Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights records
Research Center1601 North Clark StreetChicago, IL 60614-6038
- Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, Criley, Richard L., Rosen, Rachel, Alliance to End Repression, Chicago Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, Civil Rights Congress of Illinois, Lightfoot Defense Committee, Midwest Committee for Protection of Foreign Born, National Committee against Repressive Legislation, Smith Act Families Committee, United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Bib number
- Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights records
- 72.5 linear feet (169 boxes)
- 15 cassettes
- 16 reels
- 1 45 RPM
- Call number
- MSS Lot C
- Call number
- OMM 135
This collection is open for research use. The FBI files are open at the request of Richard Criley.
For listening purposes, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening copy made if one is not available).
Terms governing use
Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.
Gift of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights (M1973.0073, M1973.0073, M1974.0069, M1978.0039, M1984.0023, M1996.0234).
Please cite this collection as
Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights records (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.
The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Collection consists of correspondence, newsletters, meeting minutes, newspapers, court records, petitions, pamphlets, FBI files and handwritten notes. The collection mainly comprises correspondence and promotional literature such as pamphlets and newsletters from precursor organizations to the CCDBR, organizations affiliated with the CCDBR, as well as the CCDBR and its two executive directors. The materials mainly focus on the CCDBR and affiliate organizations’ opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee, Smith Act, McCarran Act, death penalty, government and police spying, Chicago policing issues, and federal criminal code reform.
The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights (CCDBR) was founded in 1960. The CCDBR was formed to replace the Chicago Committee to Defend Democratic Rights (CCDDR), the latter which had replaced the Chicago Joint Committee to Defeat the Smith Act (CJDSA). The CJDSA had evolved out of the Lightfoot Defense Committee to aid in the defense of other Chicago “Smith Act Families” facing prosecution under the Smith Act. The Lightfoot Defense Committee was a product of the work done by the Illinois branch of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC). The CCDBR was born out of the work of these organizations prior to its founding in 1960. From 1960 until 1977, Richard Criley served as the executive director of the CCDBR when Racheal Rosen DeGolia assumed the title after serving as his associate director since 1975.
The CCDBR worked closely with the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee (NCAHUAC) to oppose the House Un-American Activities Committee as well as the Smith and McCarran Acts. The NCAHUAC would later become the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (NCARL) following the dissolution of HUAC with the CCDBR serving as its Midwest Regional office. Once HUAC was abolished the focus of NCARL and the CCDBR shifted to criminal code reform which led to the formation of the Citizens Committee for a Just Criminal Code, spearheaded by the CCDBR.
While the chief priority of the CCDBR was to abolish HUAC, it actively promoted several other issues at the direction of its executive directors. The CCDBR produced literature and was active in a number of student movements, the Lawndale neighborhood, anti-Vietnam war efforts, labor union organizing, opposition to spying by police and government agencies and opposition to the death penalty. Due to their activities HUAC, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Chicago Police “Red Squad” conducted campaigns targeting the CCDBR and Richard Criley, its executive director from 1960-1977, documented in the FBI files included in the collection. The CCDBR also subsumed the responsibilities of the Midwest branch of the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born in 1966 and in the 1970s Criley was instrumental in the development of the Alliance to End Repression (AER). The AER was a coalition of Chicago area organizations that were vital in the lawsuit against the Chicago Police “Red Squad”.
The Alliance to End Repression collection was separated from the original donation of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights records.
This collection was partially processed prior to 2017; the current arrangement follows the arrangment set during the initial work.
Other Finding Aids
Finding aid also submitted to the Explore Chicago Collections portal.
- Criley, Richard L.
- Rosen, Rachel
- Lightfoot, Claude M.
- Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights -- Archives
- Alliance to End Repression
- Chicago Committee for Protection of Foreign Born
- Civil Rights Congress of Illinois
- Lightfoot Defense Committee
- Midwest Committee for Protection of Foreign Born (Chicago, Ill.)
- National Committee against Repressive Legislation (U.S.)
- Smith Act Families Committee (Chicago, Ill.)
- United States. Constitution. 1st-10th Amendments
- United States. Freedom of Information Act
- United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities
- United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
- United States. Subversive Activities Control Board
- Capital punishment -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
- Civil rights -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
- Communism -- United States -- 20th century
- Law reform
- Police -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
- Police patrol -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Surveillance operations -- 20th century
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements
- Chicago (Ill.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century
- United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century
- North Lawndale (Chicago, Ill.)
