Eddie Upshaw, Robert Spencer, and Justice of the Peace Dorothy Tigner, Nacogdoches County Courthouse, 2/27/99

Evelyn Jackson's Appreciation Service, 7/8/99

Funeral of Mrs. Willie Lee Dorothy Campbell Glass, 5/7/99

Jaquala Stansell- Recitation of Creation by John Weldon Johnson, 5/23/99

Oral History: Sally J. Artha, 5/1/99 (OH-804)

Oral History: Almeda Burrell, 12/05/2003 (OH-809)

Oral History: Evelyn Carter, 12/10/2003 (OH-808)

Oral History: Earlie M. Lampkin by Ouida W. Dean, 3/3/99 (OH-798)

Oral History: Mrs. Myrtle Christopher Neal, 2/23/99 (OH-110)

Oral History: Nannie Patton by Birdie Wade, 7/4/99 (OH-806)

Oral History: Karen Riley, "Visit the Old School in Center Point" 11/12/99

Oral history: Mr. C. L. Simon by Tom McKinney, 1/7/99 (OH-800)

Oral history: Mrs. C. L. Simon by Tom McKinney, 1/12/98 (OH-799)

Oral History: Mrs. Zeffie White by Birdie Wade and Tom McKinney, 1/16/99 (OH-803)

Oral History: Charles D. Williams by Dennis Burrell, 6/4/99 (OH-807)

Oral History: Walter Williams by Birdie Wade, 2/1/00, 2/9/00 (OH-109 & OH-801)

Oral History: Walter Williams in nursing home by Birdie Wade, 2/28/2000 (OH-802)

Funeral Service of Rev. J.E. Wade, 1/26/1991

Cumberland Revival, Rev. Rogers, 1995 First Choir Anniversary, September 2-3, 1995

East Texas Portfolio, Stone Fort Museum

3 unidentified 8mm tapes.

Browse by Box:

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


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