BRUCE, Blanche Kelso (1841-1898)
Senate Years of Service: 1875-1881
BRUCE, BLANCHE KELSO, a Senator from Mississippi; born in slavery near Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va., March 1, 1841; was tutored by his master's son; left his master at the beginning of the Civil War; taught school in Hannibal, Mo.; after the war became a planter in Mississippi; member of the Mississippi Levee Board; sheriff and tax collector of Bolivar County 1872-1875; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate on February 4, 1874, and served from March 4, 1875, to March 3, 1881; was the first African American to serve a full term in the United States Senate; appointed Register of the Treasury by President James Garfield 1881; recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia 1891-1893; again Register of the Treasury from 1897 until his death in Washington, D.C., on March 17, 1898; interment in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Bowdoin College Library
Papers: Correspondence in the Oliver Otis Howard papers, 1833-1912 (1846-1908).
Rare Book and Manuscript Collections
Papers: Post card and note from Bruce (1871) in the James Lowell Gibbs collection of African-American documents, 1865-1918.
Rutherford B. Hayes Library
Papers: 1875-1885. 48 items. Concern political matters.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Papers: 1 letter (March 12, 1878) to A. Smith and 1 letter (May 19, 1879) to Col. Alex McClure, thanking them for their letters, in the Gratz collection.
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Papers: 1870-1897. 700 items. Family correspondence, general correspondence relating to service as senator, invitations, broadsides, financial papers, clippings, handwritten manuscript "Our Hero'' about Frederick Douglass, and notes for a dissertation by Sadie St. Clair. Correspondence reflects the political, economic, and social conditions in Mississippi and the South during Reconstruction.
Papers: In Roscoe Conkling Bruce papers, 1897-1924, son of Senator Blanche K. Bruce.
Library of Congress
Papers: 1878-1882. 1 scrapbook of clippings, 1 letter (1878) discussing emigration of blacks to Liberia, a poem to his son, and several scenic photographs. Available on 1 microfilm reel.
Papers: Correspondence in Frederick Douglass papers, 1841-1964, available on 34 microfilm reels; and in the John Patterson Green papers, 1869-1910, microfilm of originals in the Western Reserve Historical Society. Finding aid.
Memphis State University Library
Mississippi Valley Collection
Papers: Letters from B.K. Bruce in Robert R. Church papers, ca. 1800-1978.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Papers: 1877-1878. 7 items. Routine memoranda. Also photographs.
Papers: 1875. 1 letter in Governor Adelbert Ames correspondence.
Mississippi State University
Mitchell Memorial Library
Mississippi State, MS
Papers: 2 letters (1882, 1897) in the Abbott family papers and photograph.
New York Public Library
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
New York, NY
Papers: Biographical essay in the George Freeman Bragg manuscripts, undated.
Western Reserve Historical Society
Papers: Correspondence in John Patterson Green papers, 1869-1910. Available on 6 microfilm reels. Finding aid.
Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In the Edwards Pierrepont papers, 1813-1902.
- Brawley, Benjamin. "Blanche K. Bruce, United States Senator." In Negro Builders and Heroes, pp. 127-32. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937.
- Christopher, Maurine. Black Americans in Congress. 1971. Rev. and expanded ed. New York: T.Y. Crowell, 1976. Originally published as America's Black Congressmen.
- Gatewood, Willard B. Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
- Graham, Lawrence Otis. The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America's First Black Dynasty. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
- Harris, William C. "Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist." In Howard Rabinowitz, ed., Southern Black Leaders of the Reconstruction Era. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982.
- Houston, G. David. "A Negro Senator.'' Journal of Negro History 7 (July 1922): 243-56.
- Mann, Kenneth Eugene. "Blanche Kelso Bruce: United States Senator Without a Constituency.'' Journal of Mississippi History 38 (May 1976): 183-98.
- Meyer, Howard N. "Two Gentlemen From Mississippi.'' Chicago Jewish Forum 26 (Fall 1967): 28-36.
- Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008.
- Rabinowitz, Howard N. "Three Reconstruction Leaders: Blanche K. Bruce, Robert Brown Eliott, and Holland Thompson.'' In Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century, edited by Leon Litwack and August Meier, pp. 191-217. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
- Shapiro, Samuel. "A Black Senator from Mississippi: Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898).'' Review of Politics 44 (January 1982): 83-109.
- Smith, Samuel Denny. The Negro in Congress, 1870-1901. 1940. Reprint. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1966.
- ___. "The Negro in the United States Senate.'' In Essays in Southern History, edited by Fletcher M. Green, pp. 49-66. James Sprunt Studies in History and Political Science, vol. 31. 1949. Reprint. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976.
- St. Clair, Sadie Daniel. "The National Career of Blanche Kelso Bruce.'' Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1947.
- Urofsky, Melvin I. "Blanche K. Bruce: United States Senator, 1875-1881.'' Journal of Mississippi History 29 (May 1967): 118-41.