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Friends of the E.B.Williams Law Library

Spring 2016 Newsletter

The National Equal Justice Library:
A Unique Collection at Georgetown Law Library

National Equal Justice LibraryThe National Equal Justice Library (NEJL), which is part of the Special Collections department at Georgetown Law Library, is the only institution in the United States exclusively dedicated to preserving the history of indigent defense and civil legal aid.  While the main focus is on archival materials and publications from the United States, the NEJL also holds many international materials documenting the development of civil legal assistance.

The NEJL’s excellent website provides access to a wide range of information to help users and researchers discover the available titles and collections.  It also offers information on equal justice milestones such as Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) (the “right to an attorney” case) and the War on Poverty.  The web site also hosts a growing collection of oral history interviews of key participants in the equal justice movement as well as collections of archival material such as the Clinton Bamberger Papers, the Jean and Edgar Cahn Papers, the Gary Bellow Collection, and the Earl Johnson Jr. papers.   The NEJL’s approximately 1300 books are on site and discoverable from the library’s  catalog (on the “Advanced Search page,” type “*.*” in “Enter Search Terms,” and choose NEJL from the Location drop-down box.  Click “Submit,” to view the titles of the print books in the library.) 

The National Equal Justice Library (NEJL)The NEJL has created one of the exhibitions that are currently on view in the atrium of Edward Bennett Williams Law Library building.  The display highlights the beginnings of the Office of Equal Opportunity’s [OEO’s] Legal Services Program, with a specific focus on the District of Columbia Neighborhood Legal Services Project, as one of the pioneering programs funded by the OEO. The exhibitions feature materials from several important participants, including Marna Tucker, who was one of five women who graduated from the Law Center in 1965 and who then started working for DC's Neighborhood Legal Services Program; Clint Bamberger, a 1951 graduate of the Law Center and the first director of the OEO Legal Services Program; Gary Bellow, who taught possibly the first course on poverty law in the country here at Georgetown Law in 1964; and from Jean and Edgar Cahn.

Katharina Hering, the Project archivist, welcomes inquiries, and also assists with specialized research related to poverty law. For more information on this collection, please contact: her at kh781@law.georgetown.edu or 202-662-4043.

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