Special Original Document Display In Memory Of Rosa Parks
Press Release · Wednesday, October 26, 2005



The only opportunity for the media to see and photograph select original documents from Rosa Parks’ December 1, 1955 arrest. The National Archives will provide scanned images of the documents via CD-ROM.
  • Diagram of the bus, showing where Rosa Parks was seated on December 1, 1955
  • Fingerprint chart of Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955
  • Police Report on the arrest of Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955


Friday, October 28, 2005, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.


National Archives Southeast Region
Textual Research Room
5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, Georgia 30260
Directions: I-75 South to Exit 233, Morrow. Make a left onto Georgia Highway 54/Jonesboro Road and proceed approximately one mile past the main entrance to Clayton College and State University; the National Archives facility will be on the right.


National Archives Regional Administrator James McSweeney will give a brief overview and history of the documents on display. He will be available for interviews.


On December 1, 1955, during a typical evening rush hour in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42 year-old woman took a seat near the front of the bus on her way home from the Montgomery Fair department store where she worked as a seamstress. Before she reached her destination, she quietly set off a social revolution when the bus driver instructed her to move, and she refused. The bus driver called the police and they arrested Rosa Parks, an African American woman of unchallenged character. The African-American community of Montgomery organized a boycott of the buses in protest of the discriminating treatment they had endured for years. The boycott, under the leadership of 26-year-old minister Martin Luther King, Jr., was a peaceful, coordinated protest that lasted 381 days and captured world attention.

Mrs. Parks, who passed away on October 24, was called the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement." She was not the first person to be prosecuted for violating the segregation laws on the city buses, but it was her quiet act of defiance that touched a nerve in the black community of Montgomery, Alabama, and set in motion a historic act of resistance.

Original documents to be displayed for press only:

Diagram of the bus, showing where Rosa Parks was seated on December 1, 1955
On the city buses of Montgomery, Alabama, the front 10 seats were permanently reserved for white passengers. This diagram shows that, while riding home from her job at the Montgomery Fair Department Store, Mrs. Parks was seated in the first row behind those 10 seats. When the bus became crowded, the bus driver instructed Mrs. Parks to vacate her seat for the white passengers boarding. Mrs. Parks refused to vacate her seat and remained seated. Under existing municipal law the bus driver had the authority to move the line separating black and white passengers. When Mrs. Parks defied his orders, he called the police.

Fingerprint chart of Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955
Mrs. Parks was promptly arrested and taken to the police station where she was booked, fingerprinted, and briefly incarcerated. The police report shows that she was charged with "refusing to obey orders of the bus driver." For openly challenging the racial laws of her city, she remained at great physical risk while held by the police, and her family was terrified for her. When she called home her mother’s first question was: "Did they beat you?"

Police Report on the arrest of Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955
Police officers arrested Rosa Parks and took her to the police station where she was charged with "refusing to obey orders of bus driver." The city subsequently charged that Mrs. Parks violated the code of the City of Montgomery and refused to comply with the reassignment to a section or seat reserved for "the race to which she belonged."

The records shown here were submitted as evidence in the federal court case Browder v. Gayle, which challenged the constitutionality of the laws concerning racial segregation on the public buses of Montgomery, Alabama. As the official depository for Federal court records from the Southern state, The National Archives Southeast Region is a treasure trove for civil rights records, including records from other landmark civil rights cases such as Hosea Williams, e. al. v. Honorable George C. Wallace, et. al. (civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights), Hamilton E. Holmes, et al. v. Walter N. Danner (desegregation of the University of Georgia), and Harry Briggs, Jr., et al. v. R. W. Elliott, et al. (one of the five cases heard collectively as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka).

# # #

For press information, please contact Ms. Tomlin at the National Archives Southeast Region at 770-968-2100, or


This page was last reviewed on January 7, 2013.
Contact us with questions or comments.