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Betty Brown-Chappell papers

Identifier: 010.BBC

Scope and Contents

The Betty Brown-Chappell papers document the academic, genealogical, and professional life of African-American social worker, educator, and social policy advocate Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell. The collection relates her lifetime experience in the sectors of family and student life as a first generation collegian, as an African American Ph.D. of Social Work, professor, and academic administrator. There are additional materials that focus on Brown-Chappell’s work as a social work advocate who impacted state, national, and international policymaking.

The Betty Brown-Chappell papers contain documents and printed materials of mostly an academic nature from her educational and professorial/administrative career, obituaries, records, extensive family photograph albums and other genealogical material, books, visual media, and three-dimensional objects.

The collection is comprised of six series and multiple subseries. Series include COURSE MATERIALS, HUMAN RESOURCES/PERSONNEL, PERSONAL AND FAMILY PAPERS, RESEARCH, SERVICE, and VISUAL MATERIALS.

The COURSE MATERIALS series includes syllabi, handouts, overheads, advising materials, grade sheets, letters of reference, and transparencies, as well as examples of student work. This series also includes documents created while maintaining a collegiate school. This series is arranged in two subseries, Teaching and Administrative Release Work. The Teaching subseries incudes teaching materials, resources, and class perparation documents. The Administrative Release Work subseries documents the work of Brown-Chappell separate from teaching. This subseries details her work in the Bachelor of Social Work British Exchange Program and includes information regarding the Bachelor of Social Work Program’s students recruitment, retention, and graduation. Materials also focus on Brown-Chappell's McNair Scholars Program administrative duties.

The HUMAN RESOURCES/PERSONNEL series includes actions taken by Dr. Brown-Chappell to further her career in higher education and in the direct practice of social work within organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers. This series is divided into three subseries: Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan, and Nonacademic Organizations. Materials include binders full of Brown-Chappell’s application for tenure, as well as administrative reports, basic employee information, actions taken by the department, and criteria of the department, college, university, or union in regards to promotion, retention, and discipline. A few records document EMU’s inaugural Ronald McNair Scholars Program (supporting low income, first generation, or underrepresented undergraduates who plan to pursue a PhD) under the direction of Dr. Brown-Chappell.

The PERSONAL AND FAMILY PAPERS series is divided into two subseries - Personal Papers and Family Papers. The Personal Papers subseries includes biographical information, resume and curriculum vitae, personal notes and correspondence, certificates and awards. Materials inclide Brown-Chappell's 2009 and 2011 service in the Democratic National Convention, correspondence from President Obama and his White House, a southern cookbook, and ephemera from past events. The Family Papers subseries is comprised of the papers of Brown-Chappell’s nuclear family: husband Michael James Chappell, son Michael Jahi Chappell, and daughter Aisha Chappell. Also inclided are obituary programs and Brown-Chappell’s paternal family tree. This series features Brown-Chappell's newest publication, Open Secrets - A Poor Person's Journey in Higher Education.

The RESEARCH series is arranged in three subseries: Pre-Doctoral, Doctoral and Post-Doctoral, and Professorship. The series contains research on class outcomes, teaching methods, original design work for articles, data sets, participant observation, grant application, journal drafts, literature collected for articles, conference programs, power points, and final articles. The series also contains Brown-Chappell’s research for her Ph.D. thesis as well as the thesis, "The Black Movement Model of Mayoral Policy Leadership."

The SERVICE series is divided into two subseries - Eastern Michigan University and External and Community Service. It contains committee minutes, faculty minutes, committee reports, attendance rosters, and graduation materials. Special features include material on the international Ambassador Program, the Social Work Licensure project, political advocacy work, and Dr. Brown Chappell’s service as a leader of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

The VISUAL MATERIALS series includes photgraph albums, oversized photographs, and audio visual materials. Oversize photographs feature a composite photograph of the EMU Class of 1997, a large caricature of Brown-Chappell and her husband Michael Chappell, as well as a family photograph the Chappell family. The U-matic was a joint production effort of Betty Brown-Chappell and Michael Chappell discussing sexual harassment in the workplace, revolutionary in 1981. The 1995 DVD, featuring friend, fellow social worker and Detroit Council President Maryann Mahaffey, was produced by Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell. Dr. Brown-Chappell curated a series of books that document the seven descendents of Ada Mae Metcalf and other relatives. These books include personal narratives, photographs, and vital records.


