05 November 2019 Blogs, Academic, Community College, Faculty, Librarian, Student/Researcher

The Hidden History of the Voter Education Project

Historian Evan Faulkenbury talks about the “shocking” discovery made while doing research for his book Poll Power

By Courtney Suciu

“What I discovered shocked me,” Evan Faulkenbury recently wrote in a case study about using ProQuest History Vault to research his book Poll Power: The Voter Education Project and the Movement for the Ballot in the American South.

“As a historian, I have always been fascinated by the inner-workings of organizations,” he explained. “And by following the civil rights movement’s money trail, I came across the Voter Education Project (VEP).”

According to Faulkenbury, an assistant professor of history at SUNY Cortland, VEP is a little-known “collective of civil rights leaders working to fight Jim Crow at the ballot box.” The reason little is known about the organization is “because its leaders deliberately kept their work in the shadows.”

“They did so,” Faulkenbury wrote, to stay “out of the crosshairs of conservatives who felt threatened by African American political power”

“The VEP remained discreet during its entire existence,” he added, “but it played a vital role within the civil rights movement.”

If the history of the VEP is so obscure, how did Faulkenbury know what kind of role it played in the movement? Because using ProQuest History Vault, he was able to make the discovery that “shocked” him.

“I found a hidden history of the civil rights movement – the clandestine role of the VEP in funding, bolstering, and empowering thousands of grassroots Black activists across the American South during the 1960s,” he wrote.

“Without ProQuest History Vault, I never would have discovered this link in the chain of events,” Faulkenbury wrote. “Without these sources, my book would’ve still been published, but it would’ve also lacked key information.

“I hope future historians will continue to discover sources through the ProQuest History Vault that will enrich their scholarship.”

Learn more about:

  • The Voter Education Project (VEP)
  • The history of the civil rights movement
  • Voting rights activism
  • Using ProQuest History Vault in research
  • The value of primary source content


Courtney Suciu is ProQuest’s lead blog writer. Her loves include libraries, literacy and researching extraordinary stories related to the arts and humanities. She has a Master’s Degree in English literature and a background in teaching, journalism and marketing. Follow her @QuirkySuciu