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Traveling Hopefully, 1982

Robert Louis Stephenson once wrote that to travel hopefully is better than to arrive. And the true reward is to labor. I have travelled hopefully for all these years. So has the ACLU. Some day, some time, but the goal is clear, the road is hard, and progress painful. We are approaching — we are beginning to approach —  a tolerable world of peace, order, and justice.

-Roger Baldwin, 95th Birthday Celebration, 1979

Reel Mudd’s showcase of the audiovisual materials from the Records of the American Civil Liberties Union continues with Traveling Hopefully. This 28 minute documentary tells the life story of Roger Baldwin, the ACLU director from 1920 to 1950. The film intersperses interviews of Baldwin by Gail Sheehy and Norman Lear with praise for Baldwin’s actions by Ira Glasser, Andrew Young, Norman Dorsen, Ted Kennedy and others. Much of the praise for Baldwin comes from a 1979 dinner honoring Baldwin’s 95th birthday.

In the conversations with Sheehy and Lear, Baldwin discusses significant personal and professional issues including State of Tennessee v. Scopes, the Paterson Strike, his first wife, defending controversial groups, and why civil liberties are important. This documentary aired on PBS stations in 1982, shortly after Baldwin’s death at the age of 97. John G. Avildsen, the director of Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Lean on Me, directed and produced this film, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short.

For more about Roger Baldwin, the ACLU, and Mudd’s Jurisprudence collections, see

This film is part of the Audiovisual Materials Series of the American Civil Liberties Union Records (Box 2039).

-John DeLooper


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