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African American Studies: Civil Rights

Primary and selected secondary sources for research in African American Studies at Princeton University.

Archival collections

Archives Unbound  

Digital collections of historical material on many topics. Includes manuscripts, printed books and periodicals, and government documents. Material comes from the U.S. National Archives, the U.K. National Archives, and many other libraries and archives.  Click on the titles below to read more about individual collections. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Civil Rights Digital Library

The CRDL features a collection of unedited news film from the WSB (Atlanta) and WALB (Albany, Ga.) television archives held by the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries.

Civil Rights History Project

The Civil Rights History Project.  Survey of Collections and Repositories

The Civil Rights History Project Act was created by an act of Congress in 2009, sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (NY) and co-sponsored by Representatives Sanford D. Bishop (GA), William Lacy Clay (MO), John Lewis (GA) and Mike Quigley (IL). The law directs the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), and to record new interviews with people who participated in the Movement.  There are 1308 collections are available in the database.

Civil Rights in Mississippi

Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive

Mississippi was a focal point in the struggle for civil rights in America, and Hattiesburg, home of The University of Southern Mississippi, had the largest and most successful Freedom Summer project in 1964. The civil rights materials collected at the University document a local history with truly national significance. The Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive includes a selection of digitized photographs, letters, diaries, and other documents. Oral history transcripts are also available, as well as finding aids for manuscript collections.”

Federal response

Civil Rights Movement and the Federal Government: Records of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, School Desegregation in the South, 1965-1966.

This collection brings together a large number of documents on the implementation of "freedom of choice" school desegregation plans in the South and bordering states.

Federal records pertaining to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954),  compiled by Walter B. Hill, Jr. [and] Trichita M. Chestnut. 

Global Nonviolent Action Database

Global Nonviolent Action Database

"The database, which continues to grow, already includes 50 civil rights cases.  You'll find iconic campaigns like the Montgomery bus boycott and some that are less known, like the 1958-59 sit-ins in Kansas City, MO and the 1960 St. Paul's College student boycott of a segregated movie theater in Virginia. The database is sponsored by Swarthmore College with support from Tufts and Georgetown Universities."

NAACP (Proquest History Vault)

The NAACP Papers collection consists of 6 modules. The NAACP Papers collections contains internal memos, legal briefings, and direct action summaries from national, legal, and branch offices throughout the country. It charts the NAACP's work and delivers a first-hand view into crucial issues. With a timeline that runs from 1909 to 1972, the NAACP Papers document the realities of segregation in the early 20th century to the triumphs of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and beyond.The Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century consists of four modules: two modules of Federal Government Records, and two modules of Organizational Records and Personal Papers, offering unique documentation and a variety of perspectives on the 20th century fight for freedom. Major collections in these modules include Civil Rights records from the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush presidencies; the Martin Luther King FBI File and FBI Files on locations of major civil rights demonstrations like Montgomery and Selma, Alabama or St. Augustine, Florida; and the records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

NAACP Papers: Board of Directors, Annual Conferences, Major Speeches, and National Staff Files  

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NAACP Papers: Branch Department, Branch Files, and Youth Department Files  

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NAACP Papers: Special Subjects  Search this Module  Browse Collections

NAACP Papers: The NAACP's Major Campaigns--Education, Voting, Housing, Employment, Armed Forces  

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NAACP Papers: The NAACP's Major Campaigns--Legal Department Files  Search this Module  Browse Collections

NAACP Papers: The NAACP's Major Campaigns--Scottsboro, Anti-Lynching, Criminal Justice, Peonage, Labor,

and Segregation and Discrimination Complaints and Responses 

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Finding aids and microfilm collections

Printed guides to accompany microfilm sets are housed in Microform Services on A-floor in Firestone Library.


American Civil Liberties Union Archives, 1917-1950

MC001  Seeley G. Mudd Library          Finding Aid 

Consists of the records of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), documenting its activities in protecting individual rights under the leadership of Roger Baldwin. Its primary aims have been the defense of free speech and press, separation of church and state, free exercise of religion, due process of law, equal protection of the law, and privacy rights of all citizens. The collection contains primarily correspondence and clippings. Also included are the records of the ACLU’s predecessor organization, the National Civil Liberties Bureau (1917-1920) of the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM) and some material documenting a 1912 Industrial Workers of the World free speech trial.

American Civil Liberties Union Archives, 1950-1995

MC001 Seeley G. Mudd Library          Finding Aid 

Documents the activities of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in protecting individual rights between 1950 and 1995. The collection contains correspondence, clippings, court documents, memoranda, printed matter, minutes, reports, briefs, legal files, exhibit materials, and audio-visual materials. Also included are materials from ACLU affiliate organizations, the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee and national office legal department records (1945-1960).

Civil Rights and Social Activism in the South, Series 1-3

ReCap Microfilm 12030            Printed guide (FilmB) E185.6.C585 2007          104 reels

Online guide to Series 1, Parts 1-2           Online guide to Series 2

Series 1, Civil rights and social activism in Alabama. Part 1, The John L. LeFlore papers, 1926-1976 (15 reels); Part 2: Records of the Non-Partisan Voters League, 1956-1987 (29 reels) -- Series 2, The Legal Battle for Civil Rights in Alabama. Part 1, Vernon Z. Crawford reords, 1958-1978 (6 reels); Part 2: Selctions from the Blacksher, Menefee & Stein records (37 reels) -- Series 3: James A. Dombrowski and the Southern Conference Educational Fund (17 reels).

