Aurelia Whittington and John Hope Franklin first met in 1931 when they were students at Fisk University in Nashville, TN. Aurelia was introduced to John Hope by his sister, Anne Franklin, who was her classmate. They remained college sweethearts throughout their time together at Fisk. Aurelia and John Hope were married on June 11, 1940.
Aurelia Elizabeth Whittington was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina in July 1915. Her father, Samuel W. Whittington was a U.S. Postal railroad clerk, and her mother, Bertha Kincaid Whittington, was a piano teacher. After graduating from Dillard High School in Goldsboro in 1931, she enrolled as a student at Fisk University, where she majored in English. Following her graduation in 1935, Aurelia taught English in schools around eastern North Carolina, and further pursued her education. She graduated from Hampton Library School in 1939, and later earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Catholic University.
Aurelia was a devoted homemaker, but also served as John Hope’s adviser and editor, and was often by his side helping him navigate the library stacks when he was doing research.
Aurelia and John Hope had one biological son, John Whittington Franklin, in 1952. The couple fostered Bouna Ndiaye, a student from Senegal.
In her later years, Aurelia faced many health challenges and her husband took an active role in providing care for her. Aurelia passed away in 1999 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin.
Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern