Albany Freedom Ride
Letters and Chronology Joan Browning

[Joan Browning was a Freedom Rider and SNCC activist in Southwest Georgia 1961-65.]

Transcripts of Albany jail letters from Emory University Robert Woodruff Library Special Collection's "Joan C. Browning papers"


Friday, December 8, 1961: Attend Spelman Christmas Concert; hear "Go Tell It On The Mountain" for the first time.


Saturday, December 9, 1961: Date with Bill Humphries, dinner at Stouffers Restaurant, first Benedictine & brandy at Top of Peachtree, wearing new black dress & killer 4" high black french heels.


Sunday, December 10, 1961: Ride to Albany, arrested.


Monday, December 11, 1961: In Albany City jail. Out about 4:30 p.m. on bond. Attended mass meeting. [played hide an seek with cops to get into the white man's car and get to his house.] Singletary. To bed at 2, up at 630. 4:30 wrote: just got out of jail after 24 hours. To be tried tomorrow morning, back in Atlanta tomorrow night. Now in a Trailways restaurant for first food since Saturday night. Writing at 6 pm from SNCC office: Sent fact sheet.


Tuesday, December 12, 1961: Hearing in city court 2 pm: seated on floor in City Hall court room around 250 arrested; mass meeting at 3; sending news clippings. We attended a mass meeting last night. Succeeded this am in integrating the witness section of the court room. 5:45 pm.


Wednesday, December 13, 1961: Hearing in city court. 2 p.m. Writing from SNCC office. Having a meeting at 3. 10:30 am court adjourned until 1 tomorrow. Tom & Casey gone. Bob in jail, Per & me out.


Thursday, December 14, 1961: County court, back to Dougherty County jail after 3:30 pm writing from jail: began sending notes to each other in jail.


Friday, December 15, 1961: Jail.


Saturday, December 16, 1961: Jail 7:15 pm: in County jail. Last night Jim Foreman wrote asking that in work for SNCC.


Sunday, December 17, 1961: Jail 6:30 pm


Monday, December 18, 1961: 12:30 pm: around 7 pm we got word that we are all to be out tonight. Out late Monday night? Or not until Tuesday night?


Tuesday, December 19, 1961:  


Wednesday, December 20, 1961:  


Thursday, December 21, 1961: Back to work at Emory University Library, Serials & Binding Department.


8.5 x 11 unruled paper. Beginning in blue ink, then pencil. 2 pages (front and back of one sheet of paper).

4:30 pm Monday - 12/11/61

Dear Faye -

Just a note to tell you I'm - we're - all o.k. I just got out of jail after 24 1/2 hours. We're to be tried tomorrow morning. I think I'll be back in Atlanta tomorrow night though this is a touch-and-go situation and nobody knows exactly what comes next.

Now in a Trailways restaurant ordering my first food since Saturday night when Bill & I ate at Stouffeur's new restaurant at the top of the new Merchandize Mart.

If there's anything in the paper will you save it for me please? Clippings may be all I have when this is over - no job, etc. No, I'm not crying about possibly losing my job - or probably. I can do something. My personal worry is about the effect of this on my getting into - and staying in - school.

Please worry as little as you can. I'm o.k. And there are more important things in the world than Joan C. Browning.

This is my first trip to Albany, my first jail experience, and a lot of "firsts." But I'm glad I came, though I'll probably be subjected to many unpleasant occurances (sic).

Must go now - Please don't worry - I can still smile a real smile. Good luck on exams.

with much love,

8.5 x 14 unruled paper front and back pencil

6:00 pm Monday

Dear Faye -

Another breathing spell - this time in the SNCC office here.

Enclosed is a fact sheet concerning the mess. I am incredibly tired and would like very much a nice warm shower.

I just heard that I caused a hell of a disturbance. It seems that never in their experiences has a white girl - especially such a quiet, soft- spoken, all-American type - been involved.

Jim Foreman, Chairman of SNCC tells me the cops and local whites are amazed.

