For the last several months, I have been processing the collection of the Duke University Union for the Duke Archives. The collection contains a wide variety of records and information: want to know how many people were injured during the Grateful Dead concert at Duke? Check the Union records! Interested in a local artist that showed her work at Duke in the 1970s? The Union records are the place to be! But the subject of this blog post involves this curious, unsigned letter that I found in the records:
CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, was an interracial civil rights organization that, according to its website, began as “a nonhierarchical, decentralized organization funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of its members.” By the early 1960s, chapters and projects existed in many states and were self-funded and self-led.
The early 1960s were a pivotal time for CORE chapters, particularly those throughout the south. 1960, of course, saw the Greensboro sit-ins, and CORE was instrumental in formulating responses throughout the region. In 1961, CORE chapters, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and other civil rights organizations both participated in and organized “Freedom Rides” throughout the segregated south in order to desegregate interstate travel. And during 1964′s Freedom Summer, CORE members James Chaney, Andrew Goldman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered in the infamous “Mississippi Burning” case.
Perhaps it was something about the “nonhierarchical, decentralized” language that piqued the curiosity of Duke administrators and compelled them to check with both the United States Department of Justice and the House of Unamerican Activities Commission before approving a CORE chapter at Duke. The motivation behind such actions may have been lost to time . . . or maybe it’s buried deeper in the Union records!
Post contributed by Maureen McCormick Harlow, Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives.
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The Devil’s Tale Archive
- Internationalist Books and Community Center records, 1960s-2011. August 26, 2014
- Marcel Montassut papers, 1914-1975. August 21, 2014
- Bengal Chamber of Commerce letter of gratitude to Daniel Mackinlay upon his retirement, 1860 February 21. August 21, 2014
- John Symonds Breedon diaries and account books, 1736-1808. August 18, 2014
- Rosina Lyon letters, 1846-1849. August 15, 2014
- Walden; or, Life in the woods August 22, 2014
- Precationes ex veteribus orthodoxis doctoribus : ex ecclesiae hymnis et canticis, ex Psalmis denique Dauidis collectae, et nunc recens recognitae & auctae August 8, 2014
- The danger of premature interment : proved from many remarkable instances of people who have recovered after being laid out for dead, and of others entombed alive, for want of being properly examined prior to interment : also a description of the manner the ancient Egyptians, and other nations preserved and venerated their dead, and a curious account of their sepulchral ever burning lamps and mausoleums : likewise, the pernicious effects of burying in the body churches, and confined church-yards pointed out, whereby many valuable lives have been lost to the public, and their friends : selected from historical records August 7, 2014
- Conseils aux femmes de quarante ans August 7, 2014