Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 5B: Southern Regional Office, 1859-1993

350 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

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 structures.

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 South Carolina.

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.

Collection History


Development records, personnel records, and mold-damaged records were separated from this series during processing.


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 Adriane Hanson in 2010-2012 with the assistance of Special Collections Assistant David Gillespie and student assistants Brandon Joseph, Abbie Kimbell, Jamie LaMontagne, and Emma Watt. Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in April 2012. Description of Subseries 5B: Southern Regional Office written by Brenda Tindal in May 2012. A group of Laura Murphy's papers (ML.2013.020) was processed in July 2013 by Sara Griffiths and Rachel Wilson '16. Records were removed to archival boxes at this time. Personnel records were separated from the rest of the collection and placed in separate boxes.

Boxes 3644, 3791, 3792, 4072, 4114, 4142, 4281, 4311, and 4533 were treated by American Freeze Dry, Inc. for mold.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

All records in Subseries 5B are open except for the boxes in the designated "Restricted Materials" section.

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.

Materials in MC001.03.05 in Box 4506 have been treated for mold; however, materials may still be fragile and exhibit signs of damage. Researchers should exercise caution when handling these materials. Not all materials were salvaged.

Credit this material:

Subseries 5B: Southern Regional Office; American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 3, Regional Offices Files Series, MC001-03-05, 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:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • ReCAP (rcpph): Box 3667-4015
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 5688

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Please see the Guide to the American Civil Liberties Union Records.

Related Materials

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

The Mudd Manuscript Library holds the papers of several ACLU officers:

Roger Nash Baldwin Papers

Peggy Lamson Collection on Roger Baldwin

Osmond K. Fraenkel Diaries

Jeffrey E. Fuller Papers

Arthur Garfield Hays Papers

Carol Pitchersky Papers

Nadine Strossen Papers

The Mudd Library also holds the records of several organizations involved in civil rights, including:

American United for the Separation of Church and State Records

Fund for the Republic Records

Law Students Civil Rights Research Council Records

World Press Freedom Committee Records

The Manuscripts Division at Princeton University holds the P.E.N. American Center Records.

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 civil liberties union
American Civil Liberties Union. Mountain States Regional Office
American Civil Liberties Union. Southern Regional Office
American Civil Liberties Union. Washington Office