Many pivotal civil rights and like-minded organizations have originated, or have outposts, in the Bay Area and its surrounding region. The Bancroft Library now houses the records of many of these organizations and documents their efforts in tackling issues at local, regional, national, and even international levels.
To find the records of environmental organizations, please visit the Environmental Collections at The Bancroft Library LibGuide, see specifically the Organizations and Legislation and Lawsuits tabs.
The League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville (LWVBAE) was first established as the Berkeley Center of the California Civic League in 1911, when women won the right to vote in California. The organization has evolved to include Albany and Emeryville in the service area of the Berkeley League, and the name was changed to the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville in 1994. The LWVBAE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, political organization that acts on select governmental issues in the public interest. Since its establishment, the League has maintained two major goals: to encourage active and informed citizen participation in government, and to act on public policy issues based on League positions. In addition to League action on issues of public interest, the League provides a variety of election services to encourage informed citizen participation in government, including voter registration campaigns, the publication and distribution of educational materials, the provision of speakers to local groups, and by sponsoring candidates' meetings.
Candidates & Issues, Berkeley Primary Election, June 6, 1972
Image citation: League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville records, BANC MSS 73/107, Oversize Folder 3A, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) was established in 1937 after the bloody 1934 West Coast Longshoremen's Strike that impacted West Coast ports, particularly San Francisco and the Bay Area. The union initially represented dock workers on the West Coast of the United States, and later expanded its activities into Hawaii, organizing not only longshoremen, but also workers in agriculture, hotels, and tourism. The ILWU became one of the first multiracial and multiethnic unions as Asians, Latinos, and African Americans filled its ranks.
ILWU Working and Dispatching Rules
Image citation: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 10 (San Francisco), F862.6.I683.1947, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) works to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race, tackling issues such as school desegregation, fair housing and employment, voter registration, and health and equal economic opportunity. Established in 1944, the Region I Office serves as an extension of the National Office of the NAACP in the Western United States and initially consisted of four states: California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The Region I Office later expanded to include Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and Utah. The Region I Office is based in Los Angeles, California and continues to serve as the national presence of the NAACP in the West.
The NAACP Says ... Register NOW! to Vote
Image citation: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Region I records, BANC MSS 78/180, Carton 105, Folder 74, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
The Sexual Freedom League was founded in 1963 in New York City. Initially composed of a small membership of independent local chapters in New York, San Francisco, and London, the organization grew rapidly, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. The League reorganized in 1967 as the Sexual Freedom League, Incorporated with its national headquarters in Oakland and chapters in San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere. The League advocated three main issues: the right of each person to make his or her own choices in sexual matters, without coercion or restrictive laws; the psychological and spiritual liberation that allows people to joyfully accept their sensuality; and the right of all persons to be free from sexual discrimination in the exercise of their non-sexual rights and liberties. Each independent group chose its own emphasis and methods, with activities ranging from legislative lobbying to parties; most concentrated on laws, while some focused on personal growth.
Sex is Clean flyer
Image citation: Sexual Freedom League records, BANC MSS 83/181, Carton 3, Folder 5, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
In 1965, the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (MCLI) was founded in Berkeley, California, with the goal of uniting activists for civil liberties as well as documenting legal strategies for future use. While initially focused on developing legal strategies against the Vietnam War, racism in jury selection, and opposition to school integration, the MCLI rapidly expanded its interests to the defense of all aspects of human rights, including environmental protection to ensure quality of life. The MCLI continues to carry on a wide range of activities, including research, publication, advocacy, and education.
