National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Milwaukee Branch: Records, 1917-1989

Scope and Content Note

The collection has been arranged in several large series which reflect Barbee's legal, legislative, and civil rights work in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin. The series include Personal Papers and Correspondence, Campaigns, Organizations, Legislative and Subject Files, Amos Case, and Remand Trial.

The PERSONAL PAPERS AND CORRESPONDENCE include letters to and from Barbee and his family and friends, beginning when he was a young man in Memphis. There is also some personal legislative and constituent correspondence in these files. Family members represented are Barbee's daughter, Daphne (whose writings and drawings are also included); his father, Earnest, whose file also includes letters from his other children and relatives; Barbee's sons, Finn and Rustam; his brother, Quinten; and his former wife, Roudaba. There are also files on Barbee's law practice.

The CAMPAIGNS series documents Barbee's legislative races from 1964 to 1974. Included in the records are correspondence, campaign brochures and leaflets, financial records, nomination papers clippings, election results, and voter registration papers.

Records of Barbee's involvement with Milwaukee and statewide groups are found in the ORGANIZATIONS series. Noteworthy among the records are those of several Milwaukee civil rights groups, such as Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), with correspondence, the publication “Count down,” financial records, membership lists, minutes, notes, petitions of Riverside High School parents, school desegregation clippings, statements and press releases, legal papers pertaining to Taylor vs. MUSIC , and other papers. Also included are records of Freedom Through Equality, Inc., for which there are agenda and minutes, applications and job descriptions, correspondence, financial and legal records, lists of officers and directors, notes, proposals, reports, and resolutions. There are also files concerning Milwaukee Legal Services, Inc., including articles of incorporation and by-laws, agenda and minutes, correspondence, financial records, and reports.

For the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People there are files regarding its leadership training conferences, 1959-1965; national leadership conference; and conference records, correspondence, minutes and reports of board and executive board meetings, and records on Milwaukee school desegregation of the Wisconsin Conference of Branches. The NAACP records also include small files from the Benton Harbor, Michigan; LeMoyne College, Memphis; Madison; and Milwaukee branches. Other Milwaukee groups represented in this series include the Afro-Urban Institute, Committee of Concern, Milwaukee Afro-American Council, Milwaukee Commission on Human Rights, and Organization of Organizations. There are files regarding anti-discrimination in housing and landlord-tenant laws, the Committee on the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Governor's Commission on Human Rights, the Governor's Committee on the United Nations, the Governor's Conference on Civil Rights, the Madison Mayor's Commission on Human Rights, and Wisconsin Citizens for Fair Housing.

This series' microfilmed papers, 1946-1965, relate to Barbee's civil rights activities, including participation in Madison and state NAACP organizations, support of state fair housing and fair employment legislation, cooperation with the Governor's Commission on Human Rights, and service on the Madison Mayor's Commission on Human Rights, and on MUSIC. Included are correspondence, minutes, reports, ephemera, and other material. Other microfilmed papers, 1951-1962, pertain to Barbee's activities as a member of the Madison Mayor's Commission on Human Rights, and include correspondence, minutes, case reports, and other materials, with a folder of fair housing documents at the end of the film.

Barbee's LEGISLATIVE AND SUBJECT FILES are arranged in alphabetical order by topic, and contain correspondence sent and received by Barbee and others, clippings, committee files reflecting his active participation, legislative bills and joint resolutions, suggestions for drafting legislation; reports, reference materials, and some speeches. There are lengthy files illustrating Barbee's committee work, in particular as chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The files also show Barbee's association with a wide range of legal, professional, and human rights organizations. In Box 22 are several folders of “Comment,” Barbee's newsletter, with mailing addresses and articles. There is also a folder of Barbee's FBI files.

Much of this series deals with the various issues of national, state and local concern during Barbee's tenure in the Assembly, such as abortion, the state budget, the children's code, the Equal Rights Amendment, the legislative ethics code, gun control, health care, highway aid, housing, police, prisons, sex laws, Social Security, taxes, and the University of Wisconsin. Barbee's personal interests and those of his constituents are best illustrated in the files on black organizations, the Democratic Party, desegregation, discrimination, education, the Judicial Council, judicial reorganization, and the Judiciary Committee.

