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University of Connecticut University Libraries Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center


Archives & Special Collections:
A Treasury of the Human Spirit
Part Two: Human Rights and the Rule of Law, 1670-1945

The ideas that form the background to Western thought and struggle over human rights, law, and the proper relationship between citizens and governments are part of a complex history that includes not only politics but also religion, science, economy, and the arts. Together, they weave a tapestry of recurring tensions between individual rights and the good of the commonwealth; between religious and secular foundations for law and rights; and between respect for tradition and the drive toward new forms of political and cultural life.

Hugo Grotius
     

Hugo Grotius. De Jure Belli ac Pacis. Amsterdam, 1670.

Hugo Grotius. The Most Excellent Hugo Grotius: His Three Books Treating of the Rights of War & Peace. London, 1682.

This landmark work in the history of law and human rights was first published in Latin in 1625 and translated into English in 1682. More than a discourse on the rules of war and the rights of citizens during war-time, it is an important source of the modern idea of natural rights, the doctrine that all human beings equally are by nature free to dispose their persons and their possessions as they think fit. Natural rights, on this view, are the foundation of law and government and are not granted by the state.


William Hubbard. The Present State of New-England. Being a Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians. London, 1677.

The earliest Puritan settlers of New England were well aware that the native peoples were as diverse in interest and policy as they were in social and cultural structure. These settlers did not portray relations with the Indians as determined by any fundamental distinction of race, but instead by all the complexities of human behavior.

In 1675, however, the various tribes of northeastern Native Americans united in opposition to the land policies of the New England settlers, a conflict known as King Philip's War. According to historian Alden Vaughan, Puritans like William Hubbard for the first time began to represent the dealings of the two peoples as a confrontation of distinct races. By the 19th century, Vaughan writes, Americans "began with the assumption that an expanding colony necessarily finds all red men aligned against all whites in basic interests if not in actual combat."

J. Nalson. A True Copy of the Journal of the High Court of Justice, for the Tryal of K. Charles I. London, 1684.

The trial and execution in 1649 of English King Charles I was an important step in the development of a republican form of government and the consolidation of British Parliamentary power. But the execution of a monarch, God's political representative on earth, was for many of Charles's loyal subjects a horrific assault on the divine order.

The frontispiece is an allegorical depiction of the evils unleashed upon England by the Civil Wars of the 1640s. At bottom right, the chariot of war tramples Justice (the blind-folded figure) and the beheaded King Charles.

In 1684, when this book was published, King and Parliament were again at odds. James II would be driven from England in 1688 to be replaced by William of Orange, a succession known to its supporters as the "Glorious Revolution." In 1689, William signed into law Parliament's Declaration of Rights, which formalized the succession and required frequent Parliaments and free elections. The agreement lent support to the idea that government was a social contract between the King and the representatives of the people.

Jan Swammerdam. Historia Insectorum Generalis [History of Insects]. Leiden, 1685.

The Dutch microscopist Jan Swammerdam was among the pioneers in the study of the invisible structures of life. The machine-like intricacies of living creatures, as revealed by the magnifying lens, offered further support for the extension of the mechanical philosophy to the study of human beings and society.

The Archives & Special Collections Department holds a strong collection of early works on natural history.

Lucretius. The Epicurean Philosopher, His Six Books De Natura Rerum. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1683.

Classical sources were an important influence on the Western political imagination in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is the first translation into English of the classic Latin poem composed during the last century BCE. The poem's intent is to free humankind from religious fears by demonstrating that the world is nothing more than irreducible particles of matter moving without purpose in empty space. For Lucretius, laws and states are created by human beings for their protection and well-being.

The English translator, Thomas Creech, was an acquaintance of deist and political radical John Toland. Deists considered religious truths to be fully available to natural human reason and not to depend on divine revelation or the mediation of priests or ministers. The early deists were strong advocates of the right to free practice of religious belief, and their disdain for the institutions of organized religion made them a threat to the established political order. By the end of the 18th century, however, a more moderate deism had become a significant religious attitude among many upper-class Americans including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

James Harrington. The Oceana. London, 1700.

In this utopian fiction by the English political philosopher James Harrington, the Commonwealth of Oceana is the ideal state which he envisaged for England, a republican government with a strong constitution. First published in 1656, Harrington's ideas were influenced by the classical model of the Roman republic. His theories contrast with more liberal ideas such as John Locke's in their emphasis on duties and the common good instead of individual rights. Nevertheless, Harrington was imprisoned for his views in 1661 when the English monarchy was restored. Harrington's thought was a significant influence on the American development of a written constitution, bicameral legislatures, and other features of democratic political life.

