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SERIES Identifier: wid00007

National Archives and Records Administration (U.S.) Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. Case File, 1972-1995 : online

Online facsimile of the civil action case file for Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al., held by the National Archives at Boston and digitized in partnership with Harvard Library. Morgan v. Hennigan was a class action lawsuit brought by parents of African American children in Massachusetts District Court in 1972 alleging the Boston School Committee violated the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution by a deliberate policy of racial segregation in Boston Public Schools. Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr. found in favor of the plaintiffs in 1974 and ordered the Boston School Committee to formulate a permanent school desegregation plan that included busing students on a citywide basis. The case file contains documents related to the class action lawsuit, Garrity's decision, and implementation of court-ordered desegregation in Boston Public Schools, dated 1972-1996.

Dates

  • 1972-1995

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This online case file is open for research. Links to digital objects accompany descriptions. By agreement, Harvard Library may make the digitized collection accessible without restriction.

Extent

1166 digital objects

Online facsimile of the civil action case file (72-911-G) for Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al., held by the National Archives at Boston and digitized in partnership with Harvard Library. The case file contains documents related to the class action lawsuit, Garrity’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, and long-term implementation of court-ordered desegregation in Boston Public Schools, dating from 1974 to 1996. Included are the original complaint, motions, briefs, transcripts of hearings, Boston School Committee meeting transcripts, enrollment records, memorandums, correspondence, judgments, affidavits, depositions, interrogatories, and other records.

The case file documents representation of the plaintiffs by attorneys from the Harvard Center for Law and Education, who served as co-counsel, as well as the involvement of various legal, professional, civic, and advocacy groups, among them the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Boston Teachers Union; Citywide Education Coalition; Boston Home and School Association; Concerned Black Educators of Boston; El Comite de Padres Pro Defensa de la Educacion Bilingue; Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity; Massachusetts Citizens Against Forced Busing; and Boston Latin School Association and Girls’ Latin School Alumnae Association.

Individual names appearing in the records include John D. O'Bryant, the first African American elected to the Boston School Committee in the 20th century; Boston Mayor Kevin White; Rita Graul and Virginia Sheehy, executive board members of Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR), an antibusing organization; Governor Michael Dukakis; civil rights activist Ruth Batson; and Massachusetts state legislators Mel King, Doris Bunte, Royal L. Bolling, Royal Bolling, Jr., Bill Owens, Mary Goode, and Robert L. Fortes.

Subjects of the case file are wide-ranging, but examples of some of the topics addressed include formation of Racial Ethnic Parent Councils (REPCs), a Citywide Parents Advisory Council (CPAC), and Community District Advisory Councils (CDACs); specific policies and procedures developed by the Boston School Committee following the 1974 court decision; antibusing boycotts, protests, and violence, particularly at South Boston High School; the stationing of law enforcement officers in schools to maintain order; bilingual education and special education; desegregation relative to Latinx and Asian American students; progress of the United Facilities Plan; recruitment and assignment of African American and Latinx teachers and administrative staff; and the 1986 bus strike.

Historical note on Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. and Boston Public Schools desegregation

In 1972, attorneys for fifteen parents of 43 African American children filed a class action lawsuit in Massachusetts District Court ("the court"), alleging that the Boston School Committee violated the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution by a deliberate policy of racial segregation in Boston Public Schools. Talullah Morgan, a mother of three, was chosen as lead plaintiff by the attorneys representing the class, including J. Harold Flannery and Robert Pressman of the Harvard Center for Law and Education. As James W. Hennigan was the chairman of the Boston School Committee at the time, the case became known as Morgan v. Hennigan. Hennigan's successors as School Committee chair, John Kerrigan, John McDonough, and Kathleen Sullivan, were later named as defendants in the suit.

On June 21, 1974, Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr. issued an opinion in which he found the Boston School Committee had intentionally carried out a program of segregation in the Boston Public Schools. The ruling, upheld unanimously by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, ordered the Boston School Committee to formulate a permanent school desegregation plan that addressed student assignment, teacher employment, and facility improvement procedures, as well as the use of busing on a citywide basis. Garrity initially ordered that schools be integrated under the Massachusetts Board of Education's Racial Imbalance plan until the School Committee submitted its proposal to the court. This became known as the "Phase I" plan. By January 1975, the School Committee had failed to present an adequate plan; as a result, the court assumed an active role in developing a strategy for desegregation and overseeing its implementation in Boston Public Schools. Garrity appointed a team of special masters, Edward McCormack, Jacob J. Speigel, Francis Keppel, and Charles Willie, to devise a plan for "Phase II" of the desegregation order with the assistance of Boston University Associate Dean of Education Marvin B. Scott and sociologist Robert A. Dentler. The court-approved Masters' Plan was carried out in 1975-1976. In 1977, "Phase III" began with the establishment of a Department of Implementation to oversee desegregation and a plan for construction and repair of school facilities ("Unified Facilities Plan"). In 1982, the state Board of Education assumed the responsibility of monitoring desegregation from the court. The court issued a final judgment permanently prohibiting the Boston School Committee from practicing racial discrimination in the Boston Public Schools in 1994.

Existence and Location of Originals

The civil action case file (72-911-G) of Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. is a series in Record Group 21: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009, held by the National Archives at Boston, Waltham, Massachusetts (NARA Identifier: 4713835: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/99293814).

Digital collaboration note

A copy of the digitized collection was provided to National Archives at Boston. Digital Commonwealth harvests and indexes metadata for the digital objects hosted by Harvard Library.

Processing Information

This inventory encoded 2019-12-17 by Kate Bowers from data prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and by Harvard Library Imaging Services. Enhanced collection level description was added by Brooke McManus in January 2020.

Each digital facsimile has the content of one folder. Most of the folder titles were devised by NARA. Information or titles in brackets were added by archivists at Harvard Library.

The bulk of the case file is arranged in rough chronological order by document numbers, likely assigned by the US District Court, which are handwritten on the first page of each document. Folders containing these materials are labeled with a document number range and dates; individual document titles are listed at the folder level.

While some material dates to 1996, to maintain consistency with the catalog record created by NARA for the case file, the title of this finding aid reflects an end date of 1995.
Digitization note In 2019, National Archives at Boston, Digital Commonwealth, and Harvard Library collaborated to digitize the Morgan v Hennigan Case File from RG 21, USDC-MA, Civil Action Case Files with the goal of making the collection accessible as a digital resource.
Link to catalog
Title
United States. District Court (Massachusetts). National Archives and Records Administration (U.S.) Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. Case File, 1972-1995 : online : an inventory
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
EAD ID
wid00007

Repository Details

Part of the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University Repository

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