Southern Miss Student Archivists Talks

Processing my first collection-- the Sheila Michaels' papers

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Publication Date

Spring 4-25-2024


Library and Information Science, University Libraries


Julia Sumrall, is a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi and is currently working as a graduate assistant processor in the Historical Manuscripts Department at McCain Libraries and Archives. She is the recipient of the 2023 Peggy Jean Connor Scholarship for research conducted related to her work in the archives. Ms. Sumrall is originally from the Pacific Northwest but has made Mississippi her home for the last 12 years. She lives with her husband and numerous cats and dogs in Moselle, Mississippi.

Ms. Sumrall processed the Sheila Michaels Papers housed in the McCain Archive, created the finding aid and curated a digital exhibit highlighting the remarkable life of Sheila Michaels. As a passionate civil rights worker in the 1960’s, Sheila wrote speeches for John Lewis and worked in many areas of the movement including serving as a Field Secretary during the 1964 Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, MS. In addition to her civil rights work, Ms. Michaels was actively involved in the women’s movement and as a biblical scholar of Jewish women. She is credited with bringing the term “Ms.” into prominence as a default form of address for women regardless of their marital status.

The Sheila Michaels Papers are a remarkable collection with original drafts of civil rights speeches, diaries, correspondence with the who’s who of the movement. It contains insights into the interracial relationship between women in the movement and how that helped to shape the women’s movement that followed.

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