1963 March on Washington record album
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    Auction Finds

    Reader asks about 1963 March on Washington newspaper

    Friday at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources for them to determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    This week’s question is about the value of a New York Times newspaper with coverage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


    The New York Times Thursday Aug. 29, 1963. How much is it worth?

    1963 March on Washington

    The top half of the front page of the New York Times for Aug. 29, 1963. Photo from the Times website.


    Most people write to ask me about the value of newspapers from the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President Kennedy. So imagine my surprise when I got this question. The writer didn’t mention the significance of the date – nor was I sent a photo – so I was a little confused about why this newspaper was so important.

    Then I recalled that the March on Washington was held on a scorcher of a day in August 1963 and wondered if this was the key. And so it was. The reader’s newspaper was the Times’ coverage of this momentous event from the day before.

    I’ve done blog posts and an interview with an expert on vintage newspapers about the Kennedy papers. I know that the most valuable newspapers are those from the town or city where an historical event occurred. Coverage by major newspapers like the Times can also yield a few bucks (but sometimes not).

    I had no idea of the worth of a newspaper that chronicled that day almost 50 years ago when Marian Anderson sang “I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned” to prep the estimated 200,000 to 250,000 people facing the Lincoln Memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. At auction a few months ago, I actually picked up a record album sanctioned by the march committee that captured the event.

    The lead story was one of five on the front page of the Times that chronicled the event, including anecdotes of the assembled mass of people. There were other stories inside the paper.

    1963 March on Washington

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the historic March on Washington in 1963. Photo from the website of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

    “More than 200,000 Americans, most of them black but many of them white, demonstrated here today for a full and speedy program of civil rights and equal job opportunities,” the story began. “It was the greatest assembly for a redress of grievances that this capital has ever seen.”

    King’s speech wasn’t mentioned until about halfway through the story (his remarks were among the last of the day), but the writer noted that he “ignited the crowd with words that might have been written by the sad, brooding man enshrined within.”

    The reporter quoted several passages from the speech (which, interestingly, King had made two months before at a march and rally in Detroit).

    While King’s speech was hopeful, the Times’ reporter wrote, John Lewis’ was the harshest. In fact, Lewis was persuaded to rewrite portions of the speech to tone it down – but he apparently didn’t take the bite out of it.

    1973 March on Washington record album

    The front cover of the documentary album for the 1963 March on Washington.

    The march was covered by some of the country’s other major mainstream newspapers and wire services, but I suspect not by many in the South – which were largely complicit in the ill treatment of African AmericansThe Atlanta Constitution covered it with several stories and columns, as well as the Atlanta Journal. One website showed an inside page of the Constitution with an ad for a Ku Klux Klan rally placed beneath the continuation of a Page 1 story. 

    African American newspapers obviously were there and represented.

    The 50th anniversary of the Aug. 28 rally and march is being celebrated next month in Washington. Meanwhile, the Library of Congress will hold an exhibit of professional and amateur photographs from the march starting on that same day. Called “A Day Like No Other,” the exhibit will be available until Feb. 28, 2014.

    As for the value of the newspaper, I always suggest that readers check Google and eBay to find out whether their newspapers have sold – or not – and for how much.

    In my own research, I could found no copies of the newspaper for sale via Google, but I did find photos offered in the Times’ store. Neither could I find any copies on eBay, where you can uncover just about anything. The auction site had pinback buttons, record albums and photographs from the march.

    I also searched the website rarenewspapers.com to try to find a copy of the newspaper, but no results turned up. So it’s hard to attach a value to it because there’s nothing for me to compare it with.

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