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Archives and Special Collections: Criminal Justice

A guide to historical materials housed in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department.

Criminal Justice Collections

  Defendants from Borkum Island War Crimes Trial in Ludwigsburg, Germany exiting the transport vehicle, 1946. Photograph from the Edward F. Lyons, Jr. collection.Participant in the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts' Prison Theater Program working a spotlight at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk, MA, ca. 1970. Photograph from the National Center of Afro-American Artists collection.Borkum Island War Crimes trial in Ludwigsburg, Germany, 1945. Photograph from the Edward F. Lyons, Jr. collection.


Alan Jay Rom, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under the Law Records [unprocessed]

  • The Lawyers' Committee is a non-profit organization specializing in pro bono legal representation of victims of race discrimination. The committee participates in community education on legal matters and promotes community economic development.

Bromfield Street Educational Foundation Records

  • The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation advocated for gay rights and promoted awareness of gay lifestyles, published the Gay Community News, one of the oldest, most progressive, national newspapers in the gay community, and sponsored projects, including the Prisoner Project, a means to assist gays and lesbians in prison.

Bromfield Street Educational Foundation Prison Newsletter Collection

  • The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation collected newsletters created by prisons and organizations in support of prisoners to raise awareness of conditions faced by inmates in the U.S. Penal System from 1972-1996.

Elmer V. H. Brooks Papers

  • Boston policeman Elmer V. H. Brooks (1906-1984) was involved in several Boston cases, such as the Coconut Grove fire, the Brinks Robbery, and the case of the "Boston Strangler." His career spanned 1937-1970.

Coalition to Stop Institutional Violence Records

  • Founded in 1975, the Coalition to Stop Institutional Violence was established to oppose the establishment of a special unit for violent women at Worcester State Hospital. It also protested the establishment of other such special units at the Worcester Regional Adolescent Program, an Adult Psychiatric Unit and later a Pediatric Psychiatric Unit at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Framingham.

Community Resources for Justice Records

  • Established in 1999, Community Resources for Justice works with individuals in, or transitioning out of, the adult or juvenile justice systems and individuals with developmental disabilities to help them lead safe and productive lives in their community.

Carolyn W. Darack Papers

  • Carolyn “Hooky” W. Darack was an activist in the Boston area for social rights and public health. During the 1950's she worked with Ehrmann on abolishing capital punishment in Massachusetts.

Sara R. Ehrmann Papers

  • Civic leader and capital punishment abolitionist Sara R. Ehrmann (1895-1993) was a leader of the Massachusetts Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and of the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment.

Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts Records

  • The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts (1950-1990) was established to meet the social, cultural, and artistic needs of Boston's African American community, offering education in art, dance, drama, music, and costuming to pre-school children, school-aged children and adults.

Martin Gopen Papers

  • Martin Gopen was an activist involved with the Urban League of Greater Boston and the United South End Settlements, and he wrote a column for the Bay State Banner entitled, "The Job Scene." Additional unprocessed material available.

Flora Haas Papers

  • Boston Activist Flora Haas (birth ca. 1964) advocated for the rights of prisoners and worked against the death penalty.

Roderick L. Ireland Papers [unprocessed]

  • Roderick L. Ireland was the first African-American justice appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in its then 305-year history and its first African-American chief justice. Ireland retired from the Supreme Judicial Court in 2014. The collection documents the legal career of Roderick L. Ireland from his position as an attorney for the Roxbury Defenders Committee through his term as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from approximately 1966-2014 (bulk 1980-2014). The papers include court files, correspondence, subject files, event files, speech files, audio-visuals, awards, and diplomas. This collection is restricted until screened and processed.

Maria Iriti Papers [unprocessed]

  • Tobacco control activist, Maria Iriti, was a board member of GASP (Group against Smoking Pollution).

The Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society Records

  • Founded in 1984 in response to dwindling numbers of minority police officers in the Boston Police Department, the Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society creates greater understanding and communication between minority communities and the criminal justice system through annual convocations, events, courses, workshops, and "The Long Road to Justice" traveling exhibit which documents the history of African Americans in Massachusetts.

Benjamin LaGuer Papers

  • Benjamin LaGuer (b. 1963), a Puerto Rican-American, was convicted of raping a neighbor in 1984 and is serving a life sentence. During his incarceration, he studied the law and filed appeals for other prisoners while seeking parole and a new trial for himself.

Warren C. Lane (collector) Photograph Collection

  • Warren C. Lane was President of the Worcester County Bar Association in 1971.

Edward F. Lyons, Jr., Papers

  • Edward F. Lyons, Jr. (1899-1990), Northeastern University class of 1921, was a lawyer and a member of the prosecution staff at the Borkum Island trial, a case involving the assault and murder of seven United States airmen during World War II.

Michael Meltsner Papers

  • Michael Meltsner (b. 1937) served as Dean and Professor of Law at Northeastern’s School of Law from 1979–1984 before being appointed as Distinguished University Professor in 1984.

National Lawyers Guild. Massachusetts Chapter, Inc. Records

  • The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, an association of progressive lawyers, law students, paralegals, judges, legal secretaries, and community activists, has been active since 1937. It seeks justice by working for immigrant and human rights, building community resources through the Street Law Clinics and the Lawyer Referral Service, acting as legal observers at demonstrations, educating the public about judicial nominees, and promoting workers' rights.

Police News Collection Scrapbooks

  • The Police News collection scrapbooks contain clippings of articles from major Boston newspapers relating to or involving police from 1961-1968.

Kelley Ready Papers

  • Human rights activist and anthropology professor Kelley Ready worked with the Friends of Committee of Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared and Assassinated of El Salvador, Monsignor "Oscar Arnulfo Romero" (CoMadres). She was also a visiting assistant professor at Northeastern from 2000 to 2002.

Phyllis M. Ryan Papers

  • Social justice and political activist Phyllis M. Ryan (1927-1998) supported school desegregation, prison reform, welfare reform, the establishment of disability rights, and civil rights organizations, such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

John Salvi Papers

  • Convicted murderer John Salvi (1972-1996) killed two women and wounded five others during shootings at two abortion clinics in Brookline, MA in1994.