Held at: Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
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 ACLU Records.
These records document the administration and work of the ACLU's national office, regional offices, and legal projects, with particular emphasis on the areas of civil rights, children and women's rights, freedom of speech (and all First Amendment questions), and due process, among many others. The records include case files, correspondence, meeting minutes, research files, and files of staff members. A large portion of the records are related to the numerous cases that the ACLU was involved in on a wide range of civil liberties issues. Records are included from the national office, ACLU projects, notably the Arts Censorship Project, Capital Punishment Project, Children's Rights Project, Reproductive Freedom Project, and Women's Rights Project, and the Mountain States Regional Office, Southern Regional Office, and Washington Regional Office.
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.
FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Please see the Guide to the American Civil Liberties Union Records.
Materials are transferred from the ACLU annually.
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.
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.
This collection was processed by Adriane Hanson in 2010-2012 with the assistance of Special Collections Assistant David Gillespie and student assistants Alec Egan, Brandon Joseph, Abbie Kimbell, Jamie LaMontagne, and Emma Watt. Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in April 2011.
Development records, personnel records, confidential legal records, and mold-damaged records were separated from this subgroup during processing.
- Abortion -- Law and legislation -- United States -- 20th century
- African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century
- Capital Punishment -- United States
- Censorship -- United States -- 20th century
- Children's rights -- United States
- Civil rights -- United States -- 20th century
- Discrimination -- United States -- 20th century
- Indians of North America -- Civil rights -- 20th century
- Law -- United States -- Cases -- 20th century
- Suffrage -- United States
- Women's rights -- United States -- 20th century
- Public Policy Papers
- Finding Aid Author
- Adriane Hanson
- Finding Aid Date
- These papers were processed with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
- Access Restrictions
The ACLU Records have been reviewed for legal restrictions, and the collection contains both open and restricted materials. Please see the restriction notes in the file inventory for more specific information.
- Use Restrictions
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.
Series finding aid: ACLU Records, Subgroup 3: Organizational Matters Series.
The Organizational Matters series documents the administration of the ACLU National Office and its interactions with the regional offices, affiliates, outside organizations, and the general public. The records include committee meeting minutes and mailings, staff files, and department records. The majority of the records are the files of Executive Director Ira Glasser and the records of the Legal Department.
This series is a continuation of ACLU Records, Subgroup 2: Organizational Matters Series, 1930-1995.
Divided into seven subseries: Affiliates, Board Committees, Chronological Files, Departments, Officers' Files, Policies, and Miscellaneous.Physical Description
Series finding aid: ACLU Records, Subgroup 3: Project Files Series.
The Project Files series contains the records of twelve of the ACLU's projects, which each addressed an area of civil liberties violations. Project records typically consist of case files, research files, and project publicity and correspondence. The best documented projects are the Children's Rights Project and Women's Rights Project, and to a lesser extent the Arts Censorship Project, Capital Punishment Project, and Reproductive Freedom Project.
This series is a continuation of ACLU Records: Subgroup 2, Project Files, 1964-1979. In Subgroup 2, see also Series 3: Subject Files, 1921-1990 for materials on the subjects covered by the projects.
Divided into twelve subseries: Access to Justice Project, Arts Censorship Project, Capital Punishment Project, Children's Rights Project, Immigrants' Rights Project, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender AIDS Project, Reproductive Freedom Project, Revenue Sharing Enforcement Project, Selective Service Litigation Project, Sexual Privacy Project, Voters' Rights Project, and Women's Rights Project.Physical Description
Series finding aid: ACLU Records, Subgroup 3: Subject Files Series.
The Subject Files series contains articles, reports, court documents, and other materials collected by the ACLU during the course of its work. The main subjects are drugs, homelessness, and Supreme Court nominations, especially of Robert Bork. Other significant subjects in this series include campaign finance, discrimination, environmental equity and racism, school pension plans, state constitutions, and welfare.
This series is a continuation of ACLU Records: Subgroup 2, Subject Files, 1921-1990.
The boxes are arranged alphabetically by subject.Physical Description
Series finding aid: ACLU Records, Subgroup 3: Legal Case Files Series.
The Legal Case Files series documents the ACLU's involvement in litigation, ranging from files collected on cases for research purposes to records of cases they were significantly involved in. The records include documents filed with the court, correspondence, lawyer's notes, depositions and expert testimony, transcripts of the trials, newspaper clippings, and research materials on the background of the cases and legal precedents.
The Legal Case Files series contains records about over 1,500 cases, with the majority being files collected on non-ACLU cases for research on the broad range of civil liberties which the ACLU investigates. Common subjects include freedom of speech and expression, illegal surveillance and search, injustice in the legal system, public education, racial and sexual discrimination, and the separation of church and state, as well as fair employment and health care practices, immigration, information access and privacy, and politics and voting. Cases which are particularly well documented include Carlos Rivera v. John Rowland about the public defender system in Connecticut and three cases about public education: Brown v. Board of Education, Charlet v. Legislature of Louisiana, and Harper v. Hunt.
This series is a continuation of ACLU Records: Subgroup 2, Legal Case Files Series, 1933-1990. In Subgroup 3, see also Series 2: Project Files and Series 5: Regional Offices for cases litigated by the ACLU.
The boxes are arranged alphabetically by case.Physical Description
Series finding aid: ACLU Records, Subgroup 3: Regional Offices Series.
The Regional Offices series documents the work and administration of the ACLU's three regional offices: Mountain States Regional Office, concerned with civil rights in the west and Native American rights, the Southern Regional Office, focusing on civil rights in the south, and the Washington, D.C. office, which concentrates on national legislation and the actions of the federal government. The files include correspondence, case files, office publications, research files, and the papers of individual staff members.
This series is a continuation of ACLU Records: Subgroup 2, Subseries 1G: Regional Offices, 1953-1985.
Divided into three subseries: Mountain States Regional Office, Southern Regional Office, and Washington, D.C. Regional Office.Physical Description
Series finding aid: ACLU Records, Subgroup 3: Printed and Audiovisual Materials Series.
The Printed and Audiovisual Materials series contains the published works of the ACLU, including publications, audio recordings, and videos. These include educational materials published by the ACLU, newsletters, press releases, and public appearances and interviews with ACLU staff.
This series is a continuation of ACLU Records: Subgroup 2, Printed Materials Series, 1917-1995 and ACLU Records: Subgroup 2, Audiovisual Materials Series, 1920-1995.
Divided into four subseries: Audiovisual Materials, Newsletters, Press Releases, and Publications.Physical Description