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Northwest Ohio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union - MS 169

Introduction | Agency History | Scope and Contents | Series Description | Inventory

 Introduction

The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (NWO – ACLU) collection contains approximately fifteen linear feet of materials largely dating from 1953 to the present. Included are minutes, correspondence, position statements, financial records, printed materials and case files. These records are indicative of the function, policies, procedures and activities of this organization, mainly on the local level, but also on the state and national level as well. The collection was obtained largely through the efforts of Dr. Sharon Rogers, President of the Northwest Ohio ACLU Chapter in 1981, and Chapter members continue to deposit materials to be added to the collection. NWO – ACLU member, Naomi Twining, has been instrumental in obtaining records documenting the beginnings of this organization and preparing historical information about its various activities.

Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public with the exception of those materials deemed of a confidential nature. Access to confidential records will fall under the stipulations of the Instrument of Gift Agreement and the CAC's policy on the use of confidential records. The register was prepared by Sandra Davies, graduate assistant in History, in March 1982, with later revisions by Ann Bowers, Assistant Director and an additional revision in September 2008 by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts. The collection was most recently updated and revised by undergraduate archival assistant Rebecca Denes in December 2012.

 Agency History

The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was unofficially established in 1952, and formally organized in 1953, by a group of Toledoans including, Reverend Arthur Olsen, J. Wesley Littlefield, Ernest Gray, and James Smith. Each was concerned by the threat to freedom posed by Senator Joseph McCarthy and each enlisted friends with similar sympathies who became the nucleus of the organization in the 1950s. Two of these members, Alvina Littlefield and George Paps remained active in the organization through the early 1980s.

Initially, local ACLU members concentrated their efforts on the Presidential campaign of 1952 believing that Adlai Stevenson best represented the organization's ideals and objectives. Soon after the election they received their first case which concerned an employee of the University of Toledo who supposedly had been fired for his radical political beliefs. During the 1970s, the Chapter initiated a jail improvement committee which monitored the conditions of local prisons and attempted to solve problems through negotiations. One of these original jail committee members, Vince Nathan, went on to head a similar effort in Texas which received coverage in Newsweek in 1982. The Chapter also began a telephone program in which people could call in for information or register complaints regarding civil liberties and receive assistance or referrals to other community agencies.

According to its constitution, the Northwest Ohio American Civil Liberties Union's stated purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights; to uphold the exercise of the rights of free speech and press, freedom of religion, and all other constitutional rights, liberties, privileges and immunities; and to take legal and other actions in the furtherance of these ends. Such objectives are not associated with political affiliations.

Decisions concerning the policies of the Northwest Ohio Chapter are administered by the Board of Directors which consists of the officers, twenty-five elected directors, and any member of the national committee of the American Civil Liberties Union living in the area who has ex officio membership, minus voting privileges. The organization carries out its functions through the executive committee and the standing committees; legal, membership, finance, operations and annual meeting.

 Scope and Content

The Northwest Ohio ACLU collection contains a variety of record types, the majority of which date from its founding in 1953 through the 2000s. The collection includes minutes, correspondence, reports, newsletters, press clippings, audio/visual material, subject and case files, and financial records which are arranged chronologically and separated by state and regional categories. The Northwest Ohio ACLU records are filed first, followed by the records of other regional chapters and then the Ohio Civil Liberties Union records. The bulk of material consists of Board of Directors minutes, committee proceedings, and correspondence. Minutes of the OCLU (1954 – 1998) and the Northwest Ohio ACLU (1954 – 2010) Board of Directors meetings reflect concern over issues such as McCarthyism, censorship and civil rights in Ohio and locally. Though there are some gaps in general minutes, the Northwest Ohio ACLU Board of Directors minutes are fairly complete, thus providing the researcher an opportunity to observe the local organization's activities over time.

OCLU position statements, available for the years 1953 through the 1990s (although scattered), are especially valuable as they contain drafts of national and state positions on legislation and controversial issues. Subject files include several which document the beginnings and varied activities of the Northwest Ohio ACLU. These files document this chapter's involvement with such programs as the Court Observer Program and the Jail Improvement League for the Toledo and Northwest Ohio area.

