During Black History Month libraries, schools, and media outlets pay a bit more attention to civil rights. Also, events in the last year have brought the fight for civil rights to the fore. Since 2001, the University of Maryland’s Thurgood Marshall Law Library has been digitizing Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Not only has the Thurgood Marshall Law Library digitized these publications, it provides access by title, date, broad subject and SuDoc number. In the subject list, you can look up publications by state. Publications relating to Wisconsin include a report on The Black Student in the Wisconsin State Universities System from 1971, and studies on school desegregation in Milwaukee (published in 1992) and Racine (published in 1977).
The site isn’t perfect: a PDF in the entry for Briefing on Civil Rights Issues Facing Muslims and Arab Americans in Wisconsin Post-September 11 refers users to GPO for the full text of the report, but doesn’t actually link to the full report, nor make the url for the report prominent, but there is a lot of good material available from the site. On the other hand,
- Thumbnail navigation for all documents is provided.
- Documents over 50 pages in length are also provided with bookmark navigation.
- Most documents over 50 pages in length are accompanied by searchable text, either embedded in the original PDF or as a link to non-printable “OCRd” PDF.
The site also provides a list of background readings on the Commission, with links to the full text of some of those readings.
Keep this site in mind when you have students looking for primary documents, or patrons interested in current and historical civil rights issues.