Themes

The Archive

Digital Archive brought to you
by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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.

Explore another theme

Telegram from Mark O. Hatfield to MLK

Oregon (OR)

Mark Hatfield declines an invitation from Dr. King due to other commitments.

Telegram from Thomas Penna to MLK

Monday, November 6, 1967
New York (NY), Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C., VIETNAM, California (CA), Los Angeles, CA

Thomas A. Penna, the president of the Interracial Council of Buffalo, lists his concerns related to a poverty bill that will be debated the next day. Penna points out that the bill will harm impoverished Negroes, who are already being denied their right to vote. Penna urges Dr. King to address these issues during his upcoming speech in Buffalo, New York.

Congratulations Telegram from Nelson Rockefeller to MLK

Tuesday, January 14, 1964
New York (NY), Atlanta, GA

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

Telegram from Tuskegee Students and Teachers to the SCLC

Wednesday, April 12, 1967
Tuskegee, AL

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 A. Phillip Randolph to MLK

Tuesday, November 1, 1960
New York, NY, New York (NY), Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA

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 Theodore Brown to MLK

Tuesday, January 23, 1968
NIGERIA, New York, NY, New York (NY)

Mr. Brown confirms the departure date for the Nigeria Peace Mission with Dr. King.

Telegram from Harry Belafonte to Coretta Scott King

New York, NY

In this telegram, Mr. Belafonte sympathizes with Mrs. King as she is preparing for Dr. King's sentence of four months in prison.

Telegram from John P. O'Rourke to MLK

Thursday, March 28, 1968
Atlanta, GA, New Jersey (NJ)

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

Telegram from Abraham Heschel to MLK

Thursday, November 2, 1967
Alabama (AL)

Abraham Heschel tells Dr. King that he has a deep identification with the goals that Dr. King is dedicated to and offers him encouragement.

Telegram from Mrs. Ernest Bavely to MLK

Wednesday, October 19, 1960
Atlanta, GA, Cincinnati, OH

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 Rev. Benjamin Bickers to MLK

Sunday, September 25, 1966
New Orleans, LA

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 John Dempsey to President John F. Kennedy

Monday, July 30, 1962
Washington, D.C., Albany, GA, Connecticut (CT)

John Dempsey, Governor of Connecticut, telegrams President John F. Kennedy urging "the full force of the federal government be used to assure the personal safety of Dr. King and his associates who are asserting their rights as citizens."

Telegram Text from MLK to USAG Robert Kennedy

Sunday, October 6, 1963
New Orleans, LA, Louisiana (LA), Washington, D.C.

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

Telegram from MLK to Rev. James Bevel

Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Washington (WA)

Dr. King informs Rev. Bevel of an urgent meeting with the Action Committee for Washington Mobilization at Paschal's Motel.

Telegram from MLK to Jack Greenberg

New York (NY), New York, NY

Dr. King agrees that the United Civil Rights Leadership Council should be dissolved.

Telegram from Roy Wilkins to MLK

Wednesday, December 21, 1966
New York, NY

Mr. Wilkins, Chairman of the Call Committee, writes to assure Dr. King's participation in an upcoming conference. Worldwide interest is developing and Dr. King's presence and leadership is very important.

Telegram from Dr. and Mrs. Jones to MLK

Wednesday, January 27, 1965
Chattanooga, TN, Atlanta, GA

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 Rev. Loe Champion to MLK

Saturday, March 30, 1968
Milwaukee, WI, Atlanta, GA, Montgomery, AL, Selma, AL, Mississippi (MS)

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 Robert L. Lucas to MLK

Wednesday, August 11, 1965
Illinois (IL), Chicago, IL, Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL

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.

Telegram from John Moore to MLK

Monday, April 10, 1967
Boston, MA

John Moore questions Dr. King's Vietnam stance by suggesting that it harms the Civil Rights Movement.

Telegram to MLK from H. Rap Brown

Tuesday, June 13, 1967
Alabama (AL), Lowndes County, AL

Police brutality in the black communities of Prattville, Alabama prompts this request sent to Dr. King, which seeks immediate federal investigation and protection of black prisoners.

Telegram from King Children to Master Billy Watchel

Thursday, January 2, 1969
New York (NY)

The King children thank Billy Wachtel for the Christmas gifts he sent to them.

Telegram from Walter Friedrich to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964
Berlin, Germany, GERMANY

Walter Friedrich, on behalf of the Peace Council of the German Democratic Republic, congratulates Dr. King for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Telegram from Bishop James K. Mathews to MLK

Friday, June 14, 1963
Boston, MA, Birmingham, AL

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

Telegram from Oeberg Ruden Abrahamsson to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964
Atlanta, GA, Stockholm, Sweden, Georgia (GA), SWEDEN, London, England, UNITED KINGDOM

The Baptist Union of Sweden congratulates Dr. King on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The group also invites Dr. King to Sweden.

Telegram from MLK to Attorney General Robert Kennedy

Monday, July 8, 1963
Washington, D.C., Florida (FL), St. Augustine, FL

Dr. King sends Attorney General Robert Kennedy a copy of the telegram he sent to Vice President Lyndon Johnson. The city of St. Augustine, Florida refuses to desegregate its facilities, which Dr. King describes as a "denial of Negro citizenship."

Telegram from Delmer Brown to MLK

Friday, February 5, 1965
Alabama (AL), Selma, AL, Berkeley, CA

Due to recent student activities at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Brown requests Dr. King's involvement in a lecture series devoted to discussing issues concerning civil disobedience.

Telegram from MLK to Elijah Muhammed

Monday, August 14, 1967
Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL)

Dr. King commends Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. He encourages Elijah Muhammed to convince Ali to speak at the upcoming Tenth Annual Convention of SCLC.

Telegram from Sargent Shriver to MLK

Washington, D.C.

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 Senator Robert Kennedy

Monday, March 18, 1963
Washington, D.C., Virginia (VA)

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