Skip to main content

Civil Rights Congress of Michigan Records

 Collection
Identifier: UR000304

Scope and Content

Part I: Important subjects covered in Part 1 of the collection are: Academic freedom; Legislation; Anti-lynching; Police brutality; Black Legion; Poll Tax; Dies Committee; Rosenberg case; Discrimination; Scottsboro boys; Fascism; Smith Act; Father Coughlin; G.L.K. Smith; FEPC; Strikes; Ku Klux Klan

Among the important correspondents in Part 1 are: Roger Baldwin; Owen Knox; Franz Boas; Patrick McNamara; Charles Beard; Vito Marcantonio; Ruth Benedict; Homer Martin; Ed Carey; A. G. Mazerick; Frank Couzens; Frank Murphy; John Dingell; Stanley Nowack; Tracy Doll; Harper Paulson; Ernest Goodman; William Patterson; Dashiell Hammett; Louis Rabaut; David Henry; Jack Raskin; Granville Hicks; A. Ruthven; Edward Jeffries; Anne Shore; Robert LaFollette; Neil Staebler; Estes Kefauver; Norman Thomas; Milton Kemnitz; Robert Weaver

Series Description: Series I, Civil Rights Congress Office File, 1935-1955, Boxes 1-11: This series contains material from the Civil Rights Congress of Michigan, the National Civil Rights Congress, the ACLU, the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties, and the Professional League for Civil Rights. The papers of each of these groups are not interfiled. Within each group the folders are filed alphabetically and then chronologically. Printed material is included at the end of the series.

Series II, Black Legion - KKK, 1936-1952, Boxes 12-16: Folders in this series are filed chronologically and then alphabetically. Much of the series consists of newspaper clippings. The last box contains an index file to newspaper clippings by name of persons.

Series III, Fascism, 1933-1947, Boxes 17-25: The series includes material on native and foreign fascism. It includes material on G.L.K. Smith, Charles Lindberg, native fascist groups, Hitler and Nazi Germany. The folders are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Newspaper clippings make up a large part of the series. Printed material is included at the end of the series.

Series IV, Un-American Activities, 1935-1955, Boxes, 26-43: This series contains records on the Dies Committee, Smith Act, Un-American Activities Committee and appropriate legislation. As with the other series files of individual cases are included. It is arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Cases, the Dies Committee, Legislation, Smith Act, and Un-American Activities Committee are the major subjects, each of which has sub-headings. Printed material is included at the end of the series.

Series V, La Follette Committee, 1936-1939, Boxes 44-46: Very little of the series relates to correspondence. The majority consists of printed pamphlets of the committee hearings.

Series VI, Labor, 1935-1954, Boxes 47-60: This series contains material on fair employment, labor employment, labor legislation and strikes. Each of these subjects has its own sub-heading. The folders are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Newspaper clippings are abundant. Printed material is included at the end of the series.

Series VII, Discrimination, 1932-1954, Boxes 61-75: The major portion of this series relates to Black discrimination although there is material on anti-Seimitism and discrimination against other minority groups and aliens. Files of individuals are grouped under cases. The folders are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Miscellaneous printed material is included at the end of the series.

Series VIII, Academic Freedom, 1935-1954, Boxes 76-78: Much of the material in this series relates to Academic Freedom in Michigan Universities during the 1940's. The folders are arranged chronologically and then alphabetically.

Series IX, Police Activities, 1935-1953, Boxes 79-81: The material includes both statements and clippings of police activities in the 1930's and 1940's - for the most part folders are broken down into types of activity as strikebreaking, shoutings and the like. The folders are arranged chronologically and then alphabetically. Some printed material is included at the end of the series.

Series X, Criminals Index File, 1930"s, Box 82: This series consists of a box of index cards arranged alphabetically by person. Some identification of the person is given. It covers the late 20's and early 30's.

Series XI, Miscellaneous Civil Rights, 1935-1954, Boxes 83-94: Newspaper clippings and printed material make up a large part of this series and are included at the end of the series. The folders are arranged alphabetically.
Part II: Part 2 contains additional material on topics found in Part 1 and covers new civil rights issues from 1954 on including the campaign to abolish the Un-American Activities Committee, the campaign to repeal the McCarran Act, and the case of Arthur McPhaul versus the United States in 1959.

Important subjects covered in Part 2 of the collection are: Discrimination; Smith Act; Fair Employment Practices; Un-American Activities; Police brutality

Among the important correspondents in Part 2 are: J. H. Bollens; Jack Raskin; George W. Crockett; Anne Shore; Ernest Goodman; Maurice Sugar; Arthur McPhaul

Dates

  • 1933 - 1963
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1955

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

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.

History

The Civil Rights Congress of Michigan was organized in 1935 as the Conference for the Protection of Civil Rights. Reverend J. H. Bollins was Chairman and Patrick O'Brien was counsel. They supported labor in the early Ford and G.M. Strikes and also academic freedom. They opposed police brutality under Commissioner Pickert, the Dunckel-Baldwin Bill, censorship, the Black Legion and the Ku Klux Klan, fascism, and discrimination and attempted to take cases to court to get legal decisions on their issues. In this they were supported by other local groups such as the ACLU, AFL locals, the Young Democrats, the Professional League for Civil Rights, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, and Methodist and Baptist churches.