Cops are of course following us everywhere. There are many too many people on the streets for this time of day on Monday. As we were walking down to the SNCC office just now, Negroes smiled at us, or just stared. One fellow, obviously not well-educated and not at all a millionaire grinned broadly and said "Just keep fighting - don't let them get you down." Maybe that one statement was worth it all.

My ideals are now being tested. Any ideal that can survive filthy - horribly dirty - cells, uncertainty, etc., are worth sticking with.

When I come out of this, I will probably lose my job at Emory. Bob says I can probably work with SNCC but perhaps this is the time for me to go to England. Especially if I don't get into school.

This is a great group. Again - don't worry. I'll be o.k. Gotta run --


5.5" x 8.5" ruled note paper, 3-hole punched, one side only of 6 pages

2:00 pm

Faye -

More notes -

First - save all the things I write you - I may need them later to get exact information when writing my memoirs or something.

I'm seated on the floor in City Hall outside the court room. We are being tried one at the time.

Per Laurson, our Danish friend, is still in - he is the first. I'm next.

My frame of mind? I'm nervous but those guys ain't gonna know it!

Tom Hayden, the writer and his wife and I spent last night at a white man's house - a man who was chased out of Macon ten or so years ago. He lives 30 or so miles out.

Faye, this is Waterloo for integration in Ga! They're calling the kids - and sending bus fare - to the 86 kids in McComb, Mississippi who get out of school tomorrow for holidays. The Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (AU) is being asked to send people, but probably won't respond, according to Jim Foreman.

M. L. King is supposed to be here tomorrow. He is raising bond money.

Tom's wife is great. She works with the Y in race relations. She is a tremendous moral support.

Even up here on the 2nd floor we can hear the kids downstairs. Last account was that 250 were arrested. There is a mass meeting at 3:00; more demonstrators are coming from there. the jails are packed and City Auditorium is being used. Albany State College is out tomorrow afternoon and Thursday morn. The students there are planning to spend the holidays in jail.

Just in case you have wise ideas - don't come. You are in a position to help in Macon and your coming might alter your chances of working there.

I have a job with SNCC if I need it.

I'm sending my news clippings from the Albany papers. Would you send them to my Atlanta address when you have read them? If I keep them with me I probably will lose them.

Federal troops have been called to get the kids downstairs out. Bond for just those in now, not to consider future arrests, would amount to over $60,000.

We attended a mass meeting last night which was great!!

We don't have all the appeal bond unless they accept property so after the trial we may be in for a while.

White toughs attempted to follow Tom, Sandra (his wife) and me as we were going to lunch. We returned to the City Hall & our lawyer called a white cab - Negroes & whites are forbidden by law to ride in the same cab-- They have a law against fraternization.

Zellner says to tell you "We Shall Overcome."

My penmanship, spelling, etc. is below par. Forgive.

The McComb & SNCC people say this is the greatest protest yet. We succeeded this AM in integrating the witness section of the court room, against the orders of the cops.

The cops are loyal Citizens Councilers. All 6'6", 300 lbs., etc. Oh yes - we're being follow [sic] everywhere. Last night we played hide-&-seek with cops to get into the white man's car & get to his house. We chased back & through a church. Exciting.

I ain't never see'd so many cops?!!! hundreds.

I'm tired. But finally got a bath, though no clean clothes of course. Got to bed at 2+, up at 630. I am exhausted! But still smiling!

UPI asked me this morning for a statement as we were standing around. We agreed to keep our statements for a while. Boy, do I ever have things to say to the press! I'm in Dutch, out of a job probably, and I can't hurt my position any more.

My exhaustion compels me to stop writing. Please don't worry. It's more than worth it!

Rumor has it that I am as special mark. The white men feel that they should take steps to save me from myself and these people I'm with. They can't get over my All/American, innocent look.

These cops are tired & scared. Big bluffs though. And I don't hate them - I resent their actions but still I recognize that they are humans. Amazing, because I thought my love for people might extend just to my friends.

Again & Again - DON'T WORRY - And don't come down here.

It's warm and raining here.

"Never fear - We shall overcome - someday!!"

