A set of papers and correspondence by Martin Luther King will form the highlight of Heritage Auctions' sale of Historical Manuscripts in New York on October 17.
The material is brought to auction by Maude Ballou, King's secretary and confidante. Ballou was instrumental in helping Dr King set up his office at the Southern Christian Youth Centre and worked closely with other civil rights activists including Rosa Parks and Adam Clayton Powell.
The collection includes the note cards for Dr King's famous Dexter Avenue Church farewell address, in which he thanks Maude Ballou personally for working "long and difficult hours when I needed her most".
Martin Luther King is one of the greatest icons of the civil rights movement, and memorabilia pertaining to him performs well when it comes to sale. A letter written by him in 1964 sold for $7,500 last year at Heritage Auctions.
Sandra Palomino, director of historical manuscripts at Heritage Auctions, commented: "The Ballou material provides a ground-level perspective of the civil rights struggle.
"The collection brings to light the courage and strength of all its participants. This material, available for the very first time, is unprecedented and illustrates the role of the church and the Reverend King's leadership."
Maude's son, Howard Ballou, said: "These are treasures from my mom's years at the beginning of the civil rights movement.
"My mother has finally decided that, after half a century safeguarding this material, and Dr. King's legacy, she wants to share these items with the public. It's time for them to be appreciated by others as much as we've appreciated them."