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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality records

Repository: Wisconsin Historical Society. Library-Archives

Collection Description (Extant): Records of a fund-raising and legal defense arm of the Congress of Racial Equality, also involved in providing scholarships to minority students, organizing black communities, and training black leaders. The Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund (SEDF) was formed by CORE in mid-1962. In succession, the SEDF legal department, headed by CORE general counsel Carl Rachlin, and the leadership development program, directed by Ronnie Moore, were formed under the leadership of SEDF executive director Marvin Rich. In 1966 financial and ideological problems caused SEDF to discontinue its relationship with CORE, and to change its name to the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality, or SEDFRE.
Through the years, SEDFRE evolved from a predominantly fund-raising organization to an activist group dedicated to social change through grass-roots organizing and leadership development. Most of the records in the collection date from the period of SEDFRE's greatest activity during the mid-1960s.
Administrative Files include correspondence, organizational and financial records, fund-raising material, scholarship applications and inquiries, and records of several SEDFRE projects created and collected by executive director Marvin Rich, with a few items from his successor, Ronnie Moore. Almost every aspect of SEDFRE's programs is illustrated to some degree in the Administrative Files.
Three projects sponsored by SEDFRE are significantly illustrated within the Administrative Files, including the Meridian, Mississippi, community center planned by SEDFRE as a memorial to slain civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner; Citizenship Education Projects and Workshops conducted in Louisiana, Northern Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, designed to encourage blacks to register to vote; and the Newark (New Jersey) Welfare Rights Project.
The Leadership Development Program of SEDFRE is illustrated through the Program's prospectus, papers, records of its Advisory Committee, reports, and general and specific correspondence files of director Ronnie Moore. A major portion of the series includes applications, training designs and plans, evaluations, and correspondence regarding the leadership development workshops sponsored throughout the country by SEDFRE. The Neighborhood Action Institute of Gary, Indiana, is a particularly well-documented example of a city-wide organization responsible for conducting these workshops. Also represented in this series are the Citizenship Education Workshops, and subject files concerning leadership development topics.
The records of SEDFRE's Legal Department consist of the private and professional correspondence, and private legal and professional papers of Carl Rachlin; general correspondence and files of correspondence with other civil rights, civil liberties, and legal organizations, most of which was written by Rachlin; administrative records; and extensive case files concerning legal cases litigated by SEDFRE, those in which SEDFRE had an interest but took no active part, which were kept for reference and research purposes, or those which were never developed into active cases. Other papers concern complaints and requests for help to the SEDFRE Legal Department, and New York City housing and rent strike cases and files concerning fair hearings. A departmental reference file is also present.
The processed portion of this collection is summarized above and is described in the register. Additional accessions are described below.

Additions, 1962-1983, including legal documents, several letters to Carl and Anne Braden, and a speech by Anne Braden at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's 1962 convention. Qty: 0.1 c.f. (1 folder)

Additions: Photographs related to the organization, including images of staff members. Also includes some images related to cases handled by the organization, and a series of images showing members of the Students for a Democratic Society protesting the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. These photographs were transferred from accessions M71-136 and M94-238. Qty: 62 photographs and 10 negatives (in 3 folders)

[...] TAPE RECORDINGS in the collection are miscellaneous in nature. They include four stereonetts/labeled "Gilligan" (Gilligan, Thomas R. vs. James Farmer, CORE, et al., legal case, 1964-1968). On tape are the second draft of an article for the Minnesota Bar Journal, a discussion of an article about lawyers and civil rights; dictated correspondence, including a letter about a client who was denied welfare; a discussion about the use of law student help and the needs of such students; and a discussion of Israel's union ownership of the means of production. It is unclear how much, if any, of the tape recordings pertain directly to the Gilligan case. Rather, the tapes may have been made in Carl Rachlin's office and as such, reflect usual professional, office, and personal concerns. One tape records an unidentified speaker discussing non-violence, civil rights, and nuclear disarmament, while two other tapes record a two-hour radio show, "Are the Civil Rights Groups Communist Influenced?" The radio show, hosted by Haywood Vincent and broadcast over WNAZ, Albany, New York, May 25, 1964, presented an interview with Mrs. Julia Brown, a volunteer FBI informant. Mrs. Brown expressed her viewpoints and experiences in the civil rights movement, based on her nine years as an informant, and her belief that Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders were "Communist dupes" and inciters of riots. The second reel includes reactions of call-in listeners.

Date(s): 1944-1976

Existing IDs: Mss 546; Tape 956A

Extent: 35.6 c.f. (24 record center cartons, 30 archives boxes) and 7 tape recordings; plus additions of 0.1 c.f., 62 photographs, and 10 negatives

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African Americans--Civil rights
African Americans--Education
African Americans--Housing
Congress of Racial Equality
Discrimination in education
Discrimination in housing
Discrimination in public accommodations
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Race riots
Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality
Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Voter registration


Sound recordings


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   September 26, 2018
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