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Rosella E. Smith Papers

Identifier: harsh-2005-01

Scope and Contents

Within this collection is a series of stock share certificates related to Binga State Bank, Supreme Liberty Life Insurance, and Douglass National Bank of Chicago between 1920 and 1956. Included is a check written by Jesse Binga.


  • 1920-1956


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection

Biographical / Historical

Rosella E. Smith started this family archive of stock certificates and checks written to James E. White from Binga State Bank, the first privately-owned Black bank in Chicago, and Douglass National Bank of Chicago. White was the uncle of Mattie L. [Taylor] Priester who worked at Supreme Liberty Life Insurance and held shares at the company. Priester was the mother of donor James L. Priester. Donor Rosella Smith is the first cousin of James L. Priester.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Jesse Binga arrived in Chicago in 1890 and became a prominent business man. He was involved in business ventures of banking and real estate. He was inspired to create his own bank in 1908 since white-owned banks refused to lend money to African Americans. Binga State Bank prospered until its financial failure during the Great Depression in the 1930s.


Binga: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black Banker


.25 Linear Feet (in 1 box)

Language of Materials



Rosella E. Smith’s papers include capital stock certificates from Binga State Bank and Supreme Liberty Life Insurance and receipts. Jesse Binga’s bank was a major Black-owned financial institution on Chicago’s South Side. It closed in 1933.


This small collection is separated into eleven folders. The folders are organized chronologically, then alphabetically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Rosella E. Smith in January 2005, February 2005, and March 2005. Additional donations by James Priester in July 2004, January 2005, February 2005, and March 2005 and Judith A. Allen in December 2008.

Related Materials

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

  • Earl B. Dickerson Papers

  • Milton O. Davis Papers


Rosella E. Smith Papers
Bianca Milligan, Library Associate
April 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding guide written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Repository

Woodson Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
9525 S. Halsted Street
Chicago IL 60628 United States
(312) 745-2080