Organization and Arrangement of Collection
The collection is arranged into 12 series with 35 subseries. The series are arranged by subject and materials are arranged chronologically within each subseries.
Series 1: Civil Rights Congress, 1947-1976 (Boxes 1-11, 108)
The Civil Rights Congress series contains bulletins, correspondence, court records, newsletters, flyers, petitions, and tax records related to the CRC’s operations in Illinois, Smith Act defense committees and its affiliated organizations.
Subseries 1. Civil Rights Congress Operating Files, 1947-1970 (Boxes 1-3, 108)
The operating file sub series includes bulletins, correspondence, petitions, tax records, newsletters as well as reports from the annual CRC conference and a report on racial violence in Chicago.
Subseries 2. Individual Defense Cases, 1951-1963 (Boxes 3-9)
Individual defense cases comprises court records, news clippings and correspondence related to the Smith Act Cases of Gil Green, John Hellman, Steve Nelson, William Schniederman, and Saul Laurence Wellman.
Subseries 3. Smith Act Cases, 1949-1959 (Boxes 9-10, 108)
The Smith Act Cases series is mainly comprised of the CRC’s activities in support of the Claude Lightfoot and the Lightfoot Defense Committee.
Subseries 4. Reference on Civil Rights Congress Affiliated Organizations, 1947-1976 (Boxes 10-11)
This series contains newsletters, flyers, correspondence and support campaigns from CRC affiliated organizations most notably the Lightfoot Defense Committee.
Series 2: Other Forerunner Organizations, 1954-1978 (Boxes 12-15)
This series comprises of correspondence, court records, newsletters, flyers, and petitions from the other forerunner organizations that evolved to become the CCDBR or the CCDBR assumed their responsibilities following their dissolution such as the Taft-Harley Victims Aid committees.
Subseries 1. Lightfoot Defense Committee, 1954-1958 (Boxes 12-13)
The Lightfoot Defense Committee series is comprised of mainly court records such as briefs, appeals, exhibits and arguments from the Claude Lightfoot case and includes some correspondence.
Subseries 2. Committees to Aid Taft-Hartley Victims, 1969-1978 (Boxes 13-14)
The series is mainly concerned with the correspondence, flyers and petitions about the Chicago 15 but also includes materials from Citizens Alert concerned about policing in Chicago.
Subseries 3. Chicago Joint Committee for Defeat of the Smith Act, 1955-1960 (Box 14)
The CJDSA series is comprised of mainly correspondence, flyers, and pamphlets concerning in opposition to the Smith Act.
Subseries 4. Smith Act Families, 1956-1960 (Box 15)
This series is comprised mainly of correspondence and court records such as appeals and amnesty petitions for the defense of Henry Winston and Fred Fine.
Subseries 5. Chicago Committee to Defend Democratic Rights, 1957-1960 (Box 15)
This series contains bulletins, correspondence and a report from the organizing conference for the committee and their efforts to support 1st Amendment rights.
Series 3: Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Administration Files, 1960-1987 (Boxes 16-20, 107, 164-165)
This series contains administrative files related to the Board of Directors and finances of the CCDBR and includes meeting minutes, reports from the annual conference, correspondence, financial reports, fundraising efforts, and mailing lists.
Subseries 1. Board of Director Files, 1960-1987 (Boxes 16-19, 107, 164-165)
This series contains meeting minutes from the board of directors, annual conference reports, correspondence, financial reports, sub-committee minutes, mailing lists, and notes from the board of director meetings.
Subseries 2. Financial Files, 1962-1987 (Boxes 19-20)
The CCDBR financial files includes meeting minutes from the financial committee, financial reports and information related to the CCDBR fundraising efforts.
Series 4: Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Executive Director’s Files, 1955-1990 (Boxes 20-40, 103-104, 108)
The CCDBR executive director files includes correspondence, speaking engagements, petition campaigns, and notes from the CCDBR’s two executive directors, Richard Criley and Rachel Rosen DeGolia. The activity files include their involvement in student movements, anti-House Un-American Activities Committee campaigns, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and Chicago area elections.
Subseries 1. Richard Criley Correspondence, 1958-1976 (Boxes 20-26)
Criley’s correspondence includes letters sent to congressman, letters to editors, form letters, and promotional literature in support of abolishing HUAC.
Subseries 2. Richard Criley Speaking Engagements, 1962-1975 (Boxes 26-27)
This series contains correspondence and notes related to Criley’s speaking engagements at various colleges, churches, radio and television shows.
