Today in Civil Liberties History is a calendar of civil liberties history, with an average of about six events for each day.

It is an exercise in public education, a way to bring civil liberties history alive in a new way for the average person.

It is similar to the Today in History calendars by the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Library of Congress, and others, that you are undoubtedly familiar with.

Today in Civil Liberties History, however, has features that  other calendars do not have:

For each event there are learning resources: a book or report on the subject; an informative web site; a Youtube video; a link to a historic site, and more.

Each event has links to other events related to subject (for example, more about the person involved, or the early history of the event in question).

Additionally, events are cross-linked, with hot links taking you to not only to previous or subsequent events on the issue, but to related people, organizations, or events on the issue.

In short, you learn not just about the immediate event on a particular day, but about the rich history of the event, the person or the issue. Following the links, for example, can take you through the history of movie censorship,  FBI abuses of civil liberties, the long fight for birth control, and so on.

The web site has a pro-civil liberties perspective. This in not the Encyclopedia Brittanica. It makes judgments about both threats to civil liberties and positive gains in the protection of individual rights. Words such as “notorious” and “breakthrough” are freely used.


Perhaps the major goal of Today in Civil Liberties is public education, and it is designed and written for the average person. No arcane academic jargon here.

The battle for the defense and advancement of civil liberties in America is in the realm of public opinion. The courts, of course, are important, as is Congress and our fifty state legislatures. In the end, however, civil liberties will stand and grow only if they have broad public support.

Unfortunately, we have not a good job of telling the history of civil liberties. There are many museums and monuments related to particular issues: civil rights history, the history of women, and others.

But where is the Civil Liberties History Museum?

There isn’t one, and we need one. Today in Civil Liberties History is a small contribution in filling the existing void and telling the story about how Americans gained their individual liberties.


Today in Civil Liberties History was conceived and created by Sam Walker, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is the author of In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990) and Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012). He is entirely responsible for the  contents of Today in Civil Liberties History.

For his other work on police accountability, crime policy, and civil liberties, go to his web site:

If you have any comments, criticisms, or suggestions, you may reach him at samwalker@unomaha.edu


Today in Civil Liberties History should open on the day you visit it.

On the right hand side, you will find the protocol for selecting a particular date that interests you. Go ahead– see what civil liberties events happened on your birthday.

You can navigate the site by day and by month. Actually, scanning an entire month is the best way to get a sense of Today in Civil Liberties as a whole.

You can find subjects either by searching by key wor, or by using the list of topics down the right hand side, or through the A-Z Index at the top of the page.


Of course, nothing of this sort could be completed without a lot of help.

I  could never have completed this project without the enormous help from my old friend Mary Tourek, who has been a diligent editor and advisor, finding many problems that needed to be fixed and always making helpful suggestions.

Thanks so much Mary.

I also want to thank Jill Kianka at Vicorock Media, who designed the web site. As she did with my other web site, she was speedy, efficient, good-humored, and always available when crises large and small arose.

I also would like to thank my friend Emily Whitfield of New York City, who had some excellent suggestions and provided some valuable assistance on publicizing Today in Civil Liberties History.

Valerie Lefler of Omaha was a tremendous help in both introducing me to the world of Linkedin and Twitter, which have been extremely valuable in publicizing the web site.


This project could not have been completed without the availability of a number of sources of information about the vast number of civil liberties events, large and small.

The entire New York Times, from 1851 onward, is available on-line (although you probably need access to a university library that subscribes), and is an absolutely invaluable source for events, including many small incidents that would otherwise have disappeared from memory.

The American Presidency Project, based at the University of California- Santa Barbara is an invaluable source of information about presidents: public statements, press conferences, executive orders, and so on. Visit its web site: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/

There are a number of sources of information about Supreme Court decisions, including Findlaw, the Oyez Project, and others.

Civil liberties and civil rights organizations have valuable resources on their web sites, including their own histories, major events and cases they are or have been involved in, or timelines of particular issues. They include the ACLU, its affiliates, Planned Parenthood Federation, the NAACP, Lambda Legal, the National Organization for Women, and many others.

On the long history of abuses of the rights of Americans by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies through the early 1970s, the Assassination Archives Resource Center (AARC) has the complete Senate Church Committee reports available on-line, and they are still an extremely valuable source. The FBI’s own on-line Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Reading Room has original documents of its spying activities that have been released under FOIA.

The innumerable people and organizations who have posted videos on Youtube also deserve special thanks.







Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


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