The Collection on Legal Change

As part of her internship at Special Collections & Archives, Simmons Graduate School of Library Science student Andrea Benefiel made digital finding aids for many of the materials in the Collection on Legal Change. We are very grateful for her work! Andrea wrote the following text about the collections and their research value:

The Collection on Legal Change is an archival collection of record groups that illustrate aspects of legal evolution in the United States in the Twentieth Century. It contains materials on topics such as national labor policy, abortion legislation, conservation and environmental protection, judicial and martial law, Prohibition and the 18th and 21st Amendments, the Social Credit Movement, and anti-Semitism in the 1930s. The CLC contains the distinct bodies of records created by organizations and individuals, including government officials and politicians, in the interest of future scholarship and interpretation of the nature of social, economic, political, and legal change.

Within the CLC, researchers will find a wide variety of fascinating and useful materials that could be used for any number of projects. For instance, the Abortion Litigation papers of Roy Lucas include litigation and case files for 25 state and federal abortion cases, including the landmark Roe v. Wade. In the William M. Citron Political Papers, researchers will find correspondence and other materials from a Connecticut Congressman condemning the United States’ participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games as well as his work to regulate development and provide flood control along the Connecticut River. The Ray P. Holland Papers on the Enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty document some of the first national wildlife conservation laws, supporting Supreme Court case materials, and the wildlife photography and writings of an early editor of Field & Stream magazine.

Those interested in the government’s role in developing scientific research will find official documents and other materials from the House of Representatives surrounding the Subcommittee on Science, Research and Development in the 1960s within the papers of Emilio Q. Daddario. Researchers interested in the Prohibition and Temperance Movement will find fascinating materials in the Repeal Papers of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers. This organization laid much of the groundwork for the state-by-state ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the ban on the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of alcohol in the 1920s.

The CLC was acquired in the 1970s by Professor Clement E. Vose. Each record group was arranged and described by Vose with the assistance of student interns, and registers were printed. These registers have been the only way to access the collections for over 30 years. Special Collections and Archives has held the Collection on Legal Change since the 1980s, when they were transferred from Professor Vose’s office. Under the direction of Valerie Gillispie, Assistant University Archivist, the registers have now been digitized and made available online by Andrea Benefiel, a Simmons Graduate School of Library Science intern specializing in archives management. An informational web page and the finding aids for these collections can be found at the Special Collections & Archives website.

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