Whitehouse with protesters in front carring sign "Mr. President Fee the Scottsboro Boys!"

ACLU-MO Early Years: 1930s

By Miranda Rectenwald on May 13, 2020

The St. Louis Civil Liberties Committee began on May 7, 1920, with about a dozen volunteers, both men and women. For its first decades, the group and its actions remained focused on advocacy and education about civil rights. By 1932, the national ACLU noted that St. Louis was focusing “chie...


Harry S. Truman

By Miranda Rectenwald on March 27, 2020

In the ACLU of Missouri’s archives in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections, I found this delightful letter from Harry S. Truman. In 1959, the organization went by the name St. Louis Civil Liberties Committee and was a small volunteer-only advocacy organization. While the form...

white paper with printing

Poetry Contest Day 5

By Miranda Rectenwald on March 25, 2020

While preparing materials for a faculty workshop last fall, I happened across a brief correspondence from Langston Hughes in the St. Louis Urban League Records. November 29, 1940 from Los Angeles, California, Langston Hughes wrote, “Dear Mr. Clark:  I read with much interest of your plans f...

light post, grass, several stone buildings

Day 4 empty

By Miranda Rectenwald on March 24, 2020

Campus 2020 I snapped this photo on campus last week, while classes were on an extended Spring Break On a spring day in previous years this grassy field would have been full of students playing soccer, Frisbee, lounging in hammocks between trees and poles, or just sitting with friends.  But in 20...

Historic documents and text: Everything May Yet Turn Out All Right

Everything May Yet Turn Out All Right

By Miranda Rectenwald on March 23, 2020

A number of years ago while preparing to scan some requested documents from the Steedman Fellowship in  Architectural Competition Collection, some letters with beautiful little sketches caught my eye.  I looked a bit closer at the letters and discovered they were not just perfunctory reports abou...

3 people standing

Day 2 An Unexpected Find

By Miranda Rectenwald on March 19, 2020

In February while meeting with some history students visiting the archives, I came across some unexpected photographs of John Lewis as a young man.   They capture one brief moment — a Sunday afternoon in May 1963 as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in St. Louis hosted an...

image of newspaper story

Archivist Online Day 1

By Miranda Rectenwald on March 18, 2020

In times of trouble or change historians by nature turn to stories from the past.   As a historian and archivist, that is certainly true for me. Archivist online My work as a curator (custodian, caretaker, shepherd) of local history collections at Washington University is usually a mix of  physic...