Emory Report

June 8, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 33

Emory King Papers office closes doors after 10 years

The Emory office of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project closed at the end of the spring semester. Since the opening of the Emory office in 1988, some 50 student researchers contributed to the preparation of a multi-volume documentary edition of King's speeches, sermons, letters and other writings.

The King Papers Project, which is publishing the first scholarly edition of King's works, has been jointly sponsored by The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Emory and Stanford University.

The decision to close the Emory office was made jointly by Emory administrators and the project's director, Stanford professor Clayborne Carson. Recent cutbacks in federal grant support made it difficult for the project to support the work of professional editors in two cities. Last year Carson transferred the project's remaining federal funding from the King Center to Stanford and consolidated editorial and administrative positions in one office.

In a letter to Carson, President Bill Chace wrote that the project "has allowed this institution to participate in one of the most important editorial projects of the last decade or so in this country." Graduate School Dean Donald Stein echoed Chace's remarks, stating, "We are proud of the work our students have performed for the project and are confident that the research experience and training they received through the work has enriched their graduate education."

The graduate school supported the office for the past 10 years, providing stipends, equipment and other resources to undergraduate and graduate students who researched, transcribed and verified more than 1,000 documents under the supervision of project editors.

Emory students worked principally on Volume IV, which covers the civil rights leader's life from 1957 to '58. Through their research, Emory students located a rare recording of King's 1957 Emancipation Day speech at Atlanta's Big Bethel Baptist Church that dramatically opens the volume. Students also constructed a detailed chronology of King's life and conducted painstaking research around the context of particular documents, thereby "making contributions that will serve the project well into the future," noted Stein. Volume IV will be published next year by the University of California Press.

-Nancy Seideman

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