Timeline – 1964 – History Grad Students Document the Civil Rights Movement

Item in Freedom Summer Collection, Wisconsin Historical Society. Image is two hand holding chains. Words "We Shall Overcome" written on bottom of image.
Item in Freedom Summer Collection, Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society has one of the largest collections of documents generated during the Civil Rights movement. This is due in large part to the work of a handful of History graduate students who came to the UW as experienced political activists. With support from the Historical Society, they put the 1960s concept of “history from the bottom up” into action, tapping a network of colleagues and traveling throughout the South themselves in the mid-1960s to collect thousands of ephemeral documents virtually as they were being created.

In its Freedom Summer Collection, the Historical Society has made more than 25,000 pages of documents and more than 2,000 images available online. See also its 1964 Freedom Summer Project page.

Source: Michael Edmonds, “Bold (Not to Say Crazy): Collecting Civil Rights Manuscripts during the 1960s,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 97, no 4 (Summer 2014): 2-15.