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ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES Home

ARCHIVES  June 2006, Week 2

ARCHIVES June 2006, Week 2

Subject:

Re: RAINDrip

From:

Nancy Webster <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Nancy Webster <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 9 Jun 2006 17:11:44 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (60 lines)

From NYT
Copyright New York Times Company Apr 14, 1995
By The New York Times

The state's highest court has rejected a plea by the widow of the Rev. Dr. 
Martin Luther King Jr. to regain control of her husband's papers from 
Boston University.

In the ruling on Wednesday, the justices of the Massachusetts Supreme 
Judicial Court unanimously upheld a 1993 jury decision that declared Boston 
University the rightful owner of the papers based on a letter from Dr. King 
to the university's library dated July 16, 1964.

In the letter, Dr. King named the university "the Repository of my 
correspondence" and wrote: "In the event of my death, all such material 
deposited with the University shall become from that date the absolute 
property of Boston University." 

The papers, about 83,000 documents, including about a third of Dr. King's 
personal letters and manuscripts, were delivered to the university in July 
1964. Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968.

His widow, Coretta Scott King, sued the university in December 1987 to 
reclaim the documents, contending that Dr. King left them at the 
university, where earned a doctorate in theology, for temporary 
safekeeping. 

At the trial here in 1993, Mrs. King testified that her husband had 
intended to find a permanent place for the papers in the South. She said 
she hoped to move them to the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 
Atlanta.

A jury ruled that the 1964 letter was legally binding and that the 
university could keep the collection, which is the crown jewel of its 
archives in Mugar Memorial Library. 

In an appeal, Mrs. King's lawyers argued that the case should not have been 
decided by jury. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed. In the court's 
decision, Justice Joseph R. Nolan wrote that the case was "properly 
submitted to the jury."

In a statement issued through her Atlanta lawyer, Archer D. Smith 3d, Mrs. 
King called the decision "tragic" and said she was considering an appeal to 
the United States Supreme Court "or other appropriate courts."

Lawrence S. Elswit, a lawyer for Boston University, said he was confident 
that the case was closed.

A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
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