The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Poor People's Corporation records
Repository: Wisconsin Historical Society. Library-Archives
Collection Description (Extant): The Poor People's Corporation (PPC) was established as a non-profit corporation to give financial and technical aid to low income groups who want to start cooperatives or other self-help programs. The corporation grew out of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) activities in Mississippi. On July 20, 1965, it was incorporated in New Jersey with former SNCC worker, Jesse Morris, as its coordinator.
The central organization was charged with securing funds, technical assistance, and sites, informing low income citizens of the corporation's activities, and overseeing the progress of individual co-ops. At first Jesse Morris was the sole paid staff member, whose salary was provided by SNCC. Other funding was raised by solicitation and by application for federal and local grants.
Cooperatives devoted largely to sewing and leather work were organized in Mississippi. Liberty House, with branches in Jackson, Mississippi and New York, was established as a wholesale co-op to resell the finished products of the other Mississippi co-ops.
The records of the Poor People's Corporation of Mississippi consist of Xerox copies of correspondence, clippings, newsletters, press releases, organizational data, reports, and files on individual co-operatives, largely from 1964-1967.
The correspondence is organized in two chronological files of both incoming and outgoing letters, COFO (1964) and PPC (1964-1966). The COFO correspondence is largely to and from Jane Adams, then coordinator of COFO Federal programs. Much of the PPC correspondence is to and from Jesse Morris. Both files concern the activities of COFO or PPC and related organizations, policies, personnel, and business operations. Of particular note is an undated letter in the PPC file from Abbott (Abbie) Hoffman to Ellen Maslow, head of the New York branch of Liberty House, describing plans for expanding PPC merchandising into New England.
Clippings, newsletters, and press releases (1964-1966, undated) include COFO, SNCC, and PPC data. The PPC newsletters and clippings contain a great deal of information on the history of the organization. Included is an article in the Oct-Nov 1966 Catholic Worker by Abbie Hoffman. The SNCC and COFO press releases describe race-related incidents in Mississippi.
Organizational data (1960-1967) contain a wide variety of materials. Among these are the certificate of PPC incorporation, minutes of PPC meetings, applications for financial assistance, reports by SNCC, and reports received by PPC including reprints of articles and government publications on cooperatives. The operational data file contains discussion of various types of cooperatives, suggestions for chartering and establishing a co-op, suggested co-op structure, and reports on various PPC co-ops.
The files on individual co-ops (1964-1967) are fragmentary and contain mainly reports on activities and progress. Fuller files exist for Liberty House, Shelby Sewing Group, and Delta Leather Workshop. The Liberty House file includes articles of incorporation and a catalog of merchandise.
Existing IDs: Mss 172; Tape 549A
Extent: 0.8 c.f. (2 archives boxes) and 3 tape recordings
Finding Aid URL: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss00172
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
African Americans--Civil rights--Mississippi
Civil rights--Economic aspects
Council of Federated Organizations (U.S.)
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)