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Organizational records and personal papers offer unique and varied perspectives on the 20th century fight for freedom

ANN ARBOR, MI, November 5, 2014 – ProQuest continues to advance the study of the civil rights movement in America. The company has digitized the papers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), making their organizational records and their leaders’ personal papers accessible to researchers through the renowned History Vault collection Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century. The digitization of SNCC and CORE papers enables researchers to access documents from all four leading organizations in the U.S. civil rights movement. ProQuest has also digitized the papers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Read CORE’s instructions for interstate bus riders on the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and other SNCC and CORE documents here: http://bit.ly/SNCC-COREPapers.

Founded in 1942 and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in India, CORE set the tone for non-violent protest in the civil rights movement and placed in motion milestone events that focused the nation on social injustice. Working with the Wisconsin Historical Society, ProQuest has digitized records and papers from three key decades of the group’s history.  “From their emergence from the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Chicago in the early 1940s, through the Freedom Rides and the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in the 1960s, the CORE records document the important role that committed pacifists played in the greatest social movement of the 20th century,” said Matt Blessing, State Archivist and Administrator for the Library-Archives, Wisconsin Historical Society. “Its records form one of the cornerstone research collections within the Wisconsin Historical Society’s vast Civil Rights archives. For over 40 years nearly every major scholar of the Civil Right movement has utilized the records of CORE and other grassroots collections preserved by the WHS. We are pleased to share this essential collection with an even larger audience.”

Just as influential in the movement was SNCC. It was formed in early 1960, sparked when a group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University staged an impromptu sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter where they had been denied service. The group’s original mission was to coordinate the wave of sit-ins that followed in college towns across the South. Over the next 8 years, SNCC sent its leaders to some of the most segregated areas of the South as they sought to cultivate local leaders, most famously during Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. In the early 1970s, the King Center assembled, preserved and promoted the group’s records, enabling researchers to understand SNCC’s significant role in the successful efforts to challenge the traditions of racism, inequality and the issues of Jim Crow.

“These files have been frequently consulted for over 30 years by researchers seeking a comprehensive look at the broad, ambitious and revolutionary activities of SNCC’s valiant and dedicated members,” said Cynthia Patterson Lewis, Director of Archives, King Library & Archives, The King Center. “The SNCC records provide an important base of information and an essential bridge to the personalities, the relational perspectives and the impressive aspects of its varied activities. It is a ‘must’ reference for civil rights scholarship.

Working in partnership with organizations and museums holding original documents, ProQuest makes their carefully curated collections more accessible to researchers around the world, driving new insights in the historical record. In addition to the SNCC and CORE records, this newest Black Freedom module also contains four collections from the Chicago History Museum: the Africa related papers of Claude Barnett; the papers of Congressman Arthur Mitchell; Heather Booth’s Papers on her participation in Mississippi Freedom Summer; and the records of the CORE’s Chicago chapter. “Some of the most highly-requested material in our research collection is now a part of Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century,” said Gary T. Johnson, President, Chicago History Museum.  “ProQuest is a dream come true for a museum whose mission is ‘sharing stories.’ It is humbling to know that when our own building closes for the day, the History Vault is open and researchers have the tools they need to explore our content. ProQuest has become indispensable to the study of history in America.”

The CORE and SNCC archives, and the Chicago History Museum collections, are joined by the papers of the pioneering Black Power thinker, Robert F. Williams, to create the Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 2, a key element in ProQuest’s large collection of resources designed to improve research outcomes for those studying the American civil rights movement. The company has created digital paths that unlock a variety of unique primary sources including Southern plantation records, key documents from the Black Abolitionist Movement and has developed broad resources such as Black Studies Center and ebook collections centered on Black History.

To learn more visit www.proquest.com.

About ProQuest (www.proquest.com)

ProQuest connects people with vetted, reliable information. Key to serious research, the company’s products are a gateway to the world’s knowledge including dissertations, governmental and cultural archives, news, historical collections and ebooks. ProQuest technologies serve users across the critical points in research, helping them discover, access, share, create and manage information.

The company’s cloud-based technologies offer flexible solutions for librarians, students and researchers through the ProQuest®, Bowker®, Dialog®, ebrary®, EBL® and Serials Solutions® businesses – and notable research tools such as the Summon® discovery service, the RefWorks® Flow™ collaboration platform, the Pivot™ research development tool and the Intota™ library services platform. The company is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with offices around the world.

05 November 2014


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