Taylor Branch papers, 1865-2005 (bulk 1958-2005).
Creator: Branch, Taylor.
Collection number: 5047
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Abstract: Taylor Branch, journalist and historian, is best known for his books chronicling the career of Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Raised in Atlanta, Branch attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he became involved in political activism and completed a degree in American history in 1968. While a graduate student at Princeton University, Branch conducted a voter registration campaign among African Americans in rural Georgia. He was editor of Washington Monthly, 1971-1973, and has been a contributing editor since then. He has also written for Harper’s and Esquire magazines and is the author or co-author of several books. He advised President Bill Clinton on race-related issues. Correspondence, writings, legal material, subject files, pictures, and audio and video material, many of which relate to Branch’s trilogy focused on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement: “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63” (1988), “Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65” (1998), and “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years,” 1965-68 (2006). Correspondence includes letters and some printed emails to and from Branch related to his research for his books; interfiled are pamphlets, notes, clippings, and other printed material. Included is correspondence about writing and publishing the books as well as with archives, libraries, historical societies, universities, and individuals about King and the civil rights movement. Some letters relate to Branch’s attempts to acquire files through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIPA). There is also some correspondence about speaking engagements and personal correspondence related to friends and family. Writings chiefly relate to Branch’s books; items include drafts, notes, clippings, articles, correspondence, advertisements, and data compact discs containing bibliographic and research databases. There is also some information about a proposed television miniseries based on the first two books of the King trilogy (not available for research). Legal material is chiefly about a 1964 California case involving a violent confrontation in 1962 between police officers and several black men. Subject files include research files on King and civil rights, particularly in Selma and Montgomery, Ala. There are also files relating to Branch’s dealings with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over freedom of information and other issues, the Vietnam War and anti-war groups, Communism, the Ku Klux Klan, and other topics. Individuals and groups important in these files include John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., the National Council of Churches, the Student Non-Violence C
Repository: Southern Historical Collection
Collection Highlights: This collection consists of tape recordings made by Branch during his research for his civil rights writings. Interviewees include Harry Wachtel, Ralph Abernathy, John Doar, James Bevel, Diane Nash, James Farmer, Burke Marshall, Louis Martin, Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael), Michael Harrington, Wyatt Tee Walker, S. K. De, Bayard Rustin, Vernon Dobson, Bob Moses, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Septima Clark, Marion Cheek, E. D. Nixon, John Lewis, Joseph Rauh, Rutha Mae Harris, Meree Harris, Timothy Jenkins, C. B. King, Charles Jones, Wyatt Walker, Charles Sherrod, Clarence Jones, Bernard Lee, the Reverend S. B. Wells, Sheriff Nichols, John Bevel, William Sloane Coffin, Alex Haley, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Robert McNamara, and Sargent Shriver.