Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Zettelkasten

It looks like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was using several Weis No. 35 card index boxes, of which a very similar version is still commercially available on Amazon from Globe-Weis/Pendaflex.

I’ve tracked down where most of his card index is hiding at Morehouse College, but it doesn’t appear to be digitized in any fashion. Interested researchers can delve into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection: Series 4: Research Notes, Collection Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0131i 

The following seems to be the bulk of where MLK’s zettelkasten is maintained, in particular:

Who wants to make a road trip to Atlanta to look at some of the most influential index cards of the 20th century?!!

Jillian Hess has recently written a few short notes on MLK’s nachlass and note taking for those interested in some additional insight as well as an example of a quote on one of his 1953 note cards on Amos 5: 21-24 making it into his infamous speech “Normalcy, Never Again” (aka the “I Have a Dream” speech).

I frequently hear students ask if maintaining a zettelkasten for their studies is a worthwhile pursuit. Historically, it was one of the primary uses of the tool, and perhaps this example from one of the 20th century’s greatest orators’ doctoral work at Boston University dating from roughly 1952-1955 will be inspiring. 

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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