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ACLU Oakland County Branch Records

Identifier: UR001170

Scope and Content

Some of the important subjects covered in this collection are: Abortion Police Activities Anti-draft activities School Prayer Capital Punishment Student Rights

Among the important correspondents are: Stan Connelly Michael Meyer John Conyers Daniel Murphy Paul Fealk Howard Simon Carl Levin

Series Description: Series I, BASCC and PRIDE, 1976-1982: Correspondence, clippings and other materials relating to the Baldwin Site Proposal for Senior Housing in Birmingham, MI.

Series II, General Office Files, 1976-1983: Office files of James Lafferty as President of the Oakland County ACLU. Contains agendas, budgets, by-laws, correspondence, clippings, flyers and pamphlets, meeting notes, testimony and other financial and activity records relating to the organization's actions.

Series III, War Resistance Material, 1978-1984: Board minutes, correspondence, clippings, newsletters relating to the Vietnam War Protests, anti-draft actions and resistance activities.


  • 1970 - 1984


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


James Lafferty began his work in the area of civil rights when he served as executive secretary for the National Lawyer's Guild in Detroit from 1964-67 and later as legal supervisor for a group of storefront lawyers operations. In his private practice he worked with other attorneys opposing American involvement in Vietnam, counseling young men of draft age. He also ran as a peace candidate in 1966 for Congress in the 17th District against Martha Griffiths.

In 1975 Lafferty moved his firm Lafferty and Van Dyke to Birmingham, MI. He became interested in the issue of senior housing (PRIDE) after the initial two ballot defeats. He was elected as a permanent co-chairman to PRIDE and organized its steering committee.

Eventually the activities of PRIDE (People Rallying in Defense of Equality) vs. the City of Birmingham lead to the city being sued by the United States government based on racially discriminatory practices.

The timing of the PRIDE activities coincided with the formation of the Oakland County ACLU, a process begun in 1970 and finally consummated in December of 1979, based on the recommendation of the Metropolitan Detroit Branch of the ACLU to the Michigan State ACLU Board.

The 1979 petition stated as some of the pressing civil liberty issues for the new organization to address as: over 1000 active Oakland County members of the ACLU, the Oakland County jail situation, the policy of giving lie detector tests to rape victims, housing rights of the elderly and retarded in Oakland County, the Oakland County prosecutor's attempts to reinstate the death penalty in Michigan.

The Petitioners also believed that an Oakland County ACLU branch would provide an organizational vehicle around which the county's currently progressive forces could rally and coordinate their efforts on behalf of civil liberties.

James Lafferty was elected as the first president of the Oakland County ACLU. Under his leadership a variety of significant civil liberty issues were investigated and handled by the Oakland County ACLU.


5 Linear Feet (10 MB)


The Oakland County Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union was formed in 1979, with James Lafferty serving as the first elected president. Petitioned by the Metropolitan Detroit Branch of the ACLU, the branch was formed to address issues such as Oakland County jail conditions, lie detector use, senior housing rights, and attempts to reinstate the death penalty.

Contents of the collection include materials relating to the Baldwin Site Proposal for Senior Housing in the City of Birmingham, MI, and the related activities of PRIDE (People Rallying in Defense of Equality); the office files of branch president James Lafferty, and documentation of the war resistance and anti-draft activities of CARD (Committee Against Registration and Draft) and CCOO (Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors).


Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 3-7) and Series 3 (Boxes 8-10). Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material.


The papers of the Oakland County American Civil Liberties Union (OCACLU) were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in April of 1984 by James Lafferty.


Approximately 20 photographs relating to PRIDE have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in April 1990.
Guide to the ACLU Oakland County Branch Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Ave.
Detroit MI 48202 USA