This collection of Harrington's works was edited by the deist John Toland.

Martin Dominique Fertel. La Science Pratique de l'Imprimerie. Saint Omer, 1723.

This manual offers detailed instruction in the operation of a printing press. The relative simplicity of this hand-operated technology resulted in a proliferation of printing shops in towns and cities across Europe and the United States throughout the 18th century, thus fostering the wide dissemination of new ideas.

Thomas Sprat. The History of the Royal Society of London, for the Improving of Natural Knowledge. 4th ed. London, 1734.

The scientific revolution of the 17th century witnessed a transformation of Western understanding of the natural world and contributed to the eventual secularization of politics and society. But most scientists of the time believed that their research supported traditional Christian beliefs. Royal Society member Robert Boyle coined the term "mechanical philosophy" to refer to the principle that all scientific explanations could be reduced to the motions and impacts of inert particles of matter. But Isaac Newton believed that divine intervention was still required both to keep this mechanical system in motion and to correct certain irregularities he could not otherwise explain.

A close alliance existed between the Royal Society and certain leaders of the established Church of England, who supported Parliament's unprecedented replacement of one monarch by another in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. For these latitudinarian ministers, the political world mirrored Newton's universe: God and His Church were necessary active participants in maintaining the stability and legitimacy of the political order.


A Confession of Faith, 1710.

A Confession of Faith. New-London [Conn.], 1710.

Disputes over church government and ministerial authority among the Puritan congregations of 17th-century New England resonate with political implications. In 1708, Connecticut governor Gurdon Saltonstall called on the colony's ministers to draft a statement of the main points of acceptable Christian doctrine and forms of church government. The resulting Saybrook Platform was the first book-length work to be printed in the colony.

The Platform attempted a compromise between congregationalist and presbyterian principles. For congregationalists, who followed the tenets of the earliest New England settlers, church membership required a voluntary act of covenanting between individual and congregation. Each local church enjoyed autonomy from the others. The presbyterian model, by contrast, offered a more inclusive definition of church membership. However, it also conferred greater authority on ministers, not by congregational election but by legal statute; and it established a system of church associations to settle disputes within local congregations.

When the Platform was submitted to the Connecticut churches in 1710, most congregations rejected its presbyterian elements. Even so, presbyterianism was a significant influence on the development of church life through the 18th century.


James Ferguson. Select Mechanical Exercises: Shewing How to Construct Different Clocks, Orreries, and Sun-Dials. 2nd ed. London, 1778.

An orrery is a machine that shows the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system. The success of mechanical models in the prediction and control of nature suggested their extension to the operations of the human mind and human society.

James Ferguson, a member of the Royal Society, was a celebrated astronomer, inventor, and lecturer.

James Ferguson, Select Mechanical Exercises: Shewing how to Construct Different Clocks, Orreries, and Sun-Dials, 1778.


Louis Marie Prudhomme, ed., Revoluntions de Paris, Dedies a la Nation.

Louis Marie Prudhomme, ed. Revolutions de Paris, Dedies a la Nation. Paris, 1789-1793.

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man in August of 1789 was a sign of hope and progress for many people in Europe and the Americas. Closely modelled on the American declaration of 1776, it asserted the "natural and imprescriptable" right of every citizen to liberty, equality, property, and security.

The journalist Louis Prudhomme's Revolutions de Paris offers one of the most complete contemporary accounts of the turmoil of the early years of the Revolution. Shown here are engravings that illustrate contrasting aspects of the Revolution: the 1789 liberation of the Bastille, a notorious symbol of the despotism of the monarchy; and the September Massacres of 1792, during which 1200 priests, royalists, and aristocrats were summarily executed in the early days of the Reign of Terror.

The Archives & Special Collections Department holds a strong collection of books and pamphlets on the French Revolution and its political aftermath.


Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1792.

Thomas Paine. The Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution. 4th American ed. Albany [N.Y.], 1792.

Thomas Paine. Rights of Man. Part the Second. Albany, 1794.

Although he had been a strong supporter of the American Revolution of 1776, the English statesman Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution. He maintained that established institutions and the accumulated wisdom of the past were surer guides to political behavior than abstract reasoning about rights.

