Boston University’s Treasure

Recently 7,000 pages of documents were sold by the family of Martin Luther King Jr. to a consortium of individuals who wanted to keep the papers in Atlanta. The group paid $32 million for the collection, which will be housed at Morehouse College.

But the vast majority of King’s papers are not included in this collection. Before his death King donated more than 80,000 pages of documents to Boston University, where King had earned his doctorate.

In 1987 Coretta Scott King sued Boston University in an attempt to regain control over the collection and merge it with the 7,000 pages of documents that will be housed at Morehouse College. A jury decided in favor of Boston University.

Undoubtedly, a major consideration for the jury was King’s own statement when donating the documents to BU. At that time King said, “I have great love and respect for this university. It has the facilities to take care of these papers in the kind, thorough manner necessary to make them meaningful for the future. This is the best place I could have deposited my papers.”

If the 7,000-page collection to be housed at Morehouse College is valued at $32 million, in theory the 83,000-page collection held at BU may have a value of $350 million.