From Segregation to Integration: 
The Donald Murray Case, 1935-1937

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 260-6400
Internet: mdsa.net
e-mail: archives@mdsa.net

Introduction

Donald Gaines Murray was the subject of the court case University v. Murray, 169 Md. 478 (1936).  In 1936, Murray petitioned for a writ of mandamus ordering that he be admitted to the segregated University of Maryland School of Law.  Thurgood Marshall, Murray's lawyer, argued that Murray was denied "separate but equal" treatment because he was denied access to an accredited local law school.  Court of Appeals Judge Carroll T. Bond ruled that, in order to accommodate Plessy v. Ferguson, Murray could attend the institution but he had to remain separated from white students.  Marshall, who sought to undermine segregation on the level on higher education, later helped ban racial segregation in public schools by arguing in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954) that "separate but equal" was an impossible principle to realize.

SOURCE: Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series) Donald Gaines Murray, MSA SC 3520-12494

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)

STANDARD 3:  The causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. role in world affairs. 

Standard 3C: The student understands the effects of World War II at home. 

7-12: Evaluate how minorities organized to gain access to wartime jobs and how they confronted discrimination. [Formulate a position or course of action on an issue] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Article by Africanorum
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  May 15, 1783
    SOURCE: Maryland Gazette Collection, MSA SC 2311-18
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-1.

  2. DESCRIPTION: de facto and de jure segregation: Augusta and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1896
    SOURCE: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-18.

  3. DESCRIPTION: Photograph of Donald Gaines Murray from his 1934 Amherst yearbook, Olio
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1934
    SOURCE: Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-2.

  4. DESCRIPTION: Profile of Donald Gaines Murray from his 1934 Amherst yearbook, Olio
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1934
    SOURCE: Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-2.

  5. DESCRIPTION: Plaintiff's exhibit number 1 (Donald G. Murray to Dean of the Law School) 
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  December 8, 1934
    SOURCE: BALTIMORE CITY COURT (Court Papers) MSA C 174-2-6. 
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-2.

  6. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore City Atlas, 1906, showing McCulloh Street and environs. MSA SC 2179-1-1, MSA SC 2221-11-3.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  
    SOURCE: 
    REPOSITORY: 

  7. DESCRIPTION: Plaintiff's exhibit number 2 (R.A. Pearson to Donald G. Murray) 14 December 1934; petitioner's exhibit A (admission application) n.d.; plaintiff's exhibit number 4 (W. M. Hillegeist to Donald G. Murray) 9 February 1935; plaintiff's exhibit number 5 (Donald G. Murray to the Board of Regents) 5 March 1935; plaintiff's exhibit number 6 (R. A. Pearson to Donald G. Murray) 8 March 1935; petitioner's exhibit A (postal money order) . MSA C 174-2, .
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  1934-1945
    SOURCE: BALTIMORE CITY COURT (Court Papers) MSA C 174-2.
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-4

  8. DESCRIPTION:  Docket entry of Petition of Donald G. Murray for a Writ of Mandamus directed to the President, the Registrar, and the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland requiring them to accept the application of the petitioner for admission as a first year student in the Day School of the School of Law of the University of Maryland.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  April 18, 1935
    SOURCE: BALTIMORE CITY COURT (Petition Docket) GCL #13, 1930-1936, p. 284 [MSA T 549-10]
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-5

  9. DESCRIPTION: Stenographer's Record, Donald G. Murray vs. Raymond A. Pearson, et al. 18 June 1935; plaintiff's exhibit number 10; writ of mandamus 25 June 1935. 
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  1935
    SOURCE: BALTIMORE CITY COURT (Court Papers) [MSA C 174-2]
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-6

  10. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Afro-American.  
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  Week of June 22, 1935
    SOURCE: Courtesy of the McKeldin Library, University of Maryland
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-7

  11. DESCRIPTION: Number 53 October Term 1935: petition to advance case for an immediate hearing 6 August 1935
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1935
    SOURCE: COURT OF APPEALS (Miscellaneous Papers) [MSA S 397-94]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-8

  12. DESCRIPTION: Number 53 October Term 1935: answer to petition to advance 31 August 1935
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1935
    SOURCE: COURT OF APPEALS (Miscellaneous Papers) [MSA S 397-94]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-8

  13. DESCRIPTION: Number 53 October Term 1935: opinion, filed 15 January 1936
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1936
    SOURCE: COURT OF APPEALS (Opinions) [MSA S 393-229]
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-8

