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Fannie Lou Hamer papers

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Personal papers

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP)

Freedom Farms Corporation (FFC)

Delta Ministry

Delta Opportunites Corporation (DOC)

Mississippians United to Elect Negro Candidates

Other Organizational Series I

Other Organizational Series II

Other Material



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Fannie Lou Hamer papers, 1966-1978 | Amistad Research Center

By Taronda E. Spencer

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Collection Overview

Title: Fannie Lou Hamer papers, 1966-1978Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Primary Creator: Hamer, Fannie Lou (1917-1977)

Extent: 16.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The materials when accessioned were not in any inherent order. The collection is arranged in topical series with correspondence preceding non-correspondence. Most letters date from 1967-1969. Non-correspondence generally falls in the following order: history or by-laws, financial records, memorandum, minutes, and proposals. Materials specifically relating to Fannie Lou Hamer are grouped under the heading "Personal." Papers dealing with major organizations are listed under the organization's title and include the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Freedom Farms Corporation, Mississippians United to Elect Negro Candidates, and Delta Opportunities Corporation. Other smaller series are represented in the collection.

Date Acquired: 01/01/1981

Subjects: Freedom Farms Corporation (Sunflower County, Miss.), Hamer, Fannie Lou, Mississippi - Race relations, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Mississippi Loyalist Democratic Party, Race relations - History - 20th century, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.), Voter registration

Forms of Material: Correspondence, Moving images, Photographs

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Papers of Fannie Lou Hamer measure approximately 16 linear feet and consist of 3,293 pieces of correspondence dated between 1966 and 1978. The correspondence represented includes not only that of Fannie Lou Hamer, but also that of a number of organizations to which she was in some way connected and of her business manager, Joseph Harris. Much of Hamer's business correspondence is included in the Harris correspondence. He was almost entirely responsible for the business aspects of Hamer's career, and in some cases he also represented her interests in organizations to which she belonged.

Also included in the papers are programs, photographs, invitations, newspaper articles, a print of the 16mm documentary film Oh, Freedom! on the civil rights movement, and a variety of material from each of the organizations represented.

This collection was processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical Note

Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. She was a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, as well as other organizations that sought to assist the lives of African Americans.

Born on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Hamer was the youngest of twenty children born to Jim and Ella Townsend. The family worked as sharecroppers moving to Sunflower County, Mississippi, in 1919. At the age of nine, Hamer joined the family picking cotton, but was able to start her education in a plantation school at that time.

She married Perry "Pap" Hamer, another sharecropper in 1945, and worked on the Dee Marlow Plantation from 1947-1962. She attended the first mass meeting of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Ruleville, Mississippi, and then made her first failed attempt to register to vote with eighteen other sharecroppers in Indianola, Mississippi. As a result of this failed attempt, she was fired from her job on the Marlow Plantation and forced from her home. The Hamer's moved to the town of Ruleville, where the William Tucker family took them in until the violence forced them to move again to a neighboring county. In 1963, she passed the Mississippi literacy test and became a registered voter. She began a more active role in the Civil Rights Movement, working to obtain federal commodities for underprivileged black families, and with SNCC as a field secretary organizing voter registration campaigns and welfare programs. Hamer was arrested in Winona, Mississippi, on a return trip from a voter registration workshop and severely beaten while in custody as were three others also arrested. They remained jailed for three days until their release was demanded by James Bevel and Andrew Young.

In 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was founded due to lack of acceptance of Blacks into the regular state Democratic Party. Hamer became vice chairperson of MFDP, which sent a delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey as a challenge to the seating of the regular Mississippi delegation. During the National Convention, Hamer made a television address to the convention explaining the poverty, unemployment, disfranchisement, intimidation, and violence that existed in Mississippi toward African Americans. The Convention offered a compromise, which was refused by MFDP, to seat two members of the regular delegation and two members of MFDP with no voting power. After the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the National Convention pledged not to seat any delegation in the 1968 Democratic Convention, which discriminated against Blacks in the selection of delegates. Hamer also attempted to run for Congress in 1964 from the Second Mississippi Congressional District against the white incumbent, Jamie Whitten, but was not allowed on the regular ballot. The MFDP conceived the "Freedom Ballot" on which all candidates' names were placed. Jamie Whitten received only 49 votes to 33,009 votes on the "Freedom Ballot." In continuing the fight for the vote, Hamer appealed to Congress, with Victoria Grey and Annie Devine, in a dramatic challenge to the House of Representatives against the seating of the five regular Mississippi representatives. Their challenge was argued on the floor of the House and defeated. These three women were the first African American women to ever sit on the floor of the House.

