Release date: March 6, 2008

SCLC Places Archive at Emory

Historical Records to Become Destination for Civil Rights Research

Contact: Elaine Justice of Emory University, 404-727-0643,
Contact: Keisha Ray of SCLC, 404-522-1420 ext. 23,

Emory University and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) announced March 6 that the SCLC has placed its archive with Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

"Emory is delighted to care for, catalog and share this unique intellectual resource with visitors from around the city and the world," says Emory Provost Earl Lewis. "SCLC played a signal role in the nation's struggles over civil rights. By helping to preserve that legacy we honor the past by connecting it to the present and the future."

"Placing the SCLC archive with Emory ensures that the organization's materials will enrich understanding of history, culture and non-violence for generations to come," says SCLC President Charles Steele.

The SCLC was co-founded in New Orleans, La., on Feb. 14, 1957, by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other African American leaders from across the South with the purpose of advancing the cause of racial equality. Its archive, contained in 1,100 boxes, is the second-largest collection placed with MARBL, surpassed in size only by the Sam Nunn congressional archive. The bulk of the SCLC materials date from 1968 to 1977, during the terms of SCLC's two longest-serving presidents: Ralph David Abernathy and Joseph Lowery.

SCLC Archive Photos Document Civil Rights Movement

Included in the archive are correspondence; press releases, speeches and other SCLC staff writings; SCLC publications; membership records; clippings and other collected print materials; photographs; audio cassette tapes; and videotapes.

Some highlights of the collection include:

• Photographs documenting aspects of the Civil Rights movement such as voter registration workshops, Freedom Summer and the Freedom Schools.

• A number of drafts of speeches by Ralph Abernathy and others, many heavily annotated in the hands of their authors.

• Thousands of sympathy cards and letters expressing grief and outrage at the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

• Letters from individuals and organizations from across the nation seeking assistance in local political organization or help in dealing with violations of civil rights.

The archive will complement the SCLC papers, most pre-1968, that are held by the King Library and Archives at the King Center in Atlanta. They also will enhance the holdings of African American and civil rights collections throughout Atlanta.

SCLC and Emory Announce Archive Acquisition at Press Conference

Video - Press Conference: Presentations (requires RealPlayer)

Video - Press Conference: Q&A (requires RealPlayer)


The SCLC is nonprofit, non-sectarian, inter-faith, advocacy organization that is committed to non-violent action to achieve social, economic and political justice. The SCLC consists of local chapters and affiliates from around the world that supports the mission of the international organization, and work in their own communities to implement programs such as conflict resolution, voter registration, improvement of education and direct action against racial injustice. Established in 1957 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, the SCLC is dedicated to promoting human rights throughout the United States and abroad.

The Emory University Libraries ( in Atlanta and Oxford, Ga., are the intellectual commons of their campuses and their communities. They are dedicated to fostering courageous inquiry among students and scholars at Emory University, Oxford College and around the world. The nine libraries' holdings include more than 3.1 million print and electronic volumes, 40,000-plus electronic journals, and internationally renowned special collections.

Emory University ( is one of the nation’s leading private research universities and a member of the Association of American Universities. Known for its demanding academics, outstanding undergraduate college of arts and sciences, highly ranked professional schools and state-of-the-art research facilities, Emory is ranked as one of the country's top 20 national universities by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its nine schools, the university encompasses The Carter Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Healthcare, the state's largest and most comprehensive health care system.

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