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Accession number A2003.009
Collection Viola Gibson
Title The Viola Gibson Collection
Catalog Number A2003.009
Object Name Papers, Personal
Credit line Collection of the AAMI
Physical characteristics Boxed documents span one linear inch.
Dates of Creation 1947-2002
Access Conditions Open for research.
Copyrights no known restrictions
Scope & Content The Viola Gibson records date from 1947 to 2002 and measure 1 linear inch. The papers/records are arranged into one series: Viola Gibson. The Viola Gibson series (1952-2001) contains some biographical information, a few photographs of family members, items from the groundbreaking and opening of Viola Gibson School, a 1974 foster care license, and newspaper clippings from 1947 and 1989, and a few, mostly unidentified photographs of family members.
Biographical History Viola Willis was born on September 6, 1905 in Bethel Springs, Tennessee. She moved to Cedar Rapids with her family circa 1918. She married Walter Carr on August 10, 1924 in Marion, Iowa and John Gibson, Sr. on August 10, 1929 in Flint Michigan. Gibson attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan for two year. Viola had a total of 8 children, 5 daughters and 3 sons. In addition, she attended nursing school and Moody Bible Institute, both in Chicago, Illinois. In 1954, Gibson was ordained a minister by the Board of the Christ Sanctified Holiness Church. She served as a minister for 20 years in Cedar Rapids.
Viola was an active member of the community. In 1942, she was among a group of people that re-activated the NAACP in Cedar Rapids following a controversy in which a nephew of Viola's was denied admission to the new Cedar Rapids swimming pool in Ellis Park. Viola served as secretary for the NAACP for many years. She served as president from 1948 -50 and 1953-55. She organized the Branch Youth Council in 1944. She was on the Executive Board at the time of her death in 1989. She was also a founder of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP State Conference and served as Treasurer of this organization for 15 years. She was awarded a Life Membership in the NAACP for her efforts. In addition to her work on the NAACP, she served as a member of the Jane Boyd Community House, beginning their Religious Book Club in 1946 and helping to organized the Jane Boyd Over 60 Club. She was a Board member of Churches United and Church Women United. Viola served on the Mayor's Committee for Oak Hill Citizens in re-developing the Oak Hill Area. Viola worked with the Cedar Rapids Schools to encourage the CRSS to hire more African American teachers and to teach African American history.
Among the many awards that Viola received were Outstanding Citizen from both the State and local Jaycees, Outstanding Older Iowa awarded by the Governor's Conference on Aging, Outstanding Black Woman, awarded by the Black Women's Civic Organization, and the 1969 Church Woman of the Year Award presented by the Cedar Rapids Area Council of Churches. In addition, a Cedar Rapids City Park was named after her in 1970 and a Cedar Rapids School was named for her in 2002.
Finding Aids Box no.___Description__________
Box 1
Viola Gibson
Effie Jean Gibson-Brown, 1995
Gibson Elementary School Groundbreaking, 2001
Foster Home License, 1974
NAACP "Yes I Can." Awards banquet, 1996
Newspaper Clippings, 1947
Newspaper Clippings
Photographs, 1952 and undated
Subjects Foster home care
Civil rights
Civil rights leaders
Search Terms Cedar Rapids
NAACP - Cedar Rapids
Social services
Foster care
Civil Rights
People Gibson, Viola
Carr, Walter
Gibson, John, Jr.
Gibson-Brown, Effie Jean
Classification Civil Rights
Domestic Life
Creator Viola Gibson