Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wesleyan's Collection on Legal Change

Before tucking into the Arthur T. Vanderbilt Papers, I learned from Suzy Taraba, head of Special Collections and Archives at Wesleyan University, about the existence of the department's Collection on Legal Change. According to her department's blog:
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 [in the guise of the papers of NLRB lawyer Philip Levy], 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 This organization laid much of the groundwork for the state-by-state ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the ban on the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of alcohol in the 1920s.