What's Happening to the Law Newsletter, February 1978
Image citation: Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute collections, BANC MSS 99/281, Carton 180, Folder: Newsletters, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. (VVAW) was a national veterans' organization that was founded in New York City in 1967 after six Vietnam vets marched together in a peace demonstration. During the 1970s, the organization added Winter Soldier Organization to its name, but has since removed it. The VVAW was organized to voice the growing opposition among returning servicemen and women to the war in Indochina, and grew rapidly to a membership of over 30,000 throughout the United States, as well as active duty GIs stationed in Vietnam. In addition, the VVAW quickly took up the struggle for the rights and needs of veterans. The California Nevada division of the national organization was headquartered alternately in San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War poster
Image citation: Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organization, California Nevada Regional records, BANC MSS 81/20, Oversize Folder 1A, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
The American Indian Community History Center is the non-profit organization created to preserve the materials the Community History Project (CHP) produced and collected on the history of the San Francisco Bay Area urban American Indian community. The CHP was established in 1976 to collect the histories of American Indians whose lives were greatly impacted by the federal relocation programs that moved them from reservations to the Bay Area with the promise of sustainable employment, better education for their children, and affordable housing. The Center also documents the work of the Intertribal Friendship House, one of the oldest urban American Indian community centers in the United States. Created in 1955 by the American Friends Service Committee, the social action arm of the Quakers, the Intertribal Friendship House served the needs of American Indian people relocated from reservations to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Folders of youth activity fliers
Image citation: American Indian Community History Center Records, BANC MSS 2008/108, Carton 2, Folders 20 & 21, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Mary Lou Breslin, Patrisha A. Wright, and Robert Funk established the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) on October 1, 1979 in Berkeley, California. It is a nonprofit national law and policy center run primarily by disabled persons. It is dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities and their families through legislation, litigation, advocacy, technical assistance and the education and training of attorneys, advocates, persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. DREDF serves as one of the disability community's primary national legal defense organizations.
Non-compliance letter against Alameda County, Tri-Valley SELPA, and its school districts (names redacted)
Image citation: Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund records, BANC MSS 99/145, Carton 20, Folder 29, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
NOTE: For the papers of environmental organizations, please visit the Environmental Collections at The Bancroft Library Libguide, specifically the Organizations and Legislation and Lawsuits tabs.
San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1856 papers, 1853-1882
BANC MSS C-A 78
► Collection Finding Aid
► Related Collection: Pamphlets on San Francisco Committee of Vigilance, 1856, F869.S3 C85
Mary E. Gallagher collection on the I.W.W. and various labor and Socialist leaders, 1919-1955
BANC MSS C-R 90
► Pictorial Collection: Photographs relating to American socialism and labor from the Gallagher collection, 1886-1940, BANC PIC 1955.005--PIC
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters papers, 1927-1934
BANC MSS C-A 393
National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor records, 1937-1967
BANC MSS 67/139
► Collection Finding Aid
► Pictorial Collection: National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor photographs, 1936-1945, BANC PIC 1967.047--A
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Region I records, 1942-1986 (bulk 1945-1977) (partially restricted collection)
BANC MSS 78/180
► Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Pictorial Collection: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Region 1 photograph collection, 1940-1982, BANC PIC 1978.147--PIC (some images available online)
American Indian Community History Center records, 1945-2011 (partially restricted and unprocessed collection)
BANC MSS 2008/108
► Collection Finding Aid
► Pictorial Collection: Pictorial material from the American Indian Community History Center records, 1945-2000, BANC PIC 2009.067
Mattachine Society minutes, 1953-1954
BANC MSS 2006/119
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, El Cerrito Branch records, 1963-1980 (bulk 1970-1979)
BANC MSS 84/63
Merritt College Black Student Union collection, 1964-1983
BANC MSS 2006/240
Center for Independent Living records, 1970-2008 (partially unprocessed collection)
BANC MSS 2000/43
► Collection Finding Aid
► Pictorial Collection: Photographs from the Center for Independent Living records, 1970-2015, BANC PIC 2019.086
East Bay Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club scrapbooks and miscellany, 1982-1987
BANC MSS 2000/122
Carolyn Nuban collection of California National Organization for Women files, 1983-1993
BANC MSS 2003/193
Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network records, 1991-1998
BANC MSS 2003/323