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Freedom Riders arrive in St. Petersburg photograph collection

Identifier: MSS 437

Scope and Contents

The collection contains nine 8 x 10 inch gelatin silver prints taken by Jack Ramsdell of the St. Petersburg Times documenting freedom riders, Francis Randall and Ralph Diamond, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Only two of the photograps were published - one in the St. Petersburg Times and one in the paper's online history.


  • Creation: 1961

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open and available for research in the MSU Libraries Special Collections' reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this archive, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), founded in 1942, organized the Freedom Rides in 1961. The trips were modeled after CORE's 1947 Journey of Reconciliation. The 1947 action was to test the Supreme Court's 1946 ruling in Morgan v. Virginia that segregated bus seating was unconstitutional. In 1961, a group of 12 Freedom Riders, seven African-Americans and six whites, left from Washington, D.C. on a Greyhound bus to New Orleans, Louisiana. The plan was to be there on May 17, 1961, to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision of Brown v. Board of Education. The second purpose of the trip was to test compliance of the Civil Rights Act of 1960. Several hundreds of Freedom Riders engaged in similar actions. Francis Randall, a professor in Russian intellectual history at Columbia University, and Ralph Diamond, the vice president of the United Auto Workers Local 259 in New York, were on one such ride in June 1961. St. Petersburg was the last stop on the Organized Labor/Professional Freedom Ride which began on June 13 from Washington, D.C. Their ride was relatively peaceful. These photographs show that in the South during the 1960s integration was so uncommon that seeing an African-American and a white person eating together caused significant gawkers. In September 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in bus and train stations nationwide.


.1 Linear Feet (1 folder) : 9 gelatin silver prints ; 8 x 10 in.

Language of Materials

No linguistic content; Not applicable

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection came to MSU Special Collections in 2013.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Leslie M. Behm in 2015.

Finding Aid for the Freedom Riders arrive in St. Petersburg, photograph collection.
In Progress
Finding aid prepared by MarcEdit and Leslie Behm, 2015. Finding aid revised December 2015 by Nicole Smeltekop.
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Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA