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Joseph and Nancy Ellin Freedom Summer Collection

Identifier: M323

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of materials that document the Civil Rights Movement and Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. When folder titles were assigned, efforts were made to retain the donors' notations.


  • Creation: 1963-1988


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

Dr. Joseph Ellin was born in October 1936, in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Dr. Martin, D.D.S., and Lillian Ellin. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 1957 and a Doctorate from Yale University in 1962. He is a professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University. Nancy B. Ellin was born in Bronxville, New York, in May 1936, the eldest of two daughters born to Drs. Arthur and Norma Bowles. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College in 1958. Joseph and Nancy Ellin met at Yale University, and were later married. They have a son, David, and a daughter, Jane. They currently live in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

During the summer of 1964, Joseph and Nancy Ellin served as Freedom School teachers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Joseph worked at Priest Creek Baptist Church in Palmers Crossing. Nancy worked at True Light Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, and spent much of the summer setting up the Freedom Library on Mobile Street. The Ellins first attended the SNCC orientation session held June 21 - 27 at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, where they learned of the disappearance of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman. After orientation they drove with another volunteer in their car to Hattiesburg, arriving on June 29 and returning to Kalamazoo the end of August. While the Ellins were in Hattiesburg, two WMU students Susan Pfeiffer and Diane Woods stayed in their Kalamazoo home and cared for their cats.

The Ellins' host and hostess in Hattiesburg were Mr. and Mrs. King David Patton, who lived at 1022 Dewey Street, across from True Light Baptist Church, where Nancy taught in the Freedom School. Mr. Patton owned a barbershop nearby at 403 Mobile Street, the main street of the black community. Mrs. Vassie Patton was the midwife of both black and white Hattiesburg. Both were Civil Rights activists. Mrs. Patton had successfully registered to vote after many attempts, but Mr. Patton had not yet succeeded.

While in Hattiesburg, Joe and Nancy wrote letters containting their observations and concerns to Susan and Diane in Kalamazoo for transmittal to a wider Michigan audience, to Joe's parents in Brooklyn, and to the Editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette.


1.70 Cubic Feet : MC2/D11

Language of Materials



Correspondence and materials collected by these Freedom School teachers in Hattiesburg during Freedom Summer in 1964.


Box One consists of personal correspondence; official correspondence from organizations; and materials from the Freedom Summer training session held at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.

Box Two is comprised of items that document Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, including personal notes and examples of the work of Freedom School students; post-Freedom Summer items; materials from different organizations and institutions, such as The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the Highlander Center, the National Sharecroppers Fund, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Council of Federated Organizations, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and assorted news clippings and magazine articles related to the Civil Rights Movement.

Box Three contains magazines and pamphlets pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement; and various miscellaneous items, including a data profile of Mississippi, a 1964 Mississippi license plate, a list of historically black colleges, and materials regarding former Mississippi Governor J. P. Coleman.

Box Four holds magazine articles, newspapers, newsletters, and scrapbooks compiled by the Ellins in 1963 and 1964.

Box Five contains scrapbooks compiled by the Ellins in 1964 and 1965.

The collection also contains the following oversized items: three posters produced by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee; two copies of a newspaper titled The Afro American; and a 1964 road map of Arkansas and Mississippi.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection were donated by Joseph and Nancy Ellin in 1999, 2000, and 2001.

Existence and Location of Copies

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

Related Materials

M326 Terri Shaw Freedom Summer Collection

M366 Umoja Kwanguvu Freedom Summer Collection

M351 Herbert Randall Freedom Summer Photographs

Joseph and Nancy Ellin Freedom Summer Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001