Honoring Freedom Summer: New Digital Collection increases access for scholars and students

As part of a campus-wide celebration the Libraries has created a new online resource to ensure scholars and students have access to materials from Freedom Summer, an important historical event in U.S. and Miami University history. Freedom Summer, which started in June 1964, was a campaign to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which up to that time had almost totally excluded black voters. Two one-week orientation sessions for the volunteers were held at Western College for Women (now part of Miami University) from June 14 to June 27.

Letters and other writings from students and civil rights leaders training at Western College are held in the Western College Memorial Archives, part of the Miami University Libraries. These documents have previously been only available in paper format and were not easily accessed by scholars, especially those outside of the university.

Volunteers at Freedom Summer. Photo courtesy of George Hoxie.

The new resource, "The Digitization of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Collection” is a collaborative effort between Jacky Johnson, Archivist, Western College Memorial Archives and Elias Tzoc, Digital Initiatives Librarian and was made possible through funding from the Ohio Humanities Council. The digital collection allows users to search for both print and video resources including video interviews and letters from participants as well as newspaper articles with accounts of the events.

Other Freedom Summer events held this semester include a national conference and reunion on October 9-11 that honored the 45th anniversary of the Freedom Summer Project with scholars, leaders and volunteers who had participated in the events of 1964. In addition, Miami has commissioned a play addressing Freedom Summer titled “Down in Mississippi” presented on October 1-10 by the Department of Theatre.

Explore the Freedom Summer Digital collection here: http://digital.lib.muohio.edu/fs/