In about 1938 the name of the group was changed to the Civil Rights Federation. J. H. Bollins continued as Chairman and Reverend Owen Knox of the Bethlehem Methodist Church became Treasurer. In 1940 Reverend Knox became Chairman of the CRF and also of the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties. At this time the purpose of the CRF was stated to be "the defense of civil rights on the part of widely divergent groups throughout Michigan...labor, farm, church, fraternal, language, racial, political, civic, professional, women and youth groups." They defined civil rights as the rights to free speech, press, assembly and worship, the rights of labor to organize and bargain and equal rights for all minorities.

In 1941 Reverend Knox resigned from both organizations over the issue of war policy. From 1941 on the emphasis of the group was on cases of discrimination and those holding unpopular political positions. They attacked the Dies Committee, the Mundt-Nixon Bills and the Smith Act and actively supported those who were indicted in these cases.

About 1945 the name of the organization changed to the Civil Rights Congress with Jack Raskin as executive secretary. In 1950 he was suceeded by Arthur McPhaul and Anne Shore became the director of organization. They dissolved in 1955 and the work was carried on by some of the veterans of the CRC staff, the ACLU, religious groups and various committees.

Extent

49.5 Linear Feet (99 MB)

Abstract

The Civil Rights Congress was organized in 1935, and, until 1937, aided the cause of labor; protected academic freedom; and attacked police brutality, censorship, the Black Legion, the Ku Klux Klan, fascism, and discrimination. In 1938, its name was changed to the Civil Rights Federation and the group then turned to problems concerning discrimination against blacks and political minorities. The group dissolved in 1955. CRC records cover their early activities; their focus from 1938-1941 on the "defense of civil rights on the part of widely divergent group throughout Michigan....labor, farm, church, fraternal, language, racial, political, civic, professional, women, and youth groups.;" and their subsequent emphasis on cases of discrimination and those holding unpopular political positions.

Arrangement

Arranged in 11 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-11), Series 2 (Boxes 12-16), Series 3 (Boxes 17-25), Series 4 (Boxes 26-43), Series 5 (Boxes 44-46), Series 6 (Boxes 47-60), Series 7 (Boxes 61-75), Series 8 (Boxes 76-78), Series 9 (Boxes 79-81), Series 10 (Box 82), and Series 11 (Boxes 83-94). Folders are arranged alphabetically, chronologically, or a combination thereof depending on the series.
Part II: Arranged in 2 series - Series 12 (Boxes 95-96), and Series 13 (Boxes 96-99). Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Acquisition

Part I: The papers of the Civil Rights Congress of Michigan were deposited in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in July of 1968 by Ernest Goodman and the Civil Rights Congress of Michigan.
Part II: Additional papers were placed in the Archives by Mr. Saul Wellman, former member of the Civil Rights Congress, in December of 1974.

Transfers

Part II: Approximately 62 photographs relating to activities and people connected with the Civil Rights Congress have been placed in the Audiovisual Collection. Numerous labor newspapers, reports, pamphlets and other materials relating to civil rights received with this collection are available in the Archives Library.

Index of Subjects and Correspondence - Part 2

Correspondence is indicated by an *
  • Academic Freedom, 1:10, 2:13
  • Anti-labor, 2:14, 2:17
  • *Barsky, Edward, 4:6, 4:14, 4:16
  • *Bollens, J.H., 1:6, 1:9, 2:19, 4:10
  • *Couzens, Frank, 2:4
  • *Crockett, George W. Jr., 3:16, 4:14, 4:16
  • *Dennis, Peggy, 4:6
  • Discrimination, 1:4, 2:18-23, 3:1-2, 4:5-16
  • *Ellis, Ernest, 1:3, 4:9, 4:16
  • Fair Employment Practice Committee Campaign, 3:3-7
  • *Goodman, Ernest, 1:10, 1:17
  • *Kemnitz, Milton, 1:6, 1:8, 1:11, 2:12, 2:19
  • *Knox, Owen, 1:1-2, 1:6, 1:8-9 2:12, 2:15
  • *McPhaul, Arthur, 1:12, 2:12, 2:14, 4:9, 4:16, 5:8
  • *Miller, Clyde R. , 3:11, 3:13-14
  • *Murphy, Frank, 2:5
  • *Murray, Madalyn, 3:13
  • National Emergency Conference for Civil Rights, 1:10
  • *Patterson, Jack, 1:2-3, 1:8, 1:11-12, 1:19, 2:15, 2:19, 3:3-4, 4:9-10 4:16
  • Police Brutality, 2:5, 4:3-4
  • *Raskin, Jack, 1:2-3, 1:8, 1:11-12, 1:19, 2:15, 2:19, 3:3-4, 4:9-10 4:16
  • *Shore, Anne, 1:11-13, 2:15, 2:22, 3:3-4, 3:13, 3:15, 4:5, 4:9-10, 4:16, 5:8
  • Smith Act, 1:8, 1:13, 2:2, 3:10, 4:6-15, 5:1
  • *Sugar, Maurice, 1:10, 1:12-14, 2:14, 4:9, 4:16
  • Un-American Activities, 1:10-11, 1:14, 2:14, 2:17-18, 3:8, 3:16 4:2, 4:5, 5:9-15

Processing History

Part I: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in 1979.
Part II: Part II materials processed and finding aid revised in May 1984.
Title
Guide to the Civil Rights Congress of Michigan Records
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Date
1979
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA