Rosa parks

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Rosa Parks, circa 1950

[Detail] Rosa Parks, circa 1950

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested when she refused to surrender her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white passenger. The arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and was a defining moment in Parks’ long career as an activist.

This gallery showcases a selection of items from the Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress, which is on loan to the Library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. This collection contains thousands of items that document the life, work, and legacy of this civil-rights legend.

For more on the Rosa Parks Collection, visit these two Library of Congress blog posts: Inside the Rosa Parks Collection; Happy Birthday Rosa Parks!

To support students as they analyze these primary sources, use the Library’s primary source analysis tool and teacher’s guides.

  • Rosa Parks, circa 1950. Photograph by ThomasView PDF (291 KB)
  • Early Childhood Incidents and Experiences, ca. 1955-1958. Autograph manuscript.  Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.  (Rosa Parks recounts the desertion of her father, James McCauley, and  growing up in rural Pine Level, Alabama on the farm of maternal grandparents, Sylvester and Rosa Edwards, with her mother and brother,  Leona and Sylvester McCauley.)Early Childhood Incidents and Experiences, ca. 1955-1958. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. (Rosa Parks recounts the desertion of her father, James McCauley, and growing up in rural Pine Level, Alabama on the farm of maternal grandparents, Sylvester and Rosa Edwards, with her mother and brother, Leona and Sylvester McCauley.)View PDF (1.45 MB)
  • Rosa Parks. [Reflections on her arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, December 1, 1955], ca. 1956.  Autograph manuscript.  Rosa Parks Papers.  Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.Rosa Parks. [Reflections on her arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, December 1, 1955], ca. 1956. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.View PDF (734 KB)
  • Montgomery Fair date book with Rosa Parks' notes concerning the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955–1956. Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of CongressMontgomery Fair date book with Rosa Parks’ notes concerning the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955–1956. Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.View PDF (886 KB)
  • Notes in which Rosa Parks recounts her arrest after 'the bus incident.' The notes also describe hardships Parks faced during this period in her life including  being 'shunned' by everyone in her workplace.Notes in which Rosa Parks recounts her arrest after “the bus incident.” The notes also describe hardships Parks faced during this period in her life including being “shunned” by everyone in her workplace.View PDF (1.2 MB)
  • Letter in which Rosa Parks returns to work after becoming well known as part of her Civil Rights efforts.  The letter describes the hardships Parks faced during this period in her life, including being “shunned” by everyone in her workplace.Letter in which Rosa Parks returns to work after becoming well known as part of her Civil Rights efforts. The letter describes the hardships Parks faced during this period in her life, including being “shunned” by everyone in her workplace.View PDF (217 KB)
  • [Rosa & Raymond Parks, seated at a banquet table, left side, third and fourth chair, likely at an NAACP branch meeting, Montgomery, Alabama][Rosa & Raymond Parks, seated at a banquet table, left side, third and fourth chair, likely at an NAACP branch meeting, Montgomery, Alabama]View PDF (230 KB)
  • Draft letter to a 'friend' written by Parks describing racial segregation in Montgomery, Ala. Written on Montgomery Fair department store stationery. Parks was let go from her job as an assistant tailor at the store that month.Draft letter to a “friend” written by Parks describing racial segregation in Montgomery, Ala. Written on Montgomery Fair department store stationery. Parks was let go from her job as an assistant tailor at the store that month.View PDF (1.5 MB)
  • Rosa Parks to Leona McCauley (Mother) concerning the execution of Jeremiah Reeves, a black Alabama teenager falsely convicted of raping a white woman, April 7, 1958.  Autograph letter.  Rosa Parks Papers.  Manuscript Division, Library of CongressRosa Parks to Leona McCauley (Mother) concerning the execution of Jeremiah Reeves, a black Alabama teenager falsely convicted of raping a white woman, April 7, 1958. Autograph letter. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.View PDF (679 KB)
  • NAACP Baltimore Branch flyer advertising a lecture by Rosa Parks at the Sharp Street Methodist Church, September 23, 1956.NAACP Baltimore Branch flyer advertising a lecture by Rosa Parks at the Sharp Street Methodist Church, September 23, 1956.View PDF (380 KB)
  • Rosa Parks recounting a childhood encounter with a white boy who threatened to hit her, ca. 1955-1958.   Autograph manuscript.  Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.Rosa Parks recounting a childhood encounter with a white boy who threatened to hit her, ca. 1955-1958. Autograph manuscript. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.View PDF (897 KB)
  • Photo showing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King at Civil Rights related 'training' at Highlander School in Tennessee.  First published by GA Commission on Education; here in Atlanta CourierPhoto showing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King at Civil Rights related “training” at Highlander School in Tennessee. First published by GA Commission on Education; here in Atlanta Courier.View PDF (990 KB)
  • Black activist Kwame Toure (L) formerly known as Stokley [i.e. Stokely] Carmichael ... at the University of Michigan to discuss civil rights at a forum. Another civil rights leader Roas [i.e. Rosa] Parks (R) has a lighter moment with Toure after a panel discussionBlack activist Kwame Toure (L) formerly known as Stokley [i.e. Stokely] Carmichael … at the University of Michigan to discuss civil rights at a forum. Another civil rights leader Roas [i.e. Rosa] Parks (R) has a lighter moment with Toure after a panel discussion.View PDF (228 KB)
  • Rosa Parks and U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr., picketing in front of General Motors corporate headquarters, Detroit, MichiganRosa Parks and U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr., picketing in front of General Motors corporate headquarters, Detroit, Michigan.View PDF (256 KB)
  • Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church service program with Rosa Parks' handwritten notes and prayer, November 26, 1972.  Program with autograph annotations.  Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church service program with Rosa Parks’ handwritten notes and prayer, November 26, 1972. Program with autograph annotations. Rosa Parks Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.View PDF (705 KB)