Jake Friesen Papers, 1964-1967

Summary Information
Title: Jake Friesen Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1964-1967

  • Friesen, Jake
Call Number: Mss 528

Quantity: 0.2 c.f. (1 archives box)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Papers of civil rights worker Jake Friesen and his wife, Jane, who organized the activities of the Valley View Community Center near Canton, Mississippi, for the Mennonite Central Committee. Four folders of correspondence include Friesen's reports to the MCC and committee replies. The remainder of the collection consists of a diary of a 1964 trip through the area, minutes of meetings, and reports on other trips, visits, and investigations by the Mennonites.


There is a restriction on use of this material; see the Administrative/Restriction Information portion of this finding aid for details.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss00528
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The Center, established in 1965, was sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee and the Quakers. Both groups had participated in the 1964-1965 efforts to rebuild Mississippi Negro churches burned during the Freedom Summer of 1964; in addition they built a single community center in the state. Valley View Center was dedicated in October 1965, and the community-elected board of directors requested that the Mennonite Central Committee send a couple to work with them in developing a program for the Center. The Friesens arrived shortly thereafter. Center programs included Head Start, under the auspices of the Guild Development Group of Mississippi; health programs, including Planned Parenthood; cooking and typing classes, publication of a weekly newspaper, a library, baseball teams and a playground, and the drilling of a well for community use. Plans for a credit union were never completed. Financial support for the Center was scheduled for transfer or termination at the end of August 1967, when the Friesens left.

Scope and Content Note

Papers in the collection include Friesen's reports to the Mennonite Central Committee, in the form of memos (filed with correspondence), and the Committee's responses, detailing plans, activities, the reaction of both white and black communities, and other church projects. Friesen's diary from 1964 concerns a scouting trip which he made prior to establishment of the center, and similar evaluations of sites, communities, and plans sponsored by the Mennonites may be found in the folder labeled “Reports of Trips, Visits, and Investigations.” Included with Other Material are fragmentary minutes of meetings.

Related Material

The Wisconsin Historical Society has one of the richest collections of Civil Rights movement records in the nation, which includes more than 100 manuscript collections documenting the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964. More than 25,000 pages from the Freedom Summer manuscripts are available online as the Freedom Summer Digital Collection.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Use Restrictions

Direct quotation for publication of correspondence or printed matter in the collection requires the permission of the Mennonite Central Committee.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Jake Friesen, Akron, Pennsylvania, 1968. Accession Number: M68-98

Contents List
Mss 528
Box   1
Folder   1-4
Correspondence, 1965 September-1967 March
Box   1
Folder   5
Friesen's Diary, 1964 November 30-December 15
Alternate Format: All or part has been digitized and is available online.
Box   1
Folder   6
Other Material, 1966-1967
Box   1
Folder   7
Reports of Trips, Visits, and Investigations, 1964-1966
Alternate Format: All or part has been digitized and is available online.