- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- American civil liberties union
- Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
- American Civil Liberties Union Washington, D.C. Office Records
- Public Policy Papers
- Permanent URL:
- 35 boxes
- Storage Note:
Mudd Library collections are unavailable until further notice due to a renovation. See our webpage for the most current information.
This collection consists of the papers received and generated by the staff of the Washington, D.C. Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) during the 1950s and 1960s. The ACLU is a leading defender of civil liberties in the United States. Founded in 1920, it has been the recipient of sharp criticism for its willingness to defend unpopular causes and has participated in a majority of the landmark cases to come before the Supreme Court in the twentieth century. The Washington Office's primary responsibility is to monitor legislative issues. In the 1950s the office worked against abuses caused by McCarthyism, including loyalty oath requirements, powers of legislative investigating committees, and censorship of free speech and expression. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the office focused on civil rights issues and the defense of alternative means of self expression. The Washington Office was also deeply involved with defending the civil liberties of those associated with the federal government and its agencies.
Collection Description & Creator Information
Material in the two series includes correspondence, memoranda, telegrams, reports, legal briefs and pleadings, testimony, press releases, publications, and magazine and newspaper clippings. Series 1, Irving Ferman Records, contains more administrative documents than does Series 2, Lawrence Speiser Records, which consists largely of case files. Speiser's records also contain files that pre-date his position as director of the Washington, D.C. Office.
Both series contain similar headings and subheadings. For example, in each series the censorship heading has subheadings for "Books" (which includes books, magazines, journals and newspapers), "Radio/TV" (including licensing as well as programming restrictions), and "Post Office," while in each series the "Federal Agencies" heading is subdivided by executive office department, and the "Court Proceedings" headings document due process issues and are broken down by case name.
Throughout both series there is correspondence to and from members of Congress and their staffs and with various federal agencies.
Organized into the following series:
These series represent the work of the two directors of the Washington, D.C. Office in the 1950s and 1960s. They are arranged alphabetically by subject or format, and items are generally arranged chronologically within folders. For the most part the subject headings represent civil liberties issues, however the Ferman Series contains a large "Correspondence" heading which encompasses general correspondence, and both series contain a "Miscellaneous" heading.
- Collection Creator Biography:
The ACLU is the preeminent civil liberties organization in the United States. The ACLU describes itself as "our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country." Since its inception in 1920, the ACLU has played a part in nearly every significant American social or political issue in the 20th century. This includes important work in the areas of civil rights, children and women's rights, freedom of speech (and all First Amendment questions), and due process, among many others.
For a more detailed history of the ACLU, please see the history in the finding aid for the processed portion of the records.
These records were generated by the staff of the Washington, D.C. Office of the ACLU in 1974 . They were transferred to the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, with small additions in subsequent years.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No appraisal information is available.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Tom Rosko in Spring 1995. Finding aid written by Tom Rosko in Spring 1995.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Collection is open for research use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and 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.
- Credit this material:
American Civil Liberties Union Washington, D.C. Office Records; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Subject Terms:
- Aliens -- United States -- Civil rights -- 20th century.
Anti-Communist movements -- United States -- 20th century.
Assembly, Right of -- United States -- 20th century.
Capital punishment -- United States -- 20th century.
Censorship -- United States -- 20th century.
Citizen suits (Civil procedure) -- United States -- 20th century.
Civil rights -- United States -- 20th century.
Civil rights -- United States -- California -- 20th century.
Conscientious objectors -- United States -- 20th century.
Draft resistors -- United States -- 20th century.
Due process of law -- United States -- 20th century.
Freedom of association -- United States -- 20th century.
Freedom of movement -- United States -- 20th century.
Freedom of religion -- United States -- 20th century.
Freedom of speech -- United States -- 20th century.
Freedom of speech -- United States -- Officials and employees -- 20th century.
Law -- United States -- Cases -- 20th century.
Loyalty oaths -- United States -- 20th century.
Mentally ill -- United States -- 20th century.
Monopolies -- United States -- 20th century.
Police power -- United States -- 20th century.
Political rights -- United States -- 20th century.
- Genre Terms:
Legal correspondence, American -- 20th century.
Legal documents -- United States -- 20th century.
- American broadcasting company
International telephone and telegraph corporation
Baldwin, Roger N. (Roger Nash), 1884-1981
Bricker, John W. (John William), 1893-1936
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Lattimore, Owen, 1900-1989
Levy, Herbert Monte, 1923-
Miller, Henry, 1891-1980.
Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972.
Speiser, Lawrence, 1923-1991