Some 200,000 documents related to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement went online for the first time Monday as the nation celebrated his birthday.



JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the King Center have been working on ambitious project to eventually digitize more than a million documents housed at the center’s archives on Auburn Avenue. The documents that have been completed so far can be viewed at the King Center website.



“We believe that by making Dr. King’s papers publicly available that we’re bringing his teachings and philosophies to current and future generations,” said Ali Marano, head of the Technology for Social Good program at JPMorgan Chase. “It makes the world a better place, in our minds.”



The collection is a treasure trove of information, perhaps the largest single repository of documents about King and the U.S. civil rights movement. It includes sermons, handwritten notes, correspondence, minutes of meetings, telegrams and some audio materials. There’s also information about other key figures in the movement.



Marano said the project, which banks on the financial services firm’s vast experience in document management, will preserve those documents as well as make them widely available.



You won’t just be able to read King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, you’ll be able to see it written in his own hand.



Teams of trained university students, archivists and members of the Veteran’s Curation Project don blue lab coats and white gloves to prep, image and index the contents of thousands of boxes in the archives. Folders in the boxes and the boxes themselves are indexed to avoid an item being misplaced.



There’s a telegram from Martin Luther King Jr. to “Mrs. Malcolm X” dated a few days after the 1965 assassination of her husband in New York.



“I was certainly saddened by the shocking and tragic assassination of your husband,” the telegram reads. “While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.”



At some point, the collection may also include papers from Coretta Scott King.



It also will rebuild the King Center’s website to include the digitized material as well as other center news and information. A goal is to make it a must-visit place for educational purposes.



Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Taylor Branch called efforts to digitize the collection “a godsend. It’s an immensely valuable collection that a lot of people have worried about access to it and its preservation for years.”



The collection is “essential to understanding American history because the civil rights movement changed America so much,” he said.

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