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Joan Wallace Papers

Identifier: harsh-2005-06

Scope and Contents

The Joan Wallace Papers spans from 1901 to 2007 with the bulk of material from 1977 to 1994. It is arranged into seven series: “Biographical and Family History,” “Manuscripts” “Employment,” “Scrapbooks and Photographic Albums,” “Photographs”, “Audio/Visual” and “Memorabilia.” Wallace’s time as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture is well represented in this collection. A significant portion of the papers are scrapbooks and photo albums Wallace created from her many trips working in the Department of Agriculture. Materials include correspondence, administrative files, travel documents, photographs, reports, newspaper clippings, and biographical materials of both Joan Wallace and Maurice Dawkins. Of note are materials relating to and from her father, the painter William Edouard Scott. A small amount of materials are in Spanish and French.


  • Creation: 1901-2007, bulk 1977-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1977 - 1994


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restriction, limited due to fragile nature of the material

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection

Biographical / Historical

Joan Edair Scott Wallace was born in Chicago to William Edouard Scott and Esther Fulks Scott in 1930. She attended Englewood High School and graduated in 1948 as salutatorian. In 1952, Wallace graduated from Bradley University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and went on to earn her master’s in Social Work from Columbia University in 1954. In 1973, Wallace completed her doctorate at Northwestern University studying Experimental Social Psychology.

In 1954, Wallace married John H. Wallace, with whom she would have three sons. In 1979, she married pastor and activist Maurice Dawkins and the two remained married until his death in 2001. In 2003, Wallace remarried her first husband, John Wallace.

Wallace worked in several universities. From 1967 to 1973, Wallace held the position of Associate Professor of Psychology and Social Work and Director of Undergraduate School of Social Work and Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. While on leave from the University of Illinois Chicago in 1970, she was Director of Afro American Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology and Psychology at Barat College. In 1973, Wallace was made Dean of Howard University’s School of Social Work. From 1975 to 1976, she served as the Deputy Executive Director for Programs of the National Urban League. For the next year, Wallace was Vice President of Administration at Morgan State University before becoming Director of the Western Michigan School of Social Work in 1977.

In 1977, Wallace was appointed by President Carter to be Assistant Secretary for Administration of the Department of Agriculture, the first African American and the third woman to hold that position. She served until 1981, after which she represented the United States on the Board of Directors of International Cooperation and Development. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed her the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) Diplomatic Representative in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which she held until 1993. Retiring from government work in 1995, Wallace then became Chairman of Americans for Democracy in Africa, an organization that monitored elections in countries in Africa. In 1999, Wallace went to Florida International University as Professor and Associate Director of the School of Social Work. In 2000, Wallace served as Commissioner of Volunteer Florida, the governor’s Commission of Community Service.

Joan Wallace has earned honorary degrees from University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, Bowie State College, and Alabama A&M University.


The History Makers. “Joan Scott Wallace.” August 31, 2004.

Sun Sentinel. “Rev. Maurice A. Dawkins, 80, Black Activist.” September 28, 2001.


42.5 Linear Feet (in 40 boxes including 297 photographs, 11 videotapes and 34 photographic scrapbook albums)

Language of Materials



oan Wallace, daughter of painter William Edouard Scott and widow of anti-poverty federal official Maurice Dawkins, was an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture during the Carter administration. Her papers contain correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs and memorabilia.


This collection is arranged in 7 series: Biographical, Manuscripts, Work History, Photographs, Audio-Visuals, Scrapbooks and Photographic Albums, and Memorabilia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation of Joan Scott Wallace

Guide to Joan Wallace Papers
Beth Loch and Elise Zerega, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, December 26, 2013; revised by Beverly Cook and Jeanie Child 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid 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