Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 2A: Amnesty Project, 1964-1980

25 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Project on Amnesty operated from 1972-1975, and these files (10.50 linear feet) document amnesty and clemency issues for draft evaders, military deserters, and veterans holding other-than- honorable discharges. The Project on Amnesty was headed by Henry Schwarzschild. In the fall of 1974, the American Civil Liberties Union merged the Military Rights Project headed by David F. Addlestone into the Amnesty Project. The Clemency Litigation Project under litigation director Edwin J. Oppenheimer, also came under the umbrella of the Amnesty Project; it focused on litigation for war resisters. The staff of the Project on Amnesty and the Military Rights Project (MRP) both worked for the Clemency program on the "exclusion" of individuals who had relinquished their American citizenship.

When it became clear that the Project on Amnesty would not continue beyond the end of 1975, David Addlestone and Susan Newman, a staff attorney, sought new funding for the MRP. They were awarded a grant from The Carnegie Corporation of New York, to establish the National Military Discharge Upgrading Project in affiliation with Georgetown University Law School. The new project began operating on July 1, 1975.

The files are grouped under four headings: administrative, subject files, clemency litigation division, and project director's records, each arranged alphabetically within each heading. The materials grouped under the administrative files heading record the history of the Project itself and the ACLU's policy on amnesty. The records contain correspondence, background material, statistics on the draft and the Vietnam War, and documents on President Ford's establishment of a Presidential Clemency Board. There is substantive material covering "Separation Program Numbers (SPNs)," a code the Army used to denote reasons why an individual was discharged. The ACLU ran a series of advertisements offering to inform veterans what the SPNs on their discharge papers meant.

The project subject files which contain the bulk of the material, include Henry Schwarzschild's correspondence with the staff of other amnesty organizations and the Selective Service System, attorneys in the Departments of Defense and Justice, and members of United States Congress. There are a few historical papers which cover amnesty in American history prior to the Vietnam War era, public statements on amnesty, and congressional testimony. The files on other amnesty organizations cover many groups.

The files of the Clemency Litigation Division include correspondence, project reports, and legal dockets. The Division handled a variety of military, draft, immigration, and Reconciliation Service cases.

The Project Director's files are subdivided into two sections: project files and project subject files. The materials span from 1964 to 1979 and includes material which pre-dates and post- dates the existence of the project. The project files contain correspondence with officials of other amnesty organizations such as the Center for Social Action, National Council of Churches, and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Included is correspondence with the Selective Service System regarding statistical summaries of the draft population. Correspondence with the Presidential Clemency Board and its chairman Charles E. Goodell and General Counsel Lawrence Baskir includes summaries of pending clemency cases; also found are numerous internal memoranda critical of the Presidential Clemency Program.

Also included is material pertaining to a minority report issued by a few members of the Clemency Board, led by Gen. Lewis Walt. There are also letters to and from Congressmen, including information pertaining to a list compiled by Senator Edward Kennedy of men under indictment for draft evasion.

There are several restricted files which contain correspondence with and information about clemency program applicants and discharge upgrading applicants seeking the assistance of the ACLU. Also restricted are a "contributions" file which contains membership and donor information and a file containing billing information.

The project subject files contain broad files on "conscientious objection" and "conscription" filled with press releases, minutes, memoranda, miscellaneous legal documents, newsletters, and clippings consisting chiefly of background information from the late 1960s. Other major subject files include a file on Amnesty legislation containing draft and final bills from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, along with correspondence regarding those bills; a file on the implementation of President Ford's Clemency Program consisting of rules and regulations and presidential statements and proclamations; and a file of general background information consisting of various drafts of policies, reports, articles, and statements.

There are also additional materials in Series 5, Printed Materials, which contains both ACLU and non-ACLU press releases, manuals, reports, pamphlets, and statements, as well as Congressional hearing transcripts and reports, newsletters and pamphlets of other Amnesty organizations, law journal articles, and the Presidential Clemency Board Report to the President (1975). They can be located under "Military Rights."


