Primary Source Set
Rosa Parks, circa 1950. Photograph by Thomas
Early Childhood Incidents and Experiences, ca. 1955-1958. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. (Rosa Parks recounts the desertion of her father, James McCauley, and growing up in rural Pine Level, Alabama on the farm of maternal grandparents, Sylvester and Rosa Edwards, with her mother and brother, Leona and Sylvester McCauley.)
Rosa Parks. [Reflections on her arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, December 1, 1955], ca. 1956. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
Montgomery Fair date book with Rosa Parks' notes concerning the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955–1956. Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
Notes in which Rosa Parks recounts her arrest after "the bus incident." The notes also describe hardships Parks faced during this period in her life including being "shunned" by everyone in her workplace.
Letter in which Rosa Parks returns to work after becoming well known as part of her Civil Rights efforts. The letter describes the hardships Parks faced during this period in her life, including being "shunned" by everyone in her workplace.
['Rosa & Raymond Parks', 'seated at a banquet table', 'left side', 'third and fourth chair', 'likely at an NAACP branch meeting', 'Montgomery', 'Alabama']
Draft letter to a "friend" written by Parks describing racial segregation in Montgomery, Ala. Written on Montgomery Fair department store stationery. Parks was let go from her job as an assistant tailor at the store that month.
Rosa Parks to Leona McCauley (Mother) concerning the execution of Jeremiah Reeves, a black Alabama teenager falsely convicted of raping a white woman, April 7, 1958. Autograph letter. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
NAACP Baltimore Branch flyer advertising a lecture by Rosa Parks at the Sharp Street Methodist Church, September 23, 1956.
Rosa Parks recounting a childhood encounter with a white boy who threatened to hit her, ca. 1955-1958. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
Photo showing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King at Civil Rights related "training" at Highlander School in Tennessee. First published by GA Commission on Education; here in Atlanta Courier.
Black activist Kwame Toure (L) formerly known as Stokley [i.e. Stokely] Carmichael ... at the University of Michigan to discuss civil rights at a forum. Another civil rights leader Roas [i.e. Rosa] Parks (R) has a lighter moment with Toure after a panel discussion.
Rosa Parks and U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr., picketing in front of General Motors corporate headquarters, Detroit, Michigan.
Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church service program with Rosa Parks' handwritten notes and prayer, November 26, 1972. Program with autograph annotations. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
The resources in this primary source set are intended for classroom use.
If your use will be beyond a single classroom, please review the copyright
and fair use guidelines.
To help your students analyze these primary sources, get a graphic organizer
Tool and Guides
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested when she refused to surrender her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white passenger. The arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and was a defining moment in Parks' long career as an activist.
This gallery showcases a selection of items from the
Rosa Parks Papers at the Library of Congress, a gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. This collection contains thousands of items that document the life, work, and legacy of this civil-rights legend.
Teaching ideas: Ask students what they can learn from these primary sources about why Rosa Parks took her stand against segregation, and about the organizations and movements that participated in the struggle. They might compare that to what they learn from a textbook or other secondary source and then write a possible update for the secondary source. To further support students as they analyze these primary sources, use the Library's
primary source analysis tool (PDF, 56 KB) and teacher's guides.
For more on the Rosa Parks Papers, visit these two Library of Congress blog posts:
Inside the Rosa Parks Collection; Happy Birthday Rosa Parks!