Civil Rights During the Bush administration: subject file of the White House Office of Records Management, 1989-1993

ReCap Microfilm 12460          Guide (FilmB) E185.615 .B87 2008     23 reels

"Microfilmed from the holdings of the George Bush Presidential Library, College Station, Texas." “The documents reproduced in this publication are records of the Bush Administration, 1989-1993, in the custody of the National Archives."

Civil rights during the Carter administration, 1977-1981

ReCap Microfilm 12451          Guide (FilmB) E185.615 .C3518 2006 

Part I, Sections A-D  

Reproduces document files collected by the office of Louis E. Martin, special assistant to the president, whose primary focus was on civil rights issues and minority affairs. Documents include internal White House memoranda, correspondence between White House and federal agency officials, government reports, invitation lists for major events, correspondence from individuals and organizations, and newspaper articles and editorials.

Civil Rights During the Eisenhower Administration

ReCap Microfilm 12450          Guide (FilmB) E185.61.C483 2006          14 reels

Part 1. White House central files.  Series A, School desegregation.

Civil Rights During the Kennedy Administration, 1961-1963

ReCap Microfilm 05859           Guide (FilmB) JC599.U5 C59                     47 reels

A collection from the holdings of the John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts. Part 1. The White House Central Files and Staff Files and the President’s office Files.  Part 2. The Papers of Burke Marshall, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Civil Rights During the Johnson Administration, 1963-1969.

ReCap Microfilm 05445           Guide (FilmB) JK1717.L38          69 reels

Part 1. White House Central Files.  Part 2. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Administrative History.  Part 3. Oral Histories.  Part 4. Records of the White House Conference on Civil Rights, 1965-1966.  Part 5. Records of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Commission).

Civil Rights During the Nixon Administration, 1969-1974

ReCap Microfilm 09172            Guide (FilmB) E185.615. C587          46 reels

Part 1. White House Central Files.

Detroit Urban League Papers, 1916-1950, at the University of Michigan

ReCap Microfilm 09607                      Printed guide (FilmB) F574.D49 N454          35 reels 

Fannie Lou Hamer Papers, 1966-1978

ReCap Microfilm 11839                        Printed guide (Film B) E185.97.H35 A3 2005a          17 reels

Noted civil rights activist and co-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Race Relations

ReCap ReCap Microfilm 12390                      Printed guide: (FilmB) E806 .F6917 2008          18 reels

This is a collection of essential materials for the study of the early development of the Civil Rights Movement--concerned with the issues of lynching, segregation, race riots, and employment discrimination.

Papers of the Civil Rights Congress

ReCap Microfilm 11925                      Printed guide (FilmB) E185.61.C59 1988          125 reels

Part 1. Case Files.  Part 2. Files of William Patterson and the National Office.  Part 3. Publications. Part 4. Communist Party USA files.  Part 5. Citizens Emergency Defense Conference.

“The Civil Rights Congress (CRC) was established in 1946, and fought for the protection of the civil rights and liberties of African Americans and suspected communists primarily through litigation, political agitation, and the mobilization of public sentiment.  African American lawyer and Communist leader William Patterson served as executive secretary of the organization throughout its existence.”

Papers of the Congress of Racial Equality, 1941-1967

ReCap Microfilm 04276            Printed guide (FilmB) Z1361.N39 M46 1980     49 reels

Founded in 1942 by a group of interracial pacifists, CORE was one of the most important national organizations of the African American freedom movement.

Papers of the Congress of Racial Equality: Addendum, 1944-1968

ReCap Microfilm 04562                      Printed Guide (FilmB) E185.61.P36

Papers of the NAACP

ReCap Microfilm 05354                      Guide (FilmB) Z1361.N39 G84          1001+ reels

Organization records of America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

President Truman’s Commission on Civil Rights

ReCap Microfilm 05573                      Guide (FilmB) E813.J84           10 reels

Records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1954-1970

Microfilm 10096                  Printed guide (FilmB) E185.61.S687      61 reels

pt. 1. Records of the President’s office (21 reels) -- pt. 2. Records of the Executive Director and Treasurer (22 reels) -- pt. 3. Records of the Public Relations Dept. (10 reels) -- pt. 4. Records of the Program Dept. (29 reels).

Bayard Rustin Papers 

ReCap Microfilm 11662                Printed guide (Film B) E185.97.R93 B392    23 reels

Reproduces the papers of noted civil rights leader and political activist Bayard Rustin.  The originals are in the A. Philip Randolph Institute, New York N.Y., which were transferred from the Institute to the Library of Congress.

The Sixities: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives, 1960-1974 (Digital)

Contains letters, diaries, oral histories, posters, pamphlets, and audio and video materials documenting the key events, trends, and movements in 1960s America.

Southern Civil Rights Litigation Records for the 1960s

ReCap Microfilm 05448       Printed guide (FilmB) KF4756.A1 G84 or (SF) KF4756.A1 G84     170 reels

Contains the records of major civil rights cases from the archives of the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Lawyers Constitution Defense Committee, and individual attorneys.

William H. Hastie Papers.  Part 2. Civil Rights, Organizational, and Private Activities

ReCap Microfilm 11824                        Printed guide (FilmB) KF373.H38A25          42 reels

Attorney William Henry Hastie was the first African American appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Truman in 1949.  Part 2 of the collection documents his activities as a civil rights lawyer, educator, and judge.  Part I, covering his opinions are available in the Federal Reporter in print, LexisNexis and Westlaw (online in both the academic and law school versions).

Librarian for History and African American Studies