Thomas Paine, by contrast, urged the necessity of a sharp break with the despotism of the French ancien régime. His Rights of Man quickly became one of the best selling books in the history of publishing.

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, Part the Second, 1794.

Mary Wollstonecraft. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 2nd ed. London, 1792.

Mary Wollstonecraft is widely considered the first major theorist of women's social and political condition. Dedicated to the French statesman Talleyrand, her Vindication urged a wider role for women in post-Revolutionary France. "If the abstract rights of man will bear discussion and explanation, those of woman, by a parity of reasoning, will not shrink from the same test. . . . I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body."

Zephaniah Swift. A System of the Laws of the State of Connecticut. Windham [Conn.], 1795.

The American system of law has its origins in the English tradition of common law. Printed reports of legal cases and decisions are essential to that tradition, and with the framing of the Constitution in 1789 there was a drive toward the compilation and publication of American case law. Moreover, accessibility of the legal code to common understanding was considered crucial to the success of the new republic.

Zephaniah Swift, a jurist from Windham, Connecticut, is credited with writing the first American law text. The work goes well beyond the narrow scope suggested by its title and provides a thorough treatment of political theory and practical government. Swift's aim was to organize the chaos of case law for the use of common people. "A republican form of government will then have the fairest chance to be put to the test of experiment," he writes.

The Department's collection of American books and pamphlets from the Federalist period is especially rich.


Dubroca, Vida de J. J. Dessalines, Gefe de los Negros de Santo Domingo, 1806.

Dubroca. Vida de J. J. Dessalines, Gefe de los Negros de Santo Domingo; con Notas Muy Circunstanciadas Sobre el Orige, Caractery Atrocidades de los Principales Gefes de quellos ebeldes Desde el Principio de la Insurreccion en 1791. Mexico, 1806.

Sugar cane and slavery combined in the 18th century to make the French colony of St. Domingue one of the most profitable in the world. Inspired by the French revolutionary call for "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," however, the enslaved African workers launched an insurrection against their colonial rulers in 1791.

The rebellion was put down in 1801 by forces sent by Napolean Bonaparte, but the next year J.J. Dessalines led a renewed struggle against the French, aided by American merchants. Dessalines declared independence for the island in 1803, naming it "Haiti."

This account of the uprisings, originally published in French, was translated into Spanish and published in Mexico to warn the ruling colonists there of the potential for revolution in their own country.


Maria Callcott Graham. Journal of a Residence in Chile, During the Year 1822. And a Voyage from Chile to Brazil in 1823. London, 1824.

By 1820, most of the nations of South America had won independence from Spanish domination. Their new status opened the way to new travel and business opportunities for Europeans, many of whom published accounts of their journeys and observations.

Maria Graham's Journal is a perceptive and sympathetic account of Chilean society and politics in the independence period and the political and military upheavals that followed. Her observations of Chile and Brazil tend to be more impartial than those offered by her male mercantalist counterparts; her writing is more interpretive and analytical.

Maria Callcott Graham. Letter to an unknown correspondent, 1834.

In this letter, Graham responds to accusations by a Mr. Greenough of falsifying some of the geological observations recorded in her Journal, following an earthquake near Valparaiso, Chile. Her defense of her objectivity in this matter may extend to her social and political observations as well.

"I stated the facts which came under my own observation and I must be permitted to claim for myself one qualification for an observer. My mind was at ease compared with the minds of those around me. I had no family with me, I had no commercial or political connections in South America, no interests that could be affected by the consequences either of the Earthquake or the Civil War. While there was scarcely one other person in the country whose friends or whose property were not more or less deeply concerned in both."

El Indicator. Guatemala City, 1824-1827.

Local newspapers helped to spread reports of independence movements throughout Hispanic America. This issue of 28 November, 1825, includes news from Havana, Cuba, of the struggles for freedom on that island. The editor urges his Guatemalan readers not to resist the inevitable demand for liberation in their own country.

The Archives & Special Collections Department holds extensive and varied materials for the study of Hispanic history and culture. Its holdings of 19th-century Latin American newspapers are especially noteworthy.

John L. Stephens. Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. New York, 1843.

>John Lloyd Stephens was a steamship and railroad promoter. This account of his travels in the Mexican state of Yucatan would have reminded many of his readers of the conflicting territorial ambitions of Mexico and the United States over the Republic of Texas, which had declared its independence from Mexico in 1835. Adherents to the American doctrine of manifest destiny prevailed when Texas was annexed as a slave state in 1845. War broke out with Mexico the next year. Henry David Thoreau spent his famous night in a Concord jail rather than pay tax in support of this adventure.


