It is with great pleasure that the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library announces the opening of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference records as of May 1, 2012. Made possible by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources to uncover hidden archival and special collections, the SCLC records will shed new light on a hugely important, and largely undocumented, civil rights organization. The collection consists of the records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1957-2007, with the bulk of the material from 1968-2003, including records from various offices and departments; files of various programs; financial and legal records; printed material; photographs; audiovisual materials; and artifacts and memorabilia.
Material in the collection documents the nonviolent direct action initiatives of the organization, including boycotts, marches, rallies, protests, hearings, and other programs designed to secure and protect civil rights in America. The records reflect not only the day to day administration of the organization, but also the planning and management of special programming and events, and the involvement of individual leaders in the wider religious, political, and civil rights communities. Though SCLC was founded in 1957 by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders, Emory's collection primarily documents the work done under the presidencies of Ralph David Abernathy (who assumed the role after King's assassination in 1968) and Joseph Lowery.
It took twelve individuals three years to complete the processing of this massive collection (spanning nearly 429 linear feet), and provided opportunities for growth, teamwork, and major archival experience for both the processing team of graduate students and the project management team. MARBL is proud to finally make these materials available to researchers, as they play an integral role in telling the story of the history of Atlanta, the South, and the struggle for civil rights in America.