The Library of Congress has digitized the papers of Rosa Parks, enabling free online access to everything from her first-hand recollections of the Montgomery bus boycott and personal correspondence with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to family photographs, tax returns and a handwritten recipe for “featherlite pancakes.”
The collection, which includes roughly 7,500 manuscript items and 2,500 photographs, is on loan to the library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which acquired the collection in 2014 after a dispute involving Parks’s heirs that had left the papers languishing in a warehouse for nearly a decade following her deathin 2005. (If the archives move elsewhere, the digital files will remain at the library.)
The papers, which cover nearly 140 years of Parks family history, provide an intimate view of Parks’s life, including the day in December 1955 when she refused to move to the back of the bus.
“I had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment that I couldn’t take it anymore,” she wrote in an undated manuscript. “When I asked the policeman why we had to be pushed around? He said he didn’t know. ‘The law is the law. You are under arrest.’ I didn’t resist.”