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Telegrams

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.

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Telegram Text from MLK to USAG Robert Kennedy

Sunday, October 6, 1963

Dr. King requests that Attorney General Robert Kennedy intervene in New Orleans to prevent further intimidation of civil rights supporters by police.

Invitation to SCLF Celebration from MLK

Tuesday, October 24, 1967

Dr. King sent this telegram to 30 prominent members of the Philedelphia community, inviting them to join the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation in presenting the Star for Freedom to Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, and Signey Poitier.

Telegram from Coretta Scott King to the Family of Dr. Thomas Merton

Tuesday, December 17, 1968

Mrs. Coretta Scott King writes to the family of Dr. Thomas Merton expressing her condolences regarding his death. She explains that the tribute Dr. Merton paid to her late husband will never be forgotten and urges the family to remember that the spiritual bonds that exist between a family is eternal.

Telegram from Ralph Abernathy to John F. Kennedy

Thursday, June 13, 1963

Rev. Ralph Abernathy accepts President John F. Kennedy’s invitation to meet and discuss the civil rights problem.

Telegram from Konrad Bloch to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964

Konrad Bloch congratulates Dr. King and says he will see him in Stockholm.

Telegram from Mrs. Ernest Bavely to MLK

Wednesday, October 19, 1960

Mrs. Bavely sends a supportive telegram to Dr. King during his confinement at the Fulton County Jail. She assures him "children of tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow, will inherit those values for which you are striving."

Telegram from Henrich Grueber to MLK

Tuesday, December 31, 1963

Henrich Grueber, Dean of Berlin and Gloster B. Current, Director of Branches NAACP extends their gratitude to Dr. King on being named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine.

Telegram from A. Phillip Randolph to MLK

Tuesday, November 1, 1960

A. Phillip Randolph, on behalf of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Negro American Labor Council, expresses joy at Dr. King's release from prison.

Telegram from Patricia E. Smith to MLK

Wednesday, November 1, 1967

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

Telegram from Sargent Shriver to MLK

During the year of 1967, Sargent Shriver served as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and created several community oriented programs. Shriver sends this telegram to Dr. King informing his support. Shriver appreciates King's ability to be forthright on the condemnation of lawless behavior and causes of social unrest. He agrees that "America must quickly develop and support adequate programs to remove these causes."

Telegram from MLK to Katie B. Whickham

Thursday, July 27, 1967

Dr. King welcomes Mrs. Whickham and the National Beauty Culturist League to Atlanta. He also thanks Mrs. Whickham for the support that her organizations has given to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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 Tuskegee Students and Teachers to the SCLC

Wednesday, April 12, 1967

Teachers and students from Tuskegee write members of the SCLC to express their support for the upcoming mobilization and Dr. King's stance on the Vietnam War.

Telegram from Dr. and Mrs. Jones to MLK

Wednesday, January 27, 1965

Dr. and Mrs. Jones congratulate Dr. King on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. They send their regrets for not being able to attend the dinner to honor Dr. King's accomplishment.

Telegram from Mrs. Terry Brown to MLK

Monday, March 8, 1965

Mrs. Terry Brown writes Dr. King reflecting on her participation in the Great Freedom March. She also expresses to Dr. King how his words are a source of inspiration.

Telegram from Philip A. Randolph to MLK

Monday, August 8, 1966

Philip A. Randolph writes Dr. King concerning Negro leaders being invited to discuss problems of the movement on NBC television.

Telegram from Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. to MLK

Harry Van Arsdale, President of the New York City Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, informs Dr. King, who is in the Fulton County Jail, that ten thousand unionists in New York voted to support Dr. King's fight for "decency and democracy." The organization contributes $1000 to aid Dr. King in his efforts.

Telegram from David Livingston to MLK

Thursday, October 20, 1960

David Livingston and Cleveland Robinson, on behalf of their district of the AFL-CIO, send encouragement to Dr. King.

Telegram from Lee C. White to MLK

Wednesday, September 18, 1963

Lee C. White, Assistant Special Counsel to the President, confirms a meeting with President Kennedy and Dr. King to discuss the Birmingham bombing incident.

Telegram from Andrew Young to the Swedish Ecumenical Council

Andrew Young, Executive Assistant to Dr. King, writes the Swedish Ecumenical Council's Nils Sundholm, informing him that Dr. King can accept his invitation to host a worship service in Sweden in December as part of his trip to Europe.

Telegram from Rev. Benjamin Bickers to MLK

Sunday, September 25, 1966

Reverend Benjamin Weldon Bickers sends his congratulations to Dr. King on his birthday and expresses his inability to be present during the celebration due to prior engagements.

Telegram from SCLC to Ella Mae Moton

Tuesday, August 17, 1965

Staff of the SCLC and Citizenship Education Program inform Ella Mae Moton that her expenses for the trip to Georgia will be taken care of.

Telegram from Hosea Williams to President Johnson

Tuesday, August 3, 1965

Hosea Williams writes to President Lyndon B. Johnson requesting an investigation of the Andy Whatley murder.

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 Roy Wilkins to MLK

Thursday, November 28, 1963

SCLC Chairman Roy Wilkins invites Dr. King to join other civil rights leaders in honoring President John F. Kennedy, as the they seek to promote the idea of civil rights.

Telegram from Bishop James K. Mathews to MLK

Friday, June 14, 1963

Telegram from Bishop James K. Mathews to Dr. King congratulatiing him on his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

Telegram from Rev. Loe Champion to MLK

Saturday, March 30, 1968

Dr. King was the recipient of this Western Union telegram from Rev. Loe Champion of the Milwaukee Operation Breadbasket, an economic project of the SCLC. Rev. Champion sent this telegram to show support for Dr. King's struggles in the South. The correspondence was sent two days after a march Dr. King led in Memphis, Tennessee in support of striking sanitation workers.

Telegram from MLK to Attorney General Kennedy

Thursday, January 25, 1962

Dr. King writes to Attorney General Robert Kennedy regarding the safety of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth during his 90 day jail sentence.

Telegram from Dick Rettig to MLK

Thursday, October 20, 1960

Dick Rettig, President of the United States National Student Association, writes Dr. King to express the organization's solidarity with the sit-in movment.

Dorothy Cotton telegraphs congratulations

Sunday, January 31, 1965

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.