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],

Box 1: Painting, Newspapers, Newspaper clippings (oversized)Add to your cart.
Item 1: Painted photograph: Samantha Wade (standing) and Hannah Wade (seated)Add to your cart.
Item 2: Print by artist Maria Westy Bush "Stagecoach Mary Fields"Add to your cart.
Item 3: Print by artist Maria Westy Bush "Maverick No Longer"Add to your cart.
Item 4: Print by artist Maria Westy Bush "Catch that Calf"Add to your cart.
Item 5: Print by artist Maria Westy Bush "Forgotten Faces"Add to your cart.
Item 6: Newspapers: The East Texas Focus-A Focus on the African American Family, 10/18/93 through 4/28/95, Volumes 1-28Add to your cart.
Item 7: Newspaper Clipping: Memories of Winters Hill Community, February 7, 1999Add to your cart.
Item 8: Newspaper Clipping: Memories of North Redland Community, 1998Add to your cart.
Item 9: Newspaper Clipping: Stories of Helena Abdullah and SFA integration, July 25, 1999Add to your cart.
Item 10: Newspaper Clipping: Plea for preservation of Zion Hill Church, August 1, 1999Add to your cart.
Item 11: Newspaper Clipping: National Night Out on Crime, August 4, 1999Add to your cart.
Item 12: Newspaper Clipping: Focus on four local black teachers, February 14, 1996Add to your cart.
Item 13: Newspaper Clipping: Story of Bethlehem, Texas, December 19, 1999Add to your cart.
Item 14: Newspaper Clipping: Local black leaders in education, "Lighting the Way", February 6, 2000Add to your cart.
Item 15: Newspaper Clipping: Residents mourn loss of C. L. Simon, February 26, 2000Add to your cart.
Item 16: Newspaper Clipping: Interview with C. L. and Ila Simon, December 9, 1987Add to your cart.
Item 17: Newspaper Clipping: Interview with Maylene and G. W. Neal, December 6, 1987Add to your cart.
Item 18: Newspaper Clipping: AAHP seeks help piecing together black history, April 30, 2000Add to your cart.
Item 19: Newspaper Clipping: Interview with Jack Richards, Story of Rusk Cemetery, February 14, 1999Add to your cart.
Item 20: Newspaper Clipping: Mill Pond Community remains close, February 23, 1998Add to your cart.
Item 21: Newspaper Clipping: Churches' role in the black community during segregation, February 22, 1998Add to your cart.
Item 22: Newspaper Clipping: History of Pine Flat community, February 1999Add to your cart.
Item 23: Newspaper Clipping: Burgess Hill (page 1 missing), February 15, 1998Add to your cart.
Item 24: Newspaper Clipping: Ruth Mae McCrane, Houston teacher & artist, October 21, 2001Add to your cart.
Item 25: Newspaper Clipping: Jack Richards still 'baby' of Timpson area family, April 16, 1996Add to your cart.
Item 26: Newspaper Clipping: Preserving and sharing black history & AAHP oral history donation to ETRC, May 22, 2001Add to your cart.
Item 27: Newspaper Clipping: Pearl Fuller has touched the lives of generations of Cushing residents, September 9, 2001Add to your cart.
Item 28: Newspaper Clipping: Oral histories celebrate black history on ongoing basis, Rev. Bobby Brown, June 2, 2001Add to your cart.
Item 29: Newspaper Clipping: Telling the story, Heritage project documenting history of African-American community in Nacogdoches, January 30, 2000Add to your cart.
Item 30: Newspaper Clipping: Leading the way, Guidance in early lives played role in community's success, February 27, 2000Add to your cart.
Item 31: Photocopy of 1957 calendar, Sunshine Cafe, Mrs. Madie HumphreyAdd to your cart.

Browse by Box:

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


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