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John B. Duncan papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS2055
This collection contains photographs, speeches, awards, correspondence, medical records, articles, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and reference files. The material dates from 1932-89, although the bulk of the material dates from 1960-77. The material relates both to Duncan's personal life and to his professional career. There are many subjects within the reference files that represent topics of interest to Duncan while he was in office. These subjects include: legalized gambling, National Capital Downtown Committee, and minority integration into Boards in D.C. The speeches included in the collection are both speeches given by Duncan and also speeches he attended given by such people as Lyndon B. Johnson, Ralph Bunche, Roy Wilkins, Harle Selassie, A. Philip Randolph, and Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle. The scrapbooks in the collection span sixty years and begin with Duncan's early years in North Carolina and continuing until 1989.

Dates

  • 1932-1989

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Extent

21 Linear Feet

Abstract

In 1952, after twenty-eight years of service in city government, John Bonner Duncan (1910-1994) was appointed recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia. He served in this capacity until 1961, at which time President John F. Kennedy appointed him the first African-American commissioner of the District of Columbia. Collection contains photographs, speeches, awards, correspondence, medical records, articles, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and reference files. The material dates from 1932-89, although the bulk of the material dates from 1960-77. The material relates both to Duncan's personal life and to his professional career.

Biographical Note

In 1952, after twenty-eight years of service in city government, John Bonner Duncan (1910-1994) was appointed recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia. He served in this capacity until 1961, at which time President John F. Kennedy appointed him the first African-American commissioner of the District of Columbia. President Lyndon B. Johnson re-appointed him to this position in 1964. As a member of the city's last three-man board of commissioners, in 1967 Duncan advocated for the reinstatement of the city's present mayor-commission system.

In November 1967, Duncan was appointed assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Urban Relations. He retired from the government in 1969 and began a twenty-year career as a consultant in housing development, equal opportunity and public affairs groups.

He was active in nearly eighty civic organizations in the District of Columbia for forty years, including private and public agencies, which supported education, health, recreation, welfare, youth groups, human relations art and sciences. He was a supporter of religious organizations, civil rights groups and numerous service organizations.

John B. Duncan was born in Springfield, Kentucky in 1910. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Howard University, and graduated from Terrell Law School in 1938. He was a member of the Maryland Bar and an associate member of the Washington Bar Association. He served as an attorney and senior attorney for several federal agencies. Duncan married Edith West in 1938. They had two children, John Jr. and Joan. After the death of his first wife in 1966, Duncan married B. Delores Berry in 1969. Duncan passed away at his home in Alexandria, Virginia in 1994.

Collection Organization

Organized into nine series: Photographs, Speeches, Correspondence, Honors and awards, Reference files, Personal files, Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Memorabilia.

Acquisition Information

John Duncan donated this collection to Gelman Library in 1991. Additional materials were donated by Duncan and Duncan's family in 1992, 1993, and 1994.
Title
Guide to the John B. Duncan papers, 1932-1989
Status
completed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Date
2006
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America