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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.
|Size||About 13,500 items (15.0 linear feet)|
|Abstract||Lawyer Alan McSurely of Chapel Hill, N.C., was born in 1936 in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During the 1960s and 1970s, he and his wife, Margaret McSurely, worked with a number of organizations endeavoring to eliminate poverty, bring about an end to segregation, and organize workers in labor disputes. The collection consists of correspondence, legal documents, photographs, and publications pertaining to Alan and Margaret McSurely's work with civil rights and labor organizations in the 1960s and 1970s. Among these groups were the Southern Conference Educational Fund, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (formerly known as the Student National Coordinating Committee), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Included are numerous documents concerning the McSurelys' 1967 arrest for sedition in Kentucky; their 1969 arrest for contempt of Congress; and their legal battles and appeals, which continued until the 1980s. The McSurelys were ultimately freed in both arrests and won a damage suit in 1983 against those who had arrested them. Also included are photocopies of materials relating to Drew Pearson that the McSurelys collected for their relevance to their own legal battles. The addition of September 2016 contains materials related to McSurely's work representing members of the UNC Housekeeping Association in Tinnen et al. v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a legal battle that sought better working conditions for housekeepers at the university.|
|Creator||McSurely, Alan, 1936-|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
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Lawyer Alan McSurely of Chapel Hill, N.C., was born in 1936 in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1959. During the 1960s, he and his wife, Margaret McSurely, worked with a number of organizations in Kentucky and other states that endeavored to eliminate poverty, bring about an end to segregation, and organize workers in labor disputes. Included among these were the United Planning Organization, Appalachian Volunteers, CORE, SCEF, Mississippi Freedom, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Because of their association with organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Conference Educational Fund, the McSurelys captured the attention of the FBI. Their political views and organizing work made them the subjects of an extensive investigation in the late 1960s. As a result, they were labeled as radicals and accused of holding memberships in communist organizations. Such accusations and suspicions led to a 1967 raid on the McSurelys' Kentucky home and the seizure of numerous books and other materials. Alan and Margaret McSurely were arrested for sedition, an event that marked the beginning of a lengthy battle in the courts.
Through an order handed down by the United States Circuit Court in 1968, the McSurelys succeeded in reclaiming their seized property, which was later subpoenaed again. The following year, the McSurelys appeared before the McClellan Subcommittee of the United States Senate and were charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the materials. They were tried and convicted in 1970, but the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned their convictions in 1972. In 1983, a jury awarded the McSurelys more than a million dollars in damages for the violation of their constitutional rights.
Alan McSurely has practiced law in Chapel Hill, N.C., earning a reputation as a legal advocate for many in the African American community and for his handling of numerous controversial cases dealing with matters such as civil rights and labor disputes.Back to Top
The collection consists of correspondence, legal documents, photographs, and publications pertaining to Alan McSurely's and Margaret McSurely's work with civil rights and labor organizations in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s. Among these groups were the Southern Conference Educational Fund, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (formerly known as the Student National Coordinating Committee), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Included are numerous documents concerning the McSurelys' 1967 arrest for sedition in Kentucky; their 1969 arrest for contempt of Congress; and their legal battles and appeals, which continued until the 1980s. The McSurelys were ultimately freed in both arrests and won a damage suit in 1983 against those who had arrested them. Also included are photocopies of materials relating to Drew Pearson that the McSurelys collected for their relevance to their own legal battles. The addition of September 2016 contains materials related to McSurely's work representing members of the UNC Housekeeping Association in Tinnen et al. v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a legal battle that sought better work conditions for housekeepers at the university.Back to Top
Correspondence of Alan and Margaret McSurely. Included are letters of support from friends, family members, and other individuals who worked with the McSurelys in Pikeville, Ky. These materials pertain to the McSurelys' legal battles and court trials. There are copies of letters from the McSurelys describing their political beliefs and work. Also included are letters from Anne Braden, a leader of the Southern Conference Educational Fund, and letters from Karen Mulloy and Joseph Mulloy, fellow poverty workers of the McSurelys.
Legal correspondence, court documents, Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance files, and papers relating to Drew Pearson. There are court documents from various legal cases in which the McSurelys were either defendants or plaintiffs. Included are numerous copies of materials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the McSurelys obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Note that original file folder titles have, for the most part, been retained.
Correspondence with attorneys and government officials regarding legal matters. There is correspondence pertaining to McSurely v. Ratliff, in which the McSurelys attempted to get back personal property that was seized in Kentucky. There are also letters from various members, staff, and counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, including subcommittee chair John L. McClellan.
Arrangement: by subject.
Copies of subpoenas, depositions, civil action complaints, motions, and other documents for a number of cases. These materials concern charges of sedition against the McSurelys in Kentucky, as well as their charges for contempt of Congress. Other materials pertain to the McSurelys' civil counter-suits.
Copies of files pertaining to Alan and Margaret McSurely. These were gathered and maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's headquarters and regional offices. Included are copies of correspondence, reports, and clippings concerning the organizing work and activities of the McSurelys and other individuals, including Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown. There are also surveillance materials pertaining to organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Conference Educational Fund, and the Black Panthers. These materials were obtained by Alan and Margaret McSurely through the Freedom of Information Act.
Arrangement: by subject.
Copies of files pertaining to Alan and Margaret McSurely that are responsive to interrogatories. Included are copies of correspondence, reports, and clippings. These materials were obtained by Alan and Margaret McSurely through the Freedom of Information Act. However, there is no information provided about the origin of the various interrogatories or the cases to which they pertain.
Arrangement: by subject.
Copies of files pertaining to Alan and Margaret McSurely, which are not responsive to interrogatories. Included are copies of correspondence, reports, and clippings. These materials were obtained by Alan and Margaret McSurely through the Freedom of Information Act.
Arrangement: by subject.
Copies of a small quantity of materials from the Drew Pearson Papers, which are apparently housed at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, Tex. The provenance of these papers is not clear, although it appears that they were acquired by the McSurelys with respect to their legal troubles.
Materials pertaining to various political groups and labor organizations with which the McSurelys were affiliated. Included are items from entities such as the Southern Conference Educational Fund, United Mine Workers of America, and the National Anti-Klan Network. The majority of materials are newsletters and related publications of these organizations. Although the McSurelys were not affiliated with the National Independent Coal Operators Association, there are a significant number of items pertaining to this organization, including minutes of meetings, copies of correspondence, and reports.
Writings and speeches by Alan and Margaret McSurely and others. Included is a booklet entitled The Right to Privacy, which contains an article by Margaret McSurely documenting the history of the couple's legal troubles. The article includes a description of the 1968 dynamiting of the McSurely's home in rural Pike County, Ky. There is also a speech by Joseph Mulloy, an organizer who worked with the McSurelys in Kentucky.
Original and photocopied clippings concerning the McSurelys and their legal battles. Included is a photocopy of an article published in The New York Times Magazine entitled "The Senate v. Alan and Margaret McSurely."
Acquisitions Information: Addition of September 2016 (Acc.102641)
Materials primarily related to Alan McSurely's work as a lawyer for members of the UNC Housekeepers' Association (HKA) as part of Tinnen et al. v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The lawsuit led to a settlement with the university that included backpay and agreements to provide better working conditions and higher pay for housekeepers. Included are affadavits, depositions, and other court documents; copies of records of the janitors' and housekeepers' associations and other documentation of labor organizations at the university; newsclippings about the lawsuit and the Housekeepers' Association; and additional related documents.
Materials in this series were removed from binders and rehoused into folders. Binder titles have been retained.
Photographs (P-4928/1).Back to Top
This collection was processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.Back to Top