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Authors : Richard P. Mulcahy, Scott A. Merriman
Title: Sites on Law, Civil Liberties, and Civil Rights
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
May 2002

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Source: Sites on Law, Civil Liberties, and Civil Rights
Richard P. Mulcahy, Scott A. Merriman

vol. 5, no. 1, May 2002
Article Type: Site Review

Sites on Law, Civil Liberties, and Civil Rights

Scott Merriman (Electronic Resource Review Editor),

Richard P. Mulcahy and Scott Merriman


The Amistad case

This interesting and worthwhile National Archives site examines the Amistad case. It offers some excellent graphics, presenting images of several of the important handwritten documents involved in their entirety, such as the Supreme Court's order of release.

The Avalon Project

This offers access to a wide variety of documents relating to American legal history. The documents included are in plain text, presented in their entirety, arranged according to period, and are cross-referenced according to subject matter. Selections include "The Mayflower Compact," (complete with the names of its signatories), and Thomas Paine's American Crisis, as well as more contemporary selections, including Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," and the Yalta Accords. The site also features a section for E-mail comments, a bibliography, and a Help Desk. It is also linked to Project DIANA, which is listed as "An Online Human Rights Archive." This site is very thorough, and is a valuable resource for both advanced scholars and students alike.

The Bill of Rights

This informative and well thought out National Archives site aims to make important documents in America's legal history available. It features the Preamble to the Constitution, as well as the Bill of Rights itself, and Amendments Eleven through Twenty-Seven. The site also features informational items, such as the article "A More Perfect Union," which gives an overview of the constitutional convention.


This site is maintained by the University of Pittsburgh's School of Law. Although designed primarily for use by law students, it features sections dealing with American Legal History, Ancient Law, and English Legal History. Interested students can access such diverse items as decisions of the United States Supreme Court, slave narratives, and a chronology of the Salem Witch Trials. The Ancient Law section provides access to Roman law, the Cicero Home Page, the Athenian Constitution, and similar works. Because of this, the site is not only useful to historians, but classicists as well. Finally, the site is linked to various law journals currently available on the World Wide Web.

Famous American Trials

This site, maintained by the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, is probably one of the most extensive, and informative, dealing with American court cases. It offers detailed coverage of many major cases, including Leopold & Loeb, the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Rosenberg case, the Chicago Seven, and the My-Lai Courts Martial. The site features full narratives, original documents and graphics of the people and evidence involved. It is highly recommended.

Guide to Legal History Resources on the Web

Maintained by the Jamail Center for Legal Research of the University of Texas's Tarlton Law Library, this site is should be a first stop for all students and scholars doing research in this field. The site is divided into five subject headings: General Sources, Court Records, Academic Libraries, Research Libraries, and Full Text Sources. Each section is literally a treasure-trove of information. For example, in the General Studies section, the user can choose from a host of various sites ranging from the Ames Foundation to Roman law. Particularly helpful are the annotations that appear with each listing. Well organized and thoughtfully laid out, this site is recommended most of all.

Civil Liberties

American Radicalism

Maintained by Michigan State University, this site offers access to digital reproductions of various writings and pamphlets dealing with American radicalism. The subjects covered by this site include the Hollywood Ten, the Scottsboro Boys, the Rosenberg Case, the I.W.W., the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, and others. Although the quality of the individual selections varies widely, each is valuable in providing insight to the time it was written, as well the mentality of the audience it was attempting to reach. All in all, a site recommended for anyone interested in studying radical movements.

Banned Books Online

This page offers information on past and recent efforts to ban various works, including Ulysses, Origin of Species, and Tom Sawyer. For example, the site reports on a 1996 effort by a New Hampshire school board to ban Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. More importantly, the site includes complete texts as well. The information it presents makes it a useful resource for anyone interested in freedom of thought.

Blacklisted - Resources and Links

This is the "resources" sub site for the audio drama "Blacklisted," dealing with the Hollywood blacklist during McCarthyism. The sub site offers links for serious researchers, including two essays by Professor Ellen Shrecker: "The Impact of McCarthyism," and "Interpreting McCarthyism: A Bibliographic Essay."

Encyclopedia of USA History - McCarthyism

This site is part of Britain's Spartacus Online Encyclopedia. Basically this is a beginner's site for anyone interested in McCarthyism, civil liberties, or the Cold War, offering basic information on a number of interrelated topics, including the Hollywood Ten, Elizabeth Bentley, and Alger Hiss.

