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Library of Congress Shares Rosa Parks Collection

by on April 21, 2016

A collection of 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photographs relating to civil rights icon Rosa Parks is now available for public viewing, thanks to the Library of Congress and the Howard G. Buffet Foundation. The Foundation has loaned the collection to the Library of Congress for ten years.

The memorabilia, which is now available at the click of a button, includes everything from Parks’ Congressional Gold Medal to her recipe for featherlite pancakes. Parks, who made history in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus, saved a large collection of handwritten letters from the time, as well as family photographs and greeting cards sent to thank her. According to the Washington Post, “There are little-known photos of her husband, who was also an activist and who quietly supported her and weathered death threats as she traveled the country.”[1]

The digitized collection can be easily viewed by scholars and students alike. The Library of Congress has made a Primary Source Gallery available, as well as Teachers Guides to the collection. Other interesting contributions by the Library of Congress include a timeline of Parks’ life, and a video titled, “The Rosa Parks Collection: Telling Her Story at the Library of Congress,” which touches on the highlights of the collection.

Students can also read about the conservation process and how even Parks’ collection of political buttons was given special consideration. Another story involves a Holman Bible that Parks owned. Staff discovered that the Bible was rather rare, and had a hard time determining the order for unnumbered pages. According to the Library of Congress, “The goal of the Library’s Conservation Division was—and continues to be—to preserve these items for generations to come through responsible collection stewardship.”[2]

Most of the collection is now available online, while some materials can only be through the Manuscripts and Prints and Photographs reading rooms. David Mao, acting librarian of Congress, told the Washington Post, “It’s a great privilege to open the Rosa Parks Collection and help people worldwide discover more about her active life and her deep commitment to civil rights.”[3]


[1] Michael E. Ruane, “Digitized collection of Rosa Parks is online, thanks to Library of Congress,” Washington Post, February 24, 2015.

[2]Conservation of the Rosa Parks Papers,” Library of Congress, accessed April 5, 2016.

[3] Michael E. Ruane, “Digitized collection of Rosa Parks is online, thanks to Library of Congress,” Washington Post, February 24, 2015.


Rosa Parks Papers Collection

Rosa Parks Collection Video

Library of Congress Web Guides

Further Reading:

Price, Gary. “Just Announced: The Rosa Parks Collection Digitized and Now Available Online.” InfoDocket. February 25, 2016.

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