Boston University Awarded Mellon Foundation Grant for Development of Martin Luther King, Jr. Online Finding Aid

Contact: Erin Whipple, 617-358-1688 |

Boston – Boston University has received two grants totaling over $600,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center (HGARC) to catalog its extensive Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. HGARC is collaborating with the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center Consortium and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, which also received Mellon Foundation grants. The Woodruff Library will be cataloguing simultaneously the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection and the King Institute, which is producing a scholarly edition of King’s papers, will provide some of its scholarly records to help expedite the cataloging process.

The goal of the project is to create a scholarly resource that makes the catalogues of two major King collections available and searchable by subject and name, and to combine these catalogues with the extensive scholarly research undertaken by the editors of King’s papers. HGARC and the Woodruff Library will create their combined inventories by using a new open-source program, the Archivists’ Toolkit, which was developed by a team of universities and colleges led by the University of California at San Diego. The Archivists’ Toolkit is specifically designed to assist with the process of listing and organizing manuscript collections.

The collaboration among HGARC, the Woodruff Library, and Stanford’s King Institute will better serve researchers by streamlining the process of searching for and locating documents in two different collections, as well as providing greater access to them. By allowing researchers to search for materials that are physically held in different repositories, the integrated electronic finding aid will enable scholars to build a greater and more thorough understanding of the breadth of King’s life and career.

“I am very proud that Boston University is at the forefront of such an outstanding project that not only will set a new standard for what is possible in the archival industry, but also facilitate and encourage research of such an important figure in the history of both BU and the nation,” said Dr. Robert A. Brown, president of Boston University. “We look forward to this collaboration with our prominent colleagues at the Robert W. Woodruff Library and Stanford University and thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this vision a reality.”

Boston University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection consists of over 80,000 items including King’s office files, manuscripts, awards and extensive correspondence. Dr. King received his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University in 1955. The collection has been open to the public free of charge since his donation of the papers to BU in 1964, and this accessibility has been widely enjoyed by those within as well as outside the BU community. For the two-year duration of the cataloguing process, HGARC’s King Collection will be closed, beginning November 1, 2007.

Vita Paladino, Director of the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center notes, “The Martin Luther King, Jr. project marks the flagship effort to utilize this promising innovation and will honor Dr. King’s legacy. Having a searchable, electronic inventory will aid in the preservation of our collection and save researchers valuable time and resources.”

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University seeks to capture and document history by collecting the manuscripts from individuals who play significant roles in the fields of journalism, poetry, literature and criticism, dance, music, theatre, film, television, and political and religious movements. With collections from more than 2,000 notable figures, the Center strives to preserve the documents and make them readily available to researchers while administering all legal copyrights and restrictions. The Center also presents extensive exhibitions, seminars and tours for students, parents, alumni, various visiting groups and members of the public. For more information, please visit

For more information, on The Robert W. Woodruff Library please visit

For more information on The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research Institute at Stanford University please visit