ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Privacy

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 25, 2020

Privacy Project Technology concerns began in the 1950s, over government officials listening to phone calls or surveilling private conversations. By the 1970s, more and more personal information was stored on new computer systems, both corporate and governmental. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri (as i...

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Reproductive Freedom

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 23, 2020

Access to Abortions at City Hospital On August 16, 1974, when a St. Louis City resident (“Jane Doe”) had complicated health problems, doctors at the public City Hospital No. 1 told her to obtain a medical abortion elsewhere before returning for a needed hysterectomy. This required her to undergo ...

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ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Mrs. Dorothy King

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 19, 2020

War on Drugs? In 1972, 15 federal Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (D.A.L.E.) officers arrived with a search warrant for Dorothy and Gene King’s home on Emerson Avenue in St. Louis City. A few grams of heroin were found hidden in the basement drain and behind an air conditioner. Gene King and three oth...

newspaper clipping "Warning shots allowed in some municipalities"

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Police Use of Deadly Force

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 17, 2020

Mattis Case In 1971, two teenagers—Michael Mattis (age 17) and Tomas Rolf (age 18)—were found in a golf course shed in St. Louis County. Police responded to a burglary call. In the dark, police officer Richard Schnarr ordered Mattis to stop, then fired a shot, which struck his head and killed him...

court documents and newspaper clipping

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: LGBTQ+ Equity

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 8, 2020

LGBTQ+ Equity In 1972, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri’s new executive director, Joyce Armstrong, prioritized building relationships with local gay and lesbian groups. She spoke to the Mandrake Society, St. Louis’ first gay rights or “homophile” organization, and coordinated with leaders at the gay-...

Portrait of Dr. Venable. Caption: H.P. Venable, M.D. F.A.C.S. Asst. Instructor in Clinical Opthalmology Washington University School of Medicine; Head and Director, Department of Ophthalmology Homer G. Phillips Hospital

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: New Home for the Venable Family

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 5, 2020

Segregation in Missouri typically occurred (and occurs) by custom, rather than law. Proving that discrimination occurred, and then eliminating it, required diligent efforts by many activists. New Home for the Venable Family, 1956–1960 Dr. Howard Phillip Venable and his wife, Katie, purchased land...

Newspaper articles about police brutality in St. Louis, from the Post-Dispatch 1990s

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Reforms to End Police Violence

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 3, 2020

Once again, as I write about the ACLU of Missouri’s history of trying to stop police violence, I do so as I listen to news stories of protesters met with tear gas and rubber bullets. As updates scroll by on my newsfeed about a black man, already in handcuffs, murdered by a while police offi...

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Liberty in Times of Crisis 

By Miranda Rectenwald on June 1, 2020

Liberty in Times of Crisis A foundational concept of the ACLU since its founding in 1920 has been a particular attention to rights (especially  free speech, rights to assembly, rights to organize, personal privacy) during times of war and national crisis. Two notable moments where individual libe...

Cover of Showgirl Cartoons and Photographs

ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Comic Book Ordinance 

By Miranda Rectenwald on May 28, 2020

Comic Book Ordinance, 1956 Fearing that comic books encouraged juvenile delinquency, in 1956 the city of St. Louis passed Bill 553, making it illegal to sell publications showing “scandals, whoring, lechery, assignations, intrigues between men and women, and immoral conduct of persons.” St. Louis...


ACLU-MO History Spotlight: Release Time for Religious Instruction  

By Miranda Rectenwald on May 21, 2020

Release Time for Religious Instruction, 1940–1948 In the 1940s, the St. Louis city public school let students (with parental permission) participate in “release time,” which allowed them to go to church for class, with attendance counting as part of their school day. This created a co...