Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI File
The Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI File microforms collection consists of two parts, the FBI File and the King-Levison File.
The FBI File consists of 17,000 pages of materials about Martin Luther King, Jr. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted surveillance of Rev. King from 1958 until his death. Documents have been censored and many pages include blacked-out sections. Due to a court order any information about or from FBI wiretaps have been removed and will not be released until 2027. Because of the surveillance, this file constitutes an extensive record of Rev. King’s day-to-day activities.
The King-Levison File consists of “verbatim transcripts and detailed summaries of telephone conversations between King and one of his most trusted confidants, Stanley D. Levison, a New York lawyer and businessman with whom the civil rights leader spoke on an almost daily basis for more than six years.” (Guide to the Microfilm Edition of The Martin Luther King, Jr., FBI File Part II: The King-Levison File.)
How to search the collection
The FBI File has only a brief pamphlet which consists of a rough contents list of the file.
It is titled The Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI File and is located at Microfilm E 185.97 M34 1984 pt. 1 Guide.
The King-Levison File has a guide called The Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI File Part II: The King-Levison File which is located at Microfilm E 185.97 M34 1984 pt. 2 Guide. The transcripts of the wiretaps are listed in chronological order for each reel. There is also a Subject Index which tells you which reel number and item number a given subject is on.
Garrow, David J. The Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI File. Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, Inc. 1984 (Microfilm E 185.97 M34 1984 pt. 1 Guide.)
Garrow, David J. The Martin Luther King, Jr. FBI File Part II: The King-Levison File. Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, Inc, 1987.
(Microfilm E 185.97 M34 1984 pt. 2 Guide).
For more information about this subject in our Library Catalog, check out these
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.
Levison, Stanley D., 1912-1979.
Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar), 1895-1972.
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation -- Archives.
Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- Sources.
Time Period: 20th Century
Subject keywords: African American Studies, Civil Rights, FBI Documents