Jack Rabin collection on Alabama Civil Rights and Southern Activists
Scope and Contents
The Jack Rabin Collection on Alabama Civil Rights and Southern Activists is a compact but highly complex, multi-layered compilation of documents, sound recordings, and visual images. While teaching public administration in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1970s, Jack Rabin (1945-2006) collected records of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) (1955-1974); photographs and surveillance tapes of Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and many others involved in sit-ins (early 1960s), the MIA (1963), the Selma March (1965), and the Poor People's Campaign (1968); oral histories of the white activists Clifford and Virginia Durr, John Beecher, and Myles Horton (late 1960s - 1975); and films of the African-American activists Luther Henderson (in Savannah, Georgia, 1964) and Stokely Carmichael (in Montgomery, circa 1972).
Some of its components, including copies of records of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and many hours of oral history of the renowned civil liberties lawyer Clifford Durr, support or complement major holdings in other American archives; archival interrelationships are noted below. Other components of the Rabin Collection are unique and of considerable historic significance. These include an undated 10-minute filmed interview of Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) in Montgomery; 450 black-and-white photographs taken in the course of surveillance, or acquired for their files, by the Subversive Unit of the Investigative and Identification Division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety in the course of sit-ins, demonstrations, and marches in several Alabama cities during the early to mid-1960s; and 11 reel-to-reel surveillance tapes preserving speeches made variously at an anniversary meeting of the MIA in 1963, at the conclusion of the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965, and in Bessemer and Birmingham, Alabama, in the course of the Poor People's Campaign of 1968. Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy are among many leading lights of the civil rights movement heard on these tapes, which Rabin obtained from the Subversive Unit. (For a detailed description of the Unit's activities, see Claude Sitton, 'Alabama Compiling Files on Civil Rights Advocates,' New York Times, February 17, 1964: 1, 16).
- Creation: 1941-2004
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1956-1974
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research, with this exception: because of the inclusion of individual financial records of employees of the Montgomery Improvement Association, 1958-1964, microfilm reel 1 is closed until 2034 (i.e., 70 years from the latest date). A photocopy of those same pages, with individual financial records of employees of the Montgomery Improvement Association redacted, is available to the public, as are the printouts from all other portions of reel.
This collection contains Personal Identifiable Information and is restricted for 75 years from the date of creation or until the death of the individual.
Conditions Governing Use
Photocopies of original materials may be made available for research purposes at the discretion of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library. Photocopies or reproductions of original materials may be subject to fees as outlined by the Pennsylvania State University Libraries reproduction policies.
Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Patrons seeking advice on the availability of unpublished materials for publication should consult relevant copyright law and laws of libel.
Processed by Barry Kernfeld.
3.15 Cubic feet (371 items)
Jack Michael Rabin, (1945-2006), assistant professor at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1970s, and author of more than 30 books, founded the Center for the Study of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights in 1974 to collect primary source, civil rights materials. The Jack Rabin Collection on Alabama Civil Rights and Southern Activists consists of unique primary source records documenting the civil rights movement including records of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) (1955-1974); photographs, surveillance tapes, oral histories, and video recordings of key civil rights leaders and events.
The Collection is organized into three series with subseries:
Series I. Alabama civil rights movement, 1948-1997 (bulk 1956-1974)
Sub-series 1. Johnnie Carr and the Montgomery Improvement Association, 1948-1997 (bulk 1956-1974)
Sub-series 2. The Rufus A. Lewis Scrapbook of civil rights news clippings, 1950-1963 (bulk 1956-1963)
Sub-series 3. Demonstrations, sit-ins, surveillance, and arrests, circa 1957-1963 (bulk 1960-1963)
Sub-series 4. The Selma-to-Montgomery March, 1963-1974 (bulk 1965 and 1974)
Sub-series 5. The National Socialist White People's Party, circa 1967-circa 1970
Sub-series 6. The Poor People's Campaign, 1968
Series II. Southern activists, 1941-2004 (bulk 1964-1975)
Sub-series 1. John Beecher, 1968-1974
Sub-series 2. Stokely Carmichael, circa 1972
Sub-series 3. Clifford and Virginia Durr, 1941-2004
Sub-series 4. Charles Gomillion, 1975
Sub-series 5. Lester Hankerson, 1964
Sub-series 6. Myles Horton, 1974
Sub-series 7. E. D. Nixon, 1974
Series III. Center for the Study of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, 1967-1984
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Penn State University Libraries catalog via the link above. Archival collections may be housed in offsite storage. For materials stored offsite, please allow 2-3 business days for retrieval.
Biographical / Historical
Jack Michael Rabin, Professor of Public Administration and Public Policy at The Pennsylvania University in Harrisburg since 1988, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1945. Raised in Brooklyn and Rochester, New York, and later in Miami Beach and Miami, Florida, Rabin studied public administration at the University of Miami (B.A. 1965, M.A. 1967) and the University of Georgia (Ph.D., political science, 1972). Thereafter he amassed nearly all of the materials that comprise this collection during his years as Assistant Professor (1972-1977) and Law Enforcement Coordinator (1973-1976) at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, where he organized a nighttime masters program in public administration. In 1974 Rabin founded an incorporated, non-profit organization called the Center for the Study of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. The goal of the Center was to collect primary source materials in these areas. Rabin served as the Center's president. A colleague in public administration, Danny Crapps (Marvin Daniel Crapps, Jr., 1947-2022), and his father, Saul Rabin (1915-2005), were vice presidents. Jack Rabin and his colleagues visited notable Southern activists and civil rights leaders, gathering diverse written documents, oral histories, photographs, and films. Additionally, through his students in public administration, he gained access to Alabama State Patrol surveillance tapes, photographs, and newspaper clippings files pertaining to the civil rights movement.
Later, from 1976 to 1979, Rabin worked as an adjunct instructor at the Montgomery Police Academy. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1977, and he continued to teach at the Montgomery branch of Auburn University until 1980, when he left Alabama to become Associate Professor and head of the Graduate Program for Administrators at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Finally, in 1988 he was appointed Full Professor at the Harrisburg campus of Penn State, where in 2001 he became coordinator of the masters program in public administration. Rabin is the author or editor of more than 30 books, the editor or a co-editor of six academic journals, the editor of the book series Public Administration and Public Policy, and the executive editor of The Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy.
The Center for the Study of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights dissolved in the 1980s, and its materials were transferred to an incorporated, non-profit organization called the Southern Public Administration Education Foundation (SPAEF). Located in Harrisburg, the purpose of SPAEF is to develop and disseminate information in the fields of public administration and management. Rabin transferred the Center's collection to the University's Special Collections Library in 2002. Rabin died in Harrisburg, Pa., 13 November 2006.
Existence and Location of Copies
Access scans may be available for some materials in this collection. Please contact Special Collections Research Services for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Guide to the Jack Rabin collection on Alabama Civil Rights and Southern Activists
- Prepared by Barry Kernfeld
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2021-05-24: Bianca Alvarez added an Existence and Location of Copies note.
- 2022: Lexy deGraffenreid updated the Biographical/Historical note, merged the two abstracts, and updated standardized notes to current standard, 3/9/2022