Among the first African Americans hired as a clerical staff member of the Senate, Jesse Nichols served as government documents clerk for the Senate Finance Committee from 1937 to 1971. Typically, Black men and women had worked as messengers, grounds keepers, and in service positions, but a few had also gained clerical positions by the 1930s. When Nichols started work, most restaurants and other services on Capitol Hill were still segregated, and he recounts the transition to integration. Appointed by Senator Pat Harrison, a Mississippi Democrat, Nichols's career extended through the chairmanships of several southern senators, including Walter George, Harry Byrd, and Russell Long. Jesse Nichols died on February 18, 2005.
Scholarly citation: "Jesse R. Nichols, Government Documents Clerk and Librarian, Senate Finance Committee, 19371971," Oral History Interviews, March 26 to April 12, 1994, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.
Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.