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Media: Base Collection--106 reels of 35mm microfilm; Updates--42 reels of 35mm microfilm.
Coverage Dates: 1917-1989
Format: The American Civil Liberties Union Records

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The right to privacy. Freedom of speech and association. Equal employment opportunities. Liberties that are sometimes taken for granted but often exist in part because of the bitter court battles waged in their defense by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Now historians, legal scholars, students, political scientists, and other researchers can study and evaluate the ACLU and explore the background behind some of history's most important court cases through this comprehensive microfilm collection. It includes early cases such as the Scopes trial and landmark decisions including Brown versus Board of Education and more current legal briefs such as Island Trees Union Free School District versus Pico.

This timely collection is organized and divided into the following sections:

Base Collection 1917-1973


  • Series I: Minutes of the Board of Directors
  • Series II: Mailings to the Board of Directors--organization activity reports, reports of standing committees, policy and position statements, agendas, memoranda, circular letters, and reprints of articles
  • Series III: Biennial Conference Papers--documents review the history and development of the ACLU's structure.
  • Series IV: ACLU Policy Guides--present formal position statements
  • Series V: National Legal Docket--subject-oriented, descriptive list of all the cases in which the National Office or the affiliates were involved
  • Series VI: Organization Manuals
  • Series VII: Constitutions and Bylaws
  • Series VIII: Legal Briefs--partial records for the U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the ACLU. A subject guide is included.
  • Series IX: ACLU Publications--serials published by the ACLU include Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties Alert, First Principles, ACLU Lawyer, Annual Report, and Women's Rights Report. Also includes 731 pamphlets, leaflets, and broadsides.

Updates 1974-1978; 1978-1980; 1980-1984; 1985-1989


  • Minutes and Mailings to the Board of Directors
  • Biennial Conference Materials
  • ACLU Policy Guide
  • Legal Briefs
  • Press Releases
  • Publications

The 1974-1978 update also includes Organization Manuals and the Constitution.

This collection was filmed in cooperation with the National Office of the ACLU, and it provides unparalleled insight into the history of 20th-century American legal and social changes. The American Civil Liberties Union Records and Publications is the most comprehensive source for studying the historic civil liberties battles of the 20th century.

  • Content Type: The American Civil Liberties Union Records

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