Miriam Feingold Papers, 1960-1967

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.