Frank E. and Anna Hayes Owens family papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Anna Hayes Owens

Delaware teacher and civil rights activist (Bertha) Anna Hayes Owens (1919-2008) served as corresponding secretary for the Newark branch of the Delaware Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was involved in preparations for the Delaware test case, one of the five leading up to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education .

Anna Hayes was born in Newark, Delaware, the youngest of five children to William E. Hayes and Anna S. McCadden. William Hayes was a respected journalist, becoming both the dean of legislative correspondents in Delaware as well as the state editor for the Journal-Every Evening . After attending the Newark High School, Anna Hayes studied history at the University of Delaware and was president of the senior class of 1942. In September of the same year, she married Francis E. Owens of Wilmington. The couple settled in Newark with the birth of their two sons, Jonathan, in 1945, and Christopher, in 1948. During the 1950s, Anna Hayes Owens became the corresponding secretary for the Delaware Chapter of the NAACP for which she wrote to local community leaders and national public figures on racial integration. After returning to the University of Delaware for a Masters in Education, she worked as a history teacher in various Delaware public schools until her retirement in the mid-1980s.

Sources

Biographical information derived from the collection.

Frank E. Owens

Delaware civil engineer Francis Erskine Owens (1918-2012) was an amateur jazz disc jockey whose program "The Sound of Jazz" was broadcast from Wilmington, Delaware, between 1962 and 1971.

Born April 3, 1918, to Herbert and Helen Monckton Owens, Frank E. Owens spent the majority of his life in Delaware, where he attended Wilmington High School and later Pierre S. DuPont High School. Owens attended the University of Delaware where he studied civil engineering, graduating in 1941. He was hired in the Business Methods and Investment Division of Louviers and married Anna Hayes in 1942. In 1944, he began his thirty-eight-year career with E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.

Beginning in February 1962, Owens broadcasted an amateur weekly Monday night radio program "The Sound of Jazz" on WDEL FM out of Wilmington, Delaware. The program began in collaboration with fellow Louviers employee Ashley Speakman but continued on after Speakman's departure in August 1967. On "The Sound of Jazz," Owens sought to represent a specific period of jazz created between approximately 1917 and 1945. Owens also wrote articles about jazz artists he had befriended, specifically pianist Hank Duncan, English trumpet-player John Chilton, and trumpet-players Rudy Powell and Herman Autrey of The Fats Waller Band fame. Owens published articles in The Jazz Journal and Jazzology magazines. In addition to writing, Owens maintained a collection of nearly 3,000 classical jazz LPs.

Sources

Biographical information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Frank E. and Anna Hayes Owens family papers comprises 14.3 linear feet of materials, spanning the dates between 1900 and 2011, and includes correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, travel brochures, reel-to-reel tapes, magazines, fanzines, and other materials documenting intergenerational American family life in Delaware.

The Frank E. and Anna Hayes Owens family papers are arranged in five series: I. Anna Hayes Owens; II. Frank E. Owens; III. Photographs; IV. Travel; and V. Magazines

Series I. comprises materials related to Anna Hayes Owens and documents her family life, education, hobbies, and career.

The series also contains materials related to Owens's involvement as a civil rights worker and secretary for the Newark branch of the NAACP. These materials include reports she created regarding integration in Delaware public schools and at the University of Delaware, NAACP pamphlets and publications, and Owens's correspondence on the local and national level for the Newark branch. The series also includes letters from educator, activist, author Kay Boyle (1902-1992). Owens and Boyle met sometime in the summer of 1957 while Boyle was in Newark to judge a writing contest for the University of Delaware English Department. The two women had a mutual interest in the integration movement, particularly in the Delaware desegregation case of Alonzo Shockley v. Board of Education, on which Boyle published an essay, "The Long Dead Fathers" in The Progressive in September 1958.

A major event in Anna Hayes Owens experience as a history teacher throughout the 1960s was an accusation by the Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship of Greater Wilmington that Owens was undermining her students' faith in the bible. Her teaching correspondence includes letters of support from the New Castle school board and news clippings surrounding the event.

