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Research and Editorial Process

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Each volume of the King Papers Project requires years of research and, on average, a review of over five thousand documents.

Of the many documents, we select the most significant speeches, sermons, correspondences, meeting minutes, interviews and more.

For each item, we provide the author, audience, date, title, and other relevant information. This information is cross-checked against additional sources. Often, we are not able to cite with absolute certainty the document date or other details because it is not provided. In this case, we use the [?] to indicate conjecture. This means that the information is our best guess based on the evidence.

For example, the document to the right is a half sheet of paper or leaflet asking residents in Montgomery to boycott the buses on Monday, December 5, in response to another arrest. The document does not include the author but based upon documents and personal accounts from the period we believe the author is Jo Ann Gibson Robinson of the Women’s Political Council and that the date coincides with the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott.

Historians often work as detectives and build a story of the past based on the information available. Historical research and narratives involve detective skills and an ability to interpret documents, and therefore our understanding of the past is always evolving. We hope you enjoy the process of historical inquiry as you view the King Papers.