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Kelly Alexander, Sr. Family papers

Identifier: MS0509

Scope and Contents

This collection contains two series: Alexander Family Material and Alexander Funeral Home. Alexander Family Material contains documents generated by the patriarch of the family, Zechariah Alexander, primarily in his duties as an officer in the Freemasons and the Shriners organizations. The Alexander Funeral Home subseries contains documents dealing with the operation of the Alexander Funeral Home, currently the oldest continously operating African-American owned funeral business in the city of Charlotte.


  • Creation: 1930 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Kelly Alexander, Sr. Family papers are the physical property of J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections. Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Kelly Miller Alexander was born in Charlotte, N.C. on August 18, 1915, the youngest of four sons of Zechariah and Louise B. McCullough Alexander. He attended Charlotte public schools. At Second Ward High School, Alexander played half-back on the football team and earned the nickname "Ship-wreck Kelly." After studying at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he graduated from the Renouard College of Embalming in New York City. He succeeded his father as president of Alexander Funeral Home, Inc. and Alexander Mutual Burial Association. Like his father, Alexander became identified in community affairs early in life and selected the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as the vehicle by which he would become involved in the fledgling civil rights movement. He reactivated the dormant Charlotte Branch, NAACP, in 1940; and in 1948, he was elected president of the North Carolina State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Branches, a post he held until October, 1984. Under his leadership, the N.C. Conference became the largest state conference in the country with over 120 branches and 30,000 members. In 1950, Alexander was elected to the National NAACP Board of Directors and became a Life Member in 1954. In 1976, he was elected vice chair of the National Board. In June, 1983, Alexander became acting chair, then was elected chair in January, 1984. Alexander twice ran unsuccessfully for the Charlotte City Council in the 1950s. In 1965, his home, along with those of his brother Fred, lawyer Julius Chambers, and activist Reginald A. Hawkins were bombed. No suspects were apprehended, nor did any group ever accept responsibility for the terrorist acts. Alexander married Margaret Gilreece Alexander on April 21, 1946. They had two children: Kelly M. Alexander Jr. [who succeeded his father as president of the N.C. Conference NAACP] and Alfred L. Alexander [who succeeded his father as president of Alexander Funeral Home.] Kelly Alexander, Sr. died on April 2, 1985 and was buried in York Memorial Park in Charlotte.

Zechariah Alexander (1877-1954) was a graduate of the normal department of Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University), Zechariah served in the Spanish-American War as regimental sergeant major of the 3rd Regiment, North Carolina Volunteers. In 1902 he became Charlotte district manager of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which became one of the largest black-owned businesses in the country. He also established the Alexander Funeral Home from Coles & Smith Undertakers after he purchased the business from the widows of the previous owners, Sidney and Walter Coles, beginning in 1914 and completing acquisition of the company in 1927. Alexander Funeral Home became a center of community and political activity for the Brooklyn neighborhood. Zechariah ran for city council in 1937.


1.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Contains documents related to Zechariah Alexander's work with the Freemasons and Shriners. There is also material related to the Alexander Funeral Home, including newsletters and business correspondence.


The collection contains two series: Alexander Family Material and Alexander Funeral Home.

Related Materials

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections maintains several other collections from the Alexander Family:

Kelly M. Alexander, Sr., Papers Kelly Alexander, Sr. collection of NAACP materials Kelly M. Alexander, Junior, Papers Fred D. (Frederick Douglas) Alexander Papers

Processing Information

The collection was processed in 2015 by Andrew Pack, graduate student assistant.

Kelly Alexander, Sr. Family papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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