The violence surrounding the 1962 desegregation of Ole Miss inherently links the University of Mississippi (UM) with the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Thus, the Department of Archives & Special Collections at UM holds extensive civil rights related collections, ranking amongst our more frequently researched topics. Aside from contributing to a statewide grant-funded initiative in 2003, the UM Archives & Special Collections has shied away from prioritizing Civil Rights materials in our digital collections; however, this decision does not stem from emotion. Historically, we have focused on 19th century materials, clearly in the public realm, in an attempt to evade the complexities of contemporary copyright law. This focus has shifted recently. Taking advantage of digital rights management, UM has expanded digital focus to include 20th-century items, notably civil rights materials, in order to meet user needs.

In the past year, UM’s Archives & Special Collections has mounted two civil rights digital collections: The Integration of the University of Mississippi & the United States v. Mississippi Interrogatory Answers. Using CONTENTdm, UM’s content management system, these two digital projects feature images and unsolicited correspondence concerning integration in education as well as court documentation concerning African American voting rights, respectively. To further broaden access to materials on this subject, we have more civil rights and race relations materials in the planning phase of digitization.