Manuscript Group 1463, The Otto Hill Papers
Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Otto Hill Papers
Processed By: Stephen M.
Rutgers Newark Campus
The Otto Hill Papers span the years ca. 1938
through 1971. This collection consists of correspondence,
newspaper articles, legal documents, flyers, and a scrapbook with
correspondence relating to the Hill family and the civil rights
movement. This collection was largely collected by both
Mrs. James Otto Hill, wife of James Otto Hill, MD, and also by
Mrs. R. O. Millburn, former President of the Interracial Council
The documents in this collection represent a
primary source of information concerning the active participation
of both Dr. and Mrs. Hill in the New Jersey civil rights
movement. This collection also contains materials relating
to the progress of the civil rights movement in general during
the years covered.
The Otto Hill Papers, ca. 1938-1971, were
collected by Mrs. James Otto Hill and donated to the New Jersey
Historical Society in the summer of 1999. Mrs. James Otto
Hill was the wife of Dr. James Otto Hill and an active member in
the Newark Interracial Council.
Dr. James Otto Hill was born October 2, 1894
in Anderson, South Carolina. He attended Seneca highschool
in Seneca South Carolina and then went on to Benedict College in
Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Hill attended Boston College
for his pre-med studies and graduated from McHarry Medical School
in Nashville, Tennessee in 1925.
Dr. James Otto Hill married Miss. Bertha R.
Hartgrove of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on October 2, 1929.
They resided at 84 Barclay Street, Newark, New Jersey, where Dr.
Hill also ran his practice.
Dr. James Otto Hill was a member of the
Medical Society of New Jersey; National Medical Association;
Essex County Medical Association; Newark Physicians Association;
Newark Y.M.C.A. Board of Directors; President of the Bethany
Baptist Church Mens 400 Club; Omega Si Phi
fraternity; and staffed at the local community hospital. He
was a Republican member of the New Jersey General Assembly from
1942 through 1946. It was during this time that he
personally authored the New Jersey Fair Employment Act of 1945.
This act became the second such law that dealt with
discrimination in employment in the United States.
Mrs. James Otto Hill was an active member of
the Interracial Council of Newark. She was the Head Chair
person for the councils Committee on Education, and later
became the Interracial Councils President. She was a strong
advocate in the controversy surrounding the Red Crosss Jim
Crow blood drive and also the picketing of a local Newark store
that practiced discriminatory employment. Mrs. James Otto
Hill was also a leading advocate in the battle to end segregation
Mrs. James Otto Hill wrote letters to both
her Congressmen and her state Senators in support of her husbands
Employment Act. She also frequently wrote to the president
of the Red Cross and local newspapers publicizing her views on
and Content Notes
The Otto Hill Papers, ca. 1938-1971, contain
correspondence of Dr. and Mrs. James Otto Hill, newspaper
articles directly relating to their civil rights activities, and
articles about the civil rights movement in general. Most of the
documents fall between the years 1943-1945. The collection
contains a publication with a brief biography of Dr. James Otto
Hill, with a photograph, and also a scrapbook that contains both
correspondence and newspaper articles relating to the Hills and
their participation in the New Jersey civil rights movement.
Of particular interest is the quantity and diversity of newspaper
articles contained in this collection. Also of interest, in
the legal documents folder, are four copies of the original act
that Dr. Hill authored and presented to the New Jersey State
General Assembly in March of 1945.
While Mrs. Hill actively participated in the
Interracial Council of Newark, and many mentions are made about
this organization, there is a lack of information about the
organization itself. The collection thoroughly documents
the Interracial Councils battle against the practice of
blood segregation used by the American Red Cross, and also the
Hills argument against the medical establishment to
desegregate hospitals and make black physicians and surgeons
equal to their white counterparts.
The bulk of this collection describes the
progress, and difficulties, surrounding the New Jersey civil
rights movement of the late 1930s through the 1940s.
While there is some mention of Dr. James Otto Hills
personal achievements, in politics, medicine, and civil rights,
most of the collection focuses on the civil rights movement in
general. The two topics in particular that both Dr. and
Mrs. Hill participated in, the picketing of the local five and
ten cent store for discriminating employment practices, and the
battle to end segregation in medicine, are covered in depth in
both the correspondence and the newspaper articles.
This collection is comprised of thirteen
folders containing documents that range from ca. 1938-1971, and
is in one box. The folders are arranged by the type of
document. Within each folder, the documents are arranged
Correspondence of Mr. James Otto Hill, MD
Correspondence of Mrs. James Otto Hill
Aug. 1942 – March 1945
Correspondence of M. A. Harris
Legal Documents: Mr. James Otto Hill, MD
March 1945 – March
Legal Documents: Mrs. James Otto Hill
Newspaper Articles: Dr. and Mrs. Otto Hill
ca. 1938 -1969
Newspaper Articles: New Jersey Civil Rights
ca. 1938 – 1950
Newspapers. The PM News/ The Afro-
ca. 1944 -1948
Scrapbook of Mrs. R. P. Millburn. The American
of Blood Segregation By Race
Mrs. James Otto Hill: Petitions/Flyers