The Lowell Offering: A Repository of Original Articles, Written by Femailes Employed in the Mills, 1841-1845.

The Lowell Offering: A Repository of Original Articles, Written by Females Employed in the Mills. Lowell [Mass.], 1841-1845.

Industrial urban development during the first half of the 19th century brought social upheaval to an America that still saw itself as an agrarian republic of farms and small towns. By the mid 1840s, Lowell, Massachusetts, boasted 33 mills, extensive steampower, and a population of nearly 30,000.

Many of the millworkers in this period were young women drawn from small towns throughout New England. In later years, immigrants from other countries were to become a major source of factory labor as well as the target of the fears and anger of native-born Americans.

Although the Lowell Offering was criticized by opponents of industrialization for failing to expose the degradations of factory labor, many of the magazine's articles defended the dignity of the women's work and lives.


Revue Comique. Paris, 1848-1849.

Censorship of the printed word was abolished in France during the Revolution of 1789. Pictures, however, particularly satirical cartoons directed against the state and its officials, continued to be censored until the end of the 19th century.

This magazine issue of December 2, 1848, depicts the emperor Louis Napolean as a tiny frog compared with the sturdy "ox" that was Napolean I. A merciless critic of Louis Napolean, Revue Comique was one of the most audacious of the popular satirical periodicals to emerge in the aftermath of the 1848 revolution -- a revolution that had promised to end censorship of caricature. The journal was suspended a year later.

The Archives & Special Collections Department has one of the strongest collections of 19th-century French satirical periodicals in the United States.


Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Negro Life in the Slave States of America, 1852.

Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Negro Life in the Slave States of America. London, 1852.

This London edition of Hartford resident Harriet Stowe's classic anti-slavery novel was first published in New York the same year. The British Parliament had abolished the slave trade in 1807 and emancipated all slaves in the British colonies by 1838. When the United States enacted the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, only Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil in the Western Hemisphere still permitted slavery.


The Liberty Bell, By Friends of Freedom. Boston: National Anti-Slavery Bazaar, 1853.

This annual publication raised funds for the American anti-slavery cause. The 1853 volume includes contributions of poetry and prose by popular writers of the day such as Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Harriet Martineau, and Maria Chapman. The letter shown here from Oscar de Lafayette (grandson of the Marquis), recounting the 1848 emancipation of slaves in the French colonies, was undoubtedly intended as a challenge to Americans to follow suit.

"...one of the most important events of our epoch, -- the Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies."

The Liberty Bell, by Friends of Freedom, 1853.


J.B. Pyne. Lake Scenery of England . London, 1859.

Painter James Baker Pyne was self-taught as an artist, having abandoned the career in law for which he had been prepared. This album of lithographed reproductions of his paintings contains scenes familiar to the celebrated Romantic poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Beginning late in the 18th century, the Romantic movement was a rejection of the Enlightenment ideal of abstract mechanical reason in favor of a more organic understanding of nature and human society. The Romantics placed a new emphasis on the value of each individual's private experience.

Linus Pierpont Brockett. Woman: Her Rights, Wrongs, Privileges, and Responsibilities. Hartford, 1869.

The author, a physician and Civil War historian, argues here against extending voting rights to women. Brockett distinguishes between democratic principles and more "natural" republican forms of government: "The family basis of representation . . . makes the husband and father the true representative of his entire household. . . . The exercise of the suffrage by woman would . . . make suffrage individual instead of representative, and so against the natural order of things."

Only in 1920 did women in the United States gain the right to vote in national elections.

La Petite Lune. Paris, 1878-1879. Illustrated by Andre Gill.

Andre Gill was the most popular of the French political cartoonists in the middle and late years of the 19th century. His work was frequently censored by the political authorities.


Household Stories, from the Collection of the Bros. Grimm, 1893.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, 1910.

Household Stories, from the Collection of the Bros. Grimm. London, 1893. Translated by Lucy Crane. Illustrated by Walter Crane.

James Baldwin. The Story of Siegfried.
New York, 1897. Illustrated by Howard Pyle.

Howard Pyle. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. New York, 1910.

