Voter Education Project organizational records
Scope and contents
The Voter Education Project (VEP) organizational records span the years 1962-1992, with the bulk of the material dated 1969-1985. Materials include correspondence; records of the Board of Directors and Executive Directors; departmental and state branch files; personnel files; financial records; printed materials such as flyers, posters, reports and brochures; photographs and audio and film recordings; and files related to elections in the South, projects funded by VEP and the extensive research conducted by VEP on elections and voters.
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- Voter Education Project, Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.) (Organization)
Some audio-visual material are in obselete format and can not be accessed at this time.
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The Voter Education Project (VEP) was an Atlanta-based organization dedicated to funding voter education programs and registration drives, as well as conducting research on voting and elections in the eleven Southern states.
The Voter Education Project was formed in 1962 as a program of the Southern Regional Council (SRC). The early VEP was planned in 1961 by SRC Director Leslie Dunbar. The VEP did not directly engage in any voter registration activities, only granting funds to civil rights organizations to support their voter registration drives and any voting related research. The VEP became an official program of SRC on April 1, 1962. The first Executive Director of the project was Wiley Branton.
Initially, VEP was meant to be a pilot program lasting only two and a half years. In 1964 SRC proposed a permanent program with expanded goals, including maximum voter registration, citizenship education, and leadership training. The second Executive Director of the program, Vernon Jordan, established VEP offices in several southern states. From 1965-1970, the VEP continued to channel grant money to various voter registration projects in Southern states.
Due to changing tax laws for non-profit organizations, in 1969 SRC and VEP administrators decided that VEP should become an independent organization. VEP became an independent organization on June 1, 1971, under the leadership of its third Executive Director, John Lewis.
Although the VEP primarily targeted poor, Southern, African-American communities, it did not exclude other groups, and awarded grants to many organizations throughout the country that benefited Americans of all races. Both under SRC and independent of it, the VEP remained a non-partisan organization. VEP also functioned as a research center, and was known as an authoritative source for statistics on Southern elections and voter registration in general, as well as trend analysis, studies on specific issues and statistics broken down by race and gender. VEP emphasized the collection of evaluative statistics for its own programs and the communication of their findings and results to the public.
The economic recession of the early 1970s severely curtailed VEP’s activities and severely reduced office staff. In 1977 John Lewis resigned to run for Congress and was replaced by Vivian Malone Jones. 1977 and 1978 were low points for funding for the VEP, and staffing and programs were cut. Jones resigned in 1978 due to poor health, and Sherrill Marcus became the fifth Executive Director of VEP.
VEP’s financial problems continued throughout the 1980’s, and the organization was close to folding in 1981. In 1982, Geraldine Thompson took over as Executive Director, serving without pay for several months. Thompson led a campaign to salvage the organization, attracting funding by expanding the purview of VEP,and coordinating major voting initiatives with other Southern and national organizations.
Due to a lack of funding, the Voter Education Project closed its doors in January 1992. At that time Executive Director Ed Brown was the only employee, and served his last months in that position unpaid. His last act was to transfer the records of VEP to the library at Clark Atlanta University.
359 Linear feet
Language of Materials
The records are arranged into seven series: Office files; Project files; Election records; Research files; Financial records; Printed and published materials; and Audio-visual materials.
- African American women
- African Americans--Civil rights
- Bond, Julian, 1940-2015
- Branton, Wiley Austin, 1923-1988
- Brown, Ed
- Coleman, Clarence D.
- Jackson, Maynard Holbrook Jr.
- Jones, Vivian Malone
- Jordan, Vernon (Vernon Eulion)
- Lewis, John, 1940-2020
- Marcus, Sherrill
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Southern States
- Thompson, Geraldine
- Voter Education Project (Southern Regional Council)
- Voter Education Project organizational records, 1962-1992
- Finding aid prepared by Courtney Chartier and Allison Galloup, 2011 March.
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