Series 2 is arranged alphabetically by project and case name, respectively.

Collection History


During the processing of this collection, many items were discarded, including newspaper clippings from the New York Times and other major newspapers, government publications, well- known serial publications, and publications and large distribution memoranda from well-known and well-documented organizations such as the American Jewish Committee or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.


These papers were processed with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Paula Jabloner in 1994-1996 with the assistance of Assistant Archivist for Technical Services Daniel Linke, Special Collections Assistants Amy Escott, Claire Johnston, Alison McCuaig, and Tom Rosko, and students Laurie Alexander, Christina Aragon, Laura Burt, Jue Chen, Clement Doyle, Joe Faber, Said Farah, Boyd Goodson, Naomi Harlin, Janet Hine, Matthew Honahan, Katherine Johnson, Damian Long, Theresa Marchitto, Laura Myones, Olivia Kew, Grace Koo, Dan Sack, Bijan Salehizadeh, Tina Wang, Kyle Weston, and Elizabeth Williamson.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Subgroup 2 is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Subseries 2A: Amnesty Project; American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 2, Project Files Series, MC001-02-02, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 623-647

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 2, Project Files Series, Boxes 623 through 703 are stored offsite. The records in these boxes have been digitized and are available online to members of the Princeton University Community, or visitors to campus, through the Princeton University Library's subscription to the Gale database American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990. Please contact the contact Mudd Manuscript Library for further information.

Public records of the ACLU from 1917 to 1989, have been microfilmed by the Microfilming Corporation of America (MCA) and University Microfilms International (UMI). These records include minutes of the board of directors, mailings to the board of directors, biennial conference papers, policy guides, the national legal docket, organization manuals, constitution and bylaws, legal briefs, and publications. The microfilm may be requested through this finding aid, in the second series.

Related Materials

American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, D.C. Office Records

American United for the Separation of Church and State Records

Roger N. Baldwin Papers

Osmond K. Fraenkel Diaries

Fund for the Republic Records

Arthur Garfield Hays Papers

Peggy Lamson Collection on Roger N. Baldwin

Law Students Civil Rights Research Council Records

PEN American Center Records (at Firestone Library)

Other Finding Aids

This finding aid describes a portion of the American Civil Liberties Union Records held at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. For an overview of the entire collection, instructions on searching the collection and requesting materials, and other information, please see the Guide to the American Civil Liberties Union Records.


Historical sketch based on In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU by Samuel Walker. See also Samuel Walker's The American Civil Liberties Union: An Annotated Bibliography.

American Union Against Militarism
United States. | Constitution. 1st-10th Amendments
Marshall Civil Liberties Trust Fund
National Civil Liberties Bureau (U.S.)
New York Times company
Baldwin, Roger N. (Roger Nash), 1884-1981 (1884-1981)
Dorsen, Norman
Dulles, John Foster (1888-1959)
Ennis, Bruce J., 1941-
Epperson, Susan
Escobedo, Danny
Everson, Arch R.
Gault, Gerald Francis, 1949 or 50-
Gideon, Clarence Earl
Griswold, Estelle
Hays, Arthur Garfield, 1881-1954
Holtzman, Elizabeth.
Jacobellis, Nico
Levy, Herbert Monte, 1923-
Malin, Patrick Murphy, 1903-1964
Miranda, Ernesto
Neier, Aryeh, 1937-
Neuborne, Burt, 1941-
Nixon, Richard M. Richard Milhous 1913-1994
Pemberton, John de J., Jr., 1919-2009
Perry, Richard L.
Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972.
Powell, John A. (John Anthony)
Reitman, Alan
Schempp, Edward L.
Schwarzschild, Henry
Scopes, John Thomas, 1900-1970
Seeger, Daniel A.
Tinker, John Frederick
Wulf, Melvin A.