Unseen Case Files From Freedom Summer Murders Shared With The Public

Photo: Getty Images

In the summer of 1964, hundreds of young civil rights workers traveled down to the south with the hope of helping Black residents register to vote. Among those civil rights workers were three young men, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Tragically, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner did not return home to their friends and families. The trio was abducted, tortured and murdered by a large group of Ku Klux Klansmen. After the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted an investigation, the bodies of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were found in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Cecil Price, Samuel Bowers and several other Klansmen were later charged and convicted for the triple murder.

In the years since Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were killed, their lives and murders have been portrayed in several films like Mississippi Burning, The Godfather of Harlem and All The Way. Also, authors like Alice Walker and Stephen King have implemented Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner into their work. Now, case and files and photos from the murder investigation will be available at a museum in Mississippi. Previously unsealed materials like federal informant reports, witness testimonies, autopsies, photographs of the burial site have been moved to the William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson for public viewing. Each collection holds a different portion of the records collected over the years. Series 2870 is home to the attorney general's research files, Series 2902 includes the FBI memos and Series 2903 houses the photographs.

The decision to move case files to the William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson comes just days after the 57th anniversary of their murders. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner are continuously honored through scholarships, buildings and plaques. Most notably, former President Barack Obama awarded the three young men the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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