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Carol Ruth Silver Collection

Identifier: NEJL-038

Scope and Contents

The records include materials from Carol Ruth Silver's services as a legal services attorney in the 1960s, the early days of the legal services program. They include files from Berkeley Neighborhood Legal Services, California Rural Regal Services Delano Office, Alamada County Legal Aid Society Fruitvale Office, and material from Silver's consulting work for the NLADA in Alaska. They cover the period from 1967-1971.


  • 1967 - 1972



All rights reserved by Georgetown University Law Library unless otherwise noted.

Biographical / Historical

Carol Ruth Silver attended the University of Chicago, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1960 and her JD in 1964. She was one of only five women in her law school class. In 1961, she joined the Freedom Riders, and rode a bus bound for Jackson, Mississippi. She recalled in 2011: "On June 2, 1961, I got on a bus in New York bound for Jackson. The bus went to Nashville, where we wrote our wills. When we arrived in Jackson, on June 7, I went into the bus station waiting room marked 'Colored.' I took three steps and was arrested and transported to the city jail." (Sam Whiting, Catching Up with Carol Ruth Silver, S.F. Chronicle, April 14, 2011.) After spending 40 days in jail, the group was released on bail. The charges were dismissed only after a successful appeal to the US Supreme Court. In 2014, she published a book about her experiences: Freedom Rider Diary: Smuggled Notes from Parchman Prison. University Press of Mississippi, 2014. After law school, Silver returned to the South to intern with civil rights lawyer Floyd B. McKissick. From there she went to California and worked as a legal services lawyer with Berkeley Neighborhood Legal Services, California Rural Legal Services Delano Office, and Alamada County Legal Aid Society Fruitvale Office. She also consulted for the NLADA in Alaska. She introduced the use of paralegals, and improved the office management by introducing forms for the most common problems of her indigent clients. In 1977, Silver was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where she worked closely with the mayor George Moscone and fellow supervisor Harvey Milk, both of whom were shot to death in City Hall in 1978. During her three terms, she spearheaded progressive legislation, such as rent control, limits on condominium conversions, and – with Harvey Milk -- co-sponsored an anti-discrimination ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in housing and employment. In 2007, Silver became the directing attorney for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Prisoner Legal Services program, but resigned from that position in 2009 protesting a system that supported the War on Drugs. She has founded and been active with a number of organizations, including the Chinese American International School, and the Afghan Friends Network, which supports schooling for Afghan girls and women, and Master Teachers by Satellite for Afghanistan.


5.2 linear feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by CRS to the NEJL on January 13, 2003.

Finding Aid for the Carol Ruth Silver Collection (Coll. 38)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the National Equal Justice Library Repository

Georgetown University Law Library
111 G. Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001