Civil Rights history captured online

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Over the last 50 years, civil rights litigation has spurred dramatic changes in American life, affecting hiring, housing, voting, education, law enforcement and the justice system itself.

The litigation has produced countless reams of important documents, which are difficult and time-consuming to find and search through. To remedy the problem — and preserve a critical part of our nation's history — a team of professors and students at the Washington University School of Law has created a free electronic library that opened to the public for the first time last month. The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, the brainchild of law professor Margo Schlanger, houses thousands of documents including settlements, court orders, opinions, case study research, key filings and other papers related to more than 1,000 civil rights cases. It can be accessed at

The clearinghouse is impressive. Cases in the collection address issues as wide-ranging as immigration, policing, child welfare, disability rights, election and voting rights, jail and prison conditions, juvenile institutions, nursing homes, mental health facilities and school desegregation. The documents are of particular interest to historians, sociologists, judges, students, lawyers, policymakers and journalists.

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