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Raymond B. Witt papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-083

Scope and Contents

This collection contains legal documents, briefs, court transcripts, correspondence, memoranda, reports, and plans created by the Board of Education in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as well as the 25-year public school desegregation court case Mapp v. Board of Education of Chattanooga. The contents of the collection range from 1953 to 1986.


  • Creation: 1953-1986


Language of Materials

This collection contains materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright status of this collection has not been evaluated.

Biographical / Historical

Raymond B. Witt was born in Lenoir City, Tennessee, in 1915 and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he attended public schools and graduated from Central High School. After graduating from college at the University of Chattanooga in 1937 and law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1938, Witt returned to Chattanooga to practice law. After his service in World War II, during which he served the Pacific Ocean theater as an officer in the Navy, Witt joined the Law Offices of Witt, Gaither, Abernathy, Caldwell, and Wilson. In addition to practicing law, Witt served on the Board of Education in Chattanooga as a member and chairman. Witt was the chairman of the school board when the United States Supreme Court decided that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka on May 17, 1954. Witt and the Board of Education unanimously agreed to desegregate public schools in Chattanooga; however, the board advocated gradual integration. Six years after the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision was handed down, the NAACP backed James Jonathan Mapp to bring suit against the Board of Education of Chattanooga to force integration of public schools in the city. Raymond B. Witt served as chief legal council for the defendants in Mapp v. Board of Education of Chattanooga, arguing in favor of a gradual process of integration, in opposition to the plaintiff's call for instant integration of all grade levels and schools in Chattanooga. In 1960, Judge Leslie R. Darr ruled that the Board of Education must produce a plan for desegregation subject to approval by the United States District Court. Mapp v. Board of Education of Chattanooga dragged on for 25 years; however, the public schools system in Chattanooga was integrated long before the conclusion of the appellate cases. Raymond B. Witt ammassed Mapp v. Board of Education of Chattanooga legal documents, correspondence from citizens of Chattanooga, publications related to public school integration, and records related to the Melton v. Young freedom of speech case tried in Chattanooga regarding the display of the Confederate flag in public schools in 1972.


20 Linear Feet (20 Boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Florence Bagley Witt, Raymond B. Witt's widow, to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in December 2001.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at

Processing Information

Processing of this collection is complete.

Raymond B. Witt legal papers
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collection Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collection Area

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library
c/o Special Collections
600 Douglas Street
Chattanooga Tennessee 37403 United States