Case Files on 1964 Killings of Three Civil Rights Activists in Mississippi Released to Public for First Time

The three Freedom Summer workers, all in their 20s, had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi when they disappeared in June of 1964. | FBI, File/AP Photo

Never-before-seen case files, photographs and other records documenting the investigation into the infamous slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi are now open to the public for the first time, 57 years after their deaths.

The 1964 killings of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County sparked national outrage and helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They later became the subject of the movie “Mississippi Burning.”

The previously sealed materials — dating from 1964 to 2007 — were transferred to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History from the Mississippi attorney general’s office in 2019. As of last week, they are now available for viewing by the public at William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson.

The records include case files, Federal Bureau of Investigation memoranda, research notes and federal informant reports and witness testimonies. There are also photographs of the exhumation of the victims’ bodies and subsequent autopsies, along with aerial photographs of the burial site, according to an announcement from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The collection is being stored in three catalog records: Series 2870 houses the attorney general’s research files, Series 2902 houses the FBI memos and Series 2903 houses the photographs.

The three Freedom Summer workers, all in their 20s, had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi when they disappeared in June of 1964.

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SOURCE: Politico