Skip to NavSkip to Content

The University of Texas at Austin


Strengths - Civil Rights & Social Justice


Among the Briscoe Center's major research strengths is the history of social justice movements in the United States. The center’s resources include a wide range of materials relating to civil rights, anti-war protest, prison reform, gay rights, the anti-smoking movement, and environmental activism.

Selections from the Briscoe Center's Civil Rights and Social Justice Collections

James and Lula P. Farmer Papers
The Famer Papers recount James Farmer’s co-founding of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and document his role in the civil rights movement, including Brown v. Board of Education, bus boycotts, sit-ins, and the 1963 march on Washington. Featuring correspondence, financial records, and sound recordings, the papers reveal the methods and strategies used during the struggle for civil rights.

Flip Schulke's Martin Luther King Photographs
A significant portion of the Schulke Photographic Archive relates to Schulke's friendship with Martin Luther King. King granted Schulke access to both his personal life and major civil rights events in the South. The renowned photojournalist covered many civil rights stories in the 1950s and 60s.

Photograph of a man walking by pillars in photo used on cover of C. Wright Mills book "White Collar."
C. Wright Mills Papers
Part of the center’s growing intellectual history holdings, the C. Wright Mills Papers (1934–65) document Mills’s work of on the role of social class and power in American life. Mills was a University of Texas alumnus, sociologist, author, and campaigner for social change. The Mills Papers include annotated drafts of his works, collated data regarding his theories, academic teaching materials, and clippings related to his work.

Field Foundation seal
Field Foundation Archives
The Field Foundation Archives (1940¬–90) help scholars understand how civil rights groups financed their work. Chicago banker and publisher Marshall Field III established the foundation in 1940 to support organizations that promoted civil rights, child welfare, and social change. In its fifty years of activity, the Field Foundation provided major assistance to the NAACP, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and many others..

The archives of R. C. Hickman, Russell Lee, Calvin Littlejohn, and Bruce Roberts provide important documentation related to civil rights in Texas and the South. The Briscoe Center currently has on display an exhibit of photographs by Spider Martin related to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March.

detail from di_07183 - Letter to Lawrence Pope from Luther Ellis
Lawrence Pope Papers
Lawrence Pope was a banker imprisoned for robbery. While serving in both state and federal penitentiaries he gathered documentation on the conditions he experienced and observed. The Pope Papers include correspondence, financial records, legal documents, and newspaper clippings related to public hearings, legislation, and the decisions made by state officials related to prison reform such as AIDS, mental health, parole, prisoner lawsuits, overcrowding, violence, and racism. The papers also include a comprehensive oral history that was conducted by the Briscoe Center.

image detail from brochure front cover listing the agenda and schedule for the Women For A Meaningful Summit meeting in Athens, Greece, Farenthold Papers, e_ef_0001_01
Sara Clark Social Justice Collection
Named in memory of Sara Clark, an archivist at the Briscoe Center and a social activist, the collection is dedicated to the various efforts of activists, critics, reformers, and intellectuals to change society. Part of the Clark Collection, the Lesbian Issues Collection focuses on the struggles that gays and lesbians have faced in gaining acceptance. It includes newsletters, correspondence, and magazines.