Over half the collection is comprised of the Amos Case series and the Remand Trial series concerning the Milwaukee school desegregation case. The greatest amount of material consists of documentation collected and used by Barbee's staff and volunteers to prove the contention that Milwaukee school officials discriminated against black children. All of the research and much of the fund-raising was handled by MUSIC members, rather than the local NAACP. Marilyn Morheuser of MUSIC devised the research system to provide the statistical proof of intentional segregation of black students and teachers and discriminatory treatment of black students necessary for trial. The research also was to show that there were unequal educational opportunities for black students, and to show what were the effects of these actions by school officials.

Two basic studies were undertaken beginning in 1965, one of student, teacher, and administrative assignment patterns and changes and one of pupil transfer policies. After preliminary work in public records, the researchers began data gathering in 1966. Researchers also made a systematic study of the black community in Milwaukee. From June 1967 through December 1969, a New York chapter of the NAACP provided funds for staff, equipment, and supplies. Included in the collection are data gathered by researchers, and summary reports, charts, tables, and graphs in various stages of completion. In 1970, a computer study was undertaken using the data already gathered. This study covered assignment patterns and changes, building utilization, and black enrollment percentages from 1950 through 1968-1969. Data was gathered from such primary sources as blueprints, busing contracts, records of state building code violations, boundary descriptions, principals' reports, and other sources. Much of this data, as well as the summary computer output, is also in the collection. Further information on the research design can also be found in these files.

Part I of the Amos Case files and Part I of the Remand Trial files were organized in the Archives in 1982. Part II of each of these series consists of additions organized in the Archives in 1990. Records within the Amos Case and Remand Trial series in the 1982 part are primarily research files and documentation collected to build the case against the Milwaukee School Board. Most of the 1990 Additions consist of material actually used in the trial. The collection as a whole now offers thorough documentation of the legal battle to desegregate the Milwaukee Public School system and the many changes that took place in the Milwaukee Public school system during the period 1965 to 1980.

The 1990 additions consist of records from Lloyd Barbee and the legal firm of Charne and Associates which served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs. Overlap exists between several files in the 1982 part and the 1990 additions. Like the original collection, the files are arranged alphabetically by subject. Some legal court records were present in the 1982 collection; these have now been incorporated into the 1990 Additions. However, the transcripts of testimony remain in the original collection.

Subdivisions within Part II of the Amos Case files which need further explanation are the Legal Case, Research Design and Implementation, and the School Board Administration records.

Legal Case records constitute the largest portion of the additions and include files on Background, Correspondence, Exhibits, Fees, Legal records (pleadings), Research, and the Special Master.

The Background material provides a concise means to understand the case. Included in these files are the chronological file catalog, a daily account of events of the case from 1962 to 1979, and the court docket of the United States District Court in which the case was heard. This document provides dated entries for all motions, briefs, arguments, decisions, and orders of the court. In addition, there is a capsule summary prepared by Barbee which chronicles events of the action from 1962 to 1978.

Correspondence is both incoming and outgoing and primarily consists of two files: indexed correspondence with the court and public, and unindexed general correspondence. The indexed correspondence begins in 1976 with the court-ordered involvement of the Charne law firm as co-counsel for the plaintiffs. Correspondents here include all involved parties, the court, the Special Master, parents, community action groups, and the media. Unindexed correspondence begins in 1962 with Barbee's correspondence with the NAACP and the Milwaukee School Board and reflects his efforts to clarify issues and generate support for desegregation in Milwaukee. This file continues through 1980, and contains correspondence with the court, all involved parties, and the public.

The Exhibits consist of the evidence submitted to the court by both defendants and plaintiffs. Gaps exist in these files for both parties; however, the defendants' submissions are significantly more fragmentary. Lists in these files describe each exhibit in detail. Because many of the plaintiffs' exhibits were drawn from their research, some duplication occurs between these files and the research files of Part I. This occurs in exhibits containing maps, photographs, and several other files. For example, there are a considerable number of photographs taken to show contrasts between black and white schools. Although many of these were ultimately used as exhibits in the trial, the photographs and corresponding descriptions will also be found under the file “Buildings and Facilities” in Part I. No attempt was made to fill gaps in the exhibits by pulling material from the research files. In addition, these files contain Marilyn Morheuser's notes about gathering exhibits from the Milwaukee School Board Administration files.

