• The Birmingham Public Library Archives’ Civil Rights Movement and Race Relations in Birmingham includes “more than one million documents” and “is recognized around the world for holding one of the most comprehensive and heavily used research collections on the Civil Rights Movement.” Several of the many collections in this area include primary sources related specifically to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Descriptions of the contents of some materials are available online, but not the documents themselves. These include:
Chambliss, Robert E. Papers, 1972-1987. Three boxes, primarily of Chambliss’s jailhouse correspondence.
Alabama. Tenth Judicial Circuit Court.
State of Alabama vs. Robert E. Chambliss Trial Transcript, 1977
Birmingham, Ala. Police Department
Surveillance Files, 1947-1980
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing Investigation Files, 1963-1965
The Birmingham Public Library also has a digital collection of materials relating to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. These include 118 newspaper clippings, photographs, and a list of selected readings.
• On the FBI’s website, there is a 50-part set of records pertaining to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in the site’s section called “The Vault.” You can have a look at them here.
Extensive List of Sources
Susan Willoughby Anderson’s 2008 University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill dissertation, “The Past on Trial: The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing, Civil Rights Memory and the Remaking of Birmingham” is available online. It includes a 22-page list of sources consulted; 17 of these pages are books and articles. Skimming her footnotes provides a good idea of what sources she found most valuable.
Selected Sources Not Listed in Long Time Coming or Published Since 1994
Howell Raines (My Soul Is Rested), former editor of the New York Times and a native of Birmingham has followed the case for decades. See “The Birmingham Bombing.”
The subject of “Sins of the Father” by Pamela Colloff, originally published in Texas Monthly [2000-04-01], is bomber Bobby Frank Cherry, but the essay also gives a glimpse into what life was like for Cherry’s son and other family members, a topic that is of course handled extensively in Cobbs/Smith’s account of her life growing up around Robert Chambliss.
McWhorter, Diane. Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Elizabeth H. Cobbs/Petric J. Smith’s “Further Reading” in the print version of Long Time Coming:
Bass, Jack. Taming the Storm: The Life and Times of frank M. Johnson, Jr. and the South’s Fight Over Civil Rights. Doubleday, 1993.
Blumberg, Rhoda Lois. Civil Rights: The 1960’s Freedom Struggle. Twayne, 1984.
Chalmers, David Mark. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. New Viewpoints series. Franklin Watts, 1981.
Clark, E. Culpepper. The Schoolhouse Door. Oxford UP, 1993.
Cohodas, Nadine. Strom Thurmond and the Politics of Southern Change. Simon & Schuster, 1993.
Goldman, Roger and David Gallen. Thurgood Marshall: Justice for All. Carroll and Graf, 1992.
Hemphill, Paul. Leaving Birmingham: Notes of a Native Son. Viking, 1993.
Hentoff, Nat. Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee. Harper, 1992.
Kennedy, Stetson. The Klan Unmasked. Florida Atlantic UP, 1990.
Nelson, Jack. Terror in the Night: The Klan’s Campaign Against the Jews. Simon & Schuster, 1993.
Nunnelley, William A. Bull Connor. University of Alabama Press, 1991.
O’Reilly, Kenneth. Black Americans: The FBI Files. Carroll and Graf, 1994.
Raines, Howell. My Soul is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered. Putnam’s, 1977.
Russell, Dick. The Man Who Knew Too Much. Carroll and Graf, 1992.
Sikora, Frank. Until Justice Rolls Down: The Birmingham Church Bombing Case. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991.
Sims, Patsy. The Klan. Stein & Day, 1978,
Summers, Anthony. Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Putnam’s, 1993.
Thompson, Jerry. My Life in the Klan: A True Story by the First Investigative Reporter to Infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Putnam’s, 1982.
Turner, John. The Ku Klux Klan. A History of Racism and Violence. Klanwatch, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, 1981.
Suggestions for other sources worthy of inclusion, especially those relating specifically to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, are welcome.