Interest in the ancient legends and folk stories of Europe was an important aspect of the Romantic rejection of the Enlightenment emphasis on human reason. The old tales were thought to express the unique genius of the European race. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were pioneers in the systematic recording of the folk tales and folk songs of Germany, Scandinavia, and other European countries. Though they were not themselves influenced by the "Gothic" Romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries, the fairy tales they collected became part of this medieval revival.

The intensification of popular interest in the middle ages around the turn of the 20th century reveals, in the opinion of some historians, deep anxiety over the upheavals of the modern world.

The Archives & Special Collections Department holds a strong collection of illustrated children's books of the late 19th and 20th centuries.


Ryan Walker. The Social Hell. Rich Hill, Mo.: Coming Nation, 1902.

The conditions of workers and the corruption of a political system beholden to corporate interests have been a major focus of human rights concerns since the 19th century. This early graphic novel depicts the social evils of unreformed capitalism. Ryan Walker was a syndicated cartoonist for many mainstream newspapers as well as for the communist Daily Worker.

Ryan Walker, The Social Hell, 1902.

The Path of Justice in Massachusetts: Workers Arouse. Prevent a Judicial Crime.
Ettor and Giovannitti Will Be Murdered by the Legal Hirelings of the Mill Barons
Unless You Rise in Your Might and Protest
. . . . [Lawrence, Mass., 1912]

Lawrence, Massachusetts, like neighboring Lowell, was a major industrial center for textile manufacture. In 1912, a general strike was called to protest a wage reduction and to demand improved working conditions. At least 25,000 local workers representing as many as 40 nationalities joined the strike. Police and the state militia were called in. Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti, strike committee organizers from the Industrial Workers of the World, were jailed for inciting murder when a picketer was shot by a policeman. They were later acquitted.


Upton Sinclair, The Metropolis, 1908.

Upton Sinclair. The Metropolis. New York, 1908.

Upton Sinclair. Letter to Fred Warren, 24 May 1913. Fred Warren Papers.

Novelist Upton Sinclair is best known for exposing the deplorable working conditions in the Chicago meat-packing industry in The Jungle. In this letter to editor Fred Warren, he writes: "It looks to me as if the Paterson strike is going to be lost. I went out there last Sunday and gave them a little talk on the subject of political action...There are going to be a great many strikes lost before we get Socialism."


Emma Goldman. Anarchism and Other Essays. New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1910.

If rights are held by nature, and not granted by outside authorities, then governments may be seen as an inherent threat to individual liberties. In her essay "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," anarchist Emma Goldman argues that the suffragists' pursuit of voting rights distracted their attention from the more important revolutionary work of dismantling altogether the oppressive force of the state. Goldman had greater admiration for feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft who defied social convention in their drive for personal fulfillment.

Lithuanian by birth, Goldman was deported from the United States to the Soviet Union in 1919 at a time when intense anti-Bolshevik agitation was directed against immigrants.

Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 1910.

New Britain Typographical Union. Minutes of Meetings, 1911-1916. Ralph J. Pancallo Papers.

New Britain Typographical Union. Membership Dues Register, 1931-1935. Ralph J. Pancallo Papers.

The Wagner Act of 1935 established in United States law the right of employees to bargain collectively and to engage in concerted action for their mutual protection. The act also prohibited various unfair labor practices by employers. Previous to this legislation, strikes and other labor actions had often been treated as illegal conspiracies in restraint of trade. Nevertheless, trade unions have been an important political force throughout U.S. history.

Ralph J. Pancallo, president and treasurer of the New Britain Typographical Union Local 679, was born in Italy in 1912 and immigrated with his family to Connecticut. He was a printer with the Meriden Morning Record and the New Britain Herald newspapers.

The Archives & Special Collections Department holds extensive and varied materials on the labor movement and trade unionism.

James Joyce. Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1926. 8th Printing.

Modernist art and literature after the First World War were marked by radical experimentation with form and frank depiction of sexuality. Joyce's Ulysses is acknowledged today as a landmark of world literature, but its printing history, as shown here, testifies to the resistance with which the new work was often met.

"...500 copies burned by New York Post Office Authorities...499 seized by Customs Authorities, Folkestone..."


Ein Bilderbuch fur Gross und Klein, 1936.

Ein Bilderbuch für Gross und Klein. Nuremberg: Stürmer-Verlag, 1936.