Much love,

ruled note paper, three hole punched, 5.5 x 8.5 ink one side only of six pages

5:45 pm

Dear Faye -

Nothing else to do except pace the floor or sit and I'm going to sleep so I'll continue our conversation and relate a few more incidents.

Would you like a description of our "court room"? Now standing looking into trial proceedings. Per is finally on trial - all the people called thus far were witnesses for his case. It's like looking at a silent movie.

There is speculation as to whether we will all be sentenced according to the verdict of his case. If so, maybe we'll be out tonight and back to Atla maybe tonight or tomorrow - mere speculation but ...

Holloway from Atla & King from Albany are our lawyers - and darned good too.

This is am - fresh air hallway type thing, completely littered with ashes and cig. stubs. The water fountains, coke and coffee machines, everything have magically become "out of order" - since 1:30.

Bob has been giving these folks hell. The cops all run when he approaches. Just asking in his so innocent, polite, small-boy voice for his privileges - a phone call, which he finally got a few minutes ago, etc.

Just released all kids under sixteen - no place to put them & other unknown causes.

250 people met at 3:00 and rather than come down decided to meet again at 8 to decide whether to demonstrate again tomorrow in the event the trial continues, as it may well do.

We've been sitting around on newspapers & this place is a mess. Hope it's cleaned before tomorrow if we're up here again.

We're having a ball now. Everybody is impatient & we're milling around. We have a Polaroid camera - illegally - and have fun taking pictures and concealing the camera. So far they're all too dark.

Back in the courtroom. Per has been carried out & court is recessed for 15 min. Don't know what's next.

We picked up our papers at the suggestion of counsel before coming in.

10:30 am

Court is adjourned till 1:00 pm tomorrow because the judge has pressing affairs to attend to.

265 persons were arrested yesterday - 95 juveniles. All under 18 were released and many of them are back on their knees praying and singing "We shall not be moved" in front of City Hall. Their plans are to remain there until
1 - arrested
2 - court is adjourned

Call to you. Back in court! Ten minutes after talking with you we were rushed back

Standing outside courtroom waiting to be called to testify in the case of Slater King, with whom we spent the night. He was arrested as the spokesman of the prayer vigil in contempt of court. We must testify as to whether we heard the noise, which we didn't. This was a method of disbanding the 75 prayers. [of this number 46 were adults and the others students under 18 who are always released & always back to be arrested again. These people! I have never seen such determined people! And to me the miracle is that the non-violence is not just a technique!

There are many incidents which isolated would make a volume in itself - moving experiences for even such a cold-hearted intellectual as I which I will write of later.

The people who were praying were not arrested and have gone back to the church to come again. Albany State is having exams now & the kids who are leaving are going according to the recent ICC ruling. Others, according to supposedly reliable sources, are to join the movement here.

I must tell you about Per. He is about 5'10", has blond hair and blue eyes - always sparkling -and a red beard. He is slightly short of great.

As are all the kids! Again I say - These People - with awe and amazement.

A "no smoking in this area" sign was just posted. Of course I had a cigarette in my hand. I unwisely extinguished the fire on the sign, leaving a black spot and provoking a smile from the first friendly cop I've seen. He asked if I had made the spot, which I in my most innocent voice admitted. He's o.k. Just a gentle, friendly reprimand.

Tom and Sandra Hayden have gone - he to Vassar, where he has a meeting at 8 tonight, she to Texas for a meeting on Friday.

With Bob in jail, this leaves Per and myself the only white persons on the outside. We're sorta sticking together.

They're still beating guys up & trying to get them to beat Bob, thus far with no success. Bob is converting the few who don't hate cops even more than "nigger lovers."

The Danish Embassy is in on the act through the State Dept.

8.5 x 14, typed one side only, 2 pages typing and punctuation errors corrected in this transcription

Wednesday, 2.00 pm

I'm now in the SNCC office. the contempt case in court today is over; Mr. King was proven (?) guilty of contempt and sentenced to five days in jail. He was told there would be no bond, and replied that he would refuse if in the event that it should be offered, because he wanted to be with his people.

