Miriam Feingold Papers, 1960-1967

Summary Information
Title: Miriam Feingold Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1960-1967

  • Feingold, Miriam
Call Number: Mss 859; Micro 845; Tape 528A

Quantity: 0.1 c.f. (1 oversize folder), 2 reels of microfilm (35mm), and 4 tape recordings

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Papers and tapes of civil rights activist Miriam Feingold describing demonstrations, prison experiences, treatment of local blacks, and other topics regarding her work which was primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana. Included are correspondence (with several letters written on toilet paper by imprisoned civil rights activists in Plaquemine, Louisiana), notebooks, voter registration material, reports, speeches, leaflets, and clippings. The tapes record Feingold's interviews with local blacks and civil rights workers in Bogalusa, Clinton, Tullulah, Jonesboro, Jackson, Lisbon, Church Point, and Greensburg, Louisiana, and Liberty, Mississippi; among those interviewed are Gayle Jenkins, E. W. Steptoe, and Annie Purnell Johnson.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss00859
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1941, May 31 Miriam (Mimi) Feingold was born into an Old Left family in New York City.
1960, Fall-1963, Spring Attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania; was a member of Swarthmore Political Action Club (SPAC).
1961, Summer Involved in the Congress of Racial Equality's (CORE) freedom rides in the South. Arrested and jailed in Jackson, Miss.
1962, Summer Member of the American Friends' Nashville community action project.
1962, Nov.-1963, July Active in integration efforts along Maryland's Eastern Shore.
1963, June Graduated from Swarthmore.
1963, Aug.-1964, Aug. Active in Louisiana voter registration and community organizing projects of CORE.
1964, Sept.-1965, June Attended University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School in history.
1965, Summer Worked in Louisiana CORE's voter registration program; started to collect documentation of the civil rights movement for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (SHSW).
1965, Sept.-1966, June Received an MA in history at the U.W.-Madison.
1966, June-1967, Jan. Employed again by the SHSW in collecting records of civil rights activists.
1966, Oct. Married Carl Wittman, civil rights worker and member of SDS.
1967, Summer Participated in civil rights activities in Louisiana for CORE.
circa 1967-1968 Divorced Carl Wittman.
1973 Married Michael Stein.
1973- Working as an oral historian at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Scope and Content Note

The Miriam Feingold papers, 1960-1967, provide a revealing view of the civil rights movement in the Southern and Eastern United States. They describe events such as freedom rides, demonstrations, and jailings as well as the impact of these events upon the civil rights workers. The personal nature of these papers indicates the degree of commitment and the intensity of emotion which the civil rights movement kindled in the participants. The papers are arranged in an alphabetical subject file. Except for the toilet paper letters and tape recordings, the collection is available only on microfilm.

The correspondence, 1960-1967, undated, pertains largely to Feingold's civil rights activities. Besides letters to her parents and relatives, there is correspondence with:

  • James Farmer, National Director of CORE
  • Charlotte Phillips Fine, SPAC
  • Ollie Fine, SPAC Rachel Folsum, SPAC
  • Vernon Grizzard, SPAC, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
  • Edward Lemansky, Progressive Labor Party (PLP)
  • Mark Suckle, SDS
  • Carl Wittman, SPAC, SDS

Of particular interest in the correspondence are a group of letters written on toilet paper by Feingold and other prisoners arrested during a demonstration in Plaquemine, La. on September 1, 1963 as well as a toilet-paper letter by Carl Wittman written while he was jailed in Pennsylvania's Broadmeadows Prison, April 1964. These letters describe demonstrations, the treatment of prisoners and local blacks, and the morale of civil rights workers.

Feingold's notebooks contain data referring to her civil rights activities, 1961-1967. These include descriptions of demonstrations, rallies, and community organizations; calendars of appointments; and notes for speeches. Several memo books, 1966; undated, deal with the collection of civil rights manuscript materials for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

There is material pertaining to the CORE voter registration drive in Louisiana, 1964-1965. This includes lists of voters, simple literacy tests, and other miscellaneous papers.

There are also some clippings, reports, a questionnaire, speeches, and leaflets. The reports, often written by civil rights workers, touch on the subjects of community organizing and other civil rights activity in the U.S., 1962-1965. An unanswered questionnaire, prepared by three U.W.-Madison sociology professors in 1965 and distributed to students doing civil rights work, is included. (For further information regarding the 1965 survey of civil rights workers, see the microfilm and book entitled The Dynamics of Idealism. The book is located in the Historical Society Library.) Notes for various speeches sketch both efforts to organize Southern blacks and to obtain support in the North. The clippings, 1961-1967, undated, concern the civil rights movement in general and Feingold's role in it. The leaflets, 1961-1965, undated, are primarily related to CORE although other civil rights organizations are represented; there are also two anti-Semitic, anti-civil rights flyers.

