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American Civil Liberties Union Records Processing Funded


The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has awarded the library funding to process a 2,000 linear foot addition to the American Civil Liberties Union Records, making these important materials more accessible to researchers. Work on this two year project will commence in July, with completion set for June 30, 2011. Adriane Hanson, who previously completed NHPRC-funded projects to process the George Kennan and James Forrestal Papers and Mudd’s economics collections, will manage the project.

The ACLU is the pre-eminent civil liberties organization in the United States and these records document its important work in the areas of civil rights, children and women’s rights, freedom of speech (and all First Amendment questions), due process, the right to privacy, and church-state separation issues. The ACLU describes itself as “our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” Since its inception in 1920, the ACLU has played a part in nearly every significant American social or political issue in the 20th century.

The collection consists of official records of the organization’s national office in New York City, as well as records of its regional offices in Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; and Denver. Found within these records are materials documenting special initiatives such as the Children’s Rights Project, the Reproductive Freedom Project, and the Women’s Rights Project. Spanning the latter third of the 20th century, these records document the ACLU’s participation in many of the nation’s important civil liberties events, including the civil rights movement, Native American rights issues, women’s rights, including abortion rights, as well as highly politicized issues such as the Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings, the 1990 Texas flag burning case (Texas v. Johnson), and the Iran-Contra hearings.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Records Processing Project aims to process nearly 2,000 linear feet of post-World War II ACLU records to make them accessible to researchers. Due to the potential for restricted materials, this entire group of records is currently closed. Upon completion of processing, the great majority of these records (over 90%) will open immediately, with much of the remaining restricted material opening within a few years. These record will join the over 1,200 linear feet of processed and unrestricted ACLU material the library already holds (The Roger Baldwin Years, 1917-1950 and American Civil Liberties Union Records 1947-1995) that documents the ACLU’s history from its founding in 1920 into the post-World War II period.

Look for future blog entries describing the progress of this project.

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