Current Archives Exhibit

"A woman has a right to control her own destiny": Catherine Roraback and Griswold v. Connecticut.

Exhibition curated by Vanessa King and Emily Corbin.
On view near the Donald W. Fyr Rare Book Room, Level 2.

Roraback watercolor
Estelle Griswold

Image on left: Watercolor of Catherine Roraback, by Robert Templeton.

Image on right: Estelle Griswold on the steps of the Planned Parenthood clinic she opened, with Dr. C. Lee Buxton, in New Haven, Connecticut, 1961.

As executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut in 1961, Estelle Griswold led the legal battle for the elimination of the state’s anti-birth control statute.

This exhibit highlights material from a manuscript collection in the Emory Law Archives that continues to be both legally and politically relevant: the papers of Catherine G. Roraback (1920-2007). Catherine “Katie” Roraback was one of the lead attorneys in the ground-breaking reproductive rights case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965).

In Griswold, the U.S. Supreme Court held a Connecticut law that prohibited the prescription and use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. Griswold established a constitutionally protected right to privacy, and laid the foundation for the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade (1973). Griswold v. Connecticut was recently included in Season Two of C-SPAN’s Landmark Cases: Historic Supreme Court Decisions original TV series.

(Image: As executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut in 1961, Estelle Griswold led the legal battle for the elimination of the state’s anti-birth control statute.)

Catherine G. Roraback papers, 1900-2010.

Catherine “Katie” Roraback, one of the nation’s foremost civil rights lawyers, litigated Griswold v. Connecticut (1965).

The papers of attorney and civil rights activist Catherine G. Roraback include correspondence, printed material, notes, photographs, transcripts of interviews, and memorabilia dating from 1900-2010. The bulk of the collection is collected printed material related to the Black Panthers and the trial of Ericka Huggins. There is also a substantial amount of printed material from the 1970s pro-choice campaigns conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union. There is less material on the birth control cases of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but the collection contains some correspondence about Griswold v. Connecticut and other notable cases, as well as the case file for Trubek v. Ullman. The reproductive rights material in Catherine Roraback’s papers is invaluable for analysis of the early years of the struggle for reproductive rights in historical context.

The Emory Finding Aid for the collection is available here. This collection is open and available for research in the Emory Law Archives located on Level 1 of the Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library.

(Image: Catherine “Katie” Roraback, one of the nation’s foremost civil rights lawyers, litigated Griswold v. Connecticut (1965).)