The Nuremberg Trials were convened to try Nazi leaders for conspiracy to wage aggressive war and for crimes against humanity, especially those directed against the Jews that culminated in the Holocaust. Julius Streicher, one of the major defendants at Nuremberg, was editor of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer. He was also responsible for publishing at his Nuremberg press a number of books designed to spread race hatred. The volume displayed here is the only example of such a publication found in the Thomas J. Dodd Papers, a testimony to the power of this work.

"Nun wird es den Schulen schön;
Denn all Juden müssen gehn,
Die Grossen und die Kleinen.
Da hilft kein Schrein und Weinen
Und auch nicht Zorn und Wut.
Fort mit der Judenbrut! --
'Nen deutschen Lehrer wollen wir,
Der uns den Weg zur Klugheit führ',
Der mit us wandert, spielt und dan
Auch Zucht und Ordnung halten kann!
Der mit uns fröhlich ist und lacht,
Damit das Lernen Freude macht!"

"Schools will be lovely from now on,
For all the Jews will now be gone,
Be they big or be they small.
Shouting and crying won't help at all,
Anger and rage won't help them stay.
Away that Jewish scum, away!
A German teacher is what we need
Who on the road to cleverness can lead
Who hikes and plays with us and who
Can keep discipline and order too.
Laughter and joy is what we'll treasure
So that learning will become a pleasure."

English translation by Herbert Lederer


Charles Olson. Spanish Speaking Americans in the War: The Southwest. Washington, D.C. : Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, 1944. Charles Olson Papers.

The American poet Charles Olson served as assistant chief in the Foreign Language Division of the Office of War Information from 1942 to May of 1944. The son of a Swedish immigrant father who had been blacklisted for union activities, Olson was responsible for promoting the war effort to the millions of immigrant citizens who were needed in the trenches and on the assembly lines. He also promoted the rights of ethnic Americans in a xenophobic time. In 1944, Olson joined several colleagues in resigning from the agency out of protest against military censorship of news about the war.

The Archives & Special Collections Department holds a nationally recognized research collection of post-War American poetry.

Charles Olson. "People v. The Fascist, U.S. (1944)." Survey Graphic , August 1944.
Charles Olson Papers.

In this article, Olson weighs the right to free speech against the harm done by defamatory attacks on ethnic and other groups. "Our law has been slow to appreciate the role of groups in twentieth century society," he writes. "The groups that are today of political consequence are religious, racial, ideological, occupational. . . . But their need for protection in the face of modern political warfare is just as urgent as that of wage earners caught in economic exploitation."

Olson favored revisions to the libel law that provided civil rather than criminal recourse: "civil law, where the people can bring their own suits."


Jim-Crow in Uniform, 1945.

John L. Lewis. Equal Opportunity: Speech at the National Negro Congress, April 1940. [Washington, D.C.: Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1940].

Negro Workers After the War. New York: National Negro Congress, 1945.

Claudia Jones. Jim-Crow in Uniform. New York: New Age Publishers, 1945.

(Image crow, crow2) Even as soldiers fighting a war for liberty and democracy, African-Americans were subjected to the same prejudice and discrimination they experienced in civilian life. These inequities helped to propel the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The armed forces were legally desegrated in 1948, but other public institutions remained segregated. In 1954, efforts by lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People culminated in the landmark decision Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional.


May Day. If Our People Fight One Tribe at a Time, All Will Be Killed. They Can Cut Off Our Fingers One By One, But If We Join Together We Will Make a Powerful Fist. Come to Washington, D.C. May 1-7. [1971]. Poster.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, October 11, 1987. Poster.

"A pink triangle was used by the Nazis to identify and persecute homosexuals in the same way a yellow star was used for the Jews. An estimated 250,000 gay people were exterminated before and during World War II by the Thirfore and during World War II by the Third Reich. Today, the triangle has become a symbol of pride and struggle for gays around the world whose freedom and safety remain in peril."

The ruthless tyranny of the German Nazi regime and their wholesale slaughter of minorities and inhabitants of occupied territories resulted in a widespread insistance that human rights be protected through an international covenant. Shortly after the United Nations was chartered in 1945, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights was charged with preparing a declaration of general principles and a covenant of binding obligations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in December, 1948. Proclaiming a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations," it embraced not only civil and political rights but also economic, social, and cultural rights.

The worldwide struggle to secure and preserve human rights has intensified since the 1940s. The Archives & Special Collections Department holds a nationally significant collection of posters, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and ephemera that document American political and social activism from the 1960s through the present.



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