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Jim Kates Papers

Identifier: M390

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of materials pertaining to the book, "Letters From Mississippi", which was first published in 1965, and republished in 2002. The book contains letters written by Mississippi Freedom Summer volunteers in 1964 about their experiences in that important segment of the Civil Rights Movement.


  • Creation: 1963-2001

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

James (Jim) George Kates was born on March 4, 1945 in White Plains, New York. After graduating from White Plains High School in 1963, Kates attended Colby College Summer School of Languages where he received a diploma in advanced French. Kates’ educational experience includes studies at Wesleyan University, University of Rochester, Northeastern University, Boston University, School for International Training, and Harvard Extension School.

Kates became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, when he and a group of friends from White Plains helped solicit and collect donations for sharecroppers in Mississippi. In the summer of 1964, Kates served as a Freedom Summer volunteer in Holly Springs and Batesville, Mississippi. Kates returned to Mississippi in the summer of 1965 to volunteer in Natchez. The time between his two stays in Mississippi was spent first in Paris where he worked to organize the American community in Paris into a Paris Friends of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) / Council of Federated Organizations and then in Washington D.C as a volunteer in the SNCC office.

Kates later became a public school teacher, nonviolence trainer, poet and literary translator. In 1983, Kates was awarded a fellowship in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in more than one hundred literary magazines, including The Massachusetts Review, The Agni Review and The International Poetry Journal. He has written, edited, and/or translated five books including a book of poems, Mappemonde (Oyster River Press, 2001), and an anthology of recent Russian poetry in translation, In the Grip of Strange Thoughts (Zephyr Press, 1999). Since 1997, he has co-directed Zephyr Press, publisher of Letters From Mississippi.

He and his wife, Helen, had two children, Stanislav and Paula.


.90 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



For the researcher’s convenience, the collection has been divided into three series:

Series I: Materials Relating to the book "Letters From Mississippi" consists of letters that were considered for publication in the book, release forms signed by the authors of the letters, and other materials relating to the Freedom Summer centers. Also included are original letters written by Freedom Summer volunteer, Jim Kates, from June 25, 1964 - July 29, 1965.

Series II: Materials Relating to the Civil Rights Movement contains materials regarding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), and an assortment of items that relate to Freedom Summer and civil rights in general. Also included are a letter written by John Murphy of the U.S. Dept. of Justice (Aug. 3, 1964); a letter from Nancy Smith (Jan. 30, 1965); and a letter from W. M. McMillan (Aug. 9, 1965).

Series III: Personal Materials consists of personal correspondence, an assortment of pamphlets and booklets, and an illustrated booklet titled "Vietnam".

Existence and Location of Copies

For Digitized Materials from this collection, see: EXTERNAL DOCUMENTS link at bottom of page.

Related Materials

M358 Maurer (John B.) Freedom Summer Photographs

M362 Koening (Ruth) Freedom Summer Collection


Materials in this collection were donated by Mr. Jim Kates in 2003.

<b>Photograph Log</b>

M390-1 Elizabeth Moore 2½ X 3½ (B & W) undated (Box 1, Folder 5)

M390- 2 Frank David Katz 2½ X 3½ (B & W) undated (Box 2, Folder 20)
Jim Kates Papers
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001