Financial records available for both the Northwest Ohio ACLU and the OCLU from the 1970s through the 1990s, and illustrate the financial relationship and problems faced by these two chapters of a national organization. Most of the financial reports are separately filed, however, some of the more current reports are located with the Board of Directors minutes. The printed material within this collection includes information of historical interest on state and local levels. Unfortunately, newsletters of the OCLU (1954 – 1999) are very scattered. The Northwest Ohio ACLU publications (1968 – 1969, 1980 – 1994) contain local committee reports and summaries of business conducted at meetings.

This collection also includes case files (1954 to the present) and membership records (1950s, 1972 to the present) which are closed to public access as specified in the Instrument of Gift Agreement. The access of these records falls under the procedures detailed in the CAC's confidentiality policy and the Instrument of Gift.

This collection provides insight into the structure and activities of the local ACLU as well as other regional and the state offices; and also illustrates how a community, state and nation respond to civil rights issues.

 Series Description

PROCEEDINGS

CONSTITUTIONS/ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION
1967 – present (NWO – ACLU); 1953 to the present (OCLU); n.d. (UT-ACLU)
Arranged by level of organization and within, chronologically
Contains rules governing proceedings, election of officers, agency policy.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES
1954 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes minutes of board meetings, agendas, committee reports, attendance,
financial reports and some correspondence.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU GENERAL MEETING MINUTES
(1953?), 1956, 1966, 1968 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes minutes of the general meetings, committee reports, financial reports,
information on annual dinner meetings.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU INFORMATION/POLICIES MANUAL
1982, 1988
Arranged chronologically
Includes an information manual on organization and procedures of the local chapter
and a policies manual providing all position statement and policies of the ACLU.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU COMMITTEE PROCEEDINGS
1954 to the present
Executive Committee separately filed, all others filed together in chronological
order Contains rosters, correspondence, minutes for such committees as executive,
nominating and operations.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU MEMBERSHIP (CONFIDENTIAL)
1953 – 1956, 1972 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Contains rosters, correspondence, interest and involvement questionnaires,
solicitation letters, obituaries.

OCLU BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES
1954 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Contains minutes of state board meetings, memos, agendas, and reports.

OCLU COMMITTEE PROCEEDINGS
1954 – 1957, 1974 – 1978, 1984
Arranged chronologically
Includes state minutes, reports, committee assignments for such committees as
executive, finance, general, legal and audit – review.

OCLU MEMBERSHIP (CONFIDENTIAL)
1954 – 1956, 1973 – 1075, 1980 – 1981
Includes number of new and renewing members in the Akron, Cincinnati,
Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Oberlin, Toledo, Youngstown and Yellow Springs
chapters. 1981 material includes statistical report.

CORRESPONDENCE

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU CORRESPONDENCE
1953 – 1957, 1960 – 1969, 1972 – 1977, 1979 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes letters pertaining to the origins of the local chapter, incoming and outgoing
mail on national, state and local levels.

OCLU CORRESPONDENCE
1955, 1957, 1975 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes interagency memos from the state headquarters, directions to local
chapters, some incoming letters and working papers.

OCLU POSITION STATEMENTS
1954 – 1981, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes drafts of OCLU positions on legislation, controversial political and social
issues.

SUBJECT/CASE FILES

CHAPTER ORIGINS/BULLEY CASE
1951 – 1960
Arranged chronologically
Includes memoirs by Dorothy Knoke and copies of correspondence and clippings
from the Bulley case.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS
1955, 1974 – 1975, 1991 – 1994
Arranged chronologically
Includes ACLU position statements on ERA, rape laws, national women's rights
project.

CHURCH AND STATE CASES
1966 – 1986, 2001
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, newspaper clippings and articles.

DR. SPOCK FILE
1968
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings and program of Dr.
Spock's talk before members.

OBSERVER PROGRAM
1969, 1973 – 1974, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes pamphlets, training literature, lists of meetings, questionnaires, court rules
pertaining to a Toledo program on monitoring trial proceedings to insure fairness.

