Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Hays, Arthur Garfield, 1881-1954
Arthur Garfield Hays Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
42 boxes and 1 folder
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-42


The Arthur Garfield Hays Papers consist of correspondence, case files, speeches, articles, books, news clippings, and photos which document his career as a New York City lawyer and general counsel for the ACLU.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of correspondence, case files, speeches, articles, books, news clippings, and photographs which document Hays's career as a New York City lawyer and general counsel for the ACLU beginning in 1920. Case files comprise the single largest series of this collection and include correspondence, court papers, legal briefs, and other items related to particular court cases in which Hays was a participant. The bulk of this material concerns the numerous legal motions filed in many high-profile cases involving Hays, such as labor disputes in the coal mining districts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia (1922-1935), including the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1922; right to strike cases taken against Jersey City, NJ, mayor Frank "Boss" Hague; John Strachey's deportation case; the Emerson Jennings vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania conspiracy case; the Jehovah's Witnesses and the right not to salute the American flag; the case of Stanley E. Faithful vs. the DAILY MIRROR and other newspapers on charges of libel conerning the circumstances of his daughter's death (much of the material collected by Hays's brother Alan); and cases relating to communism and sedition in the 1940s.

Collection Creator Biography:

Hays, Arthur Garfield, 1881-1954

Arthur Garfield Hays was born in Rochester, New York on December 12, 1881. His father and mother, both of German descent, belonged to prospering families in the clothing manufacturing industry. After graduating from City College of New York in 1902 and going on to receive his law degree from Columbia in 1905, Hays formed a law firm with two of his former classmates that gained prominence representing German interests in World War I.

Hays was active in civil liberties issues before becoming general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. From this point one can recognize the emergence of what many have called Hays's "dual personality," in which he became a wealthy lawyer who represented the interests of power and fame (his more prominent clients ranged from Wall Street brokers and best-selling authors to notorious gamblers and the Dionne quintuplets)--while at the same time rigorously defending the individual liberty of victims of discriminatory laws.

The list of famous cases in which Hays took part is lengthy, including the Scopes trial (often called the "monkey trial") in 1925 in which a school teacher in Tennessee was tried for teaching evolution; the Sacco and Vanzetti case in which two Italian anarchists in Boston were put to death in 1927 for a murder they denied committing; and the Scottsboro case where eight black men from Alabama were condemned to die in 1931 for allegedly attacking two white women. Hays also attended the Reichstag trial in Berlin on behalf of Georgi Dmitrov, a Bulgarian Communist tried by Nazis in 1933 for burning the Reichstag.

In addition to his work as a lawyer, Hays wrote an astounding number of books and articles. As a gifted writer and eloquent debater, he added his perspective to virtually every individual rights issue of his day. His autobiography, entitled City Lawyer: the Autobiography of a Law Practice (1942), provides a colorful account of his more noteworthy cases, and his articles and book reviews demonstrate his wide-ranging knowledge of a nation and a world experiencing dramatic change in the way individual rights were perceived.

Hays married Blanche Marks in 1908 and divorced her in 1924. They had one daughter, Mrs. Lora Spindell. He married Aline Davis Fleisher in 1924, who died in 1944. They also had a daughter, Mrs. Jane Butler. After more than four decades at the center of the individual rights debate, Hays died of a heart attack on December 14, 1954.

Collection History


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 Clement C. Doyle and Shawn O'Neil (members of Princeton's Class of 1995) during the 1994-1995 academic year. Finding aid written by Clement C. Doyle and Shawn O'Neil (members of Princeton's Class of 1995) during the 1994-1995 academic year.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

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:

Arthur Garfield Hays Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-42