The material regarding Fees is somewhat fragmentary for both plaintiffs and defendants. Defendants' statements of account describe on a daily basis services rendered and the charges incurred. Included in these files are Barbee's answers to inquiries, legislative hours, and work-fee ledgers. These ledgers were used as proof to counter the defendant's claim that excessive and inappropriate fees were being charged.

Legal records provide thorough documentation of the case from the original complaint filed in 1965 through the negotiated settlement and subsequent appeals in 1980. Contained here are the legal documents filed with the court by plaintiffs and defendants, including motions, briefs, findings, and orders of the court. This file is further divided by court (U.S. District Court, U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States). Records of the individual courts are further divided into indexed and unindexed files. The unindexed pleadings fill gaps within the indexed pleadings and also contain drafts and revisions of the plaintiffs' legal records. Rather than divide the indexed pleadings into Amos Case and Remand Trial, it was decided to include all legal records in the Amos Case series.

Research is further divided into files of Case Law cited in Briefs, Related Cases, and Notes. The files of case law citations are alphabetically arranged and contain citations from the Federal Supplement, Federal Register, and the Supreme Court Register. The indexed file of Related Cases, which contains several gaps, includes notes, memoranda, articles, and pleadings from related desegregation cases which were used as background and source material. Notes, which are fragmentary as well, are arranged chronologically and include rough notes and memos on a variety of subjects. There are also rough drafts for court statements. Several files are undated.

Special Master files are subdivided alphabetically and include Court and Meeting notes, Hearings, Materials and Plans submitted to the Special Master, and Public Hearing notes. Court and Meeting notes and Public Hearing notes are both indexed and chronologically arranged files of notes of the Charne law firm. They contain notes of conferences, monitoring, settlement, and meeting with parent groups and the school board. The files of 1976 and 1977 Hearings consist of fragmentary exhibits, materials submitted to the Special Master, and Plans submitted to the Special Master. The Milwaukee School Board on several occasions was asked to submit material for review by the Special Master. This file reflects compliance with those requests. The Plans submitted to the Special Master are alphabetically arranged and indexed and consist of proposals by the public, community groups, and school administrators to desegregate the school system.

Research Design and Implementation is a file parallel to that found in the original collection. It contains material on the process of collecting data and implementation of the research. Some overlap occurs between material in this file and the categories of research which were investigated. The file consists of two parts; an early chart-analysis of school board policy which illustrates factors associated with causing segregation, and the results of the computer study, designed to show intentional segregation. This consists of printouts as well as information which interprets the codes. Further material on the computer study may be found in the Research Design file in the original collection.

The School Board and Administration file is an alphabetical arrangement similar to the file in the original collection. Material includes committee work, programs, and several integration plans from 1976 to 1978. Some additional plans will be found in the material submitted to the Special Master and in the section on Legal Records. Many School Board publications were separated from the collection, including the voluminous files of Board minutes. These are accessible through the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Part II of the Remand Trial series, like the Amos Case series, contains material primarily related to the trial. The Legal Case is subdivided alphabetically into several files including Depositions, Exhibits, Research Settlement, and Trial notes.

Depositions include statements and exhibits of witnesses during both the intent and present effects portion of the trial. This file is quite complete, although some exhibits are missing. Depositions of witnesses are divided into the two parts of the retrial and are arranged chronologically thereunder. Further information relating to witnesses is contained in the section on segregation studies and in the section on exhibits.

Exhibits are somewhat fragmentary as in the Amos Case series. Lists are included which describe each exhibit. Some maps not marked as exhibits which may be relevant to this material may be found in the research/subject files portion of the collection.

The Research section includes a file on intact busing as well as memoranda and notes concerning intent and present effects. Included are notes about exhibits, witnesses, and general research. “Related Cases” is a file similar to that found in the Amos Case series.

The files under “Settlement” contain correspondence and memoranda but primarily consist of the monitoring reports submitted by the school board to the U.S. District Court Magistrate. These reports show racial percentages to certify compliance with the negotiated settlement. The section of indexed Legal Records also contain some material on the settlement. The only file contained in Settlement which concerns the North Division matter are Exhibits and Miscellany. Missing from the collection are any official court notes or testimony.

Plaintiffs Trial notes for the Remand trial are very complete for both the Intent and Present Effects hearing. These notes, like the official transcripts found in the original collection, give detailed daily accounts of the proceedings at trial.