Tom Chambers Collection - Chester County History Center

TOM CHAMBERS COLLECTION

Collection Title: Tom Chambers Collection

Collection Number: 232

Dates of Collection: 1987-1993

Box Numbers: 1-5

RepositoryChester County Historical Society

Project Archivist: Seth Wheeler, Intern

Biography:

The collection begins with the announcement by Tom Chambers, the mayor of West Chester from 1986 to 1993, and the NAACP of a plan to respond to the Ku Klux Klan March in December 1990 by organizing a community-sponsored Unity rally. The rally, organized by Tom Chambers, was intended to bring people together and encourage residents to stay away from the KKK march. On the day of the march, 1,600 people came to the Unity Rally. There were speeches by Tom Chambers and community leaders in West Chester, four entertainment segments, and local students reading essays about unity. The success of the rally inspired community leaders to do another Unity Rally the following year.

The Troop Appreciation Day series materials come from the months after the Unity rally and the events of Desert Storm in 1991. Tom Chambers became involved with veteran causes as mayor, being a Marine Corps veteran himself. He organized Troop Appreciation Day in the summer of 1991 to honor veterans for their service from the Gulf War and previous American conflicts with a parade.

The next series of the collection focuses on the Veteran Memorial Dedication. The plans for the memorial project began as early as 1987. However, it took some time to successfully plan and fundraise the entire project.  The first phase of the project was the construction of the Veteran Memorial monument, which was completed in December 1990. The second phase of the project for the dedication of the “Garden of Honor” reached its completion in 1993.

Resources Used:

Bakoff, Lauri. “W.C. unveils plans to combat KKK March.” Daily Local News. Dec 16. 1990. Microfilm Collection. Chester County Historical Society. West Chester, PA.

Church, Johanna. “Battling ‘evil’ of racism through Unity”. Daily Local News. January 13, 1991. Microfilm Collection. Chester County Historical Society. West Chester, PA.

Collections Scope:

The collection consists of Tom Chamber’s papers for political and veteran events in the early 1990s. A significant portion of the collection is dedicated to the Shun the Klan series, a counter protest event organized by Tom Chambers on January 16th, 1991. The other portions of the collection consist of two series for two veteran events, Troop Appreciation Day in June 1991 and the planning and construction of the Veteran Memorial in West Chester from 1987 to 1993. Each series contain planning and organizational documents, such as minutes, forms and permits, committee manuscripts, and volunteer lists and donations. Series also contain letters and articles responding to the event, along with programs and advertising flyers. Researchers will find detailed information on the reception of each event. Lastly, the collection contains a photograph records series based on pictures taken during Troop Appreciation Day and Veteran Memorial Dedication events.

This finding guide was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Preservation Assistance Grant. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this collection guide do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Collection Arrangement:

The collection is comprised of four series: The Troop Appreciation Day Series, the Shun the Klan and Unity Day Rally Series, the Veteran Memorial Dedication Series, and the Photograph Records Series. Each series is held in either one box or two with the entire collection comprising 5 boxes. The collection is described at the folder level. The photograph series is arranged by file and folder.

Collections Contents:

Troop Appreciation Day Series

Troop Appreciation Day Steering Committee Binder

  • Event Planning: Box 1, Folder 1
  • Parade Plans/Participants: Box 1, Folder 2
  • Meeting Minutes: Box 1, Folder 3
  • Correspondence-IN/OUT: Box 1, Folder 4
  • Forms/Permits: Box 1, Folder 5
  • Volunteer List: Box 1, Folder 6
  • News Clips: Box 1, Folder 7
  • Event Flyers: Box 1, Folder 8
  • Front Pocket: Misc. Articles, Letters, and Forms: Box 1, Folder 9
  • Back Pocket: Miscellaneous Articles, Letters, and Forms: Box 1, Folder 10
  • Misc. Info- Troop Appreciation Day 6/15/91 Envelope: Box 1, Folder 11

Shun the Klan and Unity Day Rally Series

Unity Rally Day Planning Binder

  • Unity Rally Plans Divider: Box 2, Folder 1.
  • Back Pocket: Unity Day Committee manuscripts: Box 2, Folder 2.
  • Back Pocket: Unity Rally Flyers & Guest List: Box 2, Folder 3.

