Legal History Resources

The history of school desegregation in Boston covers several decades of legal battles between parents, civil rights organizations, the Boston School Committee, the state Board of Education, the Boston Teachers Union, and other parties. To make this history more approachable, this page offers several resources that details the timeline and significance of various cases, particularly the 1974 landmark case Morgan v. Hennigan.

Case Summaries & Histories

Judge W. Arthur Garrity, 1978.

Morgan v. Henningan [Boston School Desegregation Case] - Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse at the University of Michigan Law School

The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse at the University of Michigan Law School compiles profiles of and resources on important civil rights cases in the United States. The website presents a thorough summary of the Morgan v. Hennigan case from the initial filing in 1971 through the final decision of an appeal in 1991, along with annotated transcripts of important case documents. For educators, the website also offers curricular materials and resources aimed particularly for students Grade 8 through college focusing on modern civil rights litigation.

Guide to the Law Department records, Morgan v. Hennigan and related cases files - City of Boston Archives and Records Management Division

Records from the City of Boston’s Law Department document the activities of the department on three cases related to school desegregation from 1967-1979. While the materials are not digitized, the collection guide produced by the City of Boston Archives provides a useful historical note that contextualizes the Morgan v. Hennigan case alongside two previous “School Cases” brought against the City in 1967 and 1970.

Reading Morgan v. Hennigan - Union of Minority Neighborhoods

The Union of Minority Neighborhoods’s Boston Busing/Desegregation Project website, Truth, Learning and Change presented a summary of the 1974 Judge Garrity decision in Morgan v. Hennigan on its 40th anniversary. The summary condenses the 50-page decision to key points interspersed with direct quotes.

Digitized Case Files

Many of the case files from the National Archives in Boston are digitized and available on their site and searchable as part of the Boston School Desegregation Collection through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) widget. Case files are organized by the which court where the case was brought to. The following is a brief overview of what records are available and where to find them in the National Archives online catalog.

Opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Wendell Arthur Garrity, 6/21/1974

Records Group 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States

Series: Tallulah Morgan et al. vs James W. Hennigan et al. Case File, 1972 - 1995

Series: Civil Action Case Files, 1938 - 1999


Boston '75: Anti-Racism Action Project: An Advertisement Supporting the Desegregation of the Boston Public Schools System, ca. 5/1975

The NAACP March on Boston in Support of the Desegregation of Boston Public Schools, ca. 5/1975

Record Group 276: Records of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, 1891 - 1992

Series: Appellate Case Files, 1891 - 1998


85-1249. Tallulah Morgan, et al. v. John A. Nucci, et al.

85-1447. Tallulah Morgan, et al. v. John A. Nucci, et al.

85-1900. Tallulah Morgan, et al. v. John A. Nucci, et al.