Congress of Racial Equality. Monroe Chapter (La.): Records, 1961-1966

Scope and Content Note

The office files of the Monroe, Louisiana chapter of CORE are relatively complete, and include general correspondence; questionnaires and canvass and survey sheets concerned with the condition and voting status of the Negro; statements and affidavits recording incidents of intimidation and harassment experienced in “sit-in” or “testing” situations; reports; memoranda; lists of personnel, contacts, churches and businesses, et cetera; near-print materials; and newspaper clippings. The files are arranged in three main categories, Correspondence, Operational, and Programs and Projects; and four minor ones, CORE Publication, General Reports, Newspaper Clippings, and Miscellaneous.

The main body of the Correspondence is general in nature and touches on every facet of CORE's operation in Monroe and its interrelation with the Southern Regional and national offices and other civil rights groups. It has been arranged chronologically in two folders in the first box of the Collection. However, some correspondence is found throughout under specific subject headings.

The Operational File and the Programs and Projects File contain the bulk of the Collection. The Operational File is sub-divided into “Administrative,” covering the administrative functions of operation, and “Consultatory,” including informational materials pertinent to the work of the organization.

Under the “General” division of Programs and Projects, folders five through fourteen in box three are an alphabetical subject file of programs or projects with which Monroe CORE was involved. “Voter Registration,” the second sub-file created under Programs and Projects, has been handled separately, and is filed together in boxes five and six. However, the researcher will find the “Voter Education Project Field Reports” in box three, folder two filed with “Field Reports.” Because voter registration was a key project of CORE in Monroe, scattered references to it will be found in such general categories as “Correspondence” and “Memoranda.”

The files of Monroe CORE are representative of the activities and outlook of CORE chapters generally in the southern states in the 1960s, and indicate how the imported social activist approached the problems of the Negro and how he saw them. The Collection is a source for material and statistics on the status of the southern Negro and the Negro's ambivalent attitude toward his circumstances and environs. More specifically, the “Completed Survey Forms” record a general informational survey of the Negro family. An analysis of this data could suggest further insight into the education, employment, voting status, housing, attitudes and standards of this specific segment of Louisiana. These forms are not uniformly complete, but within this limitation they are useful. Also of special interest are the field reports of the staff, the housing survey questionnaires, statements and affidavits of harassment and “testing” experiences, and the two-way radio or “WATS Line Reports.”

The “Voter Registration” project materials are quite complete. These include “canvass sheets” of the individual's decision on whether he will try to register, whether he has attended registration clinics, and/or whether he needs transportation to do so; and voter registration survey “Results at the Registrar's Office” in 1962 and 1964. The latter records indicate whether the potential registrant passed or failed, why, and how many attempts to register he had made to date. Xeroxed copies of lists of “Persons Registered by the Federal Registrar” in Ouachita Parish under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 include the individual's name and address, age, ward and precinct, political party, and the number and date of his certification.