The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Davis (Martha) Freedom Summer Collection
Collection Number: M 412
Dates: 1964; 2003
Volume: .25 cu. ft.
Restrictions: Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.
Dr. Martha Davis was one of three office volunteers who worked for the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) when it was first established in New York in early 1964. At this time, Davis was 21 years old and had just graduated from the University of Rochester. She helped Dr. Tom Levin, founder of MCHR, organize teams of volunteer health professionals, and coordinate their flights to Mississippi. During Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964, Davis traveled to Clarksdale, Mississippi with a student volunteer group. Her experiences during Freedom Summer affected her deeply, as it did so many of the volunteers and individuals involved. After Freedom Summer, Davis attended graduate school and earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
The Medical Committee for Human Rights was founded just after the disappearance of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, three Civil Rights workers in Mississippi. A group of health professionals in New York, led by Dr. Tom Levin, scheduled a meeting to decide what they could do to contribute to the Civil Rights Movement in the South. African Americans and any white individuals helping the Civil Rights Movement were subject to severe discrimination. This discrimination was often in the form of intimidation, threats, violence, refusal of medical care, or sometimes even death. The health professionals decided to form a volunteer organization to offer medical assistance to African Americans in the South and Civil Rights workers and activists who were injured in demonstrations and marches.
In June of 1964 the
Medical Committee for Human Rights was officially established in New York.
MCHR organized teams of medical professionals to travel to Mississippi
and provide first aid to African Americans and Civil Rights workers. The
volunteers of MCHR were limited by law from practicing medicine out of
state, however, they could offer emergency first aid anywhere and at anytime.
The volunteer health professionals also took this time in Mississippi
to visit local African American communities and local healthcare providers
to recommend methods to initiate structural change of the health care
system and impel Mississippi to provide better health care services to
Contents of Collection
This collection was donated by Dr. Martha Davis in 2003. It contains information pertaining to the founding of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, their involvement in Civil Rights activities in Mississippi, and the personal experiences of Martha Davis, Hy Gold, and Tom Levin. The collection consists of four folders:
Folder 1 Freedom
Summer Memoir by Martha Davis (2003)
Folder 1 contains
a three-page memoir recounting Dr. Davis’ involvement with the MCHR
and her participation in Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964.
Blumenthal (Daniel S.) Papers