Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Doar, John, 1921-2014
John Doar Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1938-2009 (mostly 1960-1974)
264 boxes and 5 folders
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 1-240; 242-265


John Doar (1921-2014) was a lawyer who worked for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (1960-1967) and was chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee investigating the Watergate scandal (1973-1974). He also served as president of the New York City Board of Education (1968-1969) and as president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation (1967-1973). The collection primarily documents Doar's tenure with the Civil Rights Division in the form of court records, investigation files, correspondence, and notes, though materials from Doar's time on the Watergate impeachment inquiry committee and on the Board of Education are also present. To a lesser extent, the collection is composed of records from Doar's work for the Bedford-Stuyvesant Corporation and his private law practice.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily documents John Doar's tenure with the Civil Rights Division in the form of court records, investigation files, correspondence, and notes, though materials from Doar's time on the Watergate impeachment inquiry committee and on the Board of Education are also present. To a lesser extent, the collection is composed of records from Doar's work for the Bedford-Stuyvesant Corporation and his private law practice.

Please see the series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about each series.


The arrangement of materials in Series 1 and Series 3 are based on outlines prepared by John Doar and his staff detailing how his records were to be organized. The original outline for Series 1 may be found in the folder "Office Management: Filing" in Box 95 and the original outline for Series 3 may be found in the folder "Board of Education: Organization of Files" in Box 140. For both series, however, these outlines were not replicated exactly in the final arrangement of the materials, as some of the records included in the outlines were not actually present in the collection received by Princeton University. The processing archivist also consolidated and simplified the outlines to help researchers navigate the finding aid more easily.

Materials in Series 2 were arranged by the processing archivist in the absence of original order.

The collection is arranged into five series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Doar, John, 1921-2014

John Doar (1921-2014) was an attorney who prosecuted discrimination and segregation cases for the Justice Department during the civil rights movement. He also headed the committee that drafted the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal and was president of two organizations in New York City: the New York City Board of Education, which oversaw the city's public school system, and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation, the business arm of a development company in Brooklyn.

Doar was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1921 and raised in New Richmond, Wisconsin. He attended Princeton University for his undergraduate studies and majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After graduating from Princeton University in 1944, Doar studied law at the University of California, Berkeley, earning his law degree in 1949.

Following his graduation from law school, Doar returned to New Richmond and worked in private practice with his brother and cousin for the firm Doar and Knowles. The Department of Justice offered him a position in July 1960, where he initially served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General. In October, Doar joined the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, the institution tasked with enforcing the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 (and later the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act). He started in the Division as First Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General, serving first under Harold Tyler (1960-1961) and then under Burke Marshall (1961-1964).

Doar was sworn in as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights on April 22, 1965, making him head of the Civil Rights Division, a position he held until his resignation in December 1967. During his time at the Civil Rights Division, Doar was involved in a number of highly publicized cases and events of the civil rights movement, such as United States v. Price (commonly known as the "Mississippi Burning" trial) and the Selma-Montgomery march of 1965. Doar also escorted James Meredith onto the segregated University of Mississippi campus in 1962 to ensure that Meredith would be allowed to register, and later prosecuted Mississippi's governor, Ross Barnett, for denying Meredith's admission.

At the request of Robert Kennedy, Doar became president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation in 1967, an organization Kennedy had co-founded to help revitalize the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. Doar also joined the New York City Board of Education in 1968, during a period in the history of New York City's public schools that was characterized by increasing attempts to decentralize power over the school system and give more direct control over the schools to local communities. Doar's tenure on the Board of Education ended in May 1969, after the Board was dissolved by a state decentralization law.

Doar resigned from the Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation in 1973. In December of that same year, he was appointed chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, the group which would oversee the Watergate hearings. As head of a special impeachment inquiry committee, Doar led a team that conducted its own investigations into the charges made against Richard Nixon and drafted articles for his impeachment.

After Nixon's resignation in August 1974, Doar returned to New York and entered into private practice. He opened the firm Doar Rieck Kaley and Mack, where he remained active into his 90s. Doar also served as a trustee of Princeton University from 1969 to 1979. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

John Doar died on November 11, 2014 at age 92.

Collection History


The collection was deposited by John Doar in several increments on: June 30, 1975; March 24, 1977; May-June 1978; January 19, 1979; December 2012 (accession number ML.2012.050); June 2014 (accession number ML.2014.012); September 2014 (accession number ML.2014.027); 2017 (ML.2017.023); and 2018 (ML.2018.005).

The collection was formally gifted to the library on May 27, 2016, but was closed for two years as per donor wishes. Subsequent additions were also closed for two years after their receipt.


Approximately 12 linear feet of duplicative materials and less than one linear foot of personal materials were removed from the collection.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Rachel Van Unen from August 2016 through January 2017, with assistance from Khalil Bryant '18, Tatiana Evans '17, An Lanh Le '20, and Jeremy Zullow '17. The finding aid was written by Rachel Van Unen in February 2017.

During processing, some materials were rehoused in new archival boxes and folders. Processing staff cleaned dirt-covered materials with brushes, divided overstuffed folders into two or more folders, and removed metal fasteners that attached materials to folders. Staff retained original folder titles unless clarification was necessary or for the sake of consistency. Some folders were originally housed within larger accordion folders; staff removed most of these accordion folders from the collection, but incorporated any descriptive information on the folders into the folder titles. Empty folders were removed. Photographs were housed in mylar sleeves. There is no longer a Box 241, as the contents of that tube were flattened and placed in Oversize folder 5.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Boxes 1-164, Boxes 192-211, and Boxes 225-254 are open for research use.

Boxes 256-265 (ML.2018.005) are open for research use.

Boxes 165-191, Boxes 213-224, and Box 255 (Series 4: Watergate Investigation) will open for research in December, 2024.

Select folders from Series 1, Series 3, and Series 5, consolidated into Box 212, are restricted for 75 years from the latest dated material in each folder.

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, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, 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. 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 a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting 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:

John Doar 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): Boxes 1-240; 242-265