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Northwestern University Library

Guide to the Ann Kathryn Flagg (1924-1970) Papers 1941/1988

Overview of the Collection


Ann Kathryn Flagg (1924-1970) Papers




Flagg, Ann, 1924-1970




Northwestern University Archives

Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354


The Ann Kathryn Flagg Papers fill one half-size box, and cover the time period of 1941 to 1988. The Papers consist of biographical information; memorial tributes; press clippings; educational records; correspondence; lesson plans from Flagg's teaching career; speeches, drafts of writings, and excerpted correspondences and speeches; and published writings.

Biographical Information

Ann Kathryn Flagg was born in Charleston, West Virginia on April 29th 1924 to Francis Flagg and Frances Thomas. Growing up Flagg was exposed to culture and encouraged in theatrical pursuits first at Boyd elementary and Jr. High Schools and later at Garnet High School. Teachers remember her as creative and intelligent.

In college, Flagg continued her involvement with the theatre, even serving as president of the West Virginia State Players for a semester. She graduated Magna cum Laude from West Virginia State College in 1945 with a B.S. in teaching.

During the following two years she taught at Northhampton County High School, Virginia. In this time she led students in extra-curricular dramatic activities, including a performance for the West Virginia State Players. In 1947, following her inclination and passion for the theatre, Flagg toured with the American Negro Repertory Players working as a stage manager and an actor. The following year she returned to teaching, this time at Dunbar High School in West Virginia, where she continued to encourage students in dramatic activities. She took classes in speech at the University of Pittsburgh in the summer of 1950 in order to be able to teach speech as well as English at Dunbar.

She used her skill with people and her knowledge of the theater from 1952 to 1961 in Cleveland, directing the integrated Children's theatre at Karamu House. Through this role, Flagg acted in and directed plays, as well as adapting plays for childrens performances which she also cast, directed, and costumed.

In 1961 Flagg again returned to school, this time at Northwestern University to pursue a master's degree in theatre with a focus on play writing. Although she was immersed in her studies, she took a job with the Evanston public schools, teaching drama.

After receiving her masters in 1963, she continued teaching at the Foster School, which during her tenure became a laboratory magnet school (the school was later renamed Martin Luther King, Jr., Lab School). Using an ever-evolving community in terms of race relations as her backdrop, Flagg became an influential voice in the area of multi-cultural dramatics education. As a teacher, she recognized each individual student's abilities all the while holding her pupils to high standards. She taught with creativity, compassion, and humor.

In 1964 CBS ran a national telecast of Flagg's play “Great Gettin' up Mornin,'” which had been selected for first place in The National Collegiate Playwriting Contest a year earlier. This play was pertinent to the times in that it focused on a black family about to send their six-year old daughter to the newly desegregated white school. With a natural ear for dialogue, and a delicate handling of a controversial issue, Flagg's work won praise, and raised her to the status of minor celebrity.

Flagg left Evanston in 1966 to teach playwriting at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Due to health reasons this appointment lasted only a year during which Flagg encountered less enlightened attitudes towards race than she had in Evanston and West Virginia. Flagg came back to Chicago in December of 1966 to give a speech entitled “Helping children Understand the Contributions of the American Negro to American Society.”

Following her foray into college teaching, Flagg was welcomed back to Evanston and District 65, where she taught until her sudden and untimely death in the fall of 1970 from an acute attack of bronchial emphysema.

The faculty and students of King Lab wrote, organized, and performed in a memorial tribute two weeks after her death. In the 1973, the school's auditorium was named for Flagg as a lasting testament to her talent and inspiring presence.

Access Terms

This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Personal Name:

Flagg, Ann, 1924-1970

Topical Term:

African American dramatists

Women dramatists, American

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Ann Katherine Flagg Papers are comprised of materials donated to the University Archives by Anne Thurman as Accession # 00-192 on June 19, 2000, and of materials from the Archives' Faculty Biographical Files.

Processing Information

Jennifer Liebman, June 2000.

Separated Materials

A few duplicate items were discarded.

Conditions Governing Access

Folder 4 (Educational Records) may be viewed only with the permission of the Archivist.

Scope and Contents

The Ann Kathryn Flagg Papers fill one half-size box, and cover the time period of 1941 to 1988. The Papers consist of biographical information; memorial tributes; press clippings; educational records; correspondence; lesson plans from Flagg's teaching career; speeches, drafts of writings, and excerpted correspondences and speeches; and published writings.

Unless otherwise noted, all documents are organized chronologically within folders.

Biographical information includes a time line of the major events in Flagg's life, followed by a chronological ordering of two c.v.s from 1960, a handwritten c.v. from 1970, and obituaries from 1970. Also included is a rough draft of Leonard Deutsch's biography of Flagg.

Memorial tributes include the drafts, final script, and program from a 1970 memorial assembly. Also included are the program for the 1973 dedication of the King Lab auditorium and a 1988 program from a teacher's conference dedicated in Flagg's memory.

Press Clippings come predominantly from Flagg's debut as a playwright in 1964. Other press clippings include coverage of Flagg's teaching career in 1964 and 1965.

Educational records consist of the transcript from Flagg's undergraduate education at West Virginia State College (1941-45) and from her master's work at Northwestern (1961-63).

Correspondence files mainly cover the period in 1967 when Flagg had to resign from SIU due to health reasons. Other documents in this folder include a letter declining an appointment at the university of Minnesota for the summer of 1968, a collection of students letters to Flagg, a letter from the American Educational theatre Association announcing Flagg's death, a 1983 letter from researcher Dawn Murray to researcher and biographer Leonard Deutsch, and a 1988 letter from Deutsch accompanying a copy of Flagg's plays.

Teaching materials include detailed lessons in dramatics, as well as teaching evaluations done by Flagg or colleagues dated from 1962 to 1970.

Speeches, drafts of stories, and a document containing excerpts from Flagg's speeches and correspondence date from 1966 to 1970.

Flagg's published writings include drafts of plays “A Significant Statistic,” “Blue Bird to Holiday-over,” and the short story “The Troll and the Owl.” Two posthumous books, one a survey of West Virginia women in history, including Flagg's biography, and a collection of Flagg's plays, are dated 1986 and 1988 respectively.


Box 1

Folder 1

Biographical information


Box 1

Folder 2

Memorial tributes


Box 1

Folder 3

Press Clippings


Box 1

Folder 4

Educational records

1941-1945, 1961-1963

Box 1

Folder 5



Box 1

Folder 6



Box 1

Folder 7

Speeches and drafts of Writing


Box 1

Folder 8

Writing and Published Work