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May 12, 2009

Database detailing thousands of Martin Luther King Jr. documents goes online

Details and descriptions of more than 4,000 documents on or about Martin Luther King Jr. will go public when Stanford's Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute launches a new online database on May 18. An additional 4,000 document records will be available by year's end.

The Online King Records Access database (OKRA) is a collective effort of three institutions associated with King research: Stanford's King Institute; the Morehouse College King Papers at the Special Collections Library of the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Atlanta University Center; and the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded the project.

"The OKRA database represents decades of accumulated knowledge about the major repositories for King materials in the United States," said Stanford history Professor Clayborne Carson, director of the institute. "Researchers will be able to find the location of thousands of Dr. King's speeches, sermons, personal and organizational letters, and photos. This is the only public database on King archives that provides scholarly details and description on each individual item. It will prove to be of immense value to King researchers and individuals interested in the life and work of Dr. King and the civil rights movement."

The new online database references copies of documents acquired by the institute in the process of publishing its comprehensive, 14-volume work, The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. The institute has completed work on six volumes of the Papers; Vols. VII and VIII are in progress. Document records will contain information on document types, names, organizations and other references, archival locations, and topics for documents used in the publication of the Papers. The Gotlieb Center and the Woodruff Library are currently processing their own King collections and updating the online database with this new information.

Because of copyright issues with the King Estate, the documents themselves will not be available online, but scholars will be able to discover from the records which original documents exist and contact the participating institutions to get access to them.

For details and updates on the OKRA database, visit



Cynthia Haven, News Service: (650) 724-6184,

Regina Covington, MLK Research and Education Institute: (650) 723-2092,

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