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CRA277 -- Henry Coleman Papers


0.25 Linear Feet
August 1988

This collection provides a general record of the political and civic activities of William Henry Coleman from 1967 to 1977.

William Henry Coleman was born October 5, 1912 in Ackman, Mississippi to Mr. and Mrs. Gene Coleman. He was educated at Froebel High School, Gary College, Indiana University-Gary Center and Roosevelt University, Chicago. He was an avid reader with a keen interest in business and economics.

He served as treasurer, board trustee and a former Sunday School superintendent of the Church of God.

He married Edith Brown, and had two daughters, Norma Coleman-Bates, and Merle.

Henry, the creative entrepreneur, was co-owner of El Frio Beverage for over 26 years, which was located at 2225 Broadway, Gary. This was just one of his successful joint ventures. The Beverage Company was one of the largest black-owned in America at that time. He also received a franchise to distribute Joe Louis soft drinks. He also operated one of Gary's first black-owned private Scavenger Services with Percy Canty and J. T. Morris

Henry was a skilled political consultant, though modest, with the knowledge and understanding to coordinate the resources of both parties. He successfully managed the initial political careers for many Gary citizens, that included the former Mayor Richard G. Hatcher (1967 and 1971), Dr. William Mott, Lake County Coroner, Councilpersons David and Jessie Mitchell, and Katie Hall's first Congressional election. He also managed the unsuccessful attempt of J. T. Harris in his bid for 5th District Councilman (GOP) in 1956 against the late Councilperson Atty. Benjamin F. Wilson.

Henry was named by Mayor Hatcher to head the Department of Research, Monitoring and Analysis. He previously held the positions of Director of General Services (1968-1972), and City Controller (1973).

Henry dreamed of a beautiful city. He created the first flower garden group in Midtown and downtown Gary.

Henry passed away March 15, 1987 at Methodist Hospital Southlake.

The collection contains newsarticles, several documents relating to the elections, and various files from city offices.

Box File Description
1 1 Certificates of Appointment, Gary Youth Commission and City Controller, 1964, 1973
2 Awards/Honors, (1968-1978)
3 Correspondence, Congratulations, 1967, 1971, 1973
4 Correspondence, Office of Research, Monitoring, and Analysis, City of Gary, 1985
5 Annual Report, General Services Department, City of Gary, 1969-1970
6 Reports, Controller's Office, ca. 1973-1975
7 Preliminary Injunction, General Election, Nov. 6, 1967
8 Address, Mayoral Ceremony, 1968
9 Planning Document, Mayoral Election, 1982-1983, n.d.
10 Newsarticles, Henry Coleman, (1967-1977), 1987
11 Newsarticles, Mayoral Elections, 1967, 1971
12 Newspaper, "Gary: An Example of Black Political Power Welcomes the National Black Political Convention, 1972
13 Certificate of Incorporation, El Frio Sales Corporation, 1965

Diploma, Froebel High School, 1931

Subject Tracings

  • African Americans -- History
  • Elections
  • Froebel School
  • Hatcher, Richard Gordon
  • Politics