Records of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
Scope and Contents
Administrative files contain documents regarding the business and membership of the national and state organization, as well as some local chapters.
Topical files contain information about issues such as abortion, students' rights, reapportionment, and mental health. These were often interfiled with administrative papers.
The unrestricted case files contain either information -- correspondence, records, and briefs -- about cases the Virginia ACLU was handling, or what the office called "research case material," i.e., usually records and briefs of ACLU cases in other areas of the country.
Finally, the project files (similar to the topical files but more extensive) consist of organization, research, and publicity material regarding issues of long-term concern to the Virginia ACLU. Major projects for the period 1967-1979 focus on the rights of women, prisoners in Virginia's penitentiaries, and migrant farmworkers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. A significant percentage of the prison project files are restricted, except for very limited types of research. For more information ask for the access information sheet for the restricted prison files.
The following table indicates the types of files in each accession, and the number of boxes in each which are open to research.
Acc. Number No. of boxes Year recieved Types of files and years covered
9690 10 1971 Administrative, primarily re national organization, 1967-69
9690-a 12 1973 Administrative, topical, and small number of case files, 1968-71
9690-b 4 1973 Administrative and topical files, 1969-73
9690-c 17 1975 Case, topical, prison and women's rights project, and administrative files, 1968-74
9690-d 2 1976 Topical and a few case files, 1969-73
9690-e 4 1976 Administrative, topical and prison project files, 1969-73
9690-f 2 1977 Administrative and case files, 1954-74
9690-g 17 1979 Administrative and topical files, 1965-77
9690-h 12 1981 Administrative, case and migrant workers' project files, 1974-79
Use of finding aid This finding aid is comprised of a container list, an index of selected subjects, and an index of cases. The container list provides box number, dates, and content description for every folder in each accession of files, in the order in which they were originally processed. The subject index is based upon the topical folder headings; since only about half of the case folder headings have descriptors, the cases were not included in the subject index. The subject and case indexes will provide the easiest and quickest access to the issues found in these papers. The administrative files are not indexed, however, and in addition to containing detailed information about the administration of the ACLU at the local, state, and national levels, some of these files are also concerned with issues and cases. Consequently, a careful reading of the container list is recommended for a thorough sense of the scope of the collection.
- American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (Organization)
Biographical / Historical
Over the years, the ACLU of Virginia has supported the rights of children, the intellectually disabled, students, women, homosexuals, and racial minorities. It has funded projects to effect improvements in the treatment and living conditions of patients in the state's mental institutions, and migrant farmworkers on the Eastern Shore. It has opposed religion in public schools, illegal police searches, and the imposition of dress or hair length codes in schools or the work place. In the General Assembly, the Virginia affiliate has fought for the Equal Rights Amendment, the right to abortion, reapportionment, and certain court reforms and changes in the juvenile code. The organization has been an active advocate for academic freedom and for the protection of individuals' privacy. It has pushed for reform of drug laws and called for the end of capital punishment. The most extensive and visible project for Virginia's ACLU in the 1970's and early 1980's was the prison project, a movement to insure adequate legal protection of inmates, as well as to improve their living conditions and treatment.
The papers of the ACLU of Virginia began coming to the University of Virginia in 1971. Since that time, nine installments of papers have been transferred. In 1985, the collection was moved from the Manuscripts Department at Alderman Library to the Law Library. For the protection of ACLU clients' privacy, the entire collection has been closed to research since the mid-seventies. In 1988 every folder was reviewed, and those containing confidential information were removed to restricted storage for at least 25 years. The remaining files (80 boxes, 35 linear feet) are open to research with the permission of the ACLU's Access Committee (see p. 6); the folders are grouped and arranged as they were when first received at the University. The initial gift was accessioned #9690, and succeeding ones were numbered #9690-a, -b, etc. These voluminous files dating from 1967-1979 were kept by a number of different executive directors and secretaries and later processed by several different archivists. Consequently, folder headings varied over time, as has the archival arrangement.
120 Cubic Feet (254 archival boxes)
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Materials Specific Details
All the ACLU files containing confidential information are closed to research until at least 2013. The confidential prison project files are open only to specific types of research with permission of the Access Committee.
- Academic freedom -- United States
- American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
- Apportionment (Election law) -- Virginia
- Capital punishment -- Virginia
- Children -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Virginia
- Civil rights -- United States
- Draft -- United States
- Equal rights amendments -- United States
- Legal assistance to military personnel -- Virginia
- Migrant agricultural laborers -- Virginia
- People with mental disabilities -- Institutional care -- Virginia
- Prisoners -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Virginia
- Race discrimination -- Law and legislation -- Virginia
- Religion in the public schools -- Law and legislation -- Virginia
- Sex discrimination against women -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Students -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Virginia
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Draft resisters -- United States
- Women's rights -- United States
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script