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Thereasea D. Elder Papers

Identifier: MS0513

Scope and Contents

Materials collected by Thereasea Elder over the years of her most active involvement in community nursing, neighborhood renewal, and church work. Includes materials about various African American churches, schools, and organizations. There is material on the importance of family and neighborhood history, educational opportunities for the African American community, and politics.


  • Creation: 1930 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Thereasea D. Elder 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 Note

Thereasea Delerine (T.D.) Elder (née Clark) was born in Charlotte, NC on September 2, 1927 to Booker T. and Odessa Clyburn Clark of Lancaster, SC. Elder grew up in the Greenville area of Charlotte and attended West Charlotte High School. Over the course of several years, she attended Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), the U.S. Cadet Nursing Program and the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing in Durham. She also studied pediatrics at Howard University’s Freeman Hospital in Washington, D.C. After graduation she did further studies at UNC Chapel Hill, Livingstone College and JCSU. Elder's areas of study included pediatric nursing, anatomy, chemistry and physiology, child development, and public health. In 1948 she returned to Charlotte to work at Good Samaritan Hospital, which served the African American population. In 1962, she jointed the Mecklenburg County Health Department as the first black public health nurse on the staff. She worked in the department until she retired in 1989, where she served in homes and schools, including Bethune and Biddleville Schools.

Elder founded the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Historical Society and the Greenville Community Historical Society and was a charter member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2004, she established a community-based non-profit known as Health Equity, Inc. to identify and eliminate the barriers to adequate healthcare within minority communities and populations. Among the many honors and awards she received are: Community Service Award (Black Political Caucus, 2005), Pepsi Everyday Freedom Hero Award (National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2007), a county park named in her honor, the Annie Brown Kennedy Trailblazer Award (North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus, 2006), Women's Equality Day Community Service Award, James G. Cannon Award, Nine Who Care Award (WSOC-TV), National Sojourner Truth Award and Martin Solomon Award (Black Women's Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 1997), induction into the International Nurses Association and the International Women’s Leadership Association.

On August 16, 1948, Thereasea Clark married Willie Elder, a World War II veteran who worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and later ran a service station. They built their home in the Derita neighborhood of Charlotte and had two sons, Cedric and Carl. Elder was devotedly active in her church, Second Calvary Baptist in Charlotte, where she worked with the Missionary Group and church ministry for neighborhood health. Thereasea Elder died at her home in Charlotte on January 5, 2021.

Sources: - Price-Patterson, Charlene. "Charlotte public health nursing pioneer tells her story," March 7, 2014, Charlotte Observer, (accessed November 4, 2015) - Desmarais, Melinda H. "Interview with Thereasea Elder," May 9, 2001, OHEL0055, (accessed November 4, 2015) - Thereasea Elder Obituary.


7 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Thereasa Delerine (T.D.) Elder is active in community nursing, church work, and the Charlotte African American community, particularly in efforts to preserve Charlotte's African American history. Materials document the importance of African Americans in politics and community, the value of a healthy and safe neighborhood, and access of education and employment.


The collection is arranged into the following eight series: Thereasea Elder, African American History, Nursing and Public Health, Local Issues, Women, Photographs and A/V Materials, Memorabilia/Artifacts and Oversize materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers donated by Thereasea Elder, 2015-2017.

Oral History Interviews

There are 4 oral history interviews with Thereasea D. Elder held within several oral history collections.

Thereasea D. Elder oral history interviews

Charlotte Regional oral history collection
Thereasea D. Elder oral history interview, 2015 September 30
Civil Rights and Desegregation oral history collection
Thereasea D. Elder oral history interview, 2001 May 9
Levine Museum of the New South oral history project
Thereasea D. Elder oral history interview, 1993 June 25
Student project on Second Ward oral history collection
Thereasea D. Elder oral history interview, 2004 March 7

Separated Materials

Marzetta stood in for Mama / by Glenda Horton Manning (Rare LU PZ7.M316 M37 1999 c.2), inscribed to "TD" by the author; T.D.'s Truths / Stanley R Frazier and Janice Frazier (Rare F264.C4 F73 2013) inscribed to UNC Charlotte Library by Elder; "WTVI Salutes Charlotte: The Mayors' Perspective" (Rare F264.C4 W88 1997) / WTVI and the City of Charlotte, 1997; "Crossroads Charlotte," DVD by Foundations for the Carolinas (Special Collections HN80.C4 C76 2008); Tensions of their times (Special Collections, HQ1236.5.U6 T46 2004); African-American historical news journal (Rare Oversize E184.6 .A37 2010) ; "Freedom's song" (DVD-AV collection E185.6 .F76 2006); The National Civil Rights Museum celebrates everyday people / by Alice Faye Duncan (Rare LU E185.615 .D83 2001); Daredevils over Niagara / by George Bailey (General Collections--GV1839 .B35 2005); McColl Fine Art [catalog] (Rare ND205 .M22 2008); White folks can cook better than black folks / by Ginny Johnson (Rare E185.86 .J64 2003); America's betrayal: is American, our America, the home of a once proud, cultured and highly successful people, doomed, as so many fear? / by R. S. Clymer (Rare E184.A1 C47 1961); The Wright man: a biography / by Wilbur C. Rich and Roberta Hughes Wright (RARE R154.W75 R5 1999); Daddy was a big man / by Glenda Horton Manning (RARE LU PZ7.M316 Da 2002); WTVI presents “Hometown Stories: African-Americans’ Journey in Charlotte-Mecklenburg” (Rare E185 .A35 2005), DVD

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory by J. Henry.

Thereasea D. Elder 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

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