Emory University has acquired the papers of Ophelia DeVore Mitchell, the founder of one of the first modeling agencies for African Americans and a pioneer in the “Black Is Beautiful” movement. Among the African American celebrities that got their start through her modeling agency were Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson.
DeVore was born in South Carolina to mixed-race parents in 1922. At the age of 11, she was sent to live with an aunt in New York City. She began modeling for Ebony magazine at the age of 16. At the age of 24, she co-founded Grace del Marco Models. Two years later she opened the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm. The school closed in 2006.
In 1968, she married Vernon Mitchell, the publisher of the Columbus Times, an African American newspaper in Georgia. Mitchell passed away in 1972 but Ophelia DeVore Mitchell continues to own the newspaper today, which she runs with her daughter.
The Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University has not cataloged or archived the collection but it allowing researchers access to the documents. The collection includes correspondence, business records, photographs, scrapbooks, and other documents.