Spring Break Hours

We know it doesn’t feel like it, but “Spring” Break is almost here!

During Spring Break, Special Collections & Archives will operate Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:00.

We will not be open on Sunday, March 1, or Sunday, March 8. Nor will we be open late on Wednesday, March 4.

We will resume our usual Sunday hours from 1-5 on March 15, and on Wednesday, March 11, we will resume staying open until 9:00 on Wednesdays.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Archives News – January 2015

It’s spring semester again already—whether it feels like it or not! Most of our staff members teach Public History courses in addition to their duties in Special Collections & Archives. Here’s what SC&A staff members are teaching this semester:

  • John Armstrong: Advanced Archives (HST 7800);
  • Toni Vanden Bos: Archival Preservation (HST 7850);
  • Chris Wydman: Information Management (HST 7815); and
  • Dawne Dewey: Dayton’s Aviation Heritage honors seminar (UH 4000).

On January 7, John Armstrong gave a tour for a group of junior high students from the Cleveland area. The students came to Dayton as part of Hawken School’s “Flights of Fancy” course and visited several aviation sites in Dayton over the course of a few days.

John Armstrong with Hawken School group, Jan. 7, 2015

John Armstrong with Hawken School group, Jan. 7, 2015

John discussed the Hawthorn Hill exhibit on the first floor with the students, then took them to the second floor for a closer look at and discussion of the Wright Flyer replica that hangs in the Dunbar Library atrium. Upon reaching the fourth floor, he shared the significance of the Michelin trophy just outside the Archives reading room. Then, the students came into the Archives for a tour of original materials from the Wright Brothers Collection, beginning with the Brothers’ early life and family materials and then progressing chronologically through their lives as inventors and aviators.

John Armstrong with Hawken School group, Jan. 7, 2015

John Armstrong with Hawken School group, Jan. 7, 2015. About this time, John referred to Wilbur as a “rock star.”

At one point, John referred to Wilbur as having achieved “rock star” status following his demonstration flights at Le Mans, France, in 1908—a choice of words that was enjoyed immensely by all.

John Armstrong with Hawken School group, Jan. 7, 2015

John Armstrong with Hawken School group, Jan. 7, 2015

On January 17, Toni Vanden Bos and Digital Services’ Tanya Ellenburg-Kimmet led a Friends of the Libraries workshop entitled “Picture This!” The workshop was an introduction to digital camera basics, photo editing software, photo scanning and preservation.

On January 27, Gino Pasi and two of our Public History students, Nina Herzog and Shelby Dixon, led 5th grade Social Studies students (3 classes of 25 students each) from McKinley Elementary in Xenia in primary sources workshop.

McKinley School students creating their poster, Jan. 29, 2015

McKinley School students creating their poster, Jan. 29, 2015

Each group created a mini-exhibit of reproduction primary source materials. Student were also given questions, the answers to which could be found in the images. They pasted the images, questions, and other info on poster board and presented to the class. Topics for the groups were: Dayton school desegregation, Dayton bussing, Thurgood Marshall, James H. McGee, and the 1963 March on Washington. The students’ posters have been on display at the Xenia Kroger for Black History Month.

McKinley students presenting their poster, Jan. 29, 2015

McKinley students presenting their poster, Jan. 29, 2015

Dawne Dewey conducted class orientation tours to the Archives for her UH 4000 students (January 13) as well as Dr. Swanson’s HST 4900 Senior Research Seminar class (January 29). Dawne also gave a tour for representatives of Wright B Flyer, Inc. (January 29). Gino Pasi also presented a brief talk on oral history to Dr. Swanson’s class as well.

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James H. McGee, Dayton’s First African-American Mayor

Mayor James H. McGee, 1982. Photo by Bill Shepherd, Dayton Daily News. From Dayton Daily News Archive (MS-458), VIP Files.

Mayor James H. McGee, 1982. Photo by Bill Shepherd, Dayton Daily News. From Dayton Daily News Archive (MS-458), VIP Files.

James H. McGee (1918-2006) was Dayton’s first African American mayor, serving in that capacity from 1970 to 1981. At the time he was appointed to the office in 1970, he was one of the first black major city mayors in the nation. McGee also holds the distinction of being Dayton’s longest tenured mayor with nearly 12 years in office.

James Howell McGee was born November 8, 1918, in Berryburg, West Virginia, to Spanish and Perrie (Dalton) McGee. He grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, as the oldest of several children.

McGee earned his undergraduate degree from Wilberforce University in 1937, after which he served briefly in the Army. He earned his law degree from Ohio State University in 1948. Upon graduation, McGee practiced law in the Miami Valley and became involved in Dayton city politics. He then became assistant to Congressman Rodney M. Love in the War on Poverty in 1966.

McGee served as a Dayton City Commissioner beginning in 1967, following an appointment to complete the unfinished term of Don Crawford, who had gone on to become the city’s clerk. In 1970, McGee was appointed to Mayor after Dave Hall retired from the position due to illness. McGee was later elected to this position in 1973, and re-elected in 1977 serving through 1981. (McGee chose not to seek re-election in 1981 and was succeeded by Paul Leonard as mayor.)

Mayor James H. McGee, right, with C. J. McLin, Dayton's representative to the Ohio House of Representatives (36th District), 1979. Photo by Mark Duncan, Dayton Daily News. From Dayton Daily News Archive (MS-458), VIP Files.

Mayor James H. McGee, right, with C. J. McLin, Dayton’s representative to the Ohio House of Representatives (36th District), 1979. Photo by Mark Duncan, Dayton Daily News. From Dayton Daily News Archive (MS-458), VIP Files.

Much of McGee’s early work was for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and he was involved in several landmark civil rights cases in the Dayton area. During his tenure as Mayor, James H. McGee greatly improved the well-being of the city and testified before Congress on behalf of Dayton. He traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, on behalf of both political and civil organizations.

McGee was a member of various organizations including the Freemasons, NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, National League of Cities, Sister Cities International, and the National Bar Association.

McGee was married to Elizabeth McCracken and had two daughters, Annette McGee-Wright and Frances E. McGee-Cromartie, who both reside in the Dayton area.

James H. McGee died on March 4, 2006, at Covenant House Nursing Home in Trotwood, at the age of 87. He is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.

The above text was adapted from the original finding aid biographical sketch written my Michael Arbagi, Tasha Hairston, and Sherri Derringer. Particularly helpful in supply additional information were several articles from the Dayton Daily News dated March 5-10, 2006, as well as Ancestry genealogy database.


The James Howell McGee Papers (MS-322, view PDF finding aid), at Special Collections & Archives, contain materials which document McGee’s life and his dedication to community development and civil rights. As an African American politician and the first black mayor of Dayton, his political contributions to civil rights during the 1960s and 1970s are of major importance. In addition to the political documents, the collection contains speeches and records of his involvement with civil rights and social organizations. This collection also preserves documentation of his domestic and foreign travels, mostly professional. The James H. McGee Papers consist of 11 boxes and 5.25 linear feet. The dates of the papers range from the late 1920s to 1995.

The following is a small selection of items from the James H. McGee Papers. Click on a thumbnail to view the item larger:

For more information about James H. McGee or the James H. McGee Papers, please contact Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, at archives@www.libraries.wright.edu or (937) 775-2092.

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