Rosa Parks Estate

A referral from the Society of American Archivists resulted in a fast-paced project with a law firm based in Chicago.

The client wished to purchase the effects of Rosa Parks using funds remaining in the budget for the soon to end fiscal year. The Parks’ materials, an estimated 18,000 items (documents, photographs, medals, and clothes), were in the possession of an auction house in New York. The client wanted an archivist to accompany her to a meeting with the auction house scheduled for the following week, and to help her review the materials. Winthrop’s role was then to prepare an observations report about the materials. The details of the work were confirmed by email a few hours later and approved by the Foundation the next day. In advance of the meeting, Winthrop was mailed a 68-page inventory and other documents prepared by the auction house who oversaw the court-ordered packing of the contents of Mrs. Parks’ apartment and home following a dispute concerning the disposition of the estate. The auction house placed some of the materials, furniture and awards in storage in Detroit and shipped the documents, clothing, jewelry, some books and awards to New York City. The Winthrop project focused on the 85 boxes of materials transferred to two locations in New York City. Winthrop’s report was completed and submitted 12 days later. It consisted of an overview of the contents of the Rosa Parks’ materials; comments on the information prepared by the auction house, as well as the arrangement, and condition of the materials; and recommendations for next steps. A follow-up task involved review of the purchase agreement. The Howard G. Buffet Foundation acquired the collection in August 2014 and transferred it to the Library of Congress for a loan of 10 years.