The Florida State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Division and Professor Davis W. Houck will establish what will become the foremost research collection on the life and death of Emmett Till, an African-American teenager whose murder in Mississippi in 1955 sparked protest in the South.
Till’s death helped galvanize the civil rights movement in America, and Friday, Aug. 28, marks the 60th anniversary of his murder. Till, 14, was kidnapped, beaten and shot after he allegedly flirted with a white woman.
“We’re very excited for this project because there is just simply nothing like it,” said Houck, a faculty member in the College of Communication and Information who authored “Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press.” “We’ve spent 20 years accumulating this material, most of which involved travel to Mississippi and archives around the South. It’s long past due that we had a ‘one-stop-archive’ for all things Emmett Till, and with this collection, we'll finally have that.”
The collection will feature newspaper coverage from the Till murder trial and court proceedings by domestic and international press, and materials from FBI investigations, court records and interview transcripts.
Author Devery Anderson will contribute a comprehensive collection of newspaper articles, genealogical work, interview transcriptions and obscure magazine articles used to write his recently released book, “Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement.” Anderson’s research not only tells the story of the Till case as it unfolded in 1955, but follows the case to the present day, incorporating the FBI’s investigation and source materials, including a complete trial transcript.
Interviews and oral histories gathered by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp for his Emmy-nominated documentary, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” will also comprise part of the archive. Beauchamp’s research was pivotal in convincing the FBI to re-open the case in 2004 — an investigation that resulted in more than 8,000 pages of important material.
“These materials from some of the nation’s foremost Emmett Till researchers will be a great addition to our archives and an outstanding resource for students, researchers and civil rights historians worldwide,” said Katie McCormick, associate dean for Special Collections and Archives.
The collection will be available beginning in 2016 at the Special Collections Research Center at Strozier Library. For updates on the Till collection and further information on FSU’s Special Collections and Archives, visit www.lib.fsu.edu/specialcollections.
The Special Collections and Archives Division of the Florida State University Libraries advances research by acquiring, preserving and providing access to original primary source materials. The division includes Special Collections, Heritage Protocol, the Claude Pepper Library and the Digital Library Center.
Through exhibitions and programs, the division supports active learning and engagement. Collections of unique manuscripts, historic maps, rare books, photographs and university archives offer abundant opportunities for discovery and scholarship. Strengths of the collections include Napoleon and the French Revolution, poetry, political papers, the history of Florida, Southern business history and the history of Florida State University.