American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina records, 1960-2020; 1960-ongoing and undated
Using These Materials
- [Original recordings are closed to use. Use copies must be made for access. Electronic files have been mounted to a library server and need to be screened before use. Please contact Research...
- American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
- North Carolina affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, founded in 1965 and based in Raleigh. The records of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU of N.C.) date from the 1960s to the mid-2000s. The collection is organized into the following series: ACLU Historical Files, Executive Director Files, Legal Program, Audiovisual Material, and Print Material. The files primarily focus on the investigation and prosecution of cases related to civil rights, public education relating to civil liberties, and lobbying for civil liberties and human rights. Materials include correspondence files from the Excecutive Director's office and other units in the ACLU of N.C., thousands of case files; administrative files on cases, operations, and attorney's activities; lobbying and subject files; and printed matter and other records relating to outreach and public education activities. There are also some a/v materials and electronic files. Topics include: the civil rights and legal status of legally under-represented groups such as juveniles and high school students, prisoners, gays, and immigrants; education and academic freedoms; religious freedom and separation of church and state; freedom of expression (including desecration of the flag); racial inequalities and injustices; reproductive rights; women's rights; police misconduct and the legality of search procedures; drug testing and the decriminalization of drugs; voting rights, including issues surrounding reapportionment; and workers' rights, including unionization. There are also files on the Ku Klux Klan, Confederate displays, and right-wing organizations. Many of these issues span decades of ACLU involvement. Researchers consulting case files and any other materials should be aware of privacy laws that govern the publication and use of these records. Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive at Duke University.
217.5 Linear Feet
approximately 135,000 items
- Material in English
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The records of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU of NC) span forty years, from its inception in the early 1960s to its activities in the mid-2000s. The files provide documentation on nearly all aspects of the organization's operations, primarily focusing on the investigation of cases related to civil rights and many related issues, the legal prosecution of cases, public education relating to civil liberties, and lobbying for civil liberties and human rights. Materials include correspondence files from the Excecutive Director's office and other units in the ACLU of NC, beginning from the earliest years; thousands of case files dating from 1969 through the mid-2000s; the legal assistant's files on cases, operations, and attorney's activities; lobbying and subject files; and printed matter and other records relating to the ACLU-NC's outreach and public education activities. There are also some slides related to arts cases, videocassette and audiocassette recordings, and electronic files. Commonly recurring social and legal issues to which the ACLU of NC dedicated its efforts and resources include but are not limited to: the civil rights and legal status of legally under-represented groups such as juveniles and high school students, prisoners, gays, and immigrants; education and academic freedoms; religious freedom and separation of church and state; freedom of expression (including desecration of the flag); racial inequalities and injustices; reproductive rights; women's rights; police misconduct and the legality of search procedures; drug testing and the decriminalization of drugs; voting rights, including issues surrounding reapportionment; and workers' rights, including unionization. There are also many files on the Ku Klux Klan, Confederate displays, and right-wing organizations in NC
The collection is open to use. However, researchers consulting case files and any other materials in this collection should be aware of privacy laws that govern the publication and use of these records, especially in the case of third party information. Most personal names have been removed from case file titles in this web-accessible collection guide. The full version is available only to on-site researchers.
The Legal Program Series, the largest series in the collection at 260 boxes, chiefly consists of court case and other investigations files, and were created and maintained by the branch of the ACLU of NC called the North Carolina Legal Foundation. The files were marked variously as coming from the Office of the Legal Counsel or the Legal Program. These files were kept in their original order, which was generally chronological, though there are many overlapping series and fragmented sequences, some of which are alphabetical. When possible, the nature of the case or investigation is noted in a few words for each entry; keyword searching is the best means to discover names or topics (e.g., "parental consent,""prayer,""1st Amendment,""employee,""free speech," etc.).
Files in the Executive Director Office Series (90 boxes) refer to meetings, annual ACLU national conferences, litigation and political action strategizing, fundraising, and membership, and contain many individual legislative and court case files maintained by the Executive Director's Office (who at times in the ACLU of NC's history also served as the Legal Director). Extensive research and "issues" files, as they were often called, found both in the Legal Program and Executive Office Series, were most often used to support the case and investigative work, and therefore cover topics similar to the case files. Other subject files reflect the Executive Director's efforts to learn about issues relating to other affiliates of the ACLU.
Smaller but significant components of the collection include the Audiovisual Material Series, housing videocassettes and audio recordings, and the Print Material Series, which houses publications, clippings, reports, and other print material created by the ACLU of NC as well as material from other organizations. A nearly complete run of the ACLU of NC's newsletter, Liberty, can be found here, as well as multiple issues from such publications as Prison Law Monitor, Veteran's Advocate, and Youth Law News. Other publications are filed by topic. Many press releases, clippings, and files related to media relations are found in the Executive Director Office Series, and to a lesser extent in the Legal Program Series.