  14. DESCRIPTION: Folder labled "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 27th Annual Conference, Baltimore, June 30 to July 5th, 1936," containing correspondence between Governor Harry W. Nice and Thurgood Marshall, and between Governor Nice and Mrs. Lillie M. Jackson in March 1937, with enclosures. 
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  1936-1937
    SOURCE: GOVERNOR (Subject File) #613-L-M [MSA S 1046-97]
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-9

  15. DESCRIPTION: Commencement announcement, University of Maryland
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: June 4, 1938
    SOURCE: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Thurgood Marshall Memorial Collection) MSA SC 4565
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-17

  16. DESCRIPTION: Esther McCready, Charles Houston, Donald Gaines Murray, and the desegregation of the University of Maryland School of Nursing
    SOURCE: Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-16

  17. DESCRIPTION: Photograph of Thurgood Marshall
    CREATED/PUBLISHED:  ca. 1989
    SOURCE: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Thurgood Marshall Research Collection) National Geographic Society photograph. MSA SC 2219-1
    REPOSITORY: 
    Maryland State Archives, Documents for the Classroom Series, MSA SC 2221-11-10

Additional Media Resources

Thurgood Marshall: Reference Materials prepared for the Consideration of the Commission on the Thurgood Marshall Memorial Statue in Annapolis

The Thurgood Marshall Memorial, State House Square, State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland

"Frustrations that Overcame Marshall" by Denton L. Watson, Baltimore Sun, 1 July 1991, MSA SC 2221-11-15.

"The Most Important Lawyer of the 20th Century" by Garland L. Thompson, Baltimore Sun, 30 June 1991, MSA SC 2221-11-14.

Baltimore Sun, obituary of Floyd McKissick, 30 April 1991, MSA SC 2221-11-13.

"Victory in Baltimore" Clarence Mitchell Jr. and the Struggle for Civil Rights by Denton L. Watson, Baltimore Sun, 20 June 1990; and letter to the editor re Denton Watson's article, Baltimore Sun, 6 July 1990, MSA SC 2221-11-12.

Baltimore Sun, obituary of Donald Gaines Murray, 10 April 1986, MSA SC 2221-11-11.

Selected Chronology

The United States Constitution and Individual Civil Rights

1776- Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ...

1783, May 15- Vox Africanorum in the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis)
We have lately beheld, with anxious concern, your infant struggles in the glorious cause of liberty We attended to your solemn declaration of rights of mankind to your appeals, for the rectitude of your principles, to the Almighty, who regards men of every condition, and admits them to a participation of his benefits We admired your wisdom, justice, piety, and fortitude.

Though our bodies differ in colour from yours; yet our souls are similar in a desire for freedom. Disparity in colour, we conceive, can never constitute a disparity in rights. Reason is shocked at the absurdity! Humanity revolts at the idea!

1788, May 16- Othello in the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser:
SLAVERY, unquestionably, should be abolished, particularly in this country; because it is inconsistent with the declared principles of the American Revolution. ... This is the least we can do, in order to evince our sense of the irreparable outrages we have committed, to wipe off the odium we have incurred, and to give mankind a confidence again, in the justice, liberality, and honour, of our national proceedings.

1791, December 15- the first ten Amendments (Bill of Rights) to the U.S. Constitution are declared officially ratified.

1802- Universal white manhood suffrage adopted by Maryland. Free Blacks excluded from voting.

1833- Barron v. Baltimore. Opinion written by Chief Justice John Marshall: amendments to the Constitution do not protect individuals from actions taken by the respective states or local jurisdictions.

1857- Dred Scott v. Sandford (not fully overturned until 1954-1955). Opinion written by Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney of Maryland: the negro had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.

1864- Slavery abolished in Maryland with the adoption of a new State Constitution.

1865- 13th Amendment abolishes slavery.

1868- 14th Amendment calls for due process for all.

1870- 15th Amendment extends voting rights to black men, naturalized males of age.
The initial review of the 13th through the 15th Amendments by the Supreme Court left interpretation and enforcement largely to the states.

1883- U. S. v. Singleton (Civil Rights Cases). left enforcement of civil rights to the states, but a vigorous dissent was written by Justice John Marshall Harlan, using (according to tradition) Roger Brooke Taney's inkwell.

1896- Plessy v. Ferguson (overruled in Gale v. Browder, 1956). Established separate but equal doctrine in civil rights; dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan.

1908- Berea College v. Kentucky. States could order segregation in private colleges; dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan.

1915- Voting rights cases decided by the Supreme Court including Meyers v Anderson in which the voting rights of a black Civil War veteran from Annapolis, Maryