Subseries 5B: Southern Regional Office
349 linear feet
This collection is stored at Mudd Manuscript Library.
Requests will be delivered to Public Policy Papers, MUDD Reading Room
Collection Creator: American Civil Liberties Union..
Dates: Mostly 1965-1985.
Extent: 349 linear feet
Any restrictions in this collection are noted in the inventory. If no
restrictions are listed, materials are available for research use.
This subseries documents the activities of the Southern Regional Office
from the 1960's to the 1980's, including records of its formation and
the court cases in which its staff litigated. In general, this subseries
contains correspondence, memos, court documents, amicus briefs,
publications, testimony, reports and studies, administrative files,
personnel records, meeting minutes, and documents related to the history
of the office. The Southern Regional Office files are grouped under
eleven headings: Administrative files, Affiliates, Briefs, Case Files,
Challenges, Georgia Voting Rights Legislation, Minority Land Project,
Operation Southern Justice, Staff, and Subject files.
The Case files constitute the largest
component of the Southern Regional Office records. This section contains
306 boxes of material, documenting court cases for which the office
provided litigation in the thirteen Southern states. There is a generous
amount of material pertaining to cases such as Armour v. Nix (1979), which held that an interdistrict
remedy to integrating schools is not appropriate; Busbee v. Smith, relating to the legislative redistricting
and elections, holding that elections could be held after the first
Tuesday after the first Monday in November, among other major cases.
Many of the case files document ACLU's efforts to challenge injustice
and segregation in public arenas, including schools, juries, prisons,
and employment. Researchers might also be interested in the transcript
and case materials in the Clay v. The United
States which involved famed boxer and conscientious objector,
Muhammad Ali, detailing his refusal to be inducted into the United
States Army and the legal and professional ramifications that followed.
Relatedly, the Briefs section includes
material related to civil suits, appeals and appellant briefs, including
those related to the Democratic Party of the State of Mississippi, the
National Democratic Party, and the National Democratic Party of the
State of Mississippi, among others.
The Administrative files include letters of
correspondence and other documents related to the formation of the
Southern Regional Office, organizational membership, financial and legal
reports, and ACLU litigation policies and guides. In terms of the
personnel and leaders associated with the regional office, researchers
will find the Staff section of this subseries
of interest, as it contains materials related to staff attorneys Morris
Brown, Emily Calhoun Carssow, Christopher Coates, as well as case files
compiled by director Charles Morgan Jr. In addition, the Affiliates section largely consists of records
related to other regional chapters based in the South and its leadership
The Alabama section contains records on the
state's politics, census figures, voter laws, and various documents
related to Alabama court cases. Relatedly, the Challenges records include materials concerning laws
governing elections, due process, and the Southern Regional Office's
preemptory challenges in the South, especially in Alabama, Georgia, and
In earmarking voting rights and racial discrimination as their signature
aims, the Southern Regional Office initiated various projects to address
these issues. In this subseries, there are records related to the
offices' work on the Georgia Voting Rights
Legislation; the Minority Land
Project, which sought to investigate discriminatory practices
in home and landownership and assist and educate minority landowners on
their property rights; and Operation Southern
Justice, a program that addressed segregation in the South's
judicial systems. More generally, the Subject
files covers the gamut of civil liberties issues in which the
office was involved, as well as information pertaining to external
organizations and projects that focus on ensuring civil liberties.
In Subgroup 2, see also Subseries 1G: Regional Offices,
1953-1985 and Subseries 3C.6: Equality Before the Law: Voting
Rights, 1941-1975. In Subgroup 3, see also Subseries 2K: Voters' Rights Project.
The boxes are arranged alphabetically by subject or document type.
Founded in 1964, the Southern Regional Office of the American Civil
Liberties Union was established in Atlanta, Georgia, under the direction
of civil rights attorney Charles S. Morgan, Jr. A longtime resident of
Birmingham, Alabama, Morgan had a reputation for challenging the state's
segregationists in the 1960s. At this time, Atlanta—self-proclaimed as a
city "too busy to hate"—was arguably the epicenter of the social and
political milieu of the African American struggle for justice and equal
rights. Coinciding with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the
Southern Regional Office used the provisions of the act, making
segregation in public accommodations unconstitutional, to address
violations in the targeted areas of voting rights and racial
discrimination. As part of these objectives, the office launched
Operation Southern Justice and the ACLU Voting Rights Project.
Operation Southern Justice sought to
desegregate administers of justice and to counter discriminatory
practices in the South's judicial system. Of particular focus were
correctional facilities, grand and trial juries, and the bar. Through
the Supreme Court decision in Washington v.
Lee, holding that the racial segregation of prisons and jails
in Alabama was unconstitutional, Operation Southern Justice was
instrumental in helping to end segregation in county road gangs, jails,
and prisons throughout the South. The Voting Rights
Project (VRP) was initiated in 1965 to educate and protect
the voter rights of communities with racial and language minorities in
the South. VRP addressed issues such as redistricting, election reform,
and ballot access, among other barriers to voting. To date, under the
auspices of the Voter's Rights Project, ACLU continues litigation to
enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on behalf of African Americans,
Native Americans, ex-felons, and other historically debased citizens in
the South and elsewhere.
Subseries 5B: Southern Regional Office; 1934-1998 (mostly 1965-1985); American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 3, Regional Offices Files
Series, Public Policy Papers, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.