The jail is now empty, except for Bob and a few drunks. The people who were housed in such inhumane conditions have been separated and placed in jails in the county and in two surrounding counties. These persons in jail are now going simply on the faith that we and others are still fighting. They are allowed no communication. Mr. King's wife is in somewhere; he has yet to be allowed to see her.

A cop broke down yesterday. He had been for an indefinite length of time herding (a word not used in testimony at the suggestion of the judge) people into jail. He was dragged into the station by other officers who were trying to calm him. Really sorta pathetic.

The spirit of the people is something that every white person from Lumber City and Gray and Canada and everywhere should see. They are really in this to the end. All sorts of tactics have been tried to create jealousy, uncertainty, etc., etc. They are thus far failing.

The high and junior high school students are really a resource in all this The cops arrest them, then without charging release them. They all go back to the church, regroup, and return. Some of these have been arrested, released, and returned to be charged again many, many times. They're great people.

There is an interesting power structure in Albany. I told you about the newspaper editor who owns the local tv station (Please forgive errors - I must rush because at 3 we have a meeting.) I'll try later to explain in detail; in brief, the mayor was elected with the Negro community voting 3 - 1 for him. The even wealthy sections of the Negro community have no paved streets, no sewage, no street lights or sidewalks, no nothing. Like I said, I'll explain more in detail later.

These kids on the ride and others closely connected with our group are wonderful. I've probably said this before but put it in the record again. I think that if these people label whatever the intangible is as Christianity, then there is hope for the faith. One of my purposes in becoming actively involved in this is to determine for once and all time whether the faith of the apostolic church is relevant to our age. I begin to think Xianity can survive the institutionalization and Americanization it has experienced in our time.

What is the general opinion up there? Be sure to remember all the comments. I plan to write all these experiences, factual and emotional, when I am back in my normal surroundings, and when the elapse of time is sufficient for things to be seen in their proper perspective.

I have probably expressed many of the side comments and opinions repeatedly but it's because things are occurring a such a pace that I forget what I have said and what I have written. Forgive unnecessary repetition. Blame it on general mass confusion.

Incidentally (ego, enter) I have created quite an uproar on the part of the white males in the community, if rumor is to be trusted. It seems that they are anxious to protect me from both myself and my companions. Per and I are not allowed to walk down the street even together unless there are several others with us. It's really a funny feeling to be not quite free to move even on the outside. I just hope, not so much for my sake as for the sake of the entire protest that nothing explosive occurs. It could really be bad.

Per and I are now the only whites outside jail (Bob is in) who are directly connected with the movement. It could be come dangerous but I tell you this not to worry you but as a matter of fact.

I am tempted to tamper with these facts concerning personal danger because I hope that you will not worry, but still you would like the truth and that's what I'll give you. Still, please don't be too concerned. As I said I am well protected very well. You just don't ever know in a situation like this.

I am toying with the idea of remaining in jail until all the persons are released. This is a personal commitment of some of the local students who are involved in our specific case (two students). Though I should get back to Atlanta as soon as possible.

This is a hell of a town. Maybe we are doing something.

They're trying to cook up other charges on us. Anything goes with them.

Fortunately the rabble rousing elements of the white community have been suppressed either by fear or cops. They are yet unable to conceive of a non violent move. They anticipate a blood bath at any moment. They just are so filled with the old notion of hate that they can't fight this move in which the persons are against, not individuals but the evil which results in the injustices.

I could talk on and on. Won't though. I am terribly tired. Three hours sleep last night. But it's worth it and I'm smiling even more than ever.

Just got a rumor that nearly 1,000 students from high schools and Albany State have indicated that they will be with the group tomorrow. If this is accurate and becomes an actuality, this is over. Those cops can't take that much more. They're all working overtime and are all tired. I feel sorry for them. I wish that I could talk with each of them and try to open their eyes to the bare fact of the power of love. They are just blind to this and I feel absolutely unable to do anything constructive about it. Oh well, one individual even me, can't do everything.

Per and I are going to eat lunch - it's now around 2:20. I had coffee for breakfast. Not hungry, just want something to drink.

