Today’s blog is written by Tina L. Ligon, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland
In April 2013, the processing for Class 144 (Civil Rights) Litigation Case Files (National Archives Identifier 603432) series [RG 60 General Records of the Department of Justice] began. Litigation case files were created or accumulated by the various divisions of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) to investigate possible violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case files in this series include suits to implement court-ordered school desegregation, complaints of racial discrimination on interstate common carriers, prisons conditions, and allegations of brutality by local police against African Americans and members of other ethnic minorities. The litigation case files contain correspondence, memorandums, investigative reports, legal briefs, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings as applicable to each case.
The team responsible for processing these case files included myself, two full-time employees (Mark and Scott), 6 student employees (Anwar, Micah, Brittany, Abiola, Michael, and Shavon), and a summer intern (Michael). The team organized case files into numerical order, placed case files into archival boxes, and typed a list of nearly 68,000 case file folder titles. Their hard work on this project is truly appreciated.
Processing the case files and capturing the case file numbers were completed in August 2013. As result of our efforts, an additional 2,471 standard legal boxes (1,081 linear feet) were added to the series.
Within the case files, we discovered several DOJ investigations relating to key events in African American history. Many of the case files relate to the modern Civil Rights Movement. Select case files include:
- Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956) [case file # 144-012-23]
- Freedom Riders in Anniston, Alabama (1961)[case file # 144-1-554]
- Birmingham Church Bombing (1963) [case file # 144-1-906]
- Murder of Viola Liuzzo (1965) [case file # 144-2-470]
- March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963) [case file # 144-16-574]
- Murder of Harry T. Moore (1951) [case file # 144-18-205]
- Murder of Emmett Till (1955) [case file #144-40-116]
- James H. Meredith and the University of Mississippi (1961) [case file # 144-40-254]
- Murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (1964) [case file 144-41-686]
- Assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968) [case file #144-72-662]
- Integration of Little Rock High School (1957) [case file #144-100-9-1]
This series also contains several case files relating to the Black Power Movement and Black Nationalist organizations. Select case files include:
- Murder of “Lil” Bobby Hutton (1968) [case file # 144-11-562]
- Watts Riot (1965) [case file # 144-12-1102]
- Washington, D. C. Riot (1968) [case file #144-16-986]
- Murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark (1969) [case file # 144-23-971]
- Detroit Riot (1967) [case file # 144-37-509]
- James H. Meredith and the March Against Fear (1966) [case file # 144-40-570]
- Wilmington Ten (1971) [case file # 144-54-407]
- The Glenville Shootout (1968) [case file # 144-57-311]
Other related case files of interest, include:
- Abduction of Mack Charles Parker (1959) [case file # 144-41-304]
- Prison conditions at Angola [Louisiana State Penitentiary] (case file # 144-32M-10]
- Jackson State University killings (1970) [case file # 144-41-1597]
- Murder of two students on the campus of Southern University (1972) [case file # 144-32M-9]
- Prison conditions at Parchman Farm [Mississippi State Penitentiary] [case file #144-40-879]
*The case files in this series have to be screened for FOIA (b)(6) Personal Information and FOIA (b)(7) Law Enforcement prior to use by researchers. For more information on filing a FOIA request please visit here.