Document 15: Elayne DeLott to Benjamin DeLott, "i wouldn't want you to think," Tougaloo College, Jackson, Mississippi, May 1964, Elaine DeLott Baker Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Introduction

   My fascination with the connection between art and social change led me to design my own major in college, "Sociology and Art History." This is probably why, at Tougaloo, I was asked to teach a summer course on art history. The tutor that I refer to in the letter is Tom Pettigrew, my Harvard sociology professor. This letter to my dad chronicles the start of my transition from Tougaloo faculty to civil rights worker, as Casey Hayden and Jesse Morris, SNCC staffers from the COFO headquarters in Jackson, asked me to create a survey that could be administered to local Black Mississippians during the Freedom Summer project.

dear daddy,

    i wouldn't want you to think that this letter, coming so soon after my first, is because i need something, but as a matter of fact i would like you to do me a big favor, or have auntie do it for me. there are some books in the house called METROPOLITAN MUSUEM SEMINARS ON ART- they are wide and thin, and there are about eight of them. they would not be standing up in the bookshelf because they are too big, but they would be lying down on the bottom shelf of one of our many bookshelves. please send them to me right away, so that they arrive by next monday afternoon. it might have to be airmail, but the group will pay us back. i need them for the seminar i am giving on art appreciation. boy, i have never done so much work in my life. you really can't go into a class unprepared when you're teaching, and you can't skip it if you haven't done the work. everything is really wonderful, daddy. i haven't been so happy or felt so good about anything i've been doing in a long time. i'm learning more than in three years in college. i am also helping design a reasearch project for fifty students who are coming down to Mississippi for the summer to do research on southern negroes and whites. as a matter of fact, i am doing it all myself. you see, they had all these people signed up to come down, but no one knew enough sociology to design a questionaire to test attitudes and other things, but this is just what i was doing with my tutor all last semester. that is what that call i charged to auntie's phone was for. i called up my tutor and asked him to send me some stuff. grandma didn't okay the charges when the operator called, so i used auntie. i have to run now and prepare two classes. lots of love.

[Signed]
elayne

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