Fannie B. Rosser papers, circa 1860s-1973, 2012, bulk 1920s-1973 1 Linear Foot — 750 Items
The papers of Fannie B. Rosser document the personal and professional life of a black businesswoman within a fiscally sound African American community in Durham, N.C. Correspondence, legal and financial papers, printed materials, and photographs reflect both her business activities and her relationships with close friends and family members from the turn of the century to the 1970s.
The bulk of the correspondence until the 1950s pertains to Rosser's business ventures, including maintenance of her property, personal loans made to family and friends, and her investments in government stocks and bonds. Letters from her lifelong friend and business partner, Virginia Randolf of Lynchburg, Va., document the process of maintaining Rosser's rental property over the course of thirty years. They highlight, among other things, the apparent ghettoization of the neighborhood in which her houses were situated, and Randolf's personal and financial response to that process.
Friends and family members often deferred financial matters to Rosser, a careful and respected business woman, and were often dependent on her for monetary support. The correspondence illustrates Rosser's financial acumen and demonstrates the extent to which her personal relationships and business activities overlapped. Of particular interest is an exchange with the Wilhoite's, a couple to whom she loaned $1000, during the Depression. Their correspondence illustrates the personal nature of her business dealings and the difficulties Rosser had in balancing finances and friendships.
Later correspondence centers around Rosser's relationships with her foster daughter Mattie Burton Meyers and niece June. There are scattered references to the political climate of the 1960s, and correspondence from Mattie mentions her work with the NAACP. Also, in the printed materials there is a 2012 published biography of Mattie written by her granddaughter Sharon Revis-Green.
The printed materials consist of materials such as news clippings on both family events and local politics, church programs, and obituaries. A large series of financial and legal papers, 1895-1969, provide extensive detail on Rosser's investments, insurance policies, and legal activities. Many of these documents are associated with firms such as the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, where Rosser was employed.
The photographs in the collection date back to the early 1860s and are mostly individual portraits and group photographs of African American family members and friends. An unidentified ambrotype of an African American woman dated prior to the Civil War indicates that the family might have been free.