The Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Library opened its doors in Berkeley in 1965 and incorporated as a California nonprofit institution whose Board of Directors included: Ann Fagan Ginger, I. Michael Heyman, and Marshall W. Krause. Ann Rand, retired librarian for the International Longshoremen's and Warehouseman's Union, became the first of innumerable, invaluable volunteers. Law students active in the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley came on Work Study grants to assist in developing and analyzing the collections.

The volunteer and funded staff found a growing demand from across the country from attorneys and others pursuing civil rights litigation. Almost from the outset the Institute began producing books, sending out speakers, and presenting testimony in Congress, while continuing to collect archival material. In 1966, the first seven Work-Study students came to work and the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council sent a student.

In the late 1960's, the Meiklejohn Institute expanded from its original focus on U.S. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to those related to United Nations Human Rights issues. In 1973, the Institute published the Human Rights Organizations and Periodicals Directory and started classifying cases using the human rights language of the UN. The Institute convinced the Library of Congress to follow their lead in this classification.

In 1979-80, Meiklejohn received a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in Washington to make an inventory of the records (and periodicals) at Meiklejohn of the National Lawyers Guild (1936-76) and The Legal Struggle to Abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1963-1973). Later the papers of the Radical Elders Oral History Project, partially transcribed, and much other (unsorted) material, came to the Institute.

In 1999, Director Ann Fagan Ginger negotiated the transfer of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute Archives, including the records of the National Lawyers Guild to The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. The Bancroft Library hold some of largest bodies of records documenting social action in the United States and California, including records of the University of California Loyalty Oath Controversy, the Free Speech Movement, the Social Protest Collection, and the Sara Diamond Collection on the U.S. Right (1950-1997).

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Photograph: National Guard bayonets blocked Beale Street in Memphis in
March 1968 as members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees struck in behalf of garbage workers. The strike became the focus of
civil rights activity and demands went beyond economic grievances. While in Memphis
because of the strike, the Rev. Martin Luther King was killed. (UPI photograph)
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