Malcolm Bell (1931- ) is an author, lawyer, and whistle blower; he was formerly a prosecuting attorney for the State of New York's Department of Law task force investigating the September 1971 Attica Prison Uprising. Collection comprises Bell's extensive investigative notes, witness statements, legal memoranda, trial records, correspondence, writings, clippings, and subject files related to the Attica Uprising. Also included are drafts for Bell's book, The Turkey Shoot: Tracking the Attica Cover-Up
, a documentary video, Ghosts of Attica
, and ephemera such as programs and fliers. Subjects include events during the uprising, the subsequent cover-up, investigative efforts, and legal cases; Attica anniversary events; activism on behalf of Attica Uprising victims; and related topics such as police violence, political corruption in New York State, African Americans in the prison system, the U.S. legal system in general, and the effects of systemic racism in the U.S. In addition, Bell's papers document his interest in what he saw as related social issues such as corporate corruption and immigrant rights. Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive at Duke University.
The collection comprises investigation files, correspondence, legal memoranda, court records and transcripts, drafts and published writings, interviews, many news clippings, and subject files related to the September 1971 Attica Prison Uprising. The papers, which cover the lifespan of the uprising, its aftermath, and related criminal and civil trials which stretched from 1971 to 2017, were assembled by Malcolm Bell, former prosecuting attorney and whistleblower. Much of the material is heavily annotated by Bell.
Subjects represented in the papers include: events during the Attica uprising and subsequent legal cases and political repercussions; media coverage of the uprising; police violence at Attica and elsewhere; African Americans in the prison system; the U.S. legal system in general; and the effects of systemic racism in the U.S. Clippings files and other materials document Bell's other interests: whistleblowing in general, the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, immigrant rights, and peace activism.
The core of the collection consists of Bell's Attica Uprising investigative files, dating from 1971 to the 2017, which include copious handwritten notes, statements to officials and the press, articles, correspondence, and related legal memoranda, affidavits, and full trial transcripts. The materials document in detail the trajectory of the initial Attica investigation and the subsequent cover-up investigation which began with Bell's resignation from the State of New York's Attica task force in 1974. The 1975 report on the cover-up which Bell wrote after resigning from the task force and sent to N.Y. State Governor Hugh Carey, is also in the collection, in the Writings by Bell series. Related materials include activist newsletters, ephemera related to Attica programs and anniversaries, and materials related to the group "Forgotten Victims of Attica." Of interest is a lengthy prison inmate's diary, unknown author, detailing events from the Uprising.
Although there is a correspondence series which houses incoming and outgoing emails and letters, additional exchanges are found throughout the collection. Correspondents include prison rights activists; Attica Uprising victims; New York State justices, investigative officials, and attorneys, including Anthony Simonetti, Don Schecter, and Robert Fischer; American authors and journalists; and Bell's readers and supporters. There are obituaries and other items relating to Attica inmates legal counsel and activist Elizabeth Fink, whose papers are also in the Rubenstein Library, and former Attica inmate Frank "Big Black" Smith, who became a paralegal with Elizabeth Fink's office, and who was an activist leader on behalf of accused Attica inmates and for prisoners' rights.
Other papers include interview transcripts, short pieces of writing by Bell, and materials related to Malcolm Bell's decades-long book project, The Turkey Shoot: Tracking the Attica Cover-up (Grove Press, 1985), and an expanded edition called The Attica Turkey Shoot: Carnage, Cover-up, and the Pursuit of Justice (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017, paperback, 2022). The book project series comprises paper and electronic drafts, handwritten notes, correspondence with publishers, clippings, book publicity, and correspondence with other authors and political journalists writing on Attica, particularly Donald Jelinek, Deanne Miller, Heather Ann Thompson, and Tom Wicker. Other items include a documentary video titled "Ghosts of Attica" and a video of a play by Bell, "Let the People Decide."