The Archive


Since the 1800’s Telegrams have been responsible for relaying important and urgent information. Prior to telegrams, nearly all information was limited to traveling at the speed of a human or animal. The telegram freed communication from the constraints of space and time and truly affected how the world lived. In many ways telegrams can be thought of as an early form of Twitter. Similar to the restriction of 140 characters within a Tweet, writers of telegrams needed to be thoughtful in their message crafting and word selection. This was so both for economical reasons and the desire to speed the transmission of the telegram. For this reason, the messages within telegrams are often quite direct and strategic in their formation.

Telegram from Dr. and Mrs. King to Dr. and Mrs. Sullivan Jackson

Dr. and Mrs. King offer their condolences to Dr. and Mrs. Sullivan in the passing of Mrs. Portlock. The King's highlight Mrs. Portlock's positive attributes and her great inspirational influence.

Telegram from Ted Aretha to MLK


Ted Aretha sends words of encouragement to Dr. King during his time in the Birmingham City Jail.

Monday, October 30, 1967

Telegram from Robert L. Lucas to MLK


Robert L. Lucas, the Chairman of the Chicago branch for the Congress On Racial Equality, invites Dr. King and his staff to return to Chicago, Illinois to assist in the struggle for quality integrated education.

Wednesday, August 11, 1965

Telegram from MLK to Rev. Jesse Jackson

Dr. King writes to Rev. Jesse Jackson, urgently requesting his presence at a meeting of the Action Committee for Washington.

Telegram from MLK to Jesse Hill


Dr. King sends condolences to Jesse Hill regarding the loss of his grandmother.

Wednesday, December 6, 1967

Dorothy Cotton telegraphs congratulations


Dorothy Cotton, long-time colleague of Dr. King at Southern Christian Leadership Conference, congratulates Dr. King for being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Cotton was one of the only non-family members to subsequently accompany Dr. King to Oslo, Norway, for the prize ceremony.

Sunday, January 31, 1965

Telegram From Avanta Williams to MLK


Avatna Williams, family and friends send their thoughts and prayers to Dr. King when they heard that he would serve a year in jail.

Monday, October 24, 1960

Telegram from Nobel Committee to MLK


The Nobel Committee of Norwegian Parliament notifies Dr. King that he will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1964.

Wednesday, October 14, 1964

Telegram from Roy Wilkins to MLK


Roy Wilkins, the chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, urges Dr. King to attend a special meeting in Washington, D.C. to plan a course of action on pending civil rights legislation.

Thursday, January 5, 1967

Congratulations Telegram from Nelson Rockefeller to MLK


Governor Nelson Rockefeller extends best wishes to Dr. King on his birthday and congratulates him for being honored as the Man-of-the Year.

Tuesday, January 14, 1964

Telegram from President John F. Kennedy to MLK


President John F. Kennedy invites Dr. King to a meeting of religious leaders to discuss the nation's civil rights problem.

Wednesday, June 12, 1963

Telegram from I.W. and Helen Grizzard to MLK


I.W. and Helen Grizzard encourage Dr. King to "endure to the end in God's loving light" while King is in jail in Bessemer, Alabama.

Tuesday, October 31, 1967

Telegram from University of Michigan Young Republican Club to MLK

The University of Michigan Young Republican Club informs Dr. King that they "deplore" the recent events in Selma, Alabama.

Telegram from Charles William Butler to MLK


Charles William Butler, Pastor of New Cavalry Baptist Church, informs Dr. King that he will not be present at a board meeting. The lateness of the invitation and his involvement in Detroit, Michigan prevent his attendance.

Tuesday, March 30, 1965

Telegram to MLK Regarding a Social Eruption in Chicago


Junius Griffin sends Dr. King a typed version of his statement on the violence occurring in a predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago. Through the incident, Dr. King notes the callousness of law enforcement in the area.

Tuesday, June 14, 1966

Telegram from Patricia E. Smith to MLK


Patricia E. Smith writes Dr. King to congratulate him "on dignity maintained and balanced general gently Christian position."

Wednesday, November 1, 1967

Telegram from MLK to Senator Aiken Regarding Housing

Dr. King urges Senator George Aiken and other members of the Republican Party to support an open housing bill to promote better living conditions in Negro communities.

Telegram from MLK to Senator Robert Kennedy


Dr. King requests that Senator Robert Kennedy initiate an investigation into complaints about the actions of police during demonstrations in Petersburg, Virginia.

Monday, March 18, 1963

Telegram from Sen. Edward Kennedy to MLK


Senator and Mrs. Edward M. Kennedy congratulate Dr. King on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Saturday, October 17, 1964

Telegram from John P. O'Rourke to MLK


John P. O'Rourke writes Dr. King to express his support of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Thursday, March 28, 1968

Telegram from Francis Lucas to Lucille Banta


Francis Lucas, assistant to Coretta Scott King, informs Lucille Banta of a scheduling conflict. She also requests information about which people "have agreed to sign the cable gram to His Holiness Pope Paul."

Friday, January 17, 1969

Telegram from Clark Macgregor to MLK


Clark Macgregor sends a telegram to Dr. King informing him of his vote against the dismissal of the Mississippi Challenge.

Tuesday, September 17, 1963

Telegram from Al C. Hastings to MLK


Al Hastings expresses his concern during Dr. King's incarceration in the Jefferson County Jail.

Tuesday, October 31, 1967

Telegram from United States House of Representatives to MLK


The United States House of Representatives congratulates Dr. King and other leaders on their march to Montgomery, Alabama. They believe that the march will be recognized as the "beginning of genuine democracy" in American history.

Thursday, March 25, 1965

Telegram from Thomas K. Gilmool and David N. Wice to Dora McDonald


Mr. Gilmool and Mr. Wice write to confirm the date that Dr. King will be speaking at a dinner honoring Marjorie Penney.

Friday, October 13, 1967

Telegram from Ebenezer Baptist Church to MLK


Ebenezer Baptist Church offers support to Dr. King during his incarceration in the Birmingham Jail.

Friday, November 3, 1967

Telegram from MLK to Joan Baez


Dr. King sends encouraging words to Joan Baez, an American singer and civil rights activist, who is imprisoned at Santa Rita Rehabilitation Center.

Friday, December 29, 1967

Telegram from Rev. T. A. Borders to Mrs. King


Rev. Borders conveys his prayers to Mrs. King, on behalf of the First Community Baptist Church.

Monday, May 13, 1968

Telegram from Alfred Duckett to Mrs. King


Alfred Duckett asks Mrs. King to airmail her "program breakdown" to meet a printing deadline.

Friday, October 30, 1964

Telegram to MLK from John Jacobs

John Jacobs accuses Dr. King of being associated with Communists. He proclaims that Negroes learned raping, robbing and relief with Dr. King's training.