- Research & Collections
- Using the Library
Table of Contents
|Title:||United States v. Mississippi Interrogatory Answers|
|Repository:||University of Mississippi. Department of Archives and Special Collections. University, MS 38677, USA|
|Language of Material:||English|
|Abstract:||The United States v. Mississippi Interrogatory Answers consists entirely of an excerpt of the Record of Appeal that features answers by the United States to interrogatories posed by the State of Mississippi and other defendants. These answers provide detailed data and sources that illuminate the difficulties African Americans faced in Mississippi when they attempted to exercise their right to vote between 1890 and 1963. Since the subject of African American literacy was relevant to voting registration, they also include information on the segregated school systems in the state.|
In 2009-2010, William and Rita Bender spent a year-long sabbatical at the University of Mississippi teaching a course at the Law School on the deliberate denial of education for African Americans and the need for restorative justice remedies. Research conducted for the course directed their attention to the 1962 voting rights case United States v. Mississippi. The District Court Clerk for the Southern District advised the Benders that the interrogatory answers were missing from the official record in the government archives. However, they uncovered a copy of the document on microfiche in the University of Mississippi Law School Library and converted it to a .pdf electronic document. The Benders provided this electronic copy to the Archives & Special Collections in April 2010.
Political Papers Archivist Leigh McWhite wrote the introductory notes for the finding aid. Digital Initiatives Librarian Jason Kovari encoded the finding aid in April 2010.
No further additions are expected to this collection.
In 1962, the United States government brought an action against the State of Mississippi, state election commissioners and six county registrars in United States v. Mississippi. The suit alleged that the defendants violated the voting rights of African American citizens. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the state had passed laws to restrict African Americans’ ability to vote.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed the complaint, and the United States appealed to the Supreme Court which reversed the decision and ordered the case tried without delay. The Supreme Court decision in March 1965 held that Congress had expressly authorized the federal government to file such actions against a state in order to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment and that the Eleventh Amendment only protected a state against suits brought by a citizen.
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the District Court reconsidered the case… making significant portions of the case moot. Upon remand, the Three Judge District Court entered a decision that Mississippi laws conditioning the right to vote would have no effect during federal supervision required by the Voting Rights Act. The court also ruled that the state and all personnel involved in voting had a duty to place all voters deemed eligible by federal examiners on the voting rolls prior to the June 1966 primary election. The court directed precinct officials to provide illiterate eligible voters with reasonable assistance in casting their ballots, and it also required federal agencies to make available all voting registration records to the Mississippi Attorney General for copying and inspection.
This digital collection makes available pages 387-1276 from the Record on Appeal of United States v. Mississippi (cited as United States v. Mississippi, 380 U.S. 128, 1965). The pages in this selection contain the answers by the United States government to interrogatories propounded by the state of Mississippi and other defendants to the plaintiff (U.S. Government). John Doar, an attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, has written that "In the history of complex litigation, these interrogatory answers set a standard for responses to burdensome interrogatories calling for massive amounts of detailed information. The answers drew upon and organized the collective hard work of a small number of Division attorneys who had labored in the field for two and one-half years." Justice Hugo Black cited and quoted extensively from these answers in his Supreme Court majority opinion, as did Judge John R. Brown in his dissenting opinion in the three-judge court case.
For researchers interested in Mississippi during the segregation and civil rights eras, the information outlined in the interrogatory answers provide detailed data and sources that illuminate the difficulties African Americans faced in Mississippi when they attempted to exercise their right to vote between 1890 and 1963. Since the subject of African American literacy was relevant to voting registration, researchers will also find useful information on the segregated school systems in the state.
Specifically, the interrogatory answers provided by the United States include the following information:
United States v. Mississippi Interrogatory Answers, Archives and Special Collections, J.D. Williams Library, The University of Mississippi
The United States v. Mississippi Interrogatory Answers are open for research and available online (http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/usvms_ia).
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use", that user may be liable for copyright infringement.
More information on the court case United States v. Mississippi is available through the online database Lexis Nexis (access limited to subscribing institutions like the University of Mississippi Libraries).
Special Collections also possesses another publication from the United States v. Mississippi case: Kenneth D. Kemper, Restrictions on Negro Voting in Mississippi History: Appendix to the Brief of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amicus Curiae (New York: Record Press, ). Call Number: KFM7011.5 N4 R3.