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Drake alumna donates Freedom Summer items to University archives

October 18, 2012

In 1964, Patti Miller, FA’65, traveled through the deep south to volunteer with “Freedom Summer,” an important milestone in the civil rights movement. 48 years later, she is making sure her experience lives on.

Miller has agreed to donate her personal collection of items from “Freedom Summer” to Cowles Library’s archives. Newspaper articles, photographs, and letters are among the items that students and faculty will be able to examine and learn from.

Launched in June 1964, “Freedom Summer” was a campaign that attempted to register African-American voters in Mississippi, which had a history of excluding them from the voting process. Students, volunteers, and civil rights activists braved ten weeks of violence and opposition to register voters and set up polling places and community centers throughout the state. The project also created dozens of Freedom Schools and Freedom Houses in small Mississippi towns to aid local black populations.

In 1964, Miller traveled with a group of Drake students to Mississippi to volunteer with the civil rights efforts taking place there. Miller chronicled her experiences in a personal journal, which is part of the donated collection.

Michael Haedicke, assistant professor of culture and society, who teaches Drake’s Sociology of the Sixties course, publicly thanked Miller for donating her documents to the library’s archives and noted that the papers would be invaluable to students.

Miller spoke on campus as part of the Freedom Riders series put on by the Library.

For more information on the Freedom Summer collection, please contact Claudia Frazer at (515) 271-3776 or