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Cleveland Murphy papers

Identifier: MSN/MN 10025

Scope and Contents

This collection chiefly consists of correspondence Cleveland Murphy received while serving in the military during the 1950s and 1960s. These include letters received from family, including his mother in Indianapolis, with news of home. He also received letters from his first wife between 1952 and 1953, discussing various personal and family matters, including her father's murder trial. The bulk of correspondence is from women Murphy dated in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In addition to their feelings for Murphy, the writers, who are young, working-class and poor African American women, detail their personal lives. Topics of discussion include issues of everyday domestic life such as child care, employment, and housing. One correspondent later became Murphy’s second wife. Also included are letters from male friends serving in the military in Korea or living as civilians, stateside. Letters written by Cleveland Murphy, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other ephemera are additionally present.


  • Creation: 1952 - 1966


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. However, folder 54 is restricted from access and folders 77-80 are restricted from access until 2041. Correspondence may require redaction and must be requested from curator with at least 48 hours' prior notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Cleveland Murphy was born in 1930 in Washington County, Mississippi, and was the ninth and final child in a family of cotton farmers. His family moved north to Indianapolis after World War II as part of the Great Migration. Cleveland entered the U.S. Army following the outbreak of the Korean War, serving in the 28th Transportation Truck Company, a unit comprised of African American service members. At the time of his enlistment he was married to his first wife, though they were divorced by 1955. Following the Korean War, Cleveland entered the U.S. Marines, and was stationed at Twentynine Palms, California and Quantico, Virginia. He remarried in 1967. Cleveland Murphy served in Vietnam and eventually attained the rank of Sergeant. Letters refer to his ordination in an unidentified Christian denomination, and to his preaching engagements.


1.5 Cubic Feet (1 record storage box)

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Contemporary collection at time of processing; correspondents' names anonymized within description for privacy.

March 26, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556