Ophelia DeVore was ahead of her time, empowering black women with an image of poise, confidence and courage. Moreover, this African-American businesswoman and model from forged ahead, fighting against stereotypes decades ago. She opened one of the first modeling agencies for black models, started a charm school for black women in 1948 and launched cosmetics line for darker complexions.
Her career began as a model at 16 and she still continues today at 91 as the owner of a newspaper in Georgia. “I think one of my greatest accomplishments was trying to change the image of people of color,” DeVore told The Associated Press (The Washington Post) by telephone from New York City, where she now lives.
Now, Emory University in Atlanta has acquired the collected papers of DeVore, a meticulous chronicle of a rich and busy life. The archive is extensive — 60 cubic feet of boxed materials. The collection, which includes letters, professional papers, business plans, photographs and scrapbooks, is being housed at the Atlanta university for future research.
The collection is “an incredibly well-documented archive that is going to produce new scholarship and a new understanding of who we are as Americans and how we’ve interacted with one another, how we’ve interacted with ourselves and how we see ourselves,” said Randall Burkett, curator of African-American collections at Emory’s library.
We can’t wait to read the articles and books that will come out of this rich material.