Rosa Parks Collection Opens at the Library of Congress

The Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress will open formally to researchers on Feb. 4, on the birthday of the civil-rights icon.

The collection contains approximately 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photographs. Items in the Library’s Manuscript Division can be consulted during reading room hours; the pictures in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division will be available by appointment. Later this year, selected collection items will be accessible online.

The Rosa Parks Collection is on loan to the Library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

From Monday, March 2 through Monday, March 30, a sampling of approximately two dozen items from the collection will be on view in three glass cases on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The one-month display is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

In addition, starting on Saturday, March 7, several items from the collection will be included in the ongoing major exhibition "The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom," which is open through Sept. 12, 2015. Located on the second floor of the Jefferson Building, the exhibition is free and open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The Rosa Parks Collection includes personal correspondence and family photographs, letters from presidents, fragmentary drafts of some of her writings from the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, her Presidential Medal of Freedom, additional honors and awards, presentation albums, drawings sent to her by schoolchildren and hundreds of greeting cards from individuals thanking her for her impact on civil rights.

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks was arrested when she refused to surrender her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white passenger. The arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

"The Rosa Parks Collection is a very important acquisition for the Library of Congress. Mrs. Parks has inspired people worldwide through her contributions to civil rights and her work with children. The Library is the ideal steward for her papers, because people will be able to study Parks’ writing and activities alongside the records of many other civil-rights leaders and organizations," said Helena Zinkham, director of Collections and Services at the Library of Congress.

Some of the important civil-rights materials at the Library that the Parks Collection joins are the papers of Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins and the records of the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the National Urban League. The collection also becomes part of the larger story of the nation, available alongside the presidential papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln and the papers of many others who fought for equal rights, including Susan B. Anthony and U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.

"We know that Mrs. Parks would be proud that the Library of Congress holds her legacy in the high esteem that it deserves, and will make it available to the world to learn from and cherish," said Elaine Eason-Steele, co-founder of the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.

The Library’s Manuscript Division holds more than 66 million items, including the papers of 23 U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge. For more information about the collections and holdings of the Manuscript Division, visit www.loc.gov/rr/mss/.

The Library’s Prints and Photographs Division includes more than 15 million photographs, drawings and prints from the 15th century to the present day. International in scope, these visual collections represent a uniquely rich array of human experience, knowledge, creativity and achievement, touching on almost every realm of endeavor: science, art, invention, government and political struggle, and the recording of history. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/print/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

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