Vincent Harding papers, 1952-2012

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zd3v

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Harding, Vincent.
Title: Vincent Harding papers, 1952-2012
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 868
Extent:115.25 linear feet (145 boxes), 27 oversized papers (OP), and AV Masters: .25 linear ft.
Abstract:Papers of African American historian and civil rights activist Vincent Harding documenting his work in Atlanta, Georgia, with the Mennonite Church, Spelman College, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center; and the Institute of the Black World.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Additional Physical Form



Purchase, 2000, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Vincent Harding papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Pat Clark, September 9, 2003.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Vincent Gordon Harding was born in New York City in 1931 and grew up in Harlem and the Bronx. He attended New York City public schools and graduated in History from the City College of New York in 1952. He earned an MS degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1953. After two years in the army (1953-1955), Harding lived in Chicago for six years, serving as lay minister in churches on Chicago's south side and working on graduate studies at the University of Chicago.

Harding married Rosemarie Freeney in 1960, and they spent four years as workers in the freedom movement, assisting the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Congress of Racial Equality throughout the South. During the years from 1961-1964, they were supported by the Service Committee of the Mennonite Church as they headed an interracial work project, The Mennonite House in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1964 Harding returned to Chicago to complete his doctorate degree in History, which he accomplished in 1965.

In the spring of 1965, Vincent Harding returned to Atlanta to chair the History and Sociology Department at Spelman College (1964-1969). During his last year at Spelman, Harding also worked to help organize the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center, including the Library-Documentation Project and the Institute of the Black World. In 1970 when the Institute became an independent entity, Harding's relationship to the King Center ended and he became director of the Institute. He remained with the Institute until 1974.

In 1981 Harding was appointed professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Vincent Harding from 1952-2012. The papers document Harding's work with the Mennonite Church, Spelman College, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center; the Institute of the Black World, subject files, writings, printed materials and personal papers. The bulk of the collection includes papers from Harding's years in Atlanta, Georgia (1966-1974). The largest part of the collection consists of papers of The Institute of the Black World (1968-1974), which Harding directed from its inception as a component of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center (1969) through its early years as an independent organization (1970-1974). Included in the papers of the Institute is correspondence, including general correspondence (1968-1974) and a large number of inter-office and committee memoranda.

These papers also include files documenting Harding's teaching career at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia (1966-1969); his tenure as the first director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center and the Library Documentation Project at the Center from 1968-1970 and his work with the Mennonite Church from 1968-1970. There are also extensive files of printed materials in various formats indicating a wide interest in a variety of topics. In the subject files there is evidence of his commitment to establishing programs relating to African American curricula in colleges and universities (1960s). There is also evidence of his interest and participation in many national efforts and organizations relating to African American causes.

The writings in the Harding papers include drafts of many of Harding's articles and speeches as well as the typescript of his dissertation on Lyman Beecher (1965). Harding kept voluminous notes, outlines and lists on various aspects of his work, and many of those notes are included. He also kept typescripts, photocopies, and reprints of the works of large numbers of individuals, and those materials are also present.

Arrangement Note

Organized into eleven series: (1) The Mennonite Church, (2) Spelman College, (3) The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center, (4) The Institute of the Black World, (5) Subject files, (6) Writings, (7) Printed materials, (8) Photographs, (9) Personal papers, (10) Audiovisual and (11) Unprocessed additions.

Description of Series