It's good to know that you are and that you are interested. In many instances when I had time to think I have speculated as to your probable reaction and action, and though I know good and well that you and I could get into a debate over several points, I can debate with myself and see things from other points of view. This sounds like a bunch of unconnected and irrelevant statements but I am too tired to coherently express this thought. I am most anxious to see you and talk in person about this.

The Atlanta papers thus far have been unreliable sources of information. NEW YORK TIMES and NEWSWEEK are now in action and perhaps we can get some accurate coverage.

Must go now. Be good and don't worry.

Much love,

paper towel, 9.5 x 12" pen on both sides

After 3:30 pm

Dear Faye -

Admittedly, this ain't proper writing material but then I might be unable to get it mailed too so -

We are now in the Dougherty County jail. At 1 pm today our trial continued. It has been thrown into a State court without a verdict from the City court. The charges have been changed to intent to [scratched through: "create"] disturb the peace and conspiracy to create or propagate the general disturbance of the peace. These aren't the specific charges but are the essence of it.

Bond is being arranged. We have agreed that except for four who must be out for personal or Movement reasons, we are to remain in jail at least for a while. If court is to be Monday or Tuesday I will remain here until then. If it is to be at some later date I will get out and back to work.

This cell is much more comfortable than those in the City jail. Conditions over there are really deplorable. The blanket was so dirty that I preferred the risk of chill (thank goodness I wore my green corduroy coat and a long sleeved blouse.) The other things were worse by far than the blankets.

We're going on a hunger strike. Thank goodness I had a real meal just before the trial resumed. My first full meal since Saturday - sandwiches do tend to become monotonous. It is so dark in here - the light doesn't respond - that I can barely see. Ah, now it works - had to jiggle the cord.

My penthouse is about 12' x 12' x 12'. (A bed extends from one wall to a point approximately half way across the door, which seems to be equi-distant from either wall or to drop the math major technical terns in the center of that wall. There is a toilet and a shower! Before I had a "toilet" but no tissue and no privacy, so the very first thing I did upon being released was to find a rest room. I didn't eat there either.

Last night I weighed six pounds less than when I last weighed. Maybe I can lose all this excess which my routine and complacent life heretofore had caused to become an integral part of myself.

Scrawled over the door "Welcome to Crossbars Hotel."

An incident which could have gotten a contempt of court order was a statement or mis-statement by Chief of Police Prickett - He's a hell of a cop and is causing considerable trouble. He was reading in a loud booming voice the warrant for our arrest - this is in court today - and when reading the charge said "... for disturbing public police" when he meant "public peace".

8:05 pm

I've been asleep and now am feeling chipper. We're now all engaged in sending messages to each other, serenading each other and in general making merry. Can you imagine me, of all people, doing a solo? I can't even sing and I am always among the quieter voices in a group sing. There ain't room here for many inhibitions, and besides these folk accept me for what I am, just as I am.

Our friend Willie is the watchman here who is carrying notes, etc., etc. He's o.k.

Oh yes - we're allowed to have our personal things like comb, etc. This is an improvement over the city jail.

Today we were escorted in a line two abreast across the street to here. Lenora Tate and I led the line talking & laughing & especially making remarks to the effect that these guys are nervous as if they expect someone to knife them in the back & that they couldn't quite understand our non-violence.

[end of page - missing second page?]

paper towel, 9.5 x 12", pen on both sides of one page water stained and faded

7:15 pm

Dear Faye -

I must do something to take my mind off me so ---

Still in the County jail. I have been on a hunger strike, and in fact am still on it. My last food was at 12:15 on Thursday, now some 55 hours. This includes water too, though when our lawyers came today I drank a soft drink. I am becoming weak and sometimes can't see when I first get up. But I can hold out for at least a week. If we're still in next Thursday I will eat lunch.

Just got word that between 400 & 600 more have been arrested, including Dr. M. L. King, Jr. This really cheered up all up. The triumph of it is that these are local citizens, not foreign invaders!