  • Creation: 1946 - 2021
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1992 - 2013


Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Biographical Note

Betty Brown was born November 25, 1946 in San Francisco, California, but grew up in Lakota, Michigan. She is the oldest child of eight borne by Clara Lucille (née Williams) Brown and Benjamin Franklin Brown. She has four sisters and three brothers. Betty’s siblings are Gail Lee Brown Patterson, the first African American South Haven councilwoman, former daycare owner, and youth librarian; Frances Elaine Brown Ray, a retired teacher, churchwoman, and deaconess; Sandra Maria Brown-Bingham, Benjamin 'Frankie' Franklin Brown, Jr., organic farmer and healthcare worker; Carolyn Evonne Brown Rowles, social worker; David Sterling Brown; and Daniel Scott Brown.

In the 1970s, Brown-Chappell met her future husband, Michael James Chappell, a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. The couple married in 1975 in Toledo, Ohio. They have two adult children, Dr. Michael Jahi Chappell and Aisha Chappell.

Despite being born into poverty, Brown-Chappell and her siblings all finished college. Brown-Chappell left for college with$400 and no job or scholarships. With the help of financial aid, part time jobs, and smart budgeting, she put herself through school. In 1969, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Pre-Social Work. She continued her education at the University of Michigan and earned a Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Social Treatment in 1971.

After earning her master’s degree, Brown-Chappell began working at the Detroit Health Department as a Social Case Worker. She also worked at the Detroit Commission on Community Relations as a Community Service Assistant. In 1973, she went to work at the University of Michigan as a field instructor. After a few other jobs and some practical experience, Brown-Chappell decided to focus on an academic career. She worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, DePaul University, the University of Chicago, and Illinois State University. While working in Illinois, Brown-Chappell earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1991. After earning her doctorate, she returned to the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor in 1992. She remained at the University of Michigan until 1996 when she took a position as a Professor at Eastern Michigan University.

In 2008, Brown-Chappell became the Associate Director for the McNair Scholars Program, which she helped bring to EMU. She has served on many other committees. Over the span of her near three-decade career, Brown-Chappell has won many awards and published a number of articles and recently, a book. One of her many awards and recognitions includes the College of Health and Human Service’s Everett L. Marshall Award for Distinguished Service. She was named in Today’s Chicago Woman ‘100 Women to Watch.’ Dr. Brown-Chappell also received a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office and Senior Citizen’s Department. Some of Brown-Chappell’s publications include “Caregiver Support Policy and Trends for the Future” and “NASW Aging Section Connection” from January 2008. She also published “Licensure for Social Workers: One Step Closer” in 2004 for the “Connections” newsletter. During Brown-Chappell’s service as Associate Director of the McNair Scholars Program, she helped produce the “McNair Chronicles” journal at EMU. At her collection's opening reception at the Wright Museum, Brown-Chappell signed copies of her new book, Open Secrets - A Poor Person's Journey in HIgher Education.


80.4 Linear Feet (6 record center cartons, 51 archive boxes, 10 halfsize archive boxes, 29 clamshell boxes, 2 disk boxes, 1 tray, 8 objects, 4 oversize boxes, 5 oversize folders, 34 volumes, 4 DVD disks)

Language of Materials



Dr. Betty Brown-Chappell is emerita faculty of Eastern Michigan University. The Betty Brown-Chappell papers documents her academic, genealogical, and professional life. The collection relates her lifetime experience in the sectors of family and student life as a first generation collegian, as an African-American Ph.D. of Social Work, and professor, and as an academic administrator. Additional materials focus on Brown-Chappell’s work as a social work advocate who impacted state, national, and international policymaking. She was a member and president of professional associations such as the National Association of Social Workers-Michigan and the National Association of Black Social Workers. She participated in partisan and international politics through such groups as the Democratic National Committee, United Nations, and the People to People Ambassador Program. The Betty Brown-Chappell papers represents one of the first collections of its kind within the State of Michigan by documenting an underrepresented stratum of society - African-American professional and degreed women who affect social policy on multi-regional levels.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original donations to the Charles H. Wright Museum in 2009 and 2010 by Betty Brown-Chappell were facilitated by Alexis Braun Marks, CA when she was employed by the Museum as an archivist.

The rights to the original donation was transferred from the Museum to Eastern Michigan University Archives in 2022.

Existence and Location of Copies

With support from Betty Brown-Chappell and Michael Chappell a majority of materials from the collection have been digitized and made publicly available through the institutional repository at Eastern Michigan University. Digital files are arranged in the same manner as her physical papers. They can be accessed here.

Related Materials

Materials related to Thomas W. Gordon, Michel Chappell's brother-in-law (married to Chappell's sister Lillian Diane Coleman), have been transfered to the Eastern Michigan University Archives. Gordon was a truck and bus driver and became owner of a carriage and transportation company.

Betty Brown-Chappell papers
Natalie Morath, Tiara Alexander Eytcheson, Brooke Boyst, CA [Eastern Michigan University] Katy Schroeder and Michelle McKinney [Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History]
2023 May 2
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197