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Ann Hennington Brown Papers

Identifier: harsh-1999-07

Scope and Contents

This small collection contains family and church documents and photographs held by the family of Ann Hennington Brown, and the family of her husband, Oscar B. Brown, Sr. These archival items were held at the family home in the Morgan Park neighborhood of Chicago; they were part of the first generation of African Americans to settle in the neighborhood.


  • Creation: 1890 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

Born Annie Estine Hennington in Jackson, Mississippi on September 30, 1913, Ann Hennington Brown was a pianist and organist at Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood, an elementary school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, and a librarian for the Chicago Public Library. In 1923 the Hennington family moved to Chicago, settling in Morgan Park, on the city’s far South Side. Since the 1890s, the Morgan Park neighborhood included a small and cohesive African American community, even though miles separated the neighborhood from other south side black neighborhoods.

The family joined Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church, the oldest African American institution in Morgan Park. It was established in 1898. She was an active member of the first Junior Choir at the church, and was noted as a gifted pianist and organist. She began her education at Esmond Elementary School, which was integrated at that time. After the 1919 Chicago race riot, however, Ann Hennington and all other African American students at Esmond were removed, and sent to Shoop School, a new elementary school east of Vincennes Avenue. She continued her education at Morgan Park High School and graduated from Illinois State Normal University.

After graduation she met Oscar B. Brown, while they were both members of the Sanctuary Choir at Arnett Chapel. They were married in 1937. Oscar Brown’s family had migrated to Chicago from Memphis, Tennessee, where they had been active in church and racial justice work. His mother, Adelaide Parrish Brown, was a founder of the Gaudeamus Club and a charter member of the Alpha Suffrage Cub. She attended the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs convention, held at Wilberforce, Ohio in 1914.

Oscar B. Brown and Ann Hennington Brown had three children: Phyllis Jean, Margaret Ann and Oscar. Ann Hennington Brown was a member of Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Inc., a business and professional women’s organization. She was also a member of the Tally-Ho Social Club. She was the author of a children’s book, “When Sock Saved the Day,” and a book of poems, “Love Is Alive.” In her later years, she joined Trinity United Church of Christ, where she served on the Stewardship Council and the Hurston-Hughes Writers Ministries. Ann Hennington Brown died on July 17, 2012.


3 Linear Feet (in 5 archival boxes, 2 oversized boxes, 24 photographs)

Language of Materials



Ann Brown was a member of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and longtime member of the Missionary Society of Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church. Collection contains photographs, memorabilia, funeral programs, church programs and genealogical records relating to the Brown family.


This collection is arranged into three series.

Series 1: Family and Church Papers, 1890-2012 This series includes documents from Jackson and Crystal Springs, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, Illinois. Of special note is an 1890 “Report of the Colored People’s Relief Committee of Memphis, Tennessee,” an organization created by African American churches and individuals to assist flood victims in the Memphis area. Among its founders was Ida B. Wells, who served as secretary for the initial meetings. Also noteworthy is the Arnett Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church “Centennial Observance” book, documenting Morgan Park’s oldest African American institution from 1898 through 1998. The documents in this series are arranged in chronological order with new accruals listed at the end. Several oversized family documents are housed in a separate box.

Series 2: Photographs, 1907-1985 Nearly all of the photographs in this series document the history of the Hennington and Brown families in Mississippi and in Chicago. A few photographs depict members of the Tally-Ho Club and the Tau Gamma Delta Sorority. One extraordinary, oversized photograph shows the 1914 conference of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, held at Wilberforce College in Ohio. The photographs are arranged in the order in which they were donated.

Series 3: Family Books, 1998-2001 Two books, one written by Ann Hennington Brown, the other written by her daughter, Phyllis Jean Robinson, comprise this series. The books are listed chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Ann Hennington Brown in 1999. Belinda Robinson-Jones donated additional materials in 2002, 2012 and 2014.

Guide to the Ann Hennington Brown Papers
Originally processed by Michael Flug, Senior Archivist, Harsh Archival Processing Project. Revised by Elizabeth Loch, 2021.
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