Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2009 Newsletter

Grant to Help Catalog Papers of Morris Ernst

Morris Ernst Papers at the Harry Ransom Center. Click to enlarge.

Morris Ernst Papers at the Harry Ransom Center.

The Morris Ernst papers are
closed for processing until 2011.

The Ransom Center has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support a two-year, $392,213 project to arrange, describe, and preserve the papers of lawyer Morris Leopold Ernst (1888-1976).

Dating from 1916 to 1976, the Ernst papers include manuscripts for his books and articles as well as legal research and case files. Extensive correspondence files document Ernst's professional and personal communications with numerous politicians, jurists, artists, and business leaders, including Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, judges Felix Frankfurter and Learned Hand, government officials J. Edgar Hoover and Harold L. Ickes, writers Edna Ferber and James Joyce, journalists Edward R. Murrow and Walter Winchell, and publishers Henry Luce and Arthur Sulzberger.

Ernst practiced law in New York for more than 60 years and was one of the leading advocates of civil liberties in twentieth-century America. As counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and later director emeritus, Ernst defended individual rights and freedom in numerous landmark federal cases on privacy, libel, slander, obscenity, censorship, birth control, and abortion.

Because of Ernst's work on literary censorship cases and his personal and professional relationships with notable cultural figures, one of the strengths of the collection is literary history.

With funds from the NEH and other sources, the Ransom Center will preserve the Ernst papers by rehousing and organizing the papers and creating a finding aid to provide students, educators, and scholars access to this material.

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