The FileRoom

This site offers access to information about censorship efforts worldwide, and not just in the United States. This site is also very informational and worth visiting.

Literature and Culture of the American 1950s

This site is maintained through the University of Pennsylvania's Department of English, and focuses on McCarthyism and the Cold War. Stated simply, this site offers an "embarrassment of riches." Among the highlights are Justice Hugo Black's dissenting opinion in Dennis v U.S. (the 1951 treason trial of the leadership of the Communist Part of the United States of America under the Smith Act), a guide to FBI files available under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as information on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The site is highly recommended for all users.


This site offers audio & video clips of some of the major figures of the McCarthy era. Included on the list are Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, President Dwight David Eisenhower, and Vice President Richard Nixon. Featured video clips include as Nixon's "Checkers" speech and the Army McCarthy hearings of 1954. However, the most interesting piece the site offers is a twenty-minute audio clip of a speech McCarthy made during the height of his influence, where he makes his oft-repeated charge that Communism had enslaved more people in the course of the twentieth century than Christianity had converted in 2,000 years. This site manages to be both amusing and informative.

Paul Robeson

Interest in Paul Robeson was rekindled by the fact that April 9, 1998 was his centennial birthday. Regardless of his failings, the man, through his myriad accomplishments, forced this nation to reassess its attitudes about race relations. Howard University Libraries has established this site, which provides the user with an extensive series of links to other sites dealing with everything from his films to his personal papers. For anyone interested in getting information on Paul Robeson from the World Wide Web, this is the place to start.

Civil Rights

Americans United for Affirmative Action

This site is maintained by the American United for Affirmative Action, and includes a library of full-text primary documents dealing with race relations. In addition to both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are such things as the Emancipation Proclamation, Dred Scott v Sanford, Plessy v Ferguson, Brown v Board of Education, UC Regents v Bakke, and other materials.

Anti-Defamation League Holocaust Resources

This site deals with the Holocaust and related issues, such as Holocaust deniers, the "hidden children," and the Lipstadt case (where historian Debra Lipstadt won a libel case filed against her by David Irving.) As for the hidden children, the site offers a great deal of information, especially personal narratives. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in the Holocaust, and the toll it continues to take.

Civil Rights Documentation Project

This includes the Civil Rights Oral History Bibliography, and provides access to oral history interviews on the civil rights movement in Mississippi from the early 1960s through the 1970s. Maintained by the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives & History, the site lists the names of all people who were interviewed. In addition, the site provides complete online transcripts for a number of the interviews. Several of these transcripts also feature audio enhancement. Each transcript is outlined in terms of the subject matters discussed, and includes a biographical sketch of the interviewee. Persons interviewed range from those who were involved in the movement, and who came down to Mississippi to take part in the Freedom Rides and Freedom Schools, as well as those who were born and raised in Mississippi. The site is an important and invaluable tool for the serious educator and researcher.


Civnet is maintained by Civitas, which describes itself as "an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting civic education and civil society." Among the documents included here are The Virginia Declaration of Rights, The French Declaration of the Rights of Man, The Federalist Papers, and Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man. This, combined with its coverage of recent political issues, makes the site an invaluable tool for anyone interested in studying democratic government and its workings.

Greensboro Sit Ins: Launch of a Civil Rights Movement

This site deals with the so-called "Greensboro Four" who, on February 1, 1960, sat at a "white only" lunch counter at a Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina and demanded to be served. Credited with being the first sit-in, the tactic became a staple in the arsenal of nonviolent protest against institutional racism. The site includes a bibliography on the civil rights movement, biographical sketches of the four original protestors, and an extensive timeline on civil rights, dating from 1865 to the present. In its multi-media section it features an extensive collection of photographs relating to the Greensboro Four, as well as video and audio selections, and links to the National Civil Rights Museum and the NAACP home page.

National Civil Rights Museum

The single most important contribution this site makes is the virtual tour it offers of the National Civil Rights Museum. It also presents a useful narrative about the civil rights struggle dating back to independence and basic information on such figures as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and William Lloyd Garrison. The site also contains pictures of several of the museum's exhibits, including a city bus from the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. All in all, the site offers a good basic introduction to the history of the civil rights movement.