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Garrity, W Arthur, Jr. : Papers on the Boston Schools Desegregation Case, 1972-1997


56 Boxes


These papers were donated to the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston Library by Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr., on December 8, 1998.


Born June 20, 1920, in Worcester, MA
Died September 16, 1999, in Wellesley, MA

Federal Judicial Service:

U. S. District Court, District of Massachusetts Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr. was nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson on May 23, 1966, to a new seat created by 75 Stat.80, confirmed by the Senate on June 24, 1966, and assumed senior status on December 1, 1985, until his death on September 16, 1999.


Holy Cross College, A.B., 1941

Harvard Law School, L.L.B., 1946

Professional Career:

U. S. Army Sergeant, 1943-1945

Law Clerk, Hon. Francis J. W. Ford, U. S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, 1946-1947

Private Practice, Boston, Massachusetts, and Worcester, Massachusetts, 1947-1948; Assistant U. S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, 1948-1950; Lecturer in federal jurisdiction and procedure, Boston College Law School, 1950- 1951

Private Practice, Boston, Massachusetts, 1951-1961

U. S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, 1961-1966


The papers in this collection constitute a day-to day file documentation of Morgan v. Hennigan, 379 F. Supp. 410 (1974), commonly known as the Boston Schools Case, a complex and legally entangled class action suit against the state of Massachusetts and the Boston School Committee. The case evolved from a report published in April 1965, by an advisory committee appointed by the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education, to study racial segregation in Massachusetts' public schools. On March 15, 1972, the plaintiffs filed a complaint with the First District Court of Massachusetts, charging the state and Boston officials with maintaining a segregated school system that denied black students equal educational opportunities. After preliminary hearings the case went to trial before Federal District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr., who was selected by a random process to preside over the case. The trial lasted about fifteen days. On June 21, 1974, Judge Garrity filed a 152-page opinion with the clerk of the court. In his lengthy opinion, the Judge ruled that the School Committee of the city of Boston had "intentionally brought about and maintained racial segregation" in the Boston public schools. The opinion also required the School Committee to use a temporary desegregation plan for the 1974-1975 school year and ordered the Committee to begin formulating a permanent plan. By January 1975, the School Committee had failed to present an adequate desegregation plan to the court. As a result, the court assumed an active role in the formulation of the desegregation remedy and began to oversee implementation of court-ordered desegregation in the Boston public schools for the next fifteen years.

Scope and Content

The papers in this collection are the chambers papers of Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr., District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts, regarding the Boston Schools Case. Chambers papers are the personal property of the judge, who retains the right to make the final decision regarding their preservation and management. The papers in this collection constitute a day-to-day file documentation of the case, which provides a valuable supplement to the official court record. In addition to offering general information about the role of the federal judiciary in American life, this collection offers an opportunity to promote a better understanding of the relationship between courts and citizens in the school desegregation process. The information contained in this collection offers a perspective and level of detail not available in the official records of the courts. More important, they offer insight into the difficult task of translating abstract social and political ideals into a concrete and acceptable desegregation plan. The collection spans the years 1972-1997, with the bulk of the papers concentrated from 1972-1982, at which time the court relinquished some of its contro1, giving over to the Massachusetts Department of Education most of the responsibility for day-to-day monitoring. However, Judge Garrity continued to preserve papers relating to the case until the case was officially closed in 1997. The collection is arranged in seventy series.
The papers in the collection include the original complaint; handwritten, typed, and printed drafts; orders; opinions; briefs; memoranda; reports; transcripts; research materials and notes; newspaper clippings; case-related and legislative documents; other printed items; photographs; manuscripts of published and unpublished writings; and correspondence (both letters received and copies of letters sent). The collection arrived at the Archives with an office-filing scheme. The original filing scheme and folder labels, alphabetical by subject, have been preserved, except for some files that were merged for the sake of clarity and simplicity. Subsequently, the alphabetical subject files became the series. Some of the larger series are not in one chronological array due to the original filing order, which was preserved. Folders in a series may have overlapping dates. As a result, researchers may find it necessary to check the entire folder list for each series. In addition, because the Boston Schools Case was long and protracted, it is likely that several law clerks may have worked on the same subject file, creating their own file, which was eventually merged into one central file, resulting in the several chronological arrays contained in any one series. A list of acronyms has been included in the finding aid to assist the researcher in identifying the various organizations associated with the case. The last series in the collection is a list of all docketed material. The docket is a log containing the complete history of the case in the form of brief chronological entries summarizing the court proceedings. Federal records, which include case files, dockets, minutes, administrative and other materials, are official records of the United States Government. The official records for this case can be found in the National Archives, Northeast Region, 380 Trapelo Rd., Waltham, MA 02452-6399.
There are three series of special note in this collection. The first is, Series X, Citywide Coordinating Council, 1975-1982. On May 30, 1975, Judge Garrity issued a court order creating a multi-ethnic council to monitor the implementation of the student desegregation plan whereby the court obligated parents of Boston public schoolchildren to participate directly in their children's education. The council's mission was to provide the public and all interested parties with accurate information, to identify and resolve problems associated with implementation, and to pull together a community effort. Responsibility for specific aspects of implementation was divided among several subcommittees. Of particular interest in this series, are the original monitoring reports submitted to Judge Garrity. They offer a general assessment of the conditions at individual schools, throughout the academic year, and provide daily abstracts of the continuous monitoring. Many of the reports contain lengthy handwritten comments by monitors. This series provides a rich source of information for researchers interested in community's involvement in the implementation of the court ordered desegregation plan. CCC donated its own records, which are separate from Judge Garrity's papers, to the John J. Burns Library at Boston College. They include the Council's central files, senior staff records, and resource center documents. The collection comprises 154 linear feet of material. A partial inventory is available. Additional information can also be found in the Archives and Special Collections Department at Northeastern University, in collection A19, Office of the President (Ryder), Records, 1955-1996 (Boxes 24-26, 93, 95-96, Folders 177-200, 796-799, 811, 831). Kenneth Gilmore Ryder, the fourth president of Northeastern University, was an active member on several local committees that were formed to address school desegregation in Boston including the CCC. A finding aid is available for this collection.
The second series of note is Series XXXVII, Masters and Experts, 1973-1997. Because of the complexity and multiplicity of desegregation plans filed, Judge Garrity determined that the use of professional and academic advisors was necessary. The court appointed four masters who were either seasoned attorneys or experienced urban educators. In addition, the court appointed two planning experts, Boston University Dean of Education Robert A. Dentler and Associate Dean Marvin B, Scott, to assist the masters and the court. The series consists of several sub-series. Of particular interest are the memos between Dentler, Scott and the court, which provide a good source of information for researchers interested in the deliberative process, involving the formation of the school desegregation plan ordered and implemented by the court.
The third series of note is, Series LXVIII, Correspondence, 1973-1994. Judge Garrity's enforcement of the law mandated by the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and its successor cases in U. S. District Courts earned him the support and the wrath of many citizens in the local community. This series contains numerous letters to Judge Garrity from a wide spectrum of writers, including young school children, teenagers, teachers and school officials, parents, religious and political leaders, specific groups of concerned citizens, and many anonymous writers, who strongly voiced their opinions regarding Judge Garrity's findings and the court's remedy. The letters reveal the harsh reality of the court's decision to bus school children away from their neighborhood schools in its simplest terms. Hate mail and letters threatening Judge Garrity and his family as well as letters supporting his decision comprise this series. The information contained in Judge Garrity's correspondence file can not be found elsewhere, as it is not part of the official record. For the researcher, this series provides insight into a complex and often hostile relationship between the court and a community torn apart by court-ordered busing. Although it is a small part of the larger collection, the Correspondence Series is testament to the wide spectrum of people affected, and the various emotions brought about by the Boston Schools Desegregation Case.
For more information on other aspects of the litigation researchers may want to refer to two additional collections, The Center for Law and Education and Mosiac. The Center for Law and Education, a non-profit corporation representing the plaintiffs during the remedial phase of the litigation, donated sixty boxes of material. A finding aid is available for the collection. Mosiac is an anthology published annually from 1980 to 1988 by the students at South Boston High School describing the effects of desegregation on their school, on themselves and their communities.