Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 3A.12: Freedom of Belief, Expression, and Association: Loyalty and Security, 1939-1981

58 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Loyalty and Security subseries (24.36 linear feet) documents the ACLU's monitoring of and fight against due process abuses that resulted from perceived national security threats during the Cold War. It is arranged chronologically by year and then divided by the headings: miscellaneous, cases, Congressional investigating committees (excluding HUAC), Federal Loyalty Program, Fifth Amendment, House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), legislation, military security, private industry, and sedition and subversion. The files contain correspondence, memoranda, manuscripts, reports, legal documents, and printed materials.

Cases is the largest heading within the subseries and documents individual's cases in which the ACLU had an interest. The cases are organized by subjects including civilian loyalty, Coast Guard loyalty, Fifth Amendment, government, Gwinn Amendment, general loyalty, contempt, military loyalty, private industry, sedition, Smith Act, and treason.

The Federal Loyalty Program files document President Truman's executive order of March 21, 1947, allowing the government to deny employment to anyone when "reasonable grounds exist for belief that the person involved is disloyal to the government of the United States." These files span the years 1947 through 1962. The Fifth Amendment files document when people refused to testify against themselves or others and the Gwinn Amendment files cover the issue of required loyalty oaths from individuals residing in public housing.

The HUAC files are extensive and document the activities of the committee in detail and the ACLU's efforts to curb their power. In addition to the subseries, there are several boxes devoted solely to HUAC and one box to "Operation Abolition," a propaganda film made by HUAC. "Operation Abolition" created much controversy due to the blatant distortion of the events surrounding a student protest against HUAC hearings in San Francisco. These files are located at the end of the Loyalty Security subseries. (Series 6, Audio-visual material includes a copy of "Operation Abolition.")

Much of the Legislative heading concerns efforts to prevent the passage of loyalty oaths in various states. The private industry heading primarily deals with questions of loyalty and loyalty oaths for defense industry workers. The Sedition and Subversion heading is comprised of materials concerning the Communist Party and other political groups or individuals suspected of wanting to overthrow the U.S. government.

Also included are two small headings. The files for 1952 contain research materials collected for the publication of the Judges and the Judged, a detailed report on blacklisting prepared by Merle Miller for the ACLU. In the 1953 run, ten files document the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for espionage and the ACLU response.

Related records include the Marshall Civil Liberties Trust Fund Records, the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Ouster files, and the Mass Communications Subject Files (for materials on blacklisting) subseries.


No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

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 3A.12: Freedom of Belief, Expression, and Association: Loyalty and Security; American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 2, Subject Files Series, MC001-02-03, 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:
  • ReCAP (rcpph): Box 858-915

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 2, Subject Files Series, Boxes 704 through 1192 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.

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.