One thing I have no scarcity of is friends. Mr. Singletary, with whom Tom, Sandra and I spent Monday night (white) came by and offered to go my bond. He brought soap, tooth brush and face cloths yesterday. The jailer kept promising to carry them to my Negro friends - We're segregated and I'm alone - but never did. Finally I took one bed apart & tried to knock out a brick in the wall which separates they & I. Some big husky guy came in and threatened me with a strait jacket so I stopped. Finally when we saw our attorneys today they got them.

Oh yes - last night they turned out the lights and heat in an attempt to stop our singing. Chalk up another failure for them.

We pass notes to each other. Jim Foreman last night wrote a very touching -I hate to use the word sweet - note and asked that I consider working for SNCC. He is great, as are all these people.

When I get out and this is all over, there are two people I must tell about it. First of all, Izzie - to let her know that if I didn't find what I was hoping for in her class, at least I know now that it exists.

And Mr. Moncy.

There are several experiences I must tell you of. Like the feeling we each individually had when we came from the courtroom Wednesday and saw the folk praying. And a very similar feeling Sunday night when even the drunks in jail joined in very softly singing "Silent Night." And the mass meetings and everything.

I'm becoming dizzy so I'll sign off 'till later.

Much, much love,

Faye - I'm going to try to send to you a deposit slip. If you would get my check - I get one on the 15th and one on the 20th - & deposit them, forge my name. I won't sue you. and send this check to the realty co. It might mean you have to go to Atla. If so, deduct enough for your expenses.

I'm fine, I'm hungry, and I love you.


paper towel, 9.5 x 12", pen on both sides water stained and faded

Sun. night
6:30 pm

Faye -

Again I think I can get this mailed to you. I'm awfully dizzy but I'm fine. The other kids were only fed breakfast today. I had fried breast of chicken, rice and giblet gravy & bread. I haven't eaten it - maybe the bugs have. I think this starvation strike is getting on their nerves. It is now 78 hours since I ate.

They're putting various drunks in with me. The one this morning - last night she was too "out" to speak - asked if I were one of those "damned freedom riders." I replied that I was and for one petrified moment thought she was going to hit me. She was about 5'10", 160 lbs., and in my condition I have no doubt as to the outcome of a fight, especially with my pledge to non-violence.

Bill Humphrey was down today. He's gone now.

I'm trying to get out to Atlanta. If so I'll see you. Boy, would I ever like to see you! I do wonder what your parents think.

Saturday about 4:30 I had the strongest feeling that someone was in Wesley Chapel AME praying for me. It was a strange but strong feeling. Maybe I'm losing my mind, though I think not.

I am now corresponding with W. D. (Willie) our jailer. He brought cigarettes and a paper yesterday. He's o.k.

The other girls are becoming depressed. I'm doing my inadequate best to keep spirits up.

Thanks more than ever for standing with me. I only wonder how many of the people I know will do that after this.

Much love,

Monday, about 12:30 pm

I'm becoming depressed myself now but I can't let anyone know it.

This morning two guys came in, one big & redfaced with a cigar to suggest that I eat. I finally got a glass of water, my first since Thursday. It is now 96+ hours since I ate. I have had two soft drinks and one glass of water since Thursday. Guess what I'm going to do as soon as I get out.

I almost gave up last night but now I can carry on for at least a few more days. This is getting me though.

5" X 8" note paper, lined, two pages, front and back of first page, front only of second page

Monday night
around 7 pm

Dear Faye,

We got word not too long ago - an hour or so - that we are ALL to be out tonight. Our lawyers have been in conference all day trying to work out something.

After 103 hours of no food, two soft drinks and a glass of H2O which I finally got this morning, Willie slipped three Hershey bars under my door. He's really nice. He also sent this pad & envelopes. I ate two of the candy bars and drank tons of the impure H2O they expect us to drink. I feel awful - as if I'm going to throw up at any minute.

I have been trying since 2 this noon to get water to drink with no luck. I started asking every person who came to visit or to bring news to send me something cold to drink. The jailers must have really had a ball because I have yet to get any of the at least three or four drinks sent to me. Each of these persons registered complaints so I'm sure the cops know I want water. Or did - all I want now is to get this stuff out of me.

