Archives features exhibit on black families

aThe Saint Louis University Archives is currently offering the SLU and St. Louis area communities an opportunity to broaden and diversify their knowledge of local history.

The SLU Archives is featuring “Black Elites: Successful People of Color in St. Louis,” which highlights the history of two remarkable black families in the St. Louis area.

The families focused on in this exhibit are those of Nathan Young (1862-1933) and Richard Hudlin (1858-1918). University Archivist John Waide compiled the display of photographs, documents and historical information.

The exhibit was compiled of previously obtained information on Young’s life and information pertaining to Hudlin’s life that Waide was given after meeting his grandson, Edward Hudlin Jr., last summer.

Waide said that much of what this exhibit covers tends to be overlooked by individuals in both the black and white communities, as well as by historians, both on the local and national levels.

“These individuals [highlighted in the display] represent a slice of local history, and they continue to be historically significant throughout the present day,” Waide said.

Waide said that the lives of both of these men and their successive generations are quite amazing. Though Young did not permanently reside in St. Louis, his ties to the city were never broken, and future generations of his family have laid their roots here. Young was an influential black educator of his time. Besides serving as president of several universities across the country, he taught under Booker T. Washington at The Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, in Alabama.

Young’s son, Nathan Young Jr., graduated from Yale Law School in 1918 and went on to help found The St. Louis American newspaper. Young Jr. also became the first black municipal judge in St. Louis, along with being a prolific writer and an artist who produced over 500 works of art depicting black folklore.

Richard Hudlin was a college graduate of the late 19th century. He taught in the St. Louis public school system and was one of the first black principles in St. Louis. He also wrote for The Globe-Democrat and other newspapers in the area. When influential, nationally known black leaders came to St. Louis, Richard Hudlin was the man with whom they spoke. Richard Hudlin interviewed such prominent figures as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.

Richard Hudlin’s son, Edward Hudlin Sr., was a successful homebuilder in the surrounding St. Louis area.

“What I think is remarkable about the Hudlin family is that Edward Hudlin Sr. had six children, all of whom attended college, and three of whom received doctorates. For an African-American family in the early part of the century, that is pretty impressive,” Waide said.

This exhibit is available, for free, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the end of February in the Saint Louis Room, Room 307, of the Pius XII Memorial Library.