Archives and Special Collections
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Collection Overview

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note


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Collection Overview
Name of Creator:Meltsner, Michael, 1937–
Title:Michael Meltsner papers
Date: n.d., 1961–2008 (bulk 1978–2004)
Reference Code:M175
Location Code: 55/2
Extent:3.15 cubic feet (3 boxes, 1 half–size manuscript box)
Scope and Content Abstract:This collection contains materials related to Michael Meltsner's professional activities as a practicing lawyer, writer, and educator from 1961 to 2006. It is arranged in three series. The first series documents Meltsner's activities as a practicing lawyer. Included are docket reports and case files from his years working at the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and in the National Office for the Rights of the Indigent (NORI). The second series documents Meltsner's research and writing, most significantly the preparation of his memoir, The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer. The third series contains material from a course in clinical legal education (learning by doing), the first of its kind, which Meltsner developed while teaching at Columbia Law School.
Historical Abstract: Michael Meltsner has taught at Northeastern University School of Law since 1979. He earned his A.B. from Oberlin College in 1957 and his LL.B. / J.D. from Yale University in 1960. From 1961–1970 Meltsner worked as First Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and was co–director, along with Leroy D. Clark, of the National Office for the Rights of the Indigent (NORI), a “paper office” within the Legal Defense Fund. Since 1970, Meltsner has taught and served in various capacities at Columbia University, Northeastern, and Harvard Law School, and he has lectured abroad in Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, India, the Netherlands and South Africa. He served as Dean and Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law from 1979–1984 before being appointed as Distinguished University Professor in 1984.
Language and Scripts:Materials predominantly in English. Several publications in German or French.
System of Arrangement:Organized into three series: 1. Legal Work; 2. Research and Writing; and 3. Teaching
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Meltsner, Michael, 1937–.

  • Columbia University. School of Law.
  • Harvard University. Law School.
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
  • National Office for the Rights of the Indigent (U.S.).
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). School of Law.

  • Apartheid
  • Capital punishment – United States – Law and legislation.
  • Civil rights – United States – Law and legislation.
  • Civil rights workers – United States.
  • Law – Study and teaching.
  • Prisoners – Civil rights.

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is unrestricted.
Technical Access:Audiovisual material in series 2 and series 3 include VHS, audiocassette and reel–to–reel video tape. VHS and audiocassette players are available in the archives; special arrangements need to be made to use the reel–to–reel recordings.
Immediate Source of Acquisition:This collection was donated by Michael Meltsner on 21 June 1999 and 30 April 2007.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Reel–to–reel recordings of students participating in clinical legal education class exercises were made with the knowledge and consent of the students. See the collection control file for further information.

Related Archival Materials:

Related materials can be found in the Michael Meltsner Papers [ca. 1965]–1974 held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University, New York, New York.

Processor: Finding aid prepared by Anna J. Cook, July 2010.