I heard today that my parents are in town, in the church. This is bad - or maybe good, since it shows some concern on their part.

I hope those lawyers have time to come tonight. I want out of this place. I need to get back to Atlanta and to work. My patience is growing thin.

Have I ever lost weight! I really needed to.

Oh yes - this morning there were a couple of officious looking men in to ask why I ain't eating. One asked what I expected to live on and my reply was to the effect "Hope - that your flagrant mis-use of the law will be stopped and justice restored." Them probably ain't the exact words but are the thought.

I will stop now because this light hurts my eyes.

8.5 x 14 yellow legal pad, ruled, ink, writing on one side only of 4 pages

28 Dec 1961

Dear Faye,

Somehow I knew when I saw your note in my mailbox that you couldn't come this weekend. All the way up the stairs I kept pushing my eternal pessimism down, unsuccessfully; after slowly turning on lights, lighting the heater, putting away laundry, etc., I opened it -- and shore 'nuff, intuition was correct. At such moments of keen disappointment I resignedly shrug "Oh well, c'est la vie." [scratched over "while idly contemplating a thought which has for several years "] But I do understand. And Faye - PLEASE, PLEASE- don't jeopardize your family relations to come to Atla. Families are very important, especially at this time in your life. Though you may sometimes be unhappy with your parents, they're o.k. and they're only doing what they think best for you -- and at the immature age of 19, who am I to say they're wrong?

Maybe it's just my aforementioned pessimism but I can foresee the possibility of a serious family feud arising from your support of my recent controversial activities. Such an atmosphere of ill-feeling between your family and you would inevitably and irrevocably hurt all of you, and, believe me, the last thing I would ever purposely do is hurt you. So as much as I want to see you, I urge you to wait until you're sure the danger of a family [scratched over "quarrel"] fight is less. BUT -- I have no plans for next week-end, and upon your request, m'am, I can send you my extra key! I would so much like to see you. I'm going insane because there's no one who really understands that I can talk with - or to.

Not that that's the only reason I want to see you - you are due congrats for making DEAN'S LIST, etc., etc.

Today is the anniversary of your famous horse-back ride. Remember?

Tonight I was getting ready to be depressed when Foreman called - Frank Smith & some other cats, including two out-of-town (Rome, Ga., Shorter College) kids were having a party & I was invited. I gladly waded through knee-deep melancholy to the door and escaped for a while. I'm still depressed but at least my mind is off my own invented difficulties.

Enough of that.

You know, I've been thinking about Cecil the last few days. I should know someone like him. I need someone to drown in the emotional gush which I feel that I must express and which doesn't all come out on paper.

And then maybe I'm just psycho and need a long rest in your ex-home town. Though I doubt it because no one could know as many swell people as I am fortunate to know and be seriously mentally ill.

It's snowing!!

I had 3.5 hours of entrance exams at State. They were exceptionally easy, except for English mechanics which wasn't difficult but tricky. I have a personal interview tomorrow.

Thanks for Huck Hound. He is - and you are - a good guy. (The fact that you are a girl and he a dog have no conflict with the usually masculine human connotation of "guy." In my book "guy" refers to anything, subject to change without notice.)

I'm sending this to Gray but possibly should send it to Mercer. Oh, well, it will catch you someday.

My best wishes, whether you dare convey them or not, to your parents.

In retrospect, this has for me been a most eventful year. More "important' things have happened to me than any of the other years. And first on the credit side of the ledger, out-weighing by far any misfortunes, is the fact that in you I found a real person, a person to whom I could respond with trust and love. Please turn on the mental telepathy receiver and find the superlative adjectives that would measure the impact you have on my life and the degree to which I accept with humble gratefulness what you are and what you are to me.

I'm making a mess of this so I'll take my cold to bed. I feel horrible. [Don't take me seriously - you know what a chronic complainer I am.]

Be good - and if you can't be good be careful.

