New Book "Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader" | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

New Book "Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader"

Wisconsin Historical Society Press announces an edited collection of documents from the Freedom Summer project

New Book "Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader" | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeBook cover image of Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader

Book cover image of Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader


For Immediate Release - June 24, 2014

MADISON, WIS. — Fifty years ago this month, thousands risked their lives in America's Deep South to challenge racism. Their struggles became known as "Freedom Summer." Many of the papers and transcripts documenting that struggle — and the larger struggle for Civil Rights — are housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wis.

As the country commemorates that watershed anniversary this summer, the deputy director of the Wisconsin Historical Society's library-archives Michael Edmonds, reflects on the significance of the documents collected for the Society by UW-Madison graduate students and Society staff in this new Wisconsin Historical Society Press interview. Edmonds states that he hopes that these documents not only explain history but inspire new generations to learn from it. "I hope readers get from it [an] understanding of how brave their grandparents had to be, and maybe young readers in particular will think, 'if my grandmother's generation could overturn Jim Crow why should I put up with the world [as] it is today'?"

Edmonds is the editor of a new book featuring some of the Society's most poignant Freedom Summer documents. Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader invites readers to view the letters, eavesdrop on the meetings, shudder at the suffering and admire the courage of "Freedom Summer." Contemporary documents describe the final hours of three workers murdered on the project's first day, share testimony by black residents who stood up to police torture and Klan firebombs, and chronicle the activists' challenges to the Democratic Party and the U.S. Congress.

The documents upon which this anthology is based have served thousands of historians and researchers from across the country since they were first gathered decades ago. In addition to "Risking Everything," the collection is being shared during this 50th anniversary year through a traveling exhibit currently on display as part of the 50th anniversary conference in Jackson, Miss., this week. In addition, the documents are showcased in an online collection and in an American Experience documentary which draws from the Society documents and debuts June 24, 2014.

About the Editor

Michael Edmonds is Deputy Director of the Library-Archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society and curator of its more than 25,000 pages documenting Freedom Summer. A 1976 graduate of Harvard University, he earned an MS degree at Simmons College in 1979 and taught part-time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Edmonds has won national awards from the American Folklore Society and American Association for State and Local History.

Media Contact

For a review copy of "Risking Everything," to interview Michael Edmonds, or for more information, please contact:

Kristin Gilpatrick, Marketing Manager
Wisconsin Historical Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706

About the Wisconsin Historical Society Press

The Wisconsin Historical Society Press is the state’s oldest publisher. With our first book, published in 1855, we established a commitment to collecting, preserving and sharing our stories and helping people connect to the past. Today we create publications of enduring value that appeal to a broad audience, including lively narratives about interesting people, events, and places; publications for young readers and educators that bring history to life for a new generation; and Our quarterly Wisconsin Magazine of History.


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