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John Allen Buggs Papers

Identifier: 061

Scope and Contents

The papers of John Allen Buggs document his career as an educator and school administrator. The collections consists of 4,000 items or 3.2 linear feet. There are 2,560 pieces of correspondence, 46 multi-page reports, 240 general single-page reports, 25 essays, and approximately 1,000 general items such as financial reports, bulletins, pamphlets, invitations, announcements, photographs, newspaper clippings, contracts, lists, press releases, and biographical sheets.

The papers document Buggs' tenure (1942-1951) as principal of Fessenden Academy in Martin, Florida, a school of the American Missionary Association and his implementation of "functional education" for junior and senior high school students. The progam focused on vocational training and preparation of African American students planning to further their education by attending college or university. Other topics covered during Buggs' time at Fessenden Academy include school integration and the integration of the University of Florida at Gainesville. The collection provides extensive documentation (1952-1965) for the period of the Civil Rights Movement and Buggs' involvement as the Director of the Los Angeles Committee on Human Rights. Of particular interest is Buggs' reports written during this time period, which discuss issues regarding human relations and racial discrimination particularly in Los Angeles. Most of Buggs' essays within the collection consist of sociology papers written when Buggs' was a student at Fisk University in 1939. Of note within the papers is a collection of "hate literature" from neo-Nazi, anti-communist, Jewish, and African American organizations.


  • Created: 1939-1964
  • Other: Date acquired: 12/01/1973


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Biographical Note

Educator and civil rights activist John Allen Buggs was educated in American Missionary Association-founded schools and later was a teacher and school administrator for other AMA schools. While at Fessenden Academy in Florida, he implemented a program of “functional education,” a program focused on vocational training and preparation of African American students planning to further their education by attending college or university. Following his teaching career, Allen became active in a number of civil and human rights organizations in Los Angeles, California.

John Allen Buggs was born on November 20, 1915, in Brunswick, Georgia, to John Wesley and Leonora Clark. He attended the public schools of Brunswick, then continued his studies at Dillard University in New Orleans. He graduated in 1939 with a Bachelors Degree in History. He attended Fisk University and studied under Charles S. Johnson, the well-known African American sociologist, graduating in 1941 with a Masters degree in Sociology. Buggs' university work focused his interests in social and economic conditions for African Americans throughout the 1940s.

Buggs' first professional position in education was at the American Missionary Association's Trinity School in Athens, Alabama, where he was an instructor in the social sciences from 1941 to 1942. Very quickly he attained the position of Director of Fessenden Academy in Martin, Florida, another school of the American Missionary Association. His work at Fessenden focused on a modified program of vocational training and college preparation to meet the needs of African American students. Fressenden Academy closed in May 1951. During this time period he was active in the Marion County community as Secretary of the Marion County, Florida, branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1943 and the Secretary of the Florida State Progressive Voters League in 1949. He married Mary Gale Brown in February of 1943.

After the closing of Fessenden Academy, Buggs moved to Los Angeles, California, where his work with the issues of human rights and intergroup relations started. For two years he served as the Deputy Probation Officer for Los Angeles County until 1952. Buggs then worked for the Los Angels County Committee on Human Relations, first as its Executive Secretary (1954-1963) and then Executive Director (1963-1967). The focus of the organization was on racial discrimination in the Los Angeles area, including the topics of anti-Semitism, education, employment, and the use of public facilities by minorities.

Following his work with the Los Angeles County Committee on Human Relations, Buggs continued to work for various organizations that focused on civil rights for minorities. He served as President of the National Association of Intergroup Relations Officials (1966-1967), Deputy Director of the Model Cities Administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. (1967-1969), Executive Committee Member for the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association (1968-1971), Vice-President of the National Urban Coalition (1969-1971), and from 1971 he acted as the Deputy Staff Director before being promoted to Staff Director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (1969-1972). In 1974, he became a member of the National Council of Boy Scouts of America.


3.20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The papers have been arranged into four groups of materials: correspondence, reports, university essays, and collected materials relating to Buggs' career and various subjects. The bulk of the materials document Buggs' career in education at Fessenden Academy at Martin, Florida, and his civil rights work in Los Angeles, California, during his time as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Committee on Human Rights.

Custodial History

There are several pieces of correspondence between Clifton H. Johnson and John Allen Buggs regarding the acquisition of Buggs' papers. Johnson began correspondence February 1973 with Buggs to collect his personal papers for The Amistad Research Center.

Source of Acquisition

John Allen Buggs

Method of Acquisition


Appraisal Information

The collection documents the career of Buggs as a teacher and principal at Trinity School at Athens, Georgia, and Fessenden Academy at Martin, Florida, and his work in civil rights, especially in Los Angeles, where he eventually became Executive Director of the Los Angeles Committee on Human Rights. Many of the writings and reports are related to his career and interests.

Accruals and Additions

There are six additions to the collection dating 1984. The materials are divided into 3 sections: personal correspondence, general correspondence, and other materials. The other materials are primarily reports and collected materials not yet arranged systematically. Correspondence in labeled folders are already arranged chronologically, others are not.

Related Materials

The records of the American Missionary Association contain additional materials about Fessenden Academy and Trinity School. Related to the Buggs papers are the Frederick L. Brownlee papers and the Ruth A. Morton scrapbook, both held at the Amistad Research Center. The National Association of Human Rights Workers (NAHRW) records will contain materials about Buggs dating (1966-1967).

Other Descriptive Information

Correspondence Index attached as PDF.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 1977.

John Allen Buggs Papers
Glenda Stevens and James H. Albins
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository

6823 Saint Charles Avenue
Tilton Hall, Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118 US
(504) 862-3222