The Howard Buffet Foundation owns 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photos of civil rights hero Rosa Parks. They've loaned them to the Library of Congress, who've digitized them and posted them online.
Parks's story is a lot more complex and interesting than the idea that she was a tired housemaid who just couldn't stomach moving to the back of the bus one day -- rather, she was a lifelong activist from a multigenerational tradition of struggle and resistance; she was an organizer who carefully planned her action, with the intent of provoking real, lasting social change.
The Buffett/Parks collection went to the LoC last year, but it's only now it's been digitized and posted that we can all enjoy it.
The papers of Rosa Parks (1913-2005) span the years 1866-2006, with the bulk of the material dating from 1955 to 2000. The collection contains approximately 7,500 items in the Manuscript Division, as well as 2,500 photographs in the Prints and Photographs Division. The collection documents many aspects of Parks's private life and public activism on behalf of civil rights for African Americans. Family papers include correspondence with her husband Raymond A. Parks; her mother, Leona Edwards McCauley; and her brother, Sylvester McCauley. Correspondence with her husband and mother contains the largest number of letters written by Parks in the collection. Letters by Sylvester McCauley largely concern his efforts to convince his sister to move to Detroit. Events surrounding Parks's arrest in 1955 for disorderly conduct after she refused to give her seat to a white passenger, as well as the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott, are described in many of her writings, notes, and correspondence from 1955 to 1956. Other subjects covered in the collection include Parks's work in Congressman John Conyers's Detroit office; her participation in major civil rights events such as the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in 1957, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, Mississippi Freedom Project in 1964, and the Poor People's Campaign in 1968; and Parks's Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal along with material concerning other honors received by Parks.
The collection also documents Parks's affiliation with organizations and institutions including the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, an organization she founded with Elaine Eason Steele to promote youth development and civil rights education; Hampton Institute, Highlander Folk School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Saint Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church, Detroit, Michigan.
The vast majority of items in the Parks Collection have been digitized in their entirety and may be viewed in this online collection. Other material is available to researchers through the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs reading rooms. A small percentage (approximately 6 percent) of the manuscript items, consisting largely of newspapers, magazines, and other publications still under copyright along with some materials for which rights clearance is still pending, may be viewed onsite only at this time. Among the visual materials, all items were digitized except the children's greeting cards for which a representative sample is included in this online collection.
Rosa Parks Papers [Library of Congress]
Just Announced: The Rosa Parks Collection Digitized and Now Available Online