Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Nancy Wechsler Papers, 1935-2007

Summary Information

Abstract

The Nancy Wechsler Papers collects a portion of the work and interests of lawyer Nancy Wechsler. The collection holds her writings, work with professional organizations, correspondence, and work with several government organizations including accusations pertaining to her loyalty while doing this work. Of particular note are the oral histories Wechsler gave and the memoir she wrote detailing her family's history, Communist experience, legal work, and public affairs. The oral histories and memoir also cover her civil rights work and work as a copyright and intellectual property lawyer. The collection also contains Wechsler's FOIA file.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1676
Bib ID 10391992 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Wechsler, Nancy
Title Nancy Wechsler Papers, 1935-2007
Physical Description 3 linear feet (4 document boxes and 1 flat box)
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Some files are closed due to privacy and confidentiality issues.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Material is arranged into 8 series.

Description

Summary

The Nancy Wechsler Papers collects a portion of the work and interests of lawyer Nancy Wechsler. The collection holds her writings, work with professional organizations, correspondence, and work with several government organizations including accusations pertaining to her loyalty while doing this work. Of particular note are the oral histories Wechsler gave and the memoir she wrote detailing her family's history, Communist experience, legal work, and public affairs. The oral histories and memoir also cover her civil rights work and work as a copyright and intellectual property lawyer. The collection also contains Wechsler's FOIA file.

  • Series I: Columbia Law School, 1937-1965, 1937-1965

    Series I: Columbia Law Schoolcontains some of the notes and collected items from Nancy Wechsler's time studying at Columbia's Law School.

  • Series II: Government Work, 1942-1959

    Series II: Government Work contains the notes and research Wechsler used at different government posts, in particular the Office of Price Administration and the President's Committee on Civil Rights. Also within this series are some of the documents pertaining to Wechsler's questioned loyalty while working for the federal government.

  • Series III: Professional Organizations, 1972-1997

    Series III: Professional Organizations contains accumulated documents from Wechsler's involvement with professional groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Law Institute.

  • Series IV: Correspondence, 1969-1997

    Series IV: Correspondence contains primarily personal correspondence of Wechsler's.

  • Series V: Writings, 1940-2007

    Series V: Writings contains Wechsler's memoir accounting her family, life, and work. The series contains Wechsler's articles on the law, teenage sexuality, abortions, and censorship and obscenity. This series also contains drafts ofIn A Darkness, an account of the life and suicide of Nancy's son Michael, co-written by Nancy and her husband James.

  • Series VI: Subject Files, 1935-2001

    Series IV: Subject Files contains the FOIA files on Wechsler obtained from the FBI. This series also contains Oral Histories Wechsler has given to Columbia University's Oral History department and some items of Ephemera.

  • Series VII: Legal Work

    Series VII: Legal Work contains documents related to Wechsler's work in law including briefs, correspondence, and memorandum. Some of this series is closed due to privacy and confidentiality.

  • Series VIII: Oversized Documents

    Series VIII: Oversized Documents is one oversized box holding the degrees and awards accumulated by Wechsler, particularly from Columbia's Law School.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Some files are closed due to privacy and confidentiality issues.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Nancy Wechsler Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Ownership and Custodial History

Documents created or obtained by Nancy Fraenkel Wechsler donated by the Wechsler family in September 2010.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Craig P. Savino with assistance from Virginia Millington 2010.

Finding aid written Craig P. Savino 2010.

Revision Description

2013-10-02 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Articles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drafts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memorandums Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notes, research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poems Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Abortion -- Law and legislation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Censorship Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Civil rights -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Loyalty oaths Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Obscenity (Law) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Occupation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wages -- Government policy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wechsler, James A (James Arthur), 1915-1983 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wechsler, Nancy, 1916-2009 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Nancy F. Wechsler began her studies at Columbia's Law School in 1937, just 10 years after women were first admitted. She was awarded both a James Kent Scholarship and the John Ordroneaux Prize in recognition of her academic achievement and graduated in 1940. She went on to become one of the first women admitted to the New York State bar.

Wechsler worked for several federal agencies after graduating from Columbia. After spending some time with the Department of Labor's Office of Price Administration, in 1946 Wechsler became the counsel to President Truman's Committee on Civil Rights. Civil Liberties had long been a topic close to Wechsler as her father, Osmond K. Fraenkel, was a prominent member of the American Civil Liberties Union's general counsel for many years. Both would later serve together on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. While working for the government Wechsler faced accusations of Communist involvement and divided loyalty. She would later defend some cases of individuals accused of similar loyalty questions.

Wechsler later joined the firm of Greenbaum, Wolf & Ernst in 1948 where she built a career of cases involving libel, obscenity, and right of publicity for authors, publishers, and literary estates. Among her clients were Robert F. Kennedy and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

The firm also represented the Planned Parenthood Federation of America which involved Wechsler in cases involving contraception and abortion. She co-wrote amicus curiae briefs in the cases of Griswold v. Connecticut (wherein the Supreme Court recognized a right to privacy in striking down a law that banned the prescription or sale of contraceptives) and Roe v.Wade. These opinions are reflected primarily in the histories/memoirs and articles by Wechsler in the collection.

Nancy Wechsler died in New York City after suffering a stroke in 2009. She was survived by a daughter and three grandchildren.