Virgie Carrington DeWitty Papers
An Inventory to the Collection
Virgie Maye Carrington DeWitty was born in Wetumka, Oklahoma in 1913 to a musical family. Her parents, Texans William and Violet Carrington, soon moved to Austin with their only child and joined Ebenezer Third Baptist Church, which would have a profound influence on young Virgie's life.
Violet Carrington became a church leader and served in the music ministry for forty-eight years as a member of both the choir and the church orchestra. Virgie learned to play piano by ear at an early age. At the age of six, Virgie played her first solo, "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam," because the church lacked a pianist for that Sunday morning. Virgie's service in music for Ebenezer Third Baptist Church began from the age of 6 until her death in 1980.
She received her formal education from the Phillips White Private Academy, Austin Public Schools, and Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University), where she earned a diploma in Education and Music, and Prairie View A&M, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Music. Virgie pursued graduate studies at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, IL, where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree and Teaching Certificate in Light Opera. She completed other studies in piano and voice in Boulder, Colorado, the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Virgie's musical specialty was writing four-part harmony anthems and religious music for choirs. Her repertoire includes over 85 copyrighted songs. She was the first Black to direct a commercially sponsored choir, with Ebenezer's Bright and Early Broadcasting Choir. Virgie taught in the Austin Independent School District for a number of years, and while a teacher at Old L.C. Anderson High School, she composed and wrote the L.C. Anderson High School Song, "Dear Old A.H.S. We Love You." She was also a piano and voice teacher.
In addition to her numerous musical accomplishments, Mrs. Carrington DeWitty was also a charter member of the Alpha Kappa Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a member of the Music Guild, the Douglass Club, and the Austin Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
She was married to civil rights leader Arthur B. DeWitty (1908-1967) for 35 years. The couple had no children.
Virgie Maye Carrington DeWitty inspired many and received numerous awards for her contributions to music. Some of her positions of service include Director of Music at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Director of Music for the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas, and the Director of Music for the National Convention of America for more than twenty years. Her legacy lives on through her music and impact on the Austin community.
This 1 linear-foot collection (1928-1980) contains the personal papers of Mrs. Virgie Maye Carrington DeWitty, reflecting on her career as a musician, her leadership in Ebenezer Third Baptist Church, and her national recognition as an accomplished musician. The collection contains a photo and biographical sketch of Virgie Mae Carrington DeWitty, 2 awards certificates, and a book of musical compositions.
The General series (1922-1980) contains an undated biographical sketch of Carrington DeWitty written by cousin Algerene Akins Craig, Carrington DeWitty's Teachers Permanent Certificate issued on May 16, 1922 from the Department of Education for the State of Texas, a photo of Carrington DeWitty from the 1968 National Convention in 1968, and a certificate honoring her service as a teacher during the 1920-1944 L.C. Anderson High School Reunion on June 20, 1980.
The Music series (1943-1975) contains a volume of Favorites of Virgie Carrington DeWitty published by the National Baptist Publishing Board. The majority of the pieces span from 1943-1975, though several are undated. Some highlights include "I Know There's a Heaven Somewhere," "That's What Makes It Heaven (for the Soul)" both dedicated to her mother, and "Look Where the Lord Has Brought Us." The book of favorites includes handwritten musical notes by Carrington DeWitty and arrangements and original compositions written for Ebenezer's Bright and Early Broadcasting Choir. No publication date is listed on the volume.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
This collection was donated by Algerene Akins Craig, cousin of Virgie Carrington DeWitty.
Virgie Carrington DeWitty Papers (AR.1994.080). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1994/028
Donation Date: 04/06/1994
Finding aid created and encoded by LaToya Devezin in May 2016.
Detailed Description of the Collection