WASHINGTON - The National Archives continues its celebration of Black History Month with a new video short, "Madam C.J. Walker in the National Archives".
The National Archives' produced "Madam C.J. Walker in the National Archives," tells the story of Madam C.J. Walker, a great American entrepreneur of the early 20th century, who was born to former slaves and grew up destitute. Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles, tells Madam Walker's story with help from National Archives records. Bundles, a former broadcast network news executive and Secretary of the Foundation for the National Archives, is author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker.
Madam Walker developed hair and beauty treatments for the African-American consumer. There were competing products, but Walker stood out as a brilliant marketer who traveled extensively throughout North America and the Caribbean to build her enormous business. She is believed to be the first American woman to attain a net worth of $1 million, and her large factory building in Indianapolis was a landmark of the time.
Bundles drew on documents in the Archives to depict the Louisiana plantation on which Madam Walker was born, Walker's early life as an orphan and washerwoman, and ultimately her triumph as one of the creators of the modern hair care and cosmetics industry. Bundles also found some surprises in the Archives: Madam Walker's philanthropy and civil rights activism led to her being targeted by the federal government as a "subversive negro."
Background on “Inside the Vaults”
“Inside the Vaults” is part of the ongoing effort by the National Archives to make its collections, stories, and accomplishments more accessible to the public. “Inside the Vaults” gives voice to Archives staff and users, highlights new and exciting finds at the Archives, and reports on complicated and technical subjects in easily understandable presentations. Earlier topics include the conservation of the original Declaration of Independence, the new Grace Tully collection of documents at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library, the transfer to the National Archives of the Nuremberg Laws, and another Black History-related short in which archivist Reginald Washington shares a journey of discovery using Freedmens Bureau records.
Created by a former broadcast network news producer, the "Inside the Vaults" video shorts series presents “behind the scenes” exclusives and offer surprising glimpses of the National Archives treasures. These videos are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of them.