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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri Records

Identifier: LH-wua00355

This collection contains the records of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU-MO). Items in the collection include office files, promotional materials, memos, reports, financial documents, articles, conference materials, and other materials that document the history and operations of the organization, previously known as the St. Louis Civil Liberties Commitee (SLCLC) 1920 - 1968, and American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri (ACLU/EM), 1968 – 2013.

Each series in this collection corresponds to an accession (or transfer) of records. Significant overlap in topics and dates is found in each series.


  • 1930-2018


Conditions Governing Access

Series 1, 2, and 3 are open to researchers without restriction.

*Series 4 and beyond have additional restrictions.

*Files are closed to use for 25 years (after their creation), except with written permission of the Executive Director, ACLU of Eastern Missouri. Researchers should contact the Archives staff for further information regarding this process.

Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


123.00 linear feet

Historical Information

The national American Civil Liberties Union was formed in January 1920 largely through the efforts of Roger Baldwin, who began his career in St. Louis. 

Baldwin moved to St. Louis from Boston in the fall of 1906 to be the first director of Self Culture Hall, a neighborhood settlement house founded by the Ethical Culture Society.  In addition to this position, Baldwin gave the first course in sociology at Washington University.  Along with his involvement in urban reform; he served as secretary of the St. Louis Civic League, an organization of urban progressives, Baldwin counseled pacifism at the outbreak of the First World War in Europe.  "When I read of the British conscientious objectors in the war", he recalled, "I knew I was one of them."  In 1916 he joined the St. Louis affiliate of the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM) and in the spring of 1917 Baldwin resigned his position with the Civic League and moved to New York in order to donate his services to the AUAM national directing committee.

In May, 1917 Baldwin organized the Bureau for Conscientious Objectors as a sub-agency of the AUAM to advise objectors about legal technicalities and in other ways provide legal or economic assistance.  Due to ideological differences, Baldwin's organization broke away from the AUAM and became the National Civil Liberties Bureau (NCLB) an independent association, in 1917.  In the fall of 1918, just as the war was about to end, Baldwin went to prison for eight months for violating the draft law.  Following his release from prison in late 1919, Baldwin began a reorganization of the NCLB.  Taking a broader scope than before, he sought to serve those directly involved in the labor struggle and those  who stood on general principles for freedom of expression. Baldwin's efforts resulted in the organization of the American Civil Liberties Union in January, 1920.

The St. Louis Civil Liberties Committee (SLCLC) was formed May 7, 1920  when Roger Baldwin visited St. Louis and  oganized a “branch of the American Civil Liberties Union” with a small group of St. Louisans.  The SLCLC's 1936 constitution lists its purposes as: the furtherance of the cause of freedom of speech, writing, publication, assembly and thought by all legitimate means; the protection of the legal rights of individuals in respect to such instances as may be deemed worthy; the promotion or opposition of legislation and other official action bearing upon civil liberties; and cooperation to the fullest extent possible with the American Civil Liberties Union in such of its activities as meet with the approval of the SLCLC.

The StLCLC changed its name to the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri (ACLU/EM) in 1968. In 1971 the position of Executive Director was created to head up the workings of the ACLU/EM. The Board of Trustees conducts the affairs of the affiliate, and officers of the affiliate consisted of a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. 

On Oct. 1, 2013, the ACLU-EM became the ACLU of Missouri and has responsibility for the entire state.

Background material from:

Johnson, Donald.  The Challenge to American Freedoms (University of Kentucky Press, 1963)

Donohue, William A. The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union.  (Transaction Books, 1985)

Lamson, Peggy. Roger Baldwin: Founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.  (Houghton Mifflin, 1976)


This collection is divided into series, further broken down into subseries, as described below:

Series 1: St. Louis Civil Liberties Committee Files, 1935 – 1967

Subseries 1: Office Files, 1953-1959

Subseries 2: Office Files and Cases, 1947-1957

Subseries 3: General Files of the Chairman, 1960-1961 (circa), and 1963-1965

Subseries 4: Miscellaneous

Series 2: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1953 – 1981

Subseries 1: Office Files, 1953-1980

Subseries 2: Executive Director files

Subseries 3: ACLU/EM Privacy Project, 1976

Subseries 4: News clippings, 1967-1985

Subseries 5: Membership and recruitment, 1967-1980

Subseries 6: Publications and pamphlets

Series 3: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1940 – 1991

[not split into subseries] Case files and Subject files, arranged alphabetically

Series 4: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1959 – 1995

Subseries 1: Administrative and Subject Files (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 2: Cases Files and Master Dockets (arranged alphabetically)

Series 5: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1960 – 2003

Subseries 01: Legal Cases (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 02: Subject Files  (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 03: Board of Director Files (arranged alphabetically)

Series 6: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1985 – 2005

Subseries 1: Subject Files (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 2: Case files (arranged alphabetically)

Series 7: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1984 – 2008

Subseries 1: Legal Cases (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 2: Subject Files (arranged alphabetically)

Series 8: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1994-2012

Subseries 1: Legal Cases (arranged alphabetically)

Series 9: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 2000-2015

Subseries 1: Legal Cases (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 2: Subject Files (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 3: Websites (all digital content)

Series 10: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Web Content, 2000 – Present

Series 11: ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files, 1970 – 2019

Subseries 1: ACLU-EM Historic Files from Fred Epstein and Roger Goldman (arranged alphabetically)

Subseries 2: ACLU-EM Subject Files, Publications, Posters (arranged alphabetically)

Method of Acquisition

This material was donated to the University Archives at various times.

Accruals and Additions

Accruals are filed at the end as additional series.

Processing Information

Processed by Archives Staff; Updated by Miranda Rectenwald in 2007 and 2010. Series 7 processed by Lesley Zavediuk in Spring 2011. Finding aid updated by Meg Tuomala in November 2012. Series 8 processed by ACLU/EM staff in Summer 2013. Series 11 processed by Miranda Rectenwald in June 2021.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri Records
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 March 11: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Local History Collecting Area

Miranda Rectenwald
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495