WHITE POWER
1971
Arranged chronologically
Includes flyer, correspondence on white power movement.

LUCAS COUNTY JAIL
1973 – 1974
Arranged chronologically
Includes material from the NWO – ACLU jail committee such as correspondence,
pamphlets, fact sheets, Jail Improvement League roster.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY PLANNING ASSOCIATION
1981 – 1982
Arranged chronologically
Includes board and nominating committee minutes and correspondence.

CATHOLIC LECTURE/TEACHING ISSUES – UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO
1992 – 1993
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, notes and correspondence.

DEATH PENALTY
1997 – 2001
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, pamphlets, correspondence.

RACIAL PROFILING
1999 – 2000
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, correspondence, articles.

FRANK WILKINSON VISIT/NATIONAL COMMITTEE AGAINST
REPRESSIVE LEGISLATION
1999 – 2000
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, articles, correspondence, advertising materials.

CLOSED CASE FILES (CONFIDENTIAL)
1954 – 1958, 1962, 1974 to the present
Arranged by type of case (correspondence/telephone) and within, chronologically
Includes northwest Ohio calls, letters, description of complaints and follow – up
reports and referrals.

GENERAL SUBJECT FILES
1971 – 1988, n.d.
Arranged by title of subject and within, chronologically
Includes files on such topics as abortion, death penalty, peace, free speech, civil
liberties, and award honorees of the Northwest Ohio ACLU affiliate. Files include articles, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to the subject.

OCLU LEGAL DOCKET
1971 – 1972, 1976, 1986, 1990 – Present
Arranged chronologically
Includes a report on Ohio civil liberties cases which lists attorneys, court/agency and
judicial status of the cases. Also includes status of 1971 – 1972 Supreme Court
decision on ACLU cases.

FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU FINANCES
1970 – 1977, 1979 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes financial records, correspondence, yearly and monthly expenses, treasurer's
reports, lists of contributors and paid members, policy on attorney's fees.

OCLU FINANCES
1956 – 1957, 1972 – 1981 (more current financial reports located with the Board of
Directors minutes)
Arranged chronologically
Includes foundation expenses, proposed budgets, fundraising projects, state affiliate
incomes, case costs, financial statements.

PRINTED MATERIAL

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU PUBLICITY
1955 – 1976, 1980 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes news releases, public relations guide, some correspondence, Toledo Blade
clippings.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU NEWSLETTERS – “THE LEGACY”
1968 – 1969, 1980 – 1994
Arranged chronologically
Includes local committee reports, minutes, meeting attendance.

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU PROGRAMS
1970, 1972 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes agendas of annual dinner meetings and special programs.

OCLU NEWSLETTERS
1954 – 1956, 1970 – 1978, 1980 – 1999
Arranged by title and within, chronologically
Includes “Civil Liberties” and “Ohio Civil Liberties.”

OCLU PROGRAMS
1974 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Contains biographical rosters of OCLU award recipients and dinner meeting
agendas.

OCLU PAMPHLETS/NEWS ARTICLES
1977, 1978, 1985 to the present
Arranged chronologically
Includes pamphlets on rights of citizens and articles on various civil liberties issues

PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU PHOTOGRAPHS
1998, 2002, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Photographs of ACLU members and honorees taken at various banquet events

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU NEGATIVES
1998
Arranged chronologically
Negatives taken during an unknown banquet event

AUDIO/VISUAL MATERIAL

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU AUDIO CASSETTE
1998
Arranged chronologically
One audio recording of a speech made at the affiliate’s 1988 Annual Dinner

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU VIDEO CASSETTE
1966,
Arranged chronologically
One recording of a 1966 Armed Forces Day protest in Lucas County.

ARTIFACTS

NORTHWEST OHIO ACLU ARTWORK
1991
A pen and ink, hand drawn mock-up for the cover of the 1991 Annual Dinner
program featuring portraits of prominent civil rights leaders from 1791 – 1991

Manuscripts by Subject | Political Collections | MS 169 NWO ACLU Inventory