In 1966, she became a member of the National Committee for Free Elections in Sunflower, Mississippi. Hamer was the plaintiff in a suit charging discrimination for the 1965 election. In June 8, 1967 the municipal elections in Sunflower and Moorhead Counties were overturned by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and were the first elections set aside because African Americans were denied the vote. Hamer continued to be active as a member of the Democratic National Committee for Mississippi from 1968 to 1971.

In 1969, Hamer founded the Freedom Farms Corporation (FFC), a nonprofit venture designed to help needy families, both black and white, to raise food and livestock on which to live. The FFC provided social services, minority business opportunities, scholarships, and grants for education.  Hamer continued her civic and political activities throughout the seventies and received many awards and honorary degrees for her activism. By 1976, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. Unfortunately, her fight with cancer was not won and she died in Mound Bayou Hospital on March 14, 1977.

Subject/Index Terms

Freedom Farms Corporation (Sunflower County, Miss.)
Hamer, Fannie Lou
Mississippi - Race relations
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
Mississippi Loyalist Democratic Party
Race relations - History - 20th century
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
Voter registration

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: None

Use Restrictions: Any copy rights such as the donor may possess in this property are hereby dedicated to the public. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Hamer Estate

Acquisition Method: Gift

Appraisal Information: This collection documents the activities of one of the most successful leaders of the civil rights movement in Mississippi.

Original/Copies Note: Microfilm copies are available for research use.

Related Materials:

CORE Mississippi, 4th Congregational District records (microfilm)

Fishman, Rose Carver letters, 1965-1968

Freedom Democratic Party records (microfilm)

Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee records (microfilm)

Valien, Preston & Bonita papers

Other Note: Correspondence index attached as PDF.

Other URL: http://www.amistadresearchcenter.org/pdfs/Archon/Hamer, Fannie Lou Papers - Correspondence Index.pdf


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal papers, 1966-1978],
[Series 2: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), 1966-1971],
[Series 3: Freedom Farms Corporation (FFC), 1967-1978],
[Series 4: Delta Ministry, 1966-1970],
[Series 5: Delta Opportunites Corporation (DOC), 1969-1971],
[Series 6: Mississippians United to Elect Negro Candidates, 1967-1969],
[Series 7: Other Organizational Series I, 1967-1978],
[Series 8: Other Organizational Series II, 1974, undated],
[Series 9: Other Material, undated],
[All]

Series 2: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), 1966-1971Add to your cart.

Boxes 5-9

The MFDP series documents Hamer's involvement in this organization and contains information about the various FDP chapters throughout the state, especially the Delta area. Materials pertaining to voter registration comprise the majority of records, which consists of registration rosters and volunteer applications for registration workers and block captains. Also included are the various FDP chapter political handbooks and manuals that were distributed to teach citizens of Mississippi about voting rights. Campaign materials for MFDP candidates can also be found within this series. There is relatively little documentation for the MFDP's role in national politics.

Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence, 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence, 1967 February 27 - April 24Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Correspondence, 1967 May 8 - August 28Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence, 1967 September 6 - November 10Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Correspondence, 1967 November 15 - December 18Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Correspondence, 1968 January 2 - February 16Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Correspondence, 1968 February  19 - March 19Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence, 1968 March 20 - April 19Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Correspondence, 1968 April 20 - June 29Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Correspondence, 1968 July 15 - October 31Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Correspondence, 1968 November 11 - December 31Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Correspondence, 1969 January - JuneAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Correspondence, 1969 July - DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Correspondence, 1970-1971Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Correspondence, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Correspondence: financial, 1966-1969, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Correspondence: Alexander Cohen Show, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Correspondence: from contributors, 1967-1969Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Correspondence: from contributors, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 6Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence: to contributors, 1967Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 January 5 - 18Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 January 19 - 22Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 January 22 - 26Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 January 25Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 January 3 - March 4Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 March 18 - May 14Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 May 20 - July 11Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 July 24 - September 6Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Correspondence: to contributors, 1968 November 12 - December 20Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Correspondence: to contributors, 1969 January 6 - March 14Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Correspondence: to contributors, 1969 March 24 - 31Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Correspondence: to contributors, 1969 AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Correspondence: to contributors, 1969 May 19 - September 16Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Correspondence: to contributors, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Correspondence: to contributors, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Correspondence: to contributors, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 7Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Expense statements, 1967-1969Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Financial statements and receipts, 1967-1969Add to your cart.
Folder 3: CheckbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Minutes and noticesAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Memoranda, 1967-1969 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Memoranda, 1969 April - DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Administrative lists in hand scriptAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Administrative lists in typescriptAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Press releaseAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: History of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic PartyAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Proposals and reportsAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Proposals and reportsAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Proposals and reportsAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: NewslettersAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Collected newslettersAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Programs and fliersAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Party platform and policy materialsAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Collected newspaper clippingsAdd to your cart.
Box 8Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Voter Registration Rosters: Inverness, Johnson Mill, Moorhead, Rome, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Voter Registration Rosters: Drew, Hale, Heatherman, Doddsville, 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Voter Registration Rosters: Indianola, 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Voter Registration Rosters: Ruleville, Sunflower, and Sunflower PlantationAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Voter Registration Rosters, 1967 AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Voter Registration Rosters, 1967 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Voter Registration Rosters, 1967 June - JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Voter Registration Rosters, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Voter Registration Rosters, 1970-1971Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Voter Registration Rosters: applications, 1967Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Applications for block captainsAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Sunflower County Voter Registration Applications, 1967Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Correspondence: Sunflower County FDP Voter Registration Drive, 1966-1969, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Expense statements, 1967-1968Add to your cart.
Folder 15: MFDP Welfare Program food and clothes distribution materialsAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Sunflower County FDP Welfare and Relief forms, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 17: MFDP information and others on the Welfare System in MississippiAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Addresses of contributorsAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Collected itemsAdd to your cart.
Box 9Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Election materials: Hinds County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Election materials: Holmes County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Manuals and handbooks: Holmes County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Election materials: Indianola FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Election materials: Jackson FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Election materials: LeFlore County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Election materials: Moorhead County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Biographies and petitions of candidates: Moorhead County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: List: Moorhead County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Fliers and invitations: Moorhead County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Special election materials: Panola County FDP and Hollandale City, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Correspondence of election committee: Sunflower County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Election materials: Sunflower County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Biographical and platform materials of candidates: Sunflower County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Petitions and other qualification materials for candidates: Sunflower County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Ballots and process materials: Sunflower County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Information about Sunflower County FDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Letters to the Election Comissioner of Mississippi from MFDP candidates from Issaquena and Sunflower countiesAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Bolivar County Handbook for Voters' EducationAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Forest County Political HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Holmes County Political HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: Issaquena County Political HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: Sunflower County Political HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: Tallahatchie County Political HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Washington County Political HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 26: County government in MississippiAdd to your cart.
Folder 27: Justice of the Peace HandbookAdd to your cart.
Folder 28: Campaign stickers of MFDP candidatesAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Cards, fliers and broadsides: candidates, MFDPAdd to your cart.
Folder 30: Election materials for poll-watchersAdd to your cart.
Folder 31: School board elections and other materialsAdd to your cart.
Folder 32: General materials on the election process in MississippiAdd to your cart.
Folder 33: General materials on the election process in MississippiAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal papers, 1966-1978],
[Series 2: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), 1966-1971],
[Series 3: Freedom Farms Corporation (FFC), 1967-1978],
[Series 4: Delta Ministry, 1966-1970],
[Series 5: Delta Opportunites Corporation (DOC), 1969-1971],
[Series 6: Mississippians United to Elect Negro Candidates, 1967-1969],
[Series 7: Other Organizational Series I, 1967-1978],
[Series 8: Other Organizational Series II, 1974, undated],
[Series 9: Other Material, undated],
[All]


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