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Lawrence D. Spears Civil Rights Collection

Identifier: M482

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of photocopies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation files about the assault of Lawrence Spears, David Owen and Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The files were obtained by Spears under the Freedom of Information Act. Many lines in the files were redacted by the FBI. Also included is a "Reserved" sign from a parking lot on the University of Southern Mississippi campus reserved for visitors to USM's Freedom Summer symposium held June 7, 1999. Spears, Owen, and other former Freedom Summer volunteers returned to Hattiesburg to join with the local African American activists and Freedom School students with whom they had worked in 1964. Spears and Owen roomed together that weekend as they had during Freedom Summer. Photographs taken by Herbert Randall of Rabbi Lelyveld, Spears, and Owen taken shortly after the beating are in the Herbert Randall Freedom Summer Photograph Collection.


  • Creation: 1964-1999


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

During Freedom Summer 1964, Lawrence Spears was a Stanford University student from Palo Alto, California doing voter registration work among the African American community in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. On July 10, while walking along the railroad tracks in southeast Hattiesburg with two other volunteers, Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld of Cincinnati, Ohio and David Owen, an Oberlin College student from Pasadena, California, and two young African American women from Hattiesburg, one of whom was Janet Crosby, the men in the group were assaulted with iron pipes by two white men from Collins, Mississippi. Rabbi Lelyveld had to be hospitalized.


1.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Materials about the assault of civil rights workers Lawrence Spears, David Owen, and Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on July 10, 1964.


The materials in the collection were organized by subject, grouping items by organization when possible: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Council of Federated Organizations, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, etc.


Donated by Lawrence D. Spears in July 1999 and again by Lawrence D. Spears, through The Center for Black Studies, in February 2021.

Existence and Location of Copies

For Digitized Materials from this collection, see: External Documents link at bottom of page.

Related Materials

Related collections at the University of Southern Mississippi include:

M483 Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld Collection

M350 David Owen Freedom Summer Collection

M351 Herbert Randall Freedom Summer Photographs


• Case File

• Contents from the collection

Lawrence D. Spears Civil Rights Collection
Original part of the collection [Subgroup I] processed and finding aid written by Amanda McRaney and Yvonne Arnold. Additional materials [Subgroup II] were added through the Center for Black Studies and the collection was reprocessed by Brandon Ball.
November 2013 and March 9, 2021
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001