Bernard Weisberg papers

Descriptive Summary

Chicago History Museum
Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Weisberg, Bernard, d. 1994, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Illinois. Constitutional Convention (1969-1970)
Bib number
Bernard Weisberg papers
Predominant Dates
27.5 linear feet (66 boxes)
1 oversize folder
Call number


Research use of this collection is governed by the standard rules and regulations of the Chicago History Museum Research Center.

Terms governing use

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.

Provenance statement

Gift of Bernard Weisberg (accession #: M1981.0008), Ms. Lois Weisberg (accession #: 2010.0037), and Jacob Weisberg (accession #: 2016.35).

Please cite this collection as

Bernard Weisberg papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Collection Summary

Correspondence, research files, legal documents, meeting minutes, newsletters, press releases, newspaper clippings, booklets, and other personal papers of Bernard Weisberg, a Chicago human rights lawyer. Materials relate to Weisberg's involvement with the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention and to his legal work, especially as general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois. Topics include police activities, the 1968 Chicago riots, personal privacy, and consumer credit reporting.

Biographical/historical note

Bernard Weisberg (d. 1994) was a human rights lawyer in Chicago, specializing in constitutional law. After earning a law degree from the University of Chicago and serving in the military, he worked for the law firm Gottlieb and Schwartz. He was general counsel for the Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1956 to 1977. In 1969, he was elected as an independent delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention and served on the Bill of Rights and Rules and Credentials Committees until the convention ended its work in 1970. He was also a member of the Chicago Bar Association's "Special Committee on Civil Disorders" in 1968 and 1969.

Related material

Related collections at the Chicago History Museum, Research Center include the Lois Weisberg papers; the Sidney R. Yates papers; the Peter A. Tomei papers on the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention; and publications about the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention, cataloged separately.

Other Finding Aids

Finding aid also submitted to the Explore Chicago Collections portal.

Indexed Terms

Organization and Arrangement of Collection

The collection is arranged in seven series.

Series 1. Delegate election campaign, 1952, 1965-1980, 1985-1986, 1993, and undated (box 1-6, 53-57)

Series 1 contains campaign posters, political election materials, speeches, a list of signatories to a petition, and clippings related to Weisberg's campaign to be elected as an independent delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention as well as his election to the district court and as a magistrate. Includes photographs from a party held after the convention to raise funds to pay off campaign debts. Also present are legal briefs and other materials pertaining to Weisberg's successful lawsuit against Paul Powell, Illinois Secretary of State, which challenged the Secretary's practice of arbitrarily choosing the ballot position of candidates for Constitutional Convention delegate.

Series 2. Convention records, 1970 (box 7-16)

Series 2 contains committee proposals, correspondence, speeches, booklets, seating diagrams, clippings, and other records of the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention and its committees, excluding the Bill of Rights Committee.

Series 3. Bill of Rights Committee records, 1970 (box 17-24)

Series 3 contains committee proposals, correspondence, speeches, clippings, and other records of the Bill of Rights Committee, of which Weisberg served as chairman.

Series 4. Constitutional referendum, 1970-1973 (box 25-28)

Series 4 contains booklets, speeches, clippings, and other materials concerning the constitutional referendum, Proposition 2B, held on December 15, 1970. This measure focused on the merit selection of judges in Illinois.

Series 5. Police issues, 1957-1977, 1986-1988 (box 29-41, 58-60)

Series 5 consists of reports, notes, legal briefs, newsletters, and newspaper clippings concerning police issues, especially related to the Chicago Police Department. Topics include the rights of arrestees, police detention, bail, pre-arraignment procedures, the beat representative program, search and seizure, and wiretapping. Also include materials pertaining to individuals involved in the riots 1968 Chicago riots, as well as a brief for the ACLU in Escobedo v. Illinois.

Series 6. Privacy, 1972-1976 (box 42-48, 61)

Series 6 consists of reports, notes, legal briefs, and newsletters concerning privacy and other personal rights issues. Weisberg chaired the Chicago Bar Association Committee on Civil Rights and the Illinois Governor's Commission on Individual Liberty and Personal Privacy. Topics include consumer credit reporting, fair information practices, student records, criminal records, and television in the courtroom.

Series 7. Personal papers, 1939, 1946-1988, 1990-1994, 2000-2002, 2011, and undated (box 49-52, 61-66, Oversize)

Series 7 contains law school class notes, as well as reports, notes, legal briefs, newsletters, correspondence, research materials, and copies of legislation concerning the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the House Un-American Activities Committee, Illinois State Government organization, and fair employment.

Detailed list of contents of the collection

Series 1. Delegate election campaign
1952, 1965-1980, 1985-1986, 1993
and undated
Box 1-6, 53-57
Series 2. Convention records
Box 7-16
Series 3. Bill of Rights Committee records
Box 17-24
Series 4. Consitutional referendum
Box 25-28
Series 5. Police issues
1957-1977, 1986-1988
Box 29-41, 58-60
Series 6. Privacy
Box 42-48, 61
Series 7. Personal papers
1939, 1946-1988, 1990-1994, 2000-2002, 2011
and undated
Box 49-52, 61-66, Oversize