William Lepre Houston And The Aristocrats Of Color

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History and Geography


Master of Arts

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This thesis is a biographical sketch of the life of William LePre Houston, his wife Mary and son Charles, and their life in turn of the twentieth century black Washington, D.C. It also addresses the formation of Washington, D.C.'s African American elite during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries up into the 1930's. It interrogates Jacqueline Moore's argument about the Washington elite by considering how William and his family were able to gain access into the tight knit circles of the "Aristocrats of Color" in Washington. It is based on extensive secondary source research on Washington's Free African American Population, the history of Washington, D.C., the African American elite of Washington, D.C., and the African American elite across the country during the turn of the century. This thesis is based largely on a hitherto untapped record group at the Library of Congress that has been used to determine whether William Houston was a member of the group described by Moore by examining his social circle. The argument is based on the Houston Family Papers at the Library of Congress, as well as journals, letters, event programs, newspaper articles, flyers, newsletter, and an interview with Charles Hamilton Houston, Jr. who is the grandson of William LePre Houston.