I love you,

toilet tissue, pencil, from Ann Robinson to Charles Jones

Hi Jones,

Tell your friends I have joined each of you. We have our eyes on freedom.


paper towel fragment, water damaged, ink on one side, pencil on reverse side

Hey Boys -

Willie is our friend and he's bringing this to you. Spirits over here are fine! This place is actually bearable, and my blankets - TWO! are clean.

We have found a name for our present residence. Over my door is "Welcome to Crossbars Hotel."

Keep the chins up! We are still winning!

Love to all,

Joan, do you have a chance to talk to Bob and Per. Tell them [three words hard to read - ? "and hello" ?]. We're all organizing. We 3 are together. We have tried to rest. Lenora wants you to get out. I wish you would consider working for SNCC. We find our home a [can't make out three words] Two trucks of kids came [here?].

unsigned, but from Norma Collins

note pad, 2.5 x 3.5, pencil both sides

Dear Joan-

We are fine - I intend, if bail is available, to allow you to be bailed out for your safety. There are 6 girls in here besides the 3 of us. Spirits are high. I have been giving the jailer a rough time. Every time he comes in I ask for something.

Thus far I have gotten paper cups for everyone and the showers unstopped. I am working on getting a doctor. I told the jailer if we got sick I would sue him and he turned red with fright.

Keep your courage up. We all love you. "We Shall over come."


fragment of paper, scored at 1 inch intervals, 2.5 x 4" blue pencil

Dear Joan,

I just heard from Jim and he said that we should not go on a hunger strike until a necessary reason for protest arises.

I suggest that you try and eat something even if it is a bare minimum.

"We shall overcome."

Love, Lenore

no date (12/61), folded paper napkin, ink

[From Jim Foreman, written in Dougherty County, Ga., jail]

Dear Joan, Please excuse my neglect in writing I understand you are on a hunger strike. You are now a SNCC volunteer worker. Hold on! Write me. Enclosed is a newspaper. Use this napkin to write.

scrap of paper, torn on all sides. paper towel? pen

Dear Joan, keep the faith!

Love Jim

paper towel fragment, torn. front side in ink:


Is there any way to see our lawyers! I know they are terribly busy but I should have been back at work Monday, and should be back at work tomorrow for sure.

I hate to complain but I do need to be out.


reverse side in ink

I'll see what I can do. Forman

2 1/1 x 3 > note paper in pencil

We have made believe that this is a hotel and the jailer is the bell boy and Butler.

It is really funny.

"No Harm to Keep your mind on freedom"

lined paper, torn 1/2 sheet pencil

Joan dear: Bob is asleep [presumably "prisoneosis?] but snores his regards and thanks for your note. "Bobby" just rec'd your long one to the delight of our other inmates who read you hungrily: "Damn! She's educated!" Good work!

We'll presumably meet in court to-morrow. Stay merry and sleep well - we both need that.

Love from both of us here


3 x 5" ruled note paper, torn from wire binder pencil, both sides

Joan -

What wonderful wonderful news!

This is the greatest thing that could possibly happen!

When Albany acts that stupidly, it doesn't deserve any better.

We're both elated over the news.

How about a mass hunger strike now? Pass on the word. Bob and myself have begun.

Love, love, love

P.S. What a Christmas!! Wish we were with you.

ruled note paper, 5 x 8, pencil


Hi! Joan.

Perhaps you are wondering why I would neglected talking, to write you. after you re so near, well sweet as I mite mention I love to write, and there are so many things that I would like to tell you socially and otherwise, but I have to emphasis, conference in private is beyond us at this time because of our position. however if I'm not asking to much, and you love to write, I myself suggest we write. so far further decision, I hope you encourage me by giving me the opportunity to write and rec. notes from you. so until later may I say God Bless us.

W. D.

8.5 x 11" unruled paper, ink, no date

Dear Sandra,

Here's hoping things are looking up for all of you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help, and come see us. Will be glad to have you stay with us "for the duration," if that will help.

Our prayers,

JCB Note: this is from Gene Singletary, a member of Koinonia (spelling?) Community near Americus/Albany. Tom, Casey and I stayed at Jack & Gene's house at least one of the nights we were out of jail.

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