National Archives: case file research for Race and the Law

Philadelphia Record Center

Sample cases

How to Order:

If you were to search for these cases from scratch, your first task would be to read the reported case(s) carefully, noting where the case was first heard, any case numbers,  the type of case (civil, criminal, equity, etc.)  and when the case was introduced into each level of the court where it was heard (Federal District Court, Federal Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of the U. S.).   Then use the NARA finding aid for Federal Court Records, where you would need to know the type of case (e.g. Civil) and the year it was instituted.  You would then request and examine the docket, which in turn would give you a case number or case numbers to request.  Sometime the case numbers are contained in the printed opinions, records, and briefs, but not always.  The NARA finding aid provides a good introduction to the records of the Federal Courts.  Also provided is a guide to how to find printed opinions, records, and briefs for Federal cases.

A typical cart full of case files:

The numbers on the boxes and volumes relate to the following cases:

1) Myers v. Anderson..., 238 U.S. 368 (1915), and Anderson v. Myers, 182 F. 223 (1910).  The request slip should carry the 'record identification' of U. S. Circuit Court- Law Cases, Docket E- cases # 39, 40 & 41.  The RG no. is 21 (Record Group number);  the stack area: #, row: 2, Compartment 3, shelf 7-15. There is one clamshell, no. 1 on the photograph above. Images of another version of the  case file shown in the following photograph and the printed record and briefs, as submitted to the Circuit Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, are contained in the voting_rights_cases.pdf.

2) Mills v. Bd of Ed of Anne Arundel Co., 30 F. Supp. 245, and Mills v. Lowndes, 26 F. Supp. 792, (1939) (discrimination re: pay; Thurgood Marshall subject of biography).  The two request slips, nos. 2 a/b on the photograph above,  should carry the 'record identification's of U.S.D.C. Maryland, Mills v. Lowndes, Civil Case # 56, Box #6,  located at RG 21, C, 6, 7, 6-14, and Mills v. Board of Education of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. U.S. D. C. Civil Case #170, Box 21,  located at RG 21, C, 6, 7, 7-13.

3) Kerr v. Enoch Pratt Free Library, 54 F. supp 514 (1944) (discrimination in library training; W. A. C. Hughes subject of biography).  Thre is one clamshell and one volume of Records and Briefs (nos. 3 a/b on the photograph above).  The two request slips should carry the 'record identification's of Kerr v. Enoch Pratt Free Library, U.S. D. C. Maryland, Civil Case #2071, box # 199, with a location of 21, C, 6, 8, 9-15, and 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, #5273, vol. 866 Kerr v. Enoch Pratt Free Library, RG 276, Stack Area A, Row 21, Compartment 8, shelf 1-10.

4)Boyer v. Garrett, 88 F. Supp 353 (1950) (integration of public parks; Dallas Nicholas subject of biography).  There are two boxes and a bound volume of Records and Briefs (nos. 4 a & b on the photograph above).  The two request slips should carry the  'record identification's of Boyer v. Garrett U. S. D. C. Maryland Civil Case #4152, Boxes 335-336, with locations of RG 21, Stack C, Row 6, Compartment 9, Shelf 9-7&8, and 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, #6613, Vol. 967, Boyer v. Garrett, RG 276, Stack A, Row 22, Compartment 1, Shelf 3-6.

5) and 5 a/b in the photograph of the cart above are the records in the Harper v. Baltimore case, 1973.

6) is the docket for the McGuinn v. Forbes case, 188 for which there appear to be no case papers.