Subseries 3. Richard Criley Petition Campaigns, 1955-1970 (Boxes 27-28, 108)
The petition campaigns include anti-Vietnam War and abolish HUAC campaigns, support for fair housing, clemency campaigns, and congressional candidates opposed to HUAC.
Subseries 4. Richard Criley Lawndale Neighborhood Files, 1962-1976 (Boxes 28-29)
The series includes Richard Criley’s work in the Lawndale neighborhood including mailing lists, block clubs, local elections, community interest organizations, and the Greater Lawndale Conservation Committee.
Subseries 5. Richard Criley Student Movements, 1959-1968 (Boxes 29-30)
The student movement series is comprised of support campaigns for faculty members, petition campaigns against the removal of faculty, conferences and Operation “Abolition.” Operation “Abolition” was a campaign in support of the dissolution of HUAC.
Subseries 6. Rachel Rosen DeGolia Correspondence, 1978-1990 (Boxes 31-34)
Rachel Rosen DeGolia correspondence series is comprised mainly of telephone message notes from her time as executive director.
Subseries 7. Rachel Rosen DeGolia Activity Files, 1971-1985 (Boxes 34-40, 103-104, 108-109)
The activity file series includes conference reports, pamphlets, board meeting notes, and correspondence from Rachel Rosen DeGolia’s work with the Equal Rights Amendment, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Citizens Committee for Victim’s Assistance, Coalition for Labor Union Women and the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
Subseries 8. Rachel Rosen DeGolia Notebooks, 1977-1988 (Box 40)
This series is mainly comprised of notes from Degolia’s work with the ACLU and Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty as well scheduling day planners.
Series 5: Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Operating Files, 1949-1998 (Boxes 41-62, 105, 109-110, 133-163, 169)
The CCDBR series consists of correspondence, promotional literature for fundraising dinners and a concert, news clippings, pamphlets, newsletters and bulletins for the various issues championed by the CCDBR outside of its opposition to HUAC and federal criminal code reform.
Subseries 1. Activity Files, 1949-1998 (Boxes 41-49, 59-62, 105, 109-110, 133-155)
This series contains newsletters, bulletins, news clippings, and reports related to the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born, opposition to the Chicago police raid against the Black Panther Party, opposition to anti-riot legislation, government spying, the Chicago police “Red Squad”, opposition to racial violence in Cairo, Illinois, the ACLU’s campaign to impeach Richard Nixon and the Bill of Rights Foundation campaign.
Subseries 2. Topical Files, 1953-1983 (Boxes 50-54, 110, 169)
The topical files series contains newsletters, bulletins and pamphlets of interest to the CCDBR executive directors such as the Alliance to End Repression council, issues related to policing in Chicago, and hate literature. The hate literature includes pamphlets and newsletters from white supremacists, the John Birch Society and others that targets Catholics, African-Americans and the civil rights movement, the Jewish community, and organizations perceived to be communists.
Subseries 3. Tributes and Events, 1956-1986 (Boxes 54-56, 110, 156-163)
The tributes and events series contains flyers for fundraising dinners and a Studs Terkel headlined fundraiser as well as a concert in support of the CCDBR by Pete Seeger.
Subseries 4. Correspondence, 1961-1987 (Boxes 56-59)
The correspondence mainly consists of form letters to congressman urging the dissolution of HUAC and general correspondence with CCDBR supporters.
Series 6: Reference Files on House Un-American Activities Committee, 1949-1974 (Boxes 63-65, 110-111)
This series includes news clippings, bulletins, congressional statements and a pamphlet detailing the CCBDR’s and related organization’s opposition to HUAC, the McCarran Act, and the Subversive Activities Control Board. Also included in the series is a subpoena for Criley to testify before the committee.
Series 7: Federal Criminal Code Reform, 1973-1982 (Boxes 66-72, 107, 111, 129-132)
The federal criminal code reform series consists of editorials, news clippings, newsletters, bulletins, speeches, correspondence, and meeting notes mainly concerned with Senate Bill 1, Senate Bill 1437, Senate Bill 1722, and the Citizens for a Just Criminal Code.
Subseries 1. Senate Bill 1, 1973-1982 (Boxes 66-67, 111)
This series contains correspondence, bulletins, news clippings, pamphlets, and Criley’s commentary on Senate Bill 1.
