Skip to main content

Inez Adams papers

Identifier: 003

Scope and Contents

The Inez Adams papers document Adams' career as a sociologist and anthropologist.  The collection consists of correspondence, financial documents, field notes, and collected publications, and the collection spans the years 1914 to 1966.  The papers have been arranged into seven series, which are arranged as follows:  Biographical material, correspondence, faculty appointments, field notes, financial records, writings by Inez Adams, and writings collected by Inez Adams.  Items of particular interest include field notes on the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the NAACP in Nashville. 

This collection was processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


  • Created: 1914-1966
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1968


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

Inez Adams was an anthropologist whose work focused on the topic of race relations. Although she conducted fieldwork in the Caribbean and in Nigeria, the main focus of her work centered on school desegregation in the South.

Dorothy Inez Adams was born in 1904 in Santa Barbara, California. She was the daughter of Dorothy and William Adams. She graduated from Lindsay High School in Lindsay, California in 1922 and then attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree with honors in Anthropology in December of 1926. She continued her education at Berkeley and received a Masters of Arts Degree in Anthropology in 1928.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Dr. Adams wrote poetry and literary prose, which has survived. What she did professionally is not clear for these years until 1944 when she was attending Columbia University in New York City working on her Ph. D. in Anthropology. Her mentor during her time at Columbia was Dr. Ralph Linton who had left the Anthropology Department at Columbia for a position at Yale University’s Institute of Human Relations. Her letters to Dr. Linton are very detailed with information on the progress of her thesis and gossip about the Anthropology Department at Columbia. She defended her thesis in May of 1949 and received her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1950.

In November of 1949, Dr. Adams was offered a position at Fisk University and started teaching the spring term in the Department of Social Sciences. She enjoyed the work at Fisk and the emotional warmth of her African American students. She was happy with the faculty in the department and became good friends with Dr. Bonita Valien. In 1951, Fisk University had to drop Anthropology from the curriculum due to budget constraints; however, the department wanted to keep Dr. Adams on staff and Dr. Preston Valien found a role in the department for her. She received a Carnegie Grant to study culture and race relations on the island of Trinidad and conducted fieldwork for the summer months of 1951.

From 1954 to 1958, she studied the process of school desegregation and civil rights in the southern United States. She traveled during the summer months to conduct surveys and interviews to document the development of social change as it occurred during this time period. She surveyed and interviewed in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia documenting local desegregation efforts. Her main focus was school desegregation and African American and Caucasian American educators, as well as southern reactions to integration.

Working at Fisk University raised her awareness of racism and segregation in the South. She became a member of the NAACP and was a member of the local NAACP Committee on Education between 1955 and 1956.

In 1960, Dr. Adams became involved in a project sponsored by the Institute of Race Relations in London, England. It was called the Tropical Africa Research Project. She left for London in September of 1961 and conducted interviews of various individuals involved with the Institute in Nigeria. She traveled to Nigeria to conduct fieldwork from January to April 1962.

From 1963 to 1967, she worked as a Professor of Anthropology at Brooklyn College in New York City. During this time civil rights demonstrations and protests were occurring throughout the South. Dr. Adams was interested in documenting the demonstrations and sit-ins in Nashville and their results in the local community. She collected data from Nashville using correspondence and field notes to study these protests. She was very interested in the results the Civil Rights Act would bring and implementation of its compliance locally in Nashville.

Dr. Adams died on December 15, 1967, in Washington, D.C.


3.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Arrangement is primarily alphabetically by topic and chronologically within the file units.

Source of Acquisition

Mrs. Preston Valien

Method of Acquisition


Appraisal Information

Collection documents the life and academic career of Inez Adams, most notably including fieldwork on the United States civil rights movement and school desegregation.

Related Materials

Valien, Preston & Bonita papers

Race Relations Department of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries archives

Processing Information

Processed by Beatrice Rodriguez Owsley, Philip S. MacLeod, and Gregory Fayard in December 2000.

Inez Adams papers
Beatrice Rodriguez Owsley, Philip S. MacLeod, and Gregory Fayard
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