Helen Pope Collection

Summary Information


Indiana University South Bend Archives
1700 Mishawaka Avenue P.O. Box 7111
South Bend, Indiana 46634
Phone: (574) 520 – 4392
Creator: Civil Rights Heritage Center
Title: Helen Pope Collection of the Civil Rights Heritage Center
Extent: Two (2) bankers boxes totaling 2.5 cubic feet.


The Helen Pope Collection documents the life of South Bend, Indiana resident Helen Pope. Helen Pope was a life-long community activist and health care professional in South Bend and beyond. The collection documents both her service to and activities in the South Bend community through the years through her personal papers. Ms. Pope was a key figure in community activism on many levels – bettering South Bend’s underserved populations and neighborhoods. She also was active in national non-profit and religious-based organizations as well as the President of the Near West Side Neighborhood Organization.

Biographical Note:

Helen Pope was a community activist and civil rights activist in South Bend, Indiana. Pope grew up on the west side of South Bend in the 1920s. She attended Linden Elementary School and then Central High School. In 1950, she was a polio nurse at the Northern Indiana Children’s Hospital in South Bend – and worked to desegregate the facility. She went on, in 1965, to serve the city and its population in many capacities, including in the South Bend Community School Corporation’s STEP program, which worked with at-risk youth. She also served as the social service director for the YWCA in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, Pope worked as the director as social and health services planner for Model Cities, a federal program to imagine an ideal community. In 1999 Ms. Pope was inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame. Ms. Pope was married for more than fifty years to James Pope, an activist in his own right – as well as World War Two veteran, long-time barber, and Counsel to Indiana State Attorney General in the 1980s. She continued to serve the community until she passed away in 2004.

Indiana University South Bend’s Helen Pope Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes and encourages the commitment and leadership of undergraduate and graduate students who are active participants in the Civil Rights Heritage Center, is named in honor of Ms. Pope.

Scope and Content Note:

Material is arranged in alphabetical order by subject. The collection material spans from the 1950s to Ms. Pope’s death in 2004. The majority of the materials in the collection are from the 1980s. Further, the collection documents several South Bend-specific betterment organizations, including – but not exclusive to: The Near North West Side Neighborhood Organization, Our Day Together Club, the Discovery Hall Museum, the Urban Enterprise Zone, the Studebaker Corridor Program, the South Bend and St. Joseph County Urban League. There also is much material from Ms. Pope’s church, Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church on South Bend’s West Side. The collection includes personal papers, awards, publications, and ephemera.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.
Advanced notice is required.

Usage Restrictions:

Copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University South Bend Archivist.

Preferred Citation:

[Item], Helen Pope Collection of the Civil Rights Heritage Center, Indiana University South Bend Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed by IUSB Dean of Library Services Vicki Bloom, **this date**. Updated by student worker Eric Walerko, January 2013. Updated to new Excel spreadsheet template and to reflect new collections naming structure by CRHC Curator George Garner, March 2016.