William H. Furrowh Papers, 1885-1973

April 8, 2024
Selections from the William H. Furrowh Papers, 1885-1973. The collection contains papers pertaining to William H. Furrowh (1896-1979) and his family. It includes birth and marriage certificates, material from Furrowh's service in World War I, genealogical notes, and papers regarding Furrowh's railroad career, as well as other memorabilia. William Henry Furrowh was born in 1896 in Wilmington, Delaware to James H. and Anna Hayes Furrowh. William attended Howard High School, but later dropped out. When the United States entered World War I, he was drafted into the army and was stationed in France for the duration of the war. His interaction with Algerian and Moroccan troops in France sparked an interest in black history. When the war ended, Furrowh moved to New York to attend the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Seminary, founded by Marcus Garvey. Though he never considered himself a separatist, these early experiences paved the way for a lifetime of civil rights activism. Around 1922, Furrowh returned to Wilmington where he organized a division of the UNIA and enlisted around 400 members. He also married Helen V. Brown around that time, and the couple had three children. Furrowh found employment as a broiler-maker with the Pennsylvania Railroad where he worked until his retirement in 1965. In 1955, he received a certificate of appreciation for service to Community Action of Greater Wilmington in signing up people for operation Medicare alert. He was also an active member of the Wilmington branch of the NAACP. Furrowh died in 1979 at the age of 82.
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