Planning & Instructions

Each trip required an enormous amount of planning, and most the overall logistics was handled by the WIMS office run out of Polly Cowan’s apartment in New York City. The day-to-day planning and local connections were handled by Doris Wilson and Susie Goodwillie in Jackson. The organizers told the team members what clothes to wear and instructed them on what supplies to bring to the Freedom Schools.

The New York staff briefed the teams on what to expect in Mississippi, scheduled flights,  and provided emergency phone numbers in case of trouble. WIMS tried to account for every detail, ensure the women’s safety, and use their time as effectively as possible. After each trip, the teams met to tell what had happened during their visit and their impressions of how they might continue to help the southern women. Cowan recorded these debriefing sessions and they are part of the organizational records.

  • List of Materials for Canton Project, 1964
    In 1964 one of WIMS’s goals was to help the Freedom Schools. This list of the supplies needed by the Canton Freedom School has a note Susie Goodwillie wrote about where to send the materials, and adding that they should send a book of photographs entitled The Family of Man.
  • Suggestions for Supplies and Wardrobe to Take to Mississippi
    The WIMS organizers sent the team members suggestions for what to take with them to Mississippi, including wardrobe advice. Note the white gloves.
  • WIMS Team Members’ Responsibilities
    The WIMS organizers reminded each team member of the problems they might meet, and how to respond. These varied from how to deal with a member of the press, to combating rumors about themselves as civil rights workers, to safety recommendations. “For the safety of all concerned,” the organizers warned, “please remember to take staff advice and never go out on your own without reporting and keeping in touch with your checkpoint.”
  • WIMS Phone Numbers
    The WIMS organizers understood that it was important for every WIMS team member to be able to reach out for help at any time. This 1965 list is virtually the same as that of 1964. Note that it includes members of the Justice Department, such as John Doar, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, and Marion Wright [Edelman], legal defense attorney for the NAACP in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • WIMS Reports
    To get as much information as possible from each team and each team member, the WIMS organizers asked each woman to write a report on her return. The supplemented theinformation provided at the team debriefings.