Researchers interested in the earliest history of the ACLU of NC should consult the small Historical Files Series which contains a 1970 history of the organization written by Daniel Pollitt and George Scheer, as well as copies of the original founding documents of incorporation, board and legal foundation meeting minutes from the 1960s to the 1980s, and other files. More complete files of early correspondence, meetings, and legal cases dating from the 1960s and 1970s can be found in other series.
Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive at Duke University.
- Biographical / Historical:
Since its inception in 1965, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU of NC) has investigated and prosecuted cases relating to civil liberties issues, especially free speech, prisoners' rights, religious freedoms, and reproductive freedom. The organization was founded in 1965 by two High Point, North Carolina area lawyers, James Mattocks and Charles Lambeth, as the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union (NCCLU), in response to the 1963 institution of the Speaker Ban Law by the NC State Legislature. The statute was repealed in winter of 1965. In 1969, the North Carolina Legal Foundation (NCLF) was formed to carry out the legal activities of the ACLU of NC By 1970, there were local offices in Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, and Raleigh, with Durham, Chapel Hill, and Asheville soon to follow. The NCCLU officially changed its name to the ACLU of NC in the 1970s, in response to a National office request. Originally its operations were based in Greensboro; in 1987 the office moved to its current location in Raleigh. The ACLU-NC and its Legal Foundation are governed by all-volunteer Boards of Directors, comprised of individuals from many different parts of the state and who work in a variety of professions. Most Board members are elected by the general membership to serve three-year terms and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. The Board sets the agenda for the organization and is charged with governance, oversight and securing the resources necessary for the organization to carry out its mission. The ACLU-NC and its legal arm maintain six permanent staff positions: Executive Director, Legal Director, Legislative Director, Racial Justice Fellow, Paralegal, and Office Manager. The staff also is supported by many interns, law clerks, and volunteers.
Chronology List (dates are approximate in some cases) Date Event 1960s Jim Shields acted as ACLU liaison to North Carolina 1965 Founding of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, later renamed ACLU of NC 1960s-1970 Norman Smith, Executive Director 1970-1989/1990 George Gardner, Executive Director 1989/1990-1994 Jim Shields, Executive Director 1994-2002 Deborah Ross, Executive Director and Legal Director Jan. 2003-Nov. 2003 Patricia Camp, Executive Director Nov. 2003-May 2004 Renee Hill, Interim Executive Director May 2004- Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director
- Acquisition Information:
- The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Records were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift from 1982 to 2009.
- Processing information:
Processed by Tanner Capps, Ted Holt, Paula Jeannet, Kevin Modestino, Chloe Rockow, Jen Snow, and Katy Terrell, August 2010
Encoded by Tanner Capps, Ted Holt, Paula Jeannet, Kevin Modestino, Chloe Rockow, Jen Snow, and Katy Terrell, November 2010
Web content described by Michelle Runyon, May 2020.
Accessions 7-21-82 to 2009-0164 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
Accession 2013-0209 processed and described by Patrick Stawski, Jan. 2014.
The records of the ACLU of NC are arranged into the following series: ACLU Historical Files, Executive Director Files, Legal Program, Audiovisual Material, and Print Material. The Executive Director Series is roughly organized chronologically by decade, and thus relates to individual directors (also called Executive Secretary in the early years) who assembled the sets of files, including the earliest and most current directors. The Legal Program Series is further subdivided into Case Files, also chronologically organized, and by far the largest group of files in the collection; Legal Director Files; and Legal Committee. All of these series and their divisions are described in full detail in this collection guide. Financial, medical, and personnel records were removed prior to the transfer of the collection but there may still be similar files present whose contents are protected by privacy laws.
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- North Carolina
Voting -- North Carolina
Searches and seizures -- Laws and legislation -- North Carolina
Reproductive rights -- North Carolina
Racial profiling in law enforcement
Freedom of speech -- North Carolina
Police misconduct -- North Carolina
Racism -- Political aspects -- United States
Prisoners -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- North Carolina
Race discrimination -- Law and legislation -- North Carolina
Educational law and legislation -- United States
Elections -- North Carolina
Employee rights -- North Carolina
Freedom of religion -- North Carolina
Church and state -- North Carolina
Civil rights -- North Carolina -- History
Drug legalization -- North Carolina
Drug testing -- Laws and legislation -- North Carolina
Gay rights -- North Carolina
African Americans -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- North Carolina
Children -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- North Carolina
Juvenile justice, Administration of -- North Carolina
Immmigrants -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- North Carolina
Human Rights -- North Carolina -- History
Gays -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- North Carolina
American Civil Liberties Union -- History
American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina -- History
Ku Klux Klan (1915- ) -- North Carolina
United States. Constitution. 1st Amendment
United States. Constitution. 4th Amendment
Human Rights Archive (Duke University)
North Carolina -- Social conditions -- 20th century
North Carolina -- Laws, etc.
North Carolina -- Politics and government -- 1951-
Using These Materials
[Original recordings are closed to use. Use copies must be made for access. Electronic files have been mounted to a library server and need to be screened before use. Please contact Research Services for access to these materials before coming to use this collection.]
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University