Volunteer Info- Unity Day Rally Binder

  • Front Pocket: Shun the Klan flyers Box 2, Folder 4.
  • Back Pocket: West Chester Conflict & Resolution Team flyer January 1991 folder, News Contacts List: Box 2, Folder 5.
  • Volunteer letters, donations, and receipts: Box 2, Folder 6.
  • Volunteers/News Media Divider: Box 2, Folder 7.

The Ku Klux Klan Research Binder

  • Front Pouch: Miscellaneous KKK Notes: Box 2, Folder 8.
  • Research Content folders: Box 2, Folder 9-14.

KKK Parade Information Binder

  • Front Pouch: Misc. Klan and Unity Day info. Box 2, Folder 15.
  • Internal IOM’s. Box 2, Folder 16.
  • March Plans (Police). Box 2, Folder 17.
  • KKK info: Box 2, Folder 18.
  • Legal Info Box 2, Folder 19.
  • Correspondence-In: Box 3, Folder 1.
  • Correspondence-Out: Box 3, Folder 2.
  • Fliers/Handouts: Box 3, Folder 3.
  • Back Pocket: Misc. Klan info. Box 3, Folder 4.

Klan News Clips Binder

  • Front Pocket: News articles, Klan business cards: Box 3, Folder 5.
  • Back Pocket: Unity Day Programs folder. Box 3, Folder 6.
  • Back Pocket: Unity Day Committee flyers. Box 3, Folder 7.
  • Back Pocket: Klan March, Jan. 13, 1991. Box 3, Folder 8.
  • Newspaper clippings. Box 3, Folder 9.
  • Newspaper articles. Box 3, Folder 10.

Miscellaneous folders

  • Statement to East Henderson High School: Box 3, Folder 11.
  • Letter to Tom Chambers from Ellen Gearcelle: Box 3, Folder 12.
  • KKK Brief Summaries. Box 3, Folder 13.
  • Amendment to Ethnic Intimidation Law, Feb. 16,1991: Box 3, Folder 14
  • Letters from the Lieutenant Governor and Governor: Box 3, Folder 15
  • Laura Gordon’s Fifth Grade Class letter to Mayor Tom Chambers: Box 3, Folder 16.
  • KKK March Report and Operations Manuel: Box 3, Folder 17

Veteran Memorial Dedication Series

Time Capsule information-Vets Memorial- June 1992: Box 4, Folder 1.

Vets Memorial Project Binder

  • Programs and Greeting Cards: Box 4, Folder 2
  • Dedication Plans: Box 4, Folder 3
  • MTG. Minutes: Box 4, Folder 4
  • Fund-Raising Letters Out: Box 4, Folder 5
  • Correspondence-IN: Box 4, Folder 6
  • Correspondence-OUT: Box 4, Folder 7
  • News clips: Box 4, Folder 8
  • Miscellaneous: Box 4, Folder 9

Veteran Construction Information Binder

  • Back Pouch: Blueprints. Box 4, Folder 10.
  • Construction Info. Divider. Box 4, Folder 11.

Photograph Records Series

  • Parade Pictures “Welcome Home Parade” Troop Appreciation Day Envelope. Originally included in Troop Appreciation Day series.  Box 5, File 1. 54 photographs.
  • W.C.’s “Garden of Honor/Vets Memorial” album. Originally housed in Veteran Construction Information Binder front pocket.  Box 5, File 2. 13 photographs.
  • W.C. Veterans “Garden of Honor” Misc. Photographs of Construction and Dedication of “Garden of Honor” 1987 thru 1993, 2 Envelopes. Originally housed in Veteran Memorial Dedication Series.  Box 5, File 3-11. File 3: 9 photographs. File 4: 25 photographs. File 5: 20 photographs. File 6: 36 photographs, 6 Negatives. Pt.1, File 3-6. File 7: 11 photographs. File 8: 12 photographs. File 9: 26 photographs. File 10: 25 photographs. File 11: 23 photographs. Pt.2, File 7-11
  • The Greater West Chester Veteran Memorial Project Pictures with Public Officials. Originally housed in Vets Memorial Project Binder front pocket. Box 5, File 12. 6 photographs.