Series II. consists of materials relating to Frank E. Owens, including his personal correspondence, transcripts of his radio program "The Sound of Jazz," the jazz-related writing he completed during the years of the program and its aftermath, and the reel-to-reel audio recordings he created from his home phonograph record collection.

A large portion of Owens's correspondence contains both incoming and outgoing letters: Owens, an engineer, organized his mail according to recipient and maintained continuity between his carbon-copied outbound mail and his incoming correspondence. This continuity is seen in Owens's communications with jazz musicians Rudy Powell and John Chilton, jazz enthusiast Paul Burgess, and English professor Thomas Rogers.

The series contains extensive materials related to Owens's "The Sound of Jazz" radio program. In 1962, Frank E. Owens and Ashley Speakman began "The Sound of Jazz," a Monday night FM radio program that was broadcast from WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware. According to Owens, the program was developed out of, "a loosely formed group that got together a couple of times monthly to spin jazz records and consume beer." As Owens wrote later, he and Speakman, "…gradually came to the conclusion that jazz was being poorly represented on radio in the Delaware Valley." "The Sound of Jazz," focused primarily on the jazz of the 1920s-1930s by design and maintained that focus throughout its history. Ashley Speakman departed amicably from the show in 1966. The program ran until 1971 when the station manager asked Owens to move the show to Sunday out of concern for ratings, an offer which he declined. After his resignation, Owens concentrated his passion for jazz towards developing his record collection and into writing about a few of the musicians he had befriended over the years as a listener and concertgoer.

The series includes nine years of transcripts of "The Sound of Jazz" in their entirety, a yearly index with program summaries, fan mail, news clippings about the show, and Owens's correspondence with the radio station WDEL. The series also includes jazz-related writing Owens began after resigning from the program in 1971. His articles on Rudy Powell, Hank Duncan, and John Chilton are included in this series, and are supplemented with his notes, drafts, and letters to publishers.

The series also includes audio recordings of "The Sound of Jazz" show as well as other jazz compilations which are predominantly in reel-to-reel format.

Series III. contains photographs and photo albums of the extended Hayes and Owens families. Included is a scrapbook compiled circa 1940 by Dorothy Hayes, eldest sister of Anna Hayes Owens, in tribute to their recently deceased father William E. Hayes. The scrapbook contains obituary clippings for newspaperman Hayes, images of the Senate chamber of Dover Delaware's Legislative Hall where he served as correspondent, and photos of political cartoonist and acquaintance George "Gee Tee" Maxwell.

The Owens's photographs and albums portray domestic life in Newark, Delaware, encompassing the twentieth century nearly in its entirety. Included are Hayes family photos circa 1910, portraits of Frank and Anna Owens as students and young adults, and numerous photos documenting the lives of their two sons Jonathan and Christopher. Other items include several wedding photos of Truxton and Dorris Jolls Boyce on the University of Delaware campus circa 1940, as well as an extensive series of photographs portraying jazz-musicians Rudy Powell, John Chilton, and Hank Duncan.

Series IV. is comprised of over four-hundred travel guides, brochures, maps, and other souvenirs of notable tourist destinations the Owenses collected while traveling in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. The materials are indicative of informed travel centered on regional culture and history. Particular focus on small towns, cathedrals, chateaus, churches, and museums is demonstrated. Though the bulk of the travel materials were collected in the United Kingdom, the Owenses also toured the Scandinavian region, Belgium, France, and other countries. Materials are arranged by country of origin, as well as by subjects such as "Cathedrals and Chateaus," "Cities and Towns," and "Houses and Castles."

Series V. consists of magazines and periodicals relating to the personal interests of Frank E. and Anna Hayes Owens. Included are editions of the jazz-related Storyville and Coda magazines as well as other miscellaneous jazz magazines, catalogs, and trading supplements. The series also includes various catalogs published by "The Modern Library" dating between 1947 and 1959, as well as assorted literary and collectable magazines from the mid-twentieth century.