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Harold Norris Papers

Identifier: UP000508

Scope and Content

The papers in this collection relate to Norris's work with the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the State Bar of Michigan, and his interest in a broad range of civil liberties issues.

Important subjects: Automobile insurance legislation; Michigan Con Con; American Civil Liberties Union; National Lawyers Guild; Censorship and obscenity; Negligence law; Church and state relations; Police brutality; Civil rights - legal aspects; Reapportionment; Discrimination against blacks; Rights of the foreign-born; House Un-American Activities Committee

Series Description: eries I, General Files, 1947-1968, Boxes 1-13 Correspondence, reports, notes, clippings and reference materials relating to legal, civil rights, labor, and politics. Norris' general correspondence is also contained in this series.

Series II, National Lawyers Guild, 1941-1962, Boxes 13-16 Correspondence, minutes, convention materials, statements, reso-lutions, reference materials, and publications of both the national headquarters and the Detroit chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Much of this material relates to 1950's anti-communist programs, social security coverage for lawyers, and civil rights.

Series III, State Bar of Michigan and Detroit Bar Association, 1949-1962, Boxes 17-19 Correspondence, reports, resolutions and other materials relating to the bar associations and their special committees. Much of the material concerns negligence law, legal insurance, the Michigan constitution, labor relations law, and traffic safety.

Series IV, American Civil Liberties Union, 1952-1968, Boxes 19-29 Sub series IV-A, ACLU Official Files, 1952-1968, Boxes 19-22 Correspondence and ACLU papers from the national office and the Detroit branch. These papers deal with organizational matters and a wide range of civil liberties issues including government loyalty programs, minority rights, police violations of individual rights, and censorship.

Sub series IV-B, ACLU Publications, 1953-1962, Boxes 22-24 Newsletters, press releases, and pamphlets issued by the national and Detroit organizations.

Sub series IV-C, Subject Files, 1949-1961, Boxes 24-29 Files relating to civil rights issues of interest to the ACLU consisting of correspondence, reports, and a variety of publications. Subjects include church-state relations, censorship and obscenity, the House Un-American Activities Committee and reapportionment in Michigan.


  • 1941 - 1968
  • Majority of material found within 1952 - 1962


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Harold Norris was born in Detroit in 1918 and educated in Detroit public schools. He then attended the University of Michigan where he earned a B.A. and an M.A. in economics. During World War II he was trained as a statistical officer at Harvard by the Army Air Force, and he served in Europe for three years in that capacity. In 1948 he earned a law degree from Columbia University and was admitted to the bar.

Norris engaged in the general practice of law in Detroit until his appointment to the faculty of the Detroit College of Law in 1961 where he teaches criminal and constitutional law. He joined the American Civil Liberties Union in 1952, was elected chairman of the Detroit branch in 1958, and has represented the ACLU in many civil liberties cases. He has served on a number of committees and study groups, among them, Governor Williams' Commission to Study the Problem of the Unin-sured Motorist, the Detroit Commission on Children and Youth, and the negligence law committees of the Detroit and state bar associations. He was elected a delegate to the Michigan constitutional convention and helped write the civil rights provisions of the Michigan constitution.

"He is the author of "Mr. Justice Murphy and the Bill of Rights," "A Casebook of Complete Criminal Trials," and You Are this Nation," a book of poems.


14.5 Linear Feet (29 MB)


Lawyer Harold Norris served as chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Detroit Branch and was a member of the National Lawyers Guild. Mr. Norris’ papers reflect his interest in issues of civil rights and civil liberties and document his career as a lawyer and advocate for the ACLU.


Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-13), Series 2 (Boxes 13-16), Series 3 (Boxes 17-19) and Series 4 (Boxes 19-29). Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series 4 is further divided into three subseries.


The papers of Harold Norris were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 1971.


A few photographs have been transferred to the Archives Audiovisual collections and a large number of books and pamphlets donated with this collection are available in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in May 1981.
Guide to the Harold Norris Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA