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Guide to the Paul L. Ross Papers
 MS 3138

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Andy Latoni and Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 27, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence, manuscript writings, reports, clippings, legal filings, printed material, and other documents related to Paul L. Ross's career in public service and as a lawyer advocating in matters of constitutional liberties. The collection is relatively light on material from Ross's early career through the 1930s, but several subjects are especially well-documented after that time. For the 1940s and into the early 1950s, these subjects include Ross's tenure with the Office of Price Administration (especially his conflict with Daniel Woolley); activities as Chairman of the Temporary City Housing Rent Commission during the William O'Dwyer administration; campaign statements and other documents related to New York's American Labor Party of the late 1940s-early 1950s; and the tenant initiative to desegregate Stuyvesant Town. The collection holds Ross's later reminiscences of Fiorello LaGuardia and the O'Dwyer administration, and a transcript of an oral history he made with Columbia University in 1950.

For the 1950s through the 1970s, the collection is especially rich with material reflecting Ross's concern about government infringement on constitutional liberties. This includes documents related to Ross's interest in contempt proceedings, disbarments, and other forms of punishment of defense attorneys advocating for their clients in political cases. Several of these documents, including printed materials, concern the related cases: United States of America v. Harry Sacher, Richard Gladstein, George W. Crockett, Louis F. McCabe, Abraham J. Isserman, and Eugene Dennis; Harry Sacher, Richard Gladstein, George W. Crockett, Louis F. McCabe, Abraham J. Isserman, and Eugene Dennis v. United States of America; and In the Matter of Harold (Harry) Sacher and Abraham J. Isserman. In these cases, Sacher et al. were represented by Ross and his firm and the files include Ross's notebook with writing about the disbarment of the attorneys Sacher and Isserman; a typescript, edited final summation of the defense in the contempt case; and drafts of filings. These files also include Ross's 1976 essay (in typescript and manuscript form) on the subject "Government and Courts Repress, Harass and Punish Defense Counsel for Political Dissidents," submitted to, but not published by, the National Lawyers Guild. The files include Ross's research materials, which include printed material from the case United States v. Barnard E. Meyer, et al., and Philip Hirschkop; correspondence with editor Ann Fagan Ginger and others; a 1977 reminiscence "Past is Prologue: Crisis in the American Civil Liberties Union" by Abraham J. Isserman in which he recalls the ACLU's anti-Communism of circa 1940; Ross's notes; and various news articles and other printed material about relevant cases.

The substantive files on preventive detention include a few documents from Ross and the Citizens Committee for Constitutional Liberties's (CCCL) opposition to the McCarran Act during the mid-1960s. Much more is in the files from the fight over preventive detention (mass incarceration/"concentration camp") legislation in 1969-1970. These documents include remarks by Ross and CCCL Executive Secretary Miriam Friedlander; CCCL fliers, press releases, summaries of Advisory Committee meetings, and copies of the organization's newsletter "Liberty"; statements by other groups; Congressional bills; related print matter (news articles, government press releases, some issues of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee magazine "Rights"); a scrapbook; and other documents.


The collection is organized by subject, advancing roughly in chronological order through Ross's career. This sequencing was established by the processing archivists.