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Internationally Known Archivist to Head Up Martin Luther King Jr. Collection


Morehouse College has hired Brenda S. Banks as Chief Archivist to facilitate organizing more than 10,000 pieces of the Martin Luther King Jr. Collection at Morehouse College, King’s undergraduate alma mater.

Morehouse received the collection, which includes more than 7,000 pieces written in King’s hand, after Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and other civic and corporate leaders struck an eleventh-hour, multi-million dollar deal last month to keep the coveted collection from being auctioned to the highest bidder by Sotheby’s auction house in New York City.

As Chief Archivist, Banks will work closely with archivists at the Robert W. Woodruff Library and Morehouse College Archivist Herman “Skip” Mason to catalogue and archive every piece of the collection.

“Access to this collection of one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century will greatly enhance scholarly research, as well as inform the general public on the life of Martin Luther King Jr.,” says Banks.

Currently, Banks teaches archival management at Georgia State University and is the deputy director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Banks also served as president of both the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Society of Georgia Archivists.

“We are pleased to have someone of Ms. Banks’ caliber join the team of professionals from Morehouse and Woodruff who will work with us to oversee this national treasure,” said Morehouse President Walter E. Massey. “Ms. Banks’ expertise as an archivist will help ensure we achieve our number one goal: to provide appropriate access to scholars and researchers interested in Dr. King’s works.”

Banks was chosen to work with the Clinton-Gore transition team to conduct a management audit of the National Archives and Records Administration. She also served as a White House adviser on issues related to the National Archives and the Library of Congress.

Morehouse will house and store the Martin Luther King Jr. Collection at the Robert W. Woodruff Library, which is jointly owned by Morehouse and the member institutions of the Atlanta University Center.

The Archives and Special Collections Department at the Woodruff Library has storage facilities that house more than 7,000 linear feet of archival material, as well as a quiet and secure reading room for research and study, and office and work space used by archivists and curators to process collections.

Six archival professionals — two archivists, two curators and two technical assistants, are employed at the Woodruff Library’s Archives & Special Collections Department. They are charged with the cataloging and care of more than one million historical documents housed within the department.

—      Diverse reports


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