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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Howard Thurman collection

Repository: Boston University. Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center

Collection Description (CRHP): Thurman was an African American minister and chaplain at Boston University and Howard University whose writing deeply influenced Martin Luther King Jr. Thurman was also a civil rights leader. This collection contains hundreds of sound recordings, mostly sermons, eulogies and interviews.

Collection Description (Extant): The Howard Thurman collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, subject files, audio recordings, and other items.

Manuscripts by Thurman in the collection include his books "Deep River" (1945); "Deep Is the Hunger" (Harper, 1950); "Footprints of a Dream" (Harper, 1959); "The Luminous Darkness" (Harper, 1965); "The Search For Common Ground" (Harper, 1971); his autobiography "With Head and Heart" (Harcourt, 1980); and a work titled "A Track to the Waterís Edge." Also present in the collection are numerous essays, introductions, sermons, speeches, and other shorter manuscripts by Thurman, dating from the 1930s to 1980; these items include Thurmanís writing journals containing sermons and notes (1930s-1940s) and transcriptions of Thurmanís sermons (1950s-1970s).

Correspondence in the collection includes personal and professional letters, dating from 1929 to 1980. Significant sections of the correspondence pertain to Howard University (1929-1944), Boston University (1952-1967), the Howard Thurman Education Trust (1968-1971), San Francisco (1938-1978), speaking engagements (1965-1980), the Fellowship Church (1944-1952), CORE, and various other organizations and individuals. Notable correspondents include Sue Bailey Thurman, Langston Hughes, Coretta Scott King, Alex Haley, Michael Burke, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Washington, Vernon Jordan, and Elizabeth Yates.

Subject files in the collection consist of files arranged by Thurman around specific topics, and containing a variety of materials. Subjects include Boston University, B.U. students, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Broadcasting Foundation of America, Hampton Institute, the U.S. State Department, biographical material, B.Uís Marsh Chapel, various quotations, racial and religious tensions, Martin Luther King, Jr., painting, B.U.ís Thurman Center, writings, reviews, research, publicity, and various other topics.

Audio recordings in the collection consist of numerous cassette recordings of Thurmanís sermons. These date from 1951 to 1978. Other recordings are also present, including Thurmanís memorial service in 1981.

Other material in the collection includes scrapbooks from the late 1920s; Thurmanís travel diary (ca. 1935); a Howard University yearbook; and a book regarding the Fellowship Church.

Access Copy Note: Some of the sound recordings in this collection are on reel-to-reel tape. Contact archival staff to see if it is possible to play these tapes at the archives before making a research visit.

Digital Status: No

Extent: 248 boxes

Finding Aid: A more detailed finding aid is available at the repository.

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: The papers of Howard Thurman's second wife, Sue Bailey Thurman, are also at the Gotlieb Center and address her civil rights activism.

Interviewees: Howard Thurman

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American authors
African American churches
African American clergy
Civil rights movements--Alabama
Civil rights--Religious aspects--Christianity
Howard University
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968--Assassination
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968--Death and burial
National Conference of Christians and Jews
Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965 : Selma, Ala.)
Young, Whitney M.


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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