The tape-recorded interviews were made by Feingold in July and August 1966. They pertain primarily to civil rights activities in the interviewees' communities.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Miriam Feingold, Feb. 12, March 24, Sept. 13, 1965; July-Aug., 1966; March 7, July 19; Oct. 5, 1967; Jan. 29, 1973; and April 11, April 23, 1974. Accession Number: M65-40, M65-94, M65-324, M66-318, M66-319, M66-321, M67-89, M67-207, M67-329, M73-31, M74-190

Processing Information

Processed by Eleanor McKay and Michael Kohl, June 1974; reprocessed for microfilming by Carolyn Mattern, October 1980.

Contents List
Mss 859
Toilet paper letters
Note: These also are copied on the microfilm.

Physical Description: 1 oversize folder 
Micro 845
Reel   1
Frame   1-137
Box   1
Frame   138-215
1962-June 1963
Reel   1
Frame   216-375
July-December 1963
Reel   1
Frame   376-457
Reel   1
Frame   458-506
Reel   1
Frame   507-561
1966-1967, undated
Reel   1
Frame   563-587
Clippings, 1961-1964, undated
Reel   1
Frame   589-710
1961-May 1963
Reel   1
Frame   711-818
July 1963-February 1964
Reel   1
Frame   819-935
Summer 1964
Reel   2
Frame   1-189
Summer 1964
Reel   2
Frame   190-288
Reel   2
Frame   290-332
Speeches, undated
Reel   2
Frame   334-369
Leaflets, 1961-1965, undated
Reel   2
Frame   371-445
Louisiana Congress of Racial Equality, 1964-1965, undated
Reel   2
Frame   447-606
Louisiana Voter Registration Material, 1964-1965, undated
Reel   2
Frame   608-721
Reports and Questionnaire, 1962-1965, undated
Reel   2
Frame   723-740
Miscellaneous, 1967, undated
Tape 528A
Tape Recordings, July-August 1966
Note: The tapes are all in good condition with running times of 1 hour per side except for No. 4 Side 2, which is about ten minutes.
No.   1
Side   1
Miriam Feingold interviews in Bogalusa, La.
Scope and Content Note: Includes Gayle Jenkins, Secretary of the Bogalusa Voters, League: O.Z. Young, civil rights and labor activist and member of the Deacons for Defense; and Hattie Mae Hill, civil rights activist.
No.   1
Side   2
Continued interviews in Bogalusa, La., Clinton, La., and Liberty, Miss.
Scope and Content Note: With Hattie Mae Hill, Bogalusa civil rights activist; Robert Hicks, Treasurer of the Bogalusa Voters' League; Royan Burris, President of the Deacons for Defense, Bogalusa, La.; James Bell, civil rights activist, Clinton, La.; Laura Spears, civil rights activist, Clinton, La.; E.W. Steptoe, civil rights activist, Liberty, Miss. This part of the tape recording is a copy of another tape on which Steptoe describes conditions for blacks in Miss.
No.   2
Side   1
E.W. Steptoe concludes his narration
Scope and Content Note: Included is a copy of a tape recording taken at a civil rights mass meeting at Liberty, Miss. during 1966, Jan. which Steptoe taped.
No.   2
Side   2
E.W. Steptoe discusses conditions for blacks in Miss.
No.   3
Side   1
E.W. Steptoe concludes his discussion; Rev. Joseph Carter describes the civil rights movement in Jackson, La.
No.   3
Side   2
Feingold interviews civil rights activists in Tullulah and Jonesboro, La.
Scope and Content Note: Included for Tullulah: Zelma Wyche, Harrison H. Brown, Rev. T.I. Israel, F.W. Wilson, and Moses Williams; and for Jonesboro: Annie Purnell Johnson and Elmo Jacobs.
No.   4
Side   1
Continued interviews with civil rights activists
Scope and Content Note: In Jonesboro, La.: Annie Purnell Johnson and Elmo Jacobs. In Lisbon, La.: Frederick Douglas Lewis. In Church Point, La.: Joseph Lee Marlbough. In Greensburg, La: Ellis Howard.
No.   4
Side   2
Conclusion of interview with Ellis Howard