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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

Taylor Branch papers

Repository: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wilson Library

Collection Description (Extant): 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. The papers consist of correspondence, writings, legal material, subject files, pictures, and audio and video material, much of which relates to Branch's trilogy 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)) and to The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President (2009), his book about working with President Bill Clinton. Correspondence includes letters and some printed emails to and from Branch related to the research, writing, and publishing of his books about King and the civil rights movement; pamphlets, notes, clippings, and other printed material are interfiled. Some letters relate to Branch's attempts to acquire research files through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOI/PA). There is also some correspondence about speaking engagements and personal correspondence related to friends and family. Writings chiefly relate to Branch's civil rights books and 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 chiefly concerns 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. Topics include John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., the National Council of Churches, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Stokely Carmichael, Nation of Islam, and the Vietnam War and anti-war groups. There are also files relating to Branch v. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in which Branch successfully sued for access to FBI files on J. Edgar Hoover, several FBI informants, Communism, the Ku Klux Klan, and other topics. Audio material includes interviews conducted by Branch and copies of material used in his research. Among the interviewees are Ralph Abernathy, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, James L. Bevel, John Bevel, Stokely Carmichael, Marion Cheek, Septima Clark, William Sloane Coffin, S. K. De, John Doar, Vernon Dobson, James Farmer, Alex Haley, Michael Harrington, Meree Harris, Rutha Mae Harris, Timothy Jenkins, Charles Jones, Clarence Jones, Edward Kennedy, S. B. King, Barnard Lee, John Lewis, Burke Marshall, Louis Martin, Robert McNamara, Richard Morrisroe, Bob Moses, Diane Nash, Sheriff Nichols, Edgar Daniel Nixon, Silas Norman, Joseph Rauh, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Bayard Rustin, Charles Sherrod, Sargent Shriver, Harry Wachtel, Wyatt Tee Walker, S. B. Wells, and Andrew Young. There are also speeches and/or sermons of Ralph Abernathy, James Bevel, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. Video material includes documentaries and news programs about the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., Lyndon B. Johnson, and Malcolm X. Materials relating to Bill Clinton include audio recordings and transcripts of Taylor Branch's recollections and notes of interviews with Clinton during and after his presidency; editing and publishing materials for The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President (2009), the book Branch wrote based on these interviews; correspondence between Branch and staff at the White House; articles and memos sent to Branch by White House staff; drafts of Clinton's speeches annotated by Branch, including the second inaugural address; printouts from news websites; clippings; and copies of other speeches given by Clinton and by other public figures; notebooks, seemingly from Branch's interviews with Clinton; two binders from a presidential trip to Haiti on which Branch traveled; and other items. Other materials in the collection include class notes from a course Branch taught, 2000; biographical information; and speeches, 1998-2000.

Date(s): 1865-2009 (bulk 1958-2009) and undated

Digital Status: Unknown

Existing IDs: 05047

Extent: 87.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 60,000 items)

Finding Aid URL:,Taylor.html External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: Ralph Abernathy, Victoria Gray Adams, Clifford Alexander, Rev. L. L. Anderson, Arnold Aronson, Joan Baez, Rev. Bob Beech, Harry Belafonte, Fay Bellamy, John Bennett, James L. Bevel, John Bevel, Julian Bond, Hyman Bookbinder, Taylor Branch, Balfour Brickner, Earl Broady, Robert McAfee Brown, Horace Busby, Captain Joseph, Stokely Carmichael, Marion Cheek, Septima Clark, Charles Cobb, William Sloane Coffin, Dahmer family, S. K. De, Thomas Decker, Harold DeWolf, John Doar, Vernon Dobson, Ivanhoe Donaldson, I. S. Dresner, Marian Wright Edelman, Joseph Ellwanger, J. C. Fairly, James Farmer, Richard Fernandez, Richmond Flowers, James Forman, Marie Foster, J. William Fulbright, Betty Garman, Lawrence Guyot, Alex Haley, James Hamilton, Michael Harrington, Meree Harris, Rutha Mae Harris, Lorenzo Harrison, David Hartman, Uralee Haynes, Sylvia Heschel, Gloria Larry House, John Hulett, Archbishop Iakovos, Mrs. Sullivan Jackson, Delores Stokes Jardan, Timothy Jenkins, Vernon Johns, Bennett Johnson, June Johnson, Tom Johnson, Charles Jones, Clarence Jones, Daniel Jones, Nicholas Katzenbach, Benjamin Karim, Edward Kennedy, Stanley Kensic, C. B. King, Edwin King, Mary Lee King, William Kunstler, Joyce Ladner, Bernard Lafayette, Jennifer Lawson, Bernard Lee, Oscar Lee, John Lewis, Geraldine Logan, John Maguire, Bob Mants, Burke Marshall, J. L. Martin, Louis Martin, Timothy Mays, Dora McDonald, Silas McGee, Charles McKinney, Robert McNamara, Harry McPherson, Jack Minnis, Mattie Lee Moorer, Richard Morrisroe, Bob Moses, W.D. Muhammad, Willie Ricks Mukasa, Diane Nash, Sheriff Nichols, Edgar Daniel Nixon, Martha Prescott Norman, Silas Norman, Everett C. Parker, Jack Pratt, Joseph Rauh, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Georgian Mae Reed, George Reedy, Robert Reynolds, Mrs. A.P. Boynton Robinson, Betty Garman Robinson, Metz Rollins, Bill Rutherford, Bayard Rustin, Ruby Sales, Murray Saltzman, David Saperstein, Harold Saperstein, Marcia Saperstein, Abdulalim Shabazz, Charles Sherrod, Sargent Shriver, Calvin Simpson, Frank Soracco, Robert J. Stone, Thomas Stransky, Joe Sullivan, Marc Tanenbaum, Henry Thomas, Henry Twine, Katherine Twine, Jack Valenti, C. T. Vivian, Al Vorspan, Harry Wachtel, Francis Walker, Wyatt Tee Walker, S. B. Wells, Lee White, Hosea Williams, Rev. Gayraud Wilmore, Livingston Wingate, Virgil Wood, Andrew Young, Dorothy Miller Zellner

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


African American civil rights workers
Civil rights movements--Southern States
Civil rights workers
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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