Subseries 2. Senate Bill 1437, 1976-1979 (Boxes 68-69, 111)
The series includes articles, editorials, correspondence, newsletters and NCARL pamphlets related to Senate Bill 1437.
Subseries 3. Senate Bill 1722, 1979-1982 (Boxes 69-70, 111)
Senate Bill 1722 series contains articles for and against the bill, correspondence with congressmen, research on the impact of the bill, and speech notes.
Subseries 4. Criminal Code Reform, 1973-1982 (Box 70, 111, 129-132)
This series consists of articles, newsletters, and pamphlets related to Senate Bill 1400, wiretapping and surveillance legislation, National Association Against Racist and Political Repression and a report from the Mid-West Conference on Government Spying.
Subseries 5. Citizens for a Just Criminal Code, 1975-1979 (Boxes 71-72, 107)
This series contains meeting minutes from the CJCC’s steering committee and public relations committee as well as newsletters, correspondence, and bulletins. It also includes an oversize scrapbook.
Series 8: Reference Files on Other Organizations, 1961-1981 (Boxes 72-73, 107, 166-168)
This series contains bulletins, newsletters, and pamphlets from organizations related to but not affiliated with the CCDBR. That includes anti-Vietnam war groups, Association of Chicago Priests, Chicago Peace Council, Congress of Racial Equality, Communist Party of Illinois, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Students for a Democratic Society.
Series 9: Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Administered Organizations, 1960-1984 (Box 73-75, 111)
This series contains correspondence, meeting minutes, petitions, pamphlets, newsletters, fundraising, and annual forum reports. The series is related to the Committee for the Fund for Milton Cohen, National Committee to Repeal the McCarran Act and No More Witch Hunts Network which were run by the CCDBR.
Subseries 1. Committee for the Fund for Milton Cohen, 1965-1968 (Box 73, 111)
This series consists of correspondence, meeting minutes and pamphlets for fundraising events in support of the defense of Milton Cohen who was charged under the Smith Act.
Subseries 2. National Committee to Repeal the McCarran Act, 1962-1967 (Box 74)
This series contains pamphlets, correspondence, petitions, the formation of the committee related to the committee and the Dubois Clubs it ran.
Subseries 3. No More Witch Hunts Network, 1981-1984 (Box 74-75)
This series consists of meeting minutes from the steering committee, newsletters, and reports from the annual forum from the No More Witch Hunts Network that worked against repressive legislation.
Series 10: Federal Bureau of Investigation Files, 1960-1976 (Box 75-84)
This series includes the FBI Files pertaining to the surveillance and activities taken against CCDBR executive director Richard Criley that were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Series 11: National Committee Against Repressive Legislation, 1952-1985 (Boxes 85-102, 105-106, 111, 114-128)
This series includes correspondence, pamphlets for speaking tours, reports to the national office, petitions, broadsides, newsletters, financial reports, and articles from Frank Wilkinson, founder of NCARL, the Midwest office, run by the CCDBR, and the national NCARL office as well as affiliated organizations.
Subseries 1. Frank Wilkinson Files, 1960-1984 (Boxes 85-86)
This series contains mostly correspondence and pamphlets from speaking tours about his work toward the dissolution of HUAC.
Subseries 2. Midwest Office Files, 1959-1983 (Boxes 86-89, 114-128)
This series consists of reports from the CCDBR administered Midwest office to the national NCARL office as well as correspondence, petitions and broadsides.
Subseries 3. National Office Files, 1960-1985 (Boxes 90-100, 105-106, 111)
This series includes information related to speaking tours, copies of the NCARL newsletter Abolition News, correspondence, reports from the national meeting reports, finances, articles and mailing lists.
Subseries 4. Affiliate Organizations, 1952-1983 (Boxes 101-102)
This series contains pamphlets and newsletters from affiliated organizations such as the Citizens Committee to Preserve American Freedom, the Columbus Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, the Los Angeles Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights and several abolish HUAC organizations.
Series 12: Sound Recordings, 1955-1991 (Boxes 112-113)
The sound recordings series includes cassettes and reel to reel recordings of the parole dinner for Gil Green and Henry Winston, several interviews of Richard Criley for radio and television, a Claude Lightfoot interview, CCDBR fundraising dinners, a Congressman Shadeberg interview, and the Coalition to End Grand Jury Abuse public service announcements.
Detailed list of contents of the collection
- Physical Location
- 15 cassettes, 16 reels, 1 45 RPM
For listening purposes, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening copy made if one is not available).