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Nils R. Douglas papers

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Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Nils R. Douglas papers, 1893-1967 | Amistad Research Center

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Collection Overview

Title: Nils R. Douglas papers, 1893-1967Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Douglas, Nils R. (1930-2003)

Extent: 1.4 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Items are arranged by general format and subject. Bound manuscripts have been retained and are in rough chronological order regardless of format or subject.

Date Acquired: 01/01/1979

Subjects: African American lawyers, Civil rights demonstrations - Louisiana - New Orleans, Civil rights movements - Louisiana - Bogalusa, Civil rights movements - Louisiana - Clinton, Collins, Robert F. (1931- ), Congress of Racial Equality, Elie, Lolis E., Moore, Ronnie Malcolm (1940-), Plessy, Homer Adolph

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Nils R. Douglas papers consist primarily of items collected or generated by attorney Nils R. Douglas, concerning Louis Andre Martinet and the legal society that bears his name, in addition to those concerning the case of Plessy v. Ferguson and the life of Homer A. Plessy. In addition, the bound personal manuscripts of Nils Douglas reflect his years as a prominent civil rights attorney, representing activists from the Congress of Racial Equality along with his law partners Robert F. Collins and Lolis Elie.

Items of note include a photostatic copy of The Crusader newspaper (vol. 2, no 13; July 19, 1890), which includes editorials by Louis A. Martinet and Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes decrying the separate train car bill whcih led to the Plessy v. Ferguson case; a photocopy of the pamphlet The Violation of a Constitutional Right, published by the Citizens' Committee regarding the case of Plessy v. Ferguson; the death certificate and records of succession for Louis A. Martinet; Douglas' essay "Who was Louis A. Martinet"?; records pertaining to the trials of B. Elton Cox, who was arrested while leading a peaceful protest demonstration in Baton Rouge; an essay jointly authored by Nils Douglas, Lolis Elie, and Robert F. Collins which chronicles their firm's involvement representing CORE activists in cities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemine, and Clinton, Louisiana; a speech commemorating the third anniversary of New Orleans’ first sit-in protest by Oretha Castle Haley, written by Douglas; Rep. Charles L. Weltner's speech entitled "The Terror of Bogalusa", which includes a purported listing of all Klan members in Bogalusa as obtained through Federal court records; a letter to Rep. Hale Boggs admonishing him to ensure equal opportunities for his African American constituents; research correspondents concerning Louis A. Martinet, including a nine-page response from Southern University detailing Martinet's involvement as a member of the Board of Trustees of Southern University; and a letter from attorney A. P. Tureaud to Douglas correcting some factual information in Douglas' essay "Who was Louis A. Martinet," demonstrating Tureaud's acute knowledge of African American legal history.

Biographical Note

Nils R. Douglas was a prominent politician, lawyer, and civil rights activits in New Orleans.

Born in New Orleans in 1930, Nils Douglas attended Dillard University and graduated from Loyola University School of Law. Short on prospects practicing law in Louisiana, Douglas considered applying for employment at the post office in New Orleans--joining a cadre of underemployed African American lawyers delivering mail. Instead, Douglas joined up with Lolis Elie and Robert Collins to form a law firm. By 1960, Collins, Douglas, and Elie had become the principal attorneys in Louisiana for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Despite the high number of civil rights cases the firm took on, these were not lucrative; according to Lolis Elie, the firm's secretary made more than any of the lawyers throughout the 1960s.

During this time, Douglas was a frequent candidate for local political offices. In 1963, Douglas ran for the Louisiana Senate to represent Wards 8 and 9 and ran for the Louisiana House to represent the 9th Ward. In 1966, he ran for the Louisiana House again, and, in 1967, Douglas ran for the Democratic Party State Central Committee. In the 1966 campaign, Douglas gained strong support from African American voters, though they were not yet numerous enough to elect him; it was also out of this campaign that Douglas and others formed the Southern Organization for Unified Leadership (SOUL), which organized efforts to register and mobilize African American voters. In 1973 Douglas was appointed Criminal District Court Commissioner for Orleans Parish, where he served until his retirement in 1986.

In 1982, Douglas started an independent law practice which remains in his family after his death in 2003. Douglas was a long-term member of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society and the Louisiana State Board of Ethics for Elected Officials. Shortly before his death, Douglas was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Bar Association.

Subject/Index Terms

African American lawyers
Civil rights demonstrations - Louisiana - New Orleans
Civil rights movements - Louisiana - Bogalusa
Civil rights movements - Louisiana - Clinton
Collins, Robert F. (1931- )
Congress of Racial Equality
Elie, Lolis E.
Moore, Ronnie Malcolm (1940-)
Plessy, Homer Adolph

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: The Nils Douglas papers are open and available for research use.

Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Mildred Rousseve and Nils Douglas

Acquisition Method: Gift

Related Materials: A. P. Tureaud papers and Charles Rousseve papers

Preferred Citation: Nils Douglas papers, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.


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Box 2Add to your cart.
Item 1: Bound personal papers, 1954-1968Add to your cart.

Includes some annotation by Douglas to provide context. The voluminous bound personal papers of Nils Douglas include collected articles pertaining to civil rights, race relations, and legal history. Also included are correspondence, case records, drafts of multiple articles by Douglas to be published in the Louisiana Weekly, speeches by Douglas and others, and other collected materials. Items of note include materials documenting the efforts of Douglas and others to desegregate the courthouse in Clinton, Louisiana; a speech commemorating the third anniversary of New Orleans' first sit-in protest by Oretha Castle Haley, written by Douglas; briefs and other materials from the case B. Elton Cox v. the State of Louisiana; Rep. Charles L. Weltner's speech entitled "The Terror of Bogalusa," which includes a purported listing of all Klan members in Bogalusa as obtained through Federal court records; a letter to Rep. Hale Boggs admonishing him to ensure equal opportunities for his African American constituents; the June 1968 issue of New Orleans magazine, which focuses on African Americans in New Orleans; collected correspondence on the relationship between CORE and SEDFRE; a 1967 speech and a related essay entitled "Is the Civil Rights Movement Dying?"; and a 1968 speech outline to mark Negro History Week.

Finally, an essay, entitled "Southern Justice," detailing the involvement of CORE throughout Louisiana rounds out the bound manuscripts. This essay, jointly authored by Robert F. Collins, Nils Douglas, and Lolis E. Elie, focuses on civil rights protest demonstrations and violence in the cities of Clinton, St. Francisville, Baton Rouge, and Plaquemine, and highlights the work of B. Elton Cox, Ronnie Moore, and Rudy Lombard, among others.


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