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Dr. Hubert A. Eaton, Sr. Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-046

Scope and Contents

This extensive collection includes the original materials and photocopies of the legal actions instituted by Dr. Eaton and his fellow plaintiffs to compel the integration of the fundamental institutions of New Hanover County--the public schools and the hospital--in the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, the collection also reflects the broad spectrum of Dr. Eaton's interests and activities which included medical and public health issues, education, civil rights and athletics.

A gifted amateur athlete, Dr. Eaton was president of the American Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis for African Americans. A scholar and author, Dr. Eaton wrote a history of Community Hospital, a biographical sketch of Doctor James Francis Shober, a personal memoir, and a family genealogy. A physician committed to health and the well being of his people, Dr. Eaton served as government consultant, conference participant, hospital trustee and president of the Old North State Medical Society. Committed to opportunity in education for all Americans, Dr. Eaton acted to compel the integration of New Hanover County Schools and the Public Library, and served on the governing boards of several educational institutions.


  • Creation: 1941-1993


Conditions Governing Access

The estate of Dr. Hubert A. Eaton, Sr. has gifted the contents of the Dr. Hubert A. Eaton, Sr. Papers to Randall Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Wilmington subject to several conditions pertaining to their use. Prior to accessing the Collection, researchers must agree the following conditions:

1) Researchers may not publish, copyright, print, reprint, and copy or otherwise publish or reproduce in any form or media the contents of the Collection without permission from the Eaton family; and

2) It is the responsibility of the researcher to work with Randall Library Special Collections to request and obtain such permission.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

Hubert A. Eaton, born in Fayetteville, NC, grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, the son of Estelle Atley (Jones) and Dr. Chester Arthur Eaton. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, where he was a member of the school's tennis team, and earned a MS in Zoology and his medical degree at the University of Michigan. After a year's residency at Kate Bitting Memorial Hospital, Winston-Salem, he moved to Wilmington, NC in 1943 with his wife, Celeste Burnett Eaton to join in medical practice with his father-in-law, Doctor Foster F. Burnett.

Eaton practiced general medicine and general surgery and was a member of the surgical staff of [segregated] Community Hospital. In 1950, he and other community leaders sued the New Hanover Board of Education to force the upgrading of the segregated schools. Eaton returned to the courts when it became apparent the school system was not integrating schools in accordance with the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Because of the inadequacies of Community Hospital, in 1957 Eaton and his fellow physicians sued to force James Walker Memorial Hospital to admit black doctors to its staff. When New Hanover County moved to build a new hospital, Eaton and other African-American physicians used the courts to insure that the new facility would be open to patients and doctors of all races. Eaton had a lifelong interest in tennis; he sponsored Althea Gibson, the first african american to win championships at Wimbledon and Forest Hills, and served as president of the American Tennis Association. Eaton was called upon to serve as an advisor to several area educational institutions: Cape Fear Technical Institute [now Cape Fear Community College], the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

As a physician, he served as a Title VI Consultant for the Department of Health Education and Welfare, as a trustee for Pitt County Hospital and participated in the national conference, Medicine in the Ghettos. He was a scholar and writer who authored an account of the history of Community Hospital, a biography of Dr. James F. Shober, first black doctor in North Carolina to have a medical school degree, and his own memoirs, "Every Man Should Try."


124 Containers (Contains 114 document boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder, and 3 map case folders)

Language of Materials



These materials have been arranged in 19 record groups; within each group, materials are arranged in series of types of materials in chronological order.

Record Group 1. Scrapbooks

Record Group 2. Community Hospital

Record Group 3. James Walker Memorial Hospital

Record Group 4. New Hanover Memorial Hospital Bond Issues, Hill-Burton and the Struggle Against Jim Crow Medicine

Record Group 5. Federal Programs for Health Care Delivery

Record Group 6. Health Care Delivery

Record Group 7. Old North State Medical Society

Record Group 8. Area Health Education Centers

Record Group 9. Tennis

Record Group 10. Separate but Equal Lawsuit 1950-1952

Record Group 11. School Integration Lawsuit 1963-1983

Record Group 12. University of North Carolina Board of Governors

Record Group 13. University of North Carolina at Wilmington Board of Trustees

Record Group 14. University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Record Group 15. Education

Record Group 16. Wilmington Housing [1963-1989]

Record Group 17. Civil Rights

Record Group 18. Literary Productions

Record Group 19. Private Life

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Dr. Eaton in 1983. Subsequent additions were made by his heirs in 1991 and 1993.

Dr. Hubert A. Eaton Sr. Papers
Patricia B. McGee
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository