The Right to Love: Loving v. Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union

The film Loving, based on the Loving v. Virginia case, is now in expanded release in U.S. theaters.

When Mildred and Richard Loving were married in June 1958, twenty-four states still had anti-miscegenation laws. For this reason, Mildred, a black woman who was also of Rappahannock and Cherokee Indian descent, and Richard, a white man, were married in Washington, D.C. instead of their native Virginia, where both of their families had resided for generations. After they married, the Lovings settled in Central Point, Virginia. They were unaware that they would soon find themselves involved in one of the most significant legal battles of the civil rights movement.

On July 11, 1958, after receiving an anonymous tip, local authorities issued warrants charging the Lovings with attempting to evade Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages. The Lovings were indicted by a grand jury in Caroline County, Virginia and pled guilty in January 1959. They were convicted under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which made it illegal for interracial couples to marry out of state with the intention of returning, and sentenced under Section 20-59, which declared interracial marriage a felony offense and punishable by between one to five years in prison. Initially, both Mildred and Richard were sentenced to one year in prison, but the sentences were suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia and not return together for twenty-five years.

Cover page of the Supreme Court brief filed by the ACLU. American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 2, Project Files Series (MC001.02.02), Box 672, Folder 8

Cover page of the Supreme Court brief filed by the ACLU in the Loving case. American Civil Liberties Union Records: Subgroup 2, Project Files Series (MC001.02.02), Box 672, Folder 8

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for November 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a member of the Class of 1903 casts his vote, students burn the American flag in protest, and more.

November 7, 1955—Today’s issue of Life features Princeton mascot Michael A. Briggs ’57.

1956_cheerleaders_1957_bric

The Princeton University cheerleading squad with Michael A. Briggs ’57 as the tiger, ca. 1955. Photo from 1956 Bric-a-Brac.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for October 31-November 6

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the football team scores a historic win, the campus mourns a favorite squirrel, and more.

November 1, 1877—The Princetonian complains that everyone is annoyed “by the too boisterous singing of Freshmen” on the north end of campus.

November 3, 1888—In one of their highest scoring games in history, Princeton’s football team defeats Johns Hopkins University 104-0.

1888_football_team_1891_bric

The College of New Jersey (Princeton) football team, 1888. Photo from 1891 Bric-a-Brac.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for October 24-30

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a member of the Class of 1922 tries to avert nuclear war, a brawl breaks out in chapel, and more.

October 24, 1914—Princeton University plays its first game in the newly constructed Palmer Stadium, defeating Dartmouth 16-12.

14_nov_1914_palmer_stadium_ac111_box_mp73_image_2907

Palmer Stadium during a game played on November 14, 1914. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP73, Image No. 2907.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for October 17-23

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a junior is arrested for anti-censorship activism in South Africa, the school celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding, and more.

October 17, 1967—Bob Durkee ’69’s in-depth award-winning article, “A New Era for the Negro at Princeton,” first appears in the Daily Princetonian.

new_era_for_the_negro_princetonian_1967-10-17_v91_n097_0001_page_1

Clipping from the Daily Princetonian.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for October 10-16

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian says they can’t drink the water, the first “Gay Jeans Day” causes controversy, and more.

October 10, 1878—The Princetonian warns the administration in an editorial that the shortage of potable water on campus will likely drive students to drink things that are “stronger than water.”

October 11, 1989—Princeton’s first “Gay Jeans Day,” which encourages students to wear jeans to show support for gay rights, provokes controversy on campus.

1989_gay_jeans_day_flyer_ac037_box_1_folder_5

Flyer advertising Gay Jeans Day, 1989. Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance Records (AC037), Box 1, Folder 5.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for October 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate makes aviation history, a campus group protests the Iraq War, and more.

October 4, 1931—Hugh Herndon, Jr. ’27 and Clyde Pangborn make the world’s first transpacific flight.

herndon__pangborn_pages-from-princetonian_1931-11-09_v09_n030_photoweekly_0001

Photo from Daily Princetonian.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Mudd!

When Princeton University dedicated the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library in mid-October 1976, University Librarian Richard W. Boss called the $2.5 million expenditure in times of economic uncertainty “a sassy act of faith,” especially given that the materials it housed were only drawing approximately 250 visitors per year. In 1976, Princeton expressed the hope that building Mudd would double this number to 500 annually. Though we aren’t objective, we think Princeton’s sassy faith in our collections’ usefulness has been realized. Over 4,300 people conducted research at Mudd last academic year.

We didn’t want to let our 40th birthday pass without a celebration, so we are throwing a party on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 4:30 PM. Join us as we commemorate 40 years of digging in the Mudd with collection highlights, games, prizes, a performance by the Katzenjammers, cake, and more.

This Week in Princeton History for September 26-October 2

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a sitting U.S. president gets a warm welcome, women’s field hockey has its first game, and more.

September 26, 1879—The Princetonian reports, “We greet Murray Hall as it rises above ground.”

Murray_Hall_1879_AC112_Box_MP66_No2599

Murray Hall, 1879. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP66, Image No. 2599. Murray Hall was originally built to hold religious meetings for the Philadelphian Society, a student organization.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for September 19-25

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Princeton Stadium has its first game, a court ruling allows dorm residents to register to vote, and more.

September 19, 1998—Princeton University beats Cornell 6-0 in the first football game ever played in the newly constructed Princeton Stadium.

Princeton_v_Cornell_1998_ticket_AC042_Box_18

Ticket from Princeton v. Cornell, September 19, 1998. Athletics Programs Collection (AC042), Box 18.

Continue reading