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At a Glance
Material is arranged into 8 series.
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.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
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. Columbia Law School holds the literary rights for the majority of the collection. Copyright of the remainder is held by the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Nancy Wechsler Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ownership and Custodial History
Documents created or obtained by Nancy Fraenkel Wechsler donated by the Wechsler family in September 2010.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2013.2014.M031: Source of acquisition--Diamond Law Library Special Collections. Method of acquisition--Transfer; Date of acquisition--07/24/2013.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Craig P. Savino with assistance from Virginia Millington 2010.
Finding aid written Craig P. Savino 2010.
2013-10-02 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
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.