The Archive

Digital Archive brought to you
by JPMorgan Chase & Co.


There are nearly a million documents associated with the life of Martin Luther King Jr. These pages will present a more dynamic view than is often seen of Dr. King’s life and times. The documents reveal the scholar, the father, and the pastor. Through these papers we see the United States of America at one of its most vulnerable, most honest and perhaps most human moments in history. There are letters bearing the official marks of royalty and the equally regal compositions of children. You will see speeches, telegrams, scribbled notes, patient admonitions and urgent pleas. This spotlight shows you a glimpse of the remarkable history within this collection.

Explore another theme

Current Magazine

Thursday, August 1, 1963
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C., New York (NY), New York, NY, NORTH KOREA, SOUTH KOREA, GERMANY, Berlin, Germany, VIETNAM, Iowa (IA), Des Moines, IA, FORMER SOVIET UNION / USSR, CUBA, Illinois (IL), Chicago, IL, Ohio (OH), Connecticut (CT), Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL, Louisiana (LA), New Orleans, LA, HUNGARY, Montgomery, AL, South Carolina (SC), JAPAN, Tokyo, Japan, California (CA), Cleveland, OH, UNITED KINGDOM, ISRAEL, DENMARK, FINLAND, NORWAY, SWEDEN, West Virginia (WV), MEXICO, Arizona (AZ), CHINA, London, England, UZBEKISTAN, Florida (FL), SWITZERLAND, AUSTRIA, BRAZIL, ARGENTINA, CHILE, VENEZUELA, POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC, UKRAINE

This Current Magazine issue on racism in the U.S. features an article "Is Direct Action Necessary" by Dr. King, as well as pieces by James Meredith, James Reston, and others.

Letter from Dimitri Papaspyrou to MLK

Thursday, January 26, 1967
GREECE, Atlanta, GA

Dimitri Papaspyrou, President of the Parliament, invites Dr. King to Greece to create a better understanding between Greek and American people.

The Modern Negro Activist

Montgomery, AL, GHANA, NIGERIA, KENYA, CONGO / ZAIRE, Alabama (AL), California (CA), Cambridge, MA, Massachusetts (MA)

Dr. King profiles the emergent young Negro civil rights activist who is college-educated, creative, brave and committed to the discipline of non-violence. He attributes the activist's diligence to a keen awareness that they inhabit a world on the cusp of positive social change and that they will have the privilege to direct that change. They are no longer to be an imitator of his white counterpart, but rather an initiator and leader in this new age.

MLK Draft Text Retrieved by T.D. Johnston

Alabama (AL), INDIA, Mississippi (MS), Georgia (GA), GERMANY, SOUTH AFRICA, Montgomery, AL, Jackson, MS

The document is a dedication from T. D. Johnston of Huntsville, Alabama to the King Center. Mr. Johnston acknowledges being on an Eastern Airline plane with Dr. King in 1961, where he noticed that Dr. King tossed a speech text that he found. He decided to hold on to the document for preservation and donated it to the King Center. Martin Luther King, III received the document on behalf of the King Center.

The False God of Money

Sunday, July 19, 1953

This sermon titled "The False God of Money" was preached by Dr. King on July 19, 1953. Dr. King raised a question to his congregation stating, "Will you serve the transitory god of money which is here today and gone tomorrow or will you serve the eternal God of the universe who is the same yesterday, today and forever?"

Postcard Congratulating MLK for Receiving the Nobel Prize


Louise Dekker-Brus congratulates Dr. King on the Nobel Peace Prize and writes that their newspaper says that, in King, America has its Joan of Arc.

Letter from an Asylum Inmate to MLK Seeking Assistance

Monday, May 29, 1967
Pennsylvania (PA), Philadelphia, PA, Georgia (GA), Hartford, CT, Connecticut (CT)

Paul Douglas Ware, an untried inmate, requests Dr. King's "understanding, moral support, and possible assistance." Mr. Ware informs Dr. King of detailed information regarding his unjust treatment, his personal life, his present state of mind and most importantly his desire to have a stronger bond with "his own people."

Albany Manifesto

Sunday, July 15, 1962
Albany, GA, Georgia (GA)

The "Albany Manifesto" declares the Albany Movement to be uncompromisingly opposed to segregation. The manifesto positions the group to continue to exercise its free speech and free assembly rights to protest segregation. Protesters insist upon the speedy resolution of the charges against seven hundred protesters that had been languishing for more than six months.

Telegram from MLK to President Kennedy

Thursday, March 29, 1962
Washington, D.C.

Dr. King recommends that President John F. Kennedy consider William H. Hastie and Thurgood Marshall for appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Senator Edward Kennedy's Address to SCLC

Monday, August 8, 1966
Mississippi (MS), Massachusetts (MA), Montgomery, AL, New York (NY), Cleveland, OH, Chicago, IL

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) addresses the 1966 SCLC Annual Convention, stating that the sit-ins, freedom rides and Montgomery bus boycott created a movement that brought about the most important change of the last 20 years. He says that while the caste system in politics is over, the life of the average Negro hasn’t changed much. Society is becoming divided rich and poor, black and white, and a massive commitment of national resources must be made to upgrade Negro life in America.

People to People: The Negro Looks at Africa

Saturday, December 8, 1962
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, New York, NY, Memphis, TN, WESTERN SAHARA, Tennessee (TN), South Africa

In his column in the New York Amsterdam News, Dr. King reports on the American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa that brought together a cross-section of the Negro community to discuss foreign policy toward Africa. He writes that colonialism and segregation are siblings and that the future of the emerging nations of Africa and the American Negro are interrelated. He speaks of the contradictions in policy toward Africa, the need for more Negroes in the diplomatic corps, and the importance of action by the Administration against racism at home and racism in US foreign policy.

Telegram from Lawrence F. O'Brien to MLK

Thursday, August 5, 1965
Washington, D.C.

Lawrence O'Brien, Special Assistant to President Johnson, invites Dr. King to the signing of the Voting Rights Act in Washington, D.C.

Nobel Peace Prize Dinner Program

Monday, January 27, 1964
Atlanta, GA

The citizens of Atlanta held a recognition dinner on January 27, 1965 to honor Dr. King for his Nobel Peace Prize. Tributes were offered by Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr., AME Bishop Ernest Hickman, Rev. Edward Driscoll of the Georgia Council of Churches, State Senator Leroy Johnson, and Roman Catholic Archbishop Paul Hallinan. Dr. King gave the address.

Letter from Yousuf Karsh to MLK

Wednesday, October 21, 1964

Yousuf Karsh congratulates Dr. King on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize Award. In addition, Mr. Karsh informs Dr. King that his wife attended Antioch College at the same time as Mrs. King.

Poster: This Store Is Against Equal Opportunities for Negroes

Texas (TX)

The SCLC placed this type of boycott poster on the storefronts of businesses that refused to provide equal job opportunities to Negroes.

Financial Report of the SCLC Home Office - Atlanta, GA, 1965-1966

Monday, August 8, 1966
Atlanta, GA, Los Angeles, CA, New York (NY), Chicago, IL, Washington, D.C., North Carolina (NC), Nashville, TN, Illinois (IL), Alabama (AL), Georgia (GA), California (CA), Tennessee (TN)

Jesse B. Blayton provides a summarized financial statement of cash receipts and disbursements for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from July 1, 1965 to and including, June 30, 1966. This statement lists the allocations of funds for Operation Breadbasket, voter registration and political education initiatives, legal defense, and more.

We Would See Jesus

Sunday, May 7, 1967
Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, GREECE

Dr. King gives this sermon to a congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He conveys a message of Christ's acceptance of all despite any person's wrong doings in the past. He also points out that Christ's work is exemplified through individual acts of kindness and helping others.


Washington, D.C., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, California (CA), Los Angeles, CA, Mississippi (MS), New York (NY), Alabama (AL), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Louisiana (LA), New Hampshire (NH), Pennsylvania (PA), Colorado (CO), Tennessee (TN), Atlanta, GA

Text of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C.

Invitation to President Kennedy's Inauguration

Washington, D.C.

This invitation was sent to Dr. and Mrs. King, inviting them to the inauguration ceremony of President-elect John F. Kennedy and Vice President-elect Lyndon B. Johnson.

Donation from United States Trust Company

Tuesday, February 6, 1968
New York (NY), New York, NY

Franklin D. Roosevelt III arranges to have one thousand dollars sent to the SCLC.

Letter from Lyndon B. Johnson to MLK

Monday, May 18, 1964
Washington, D.C.

President Lyndon B. Johnson writes Dr. King, thanking him for sending him an advance copy of "Why We Can't Wait."

Telegram from Nobel Committee to MLK

Wednesday, October 14, 1964
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

The Nobel Committee of Norwegian Parliament notifies Dr. King that he will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1964.

Letter from Josephine Baker to MLK

Saturday, August 31, 1963

Josephine Baker expresses her admiration for Dr. King as a great leader and articulates her commitment to the Civil Rights Movement.

Telegram from MLK to Rev. Jesse Jackson

Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL

Dr. King writes to Rev. Jesse Jackson, urgently requesting his presence at a meeting of the Action Committee for Washington.

Nobel Lecture by MLK

Friday, December 11, 1964
Oslo, Norway, EGYPT

This is a copy of the Lecture given by Dr. King in Oslo, Norway upon his winning the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. He thanks the Norwegian Parliament for honoring him with this award. He speaks of the evils of racially injustice and the belief that "oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever." He speaks of the need to peacefully come together in harmony as humanity because a peaceful world cannot be built based on a "negative path."

Proposal for Preventing Denial of the Right to Vote

Thursday, October 29, 1964
Washington, D.C., Mississippi (MS), Alabama (AL), South Carolina (SC)

William L. Higgs proposes that the Democratic Caucus in the US Senate adopt a resolution that no Democratic Senator shall become chairman of a Senate Standing Committee if his seat was won in an election where there was substantial denial of the right to vote based on race. In Mississippi only 6% of eligible Negroes are registered to vote, yet US Senator James Eastland chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee that considers legislation regarding the right to vote and also the appointment of judges charged with enforcing those laws.

Excerpt from The Drum Major Instinct

This passage quotes one of Dr. King's acclaimed sermons delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He defines the desire to lead as "the Drum Major instinct." Seeing himself as a Drum Major for justice, peace, and righteousness, Dr. King posits what should be said at his funeral.

Letter from Benjamin Mays to MLK

Friday, November 29, 1963
Atlanta, GA

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays writes to Dr. King shortly after President Kennedy's assassination to urge him to take precautions.

The Mastery of Fear

This outline explains the direction of Dr. King's sermon entitled "The Mastery of Fear." In it, Dr. King explores the challenges and necessity of confronting fear.

MLK Public Statement on the Poor People's Campaign

Monday, December 4, 1967
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA), Washington, D.C., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Mississippi (MS), Selma, AL, Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL

Dr. King announces several initiatives of the SCLC. He explains that due to severe displays of discrimination the SCLC and other organizations will continue the non-violent movement with a demonstration in Washington, D.C. Dr. King further paints the picture of inequality among the races by providing several illustrations of discrimination.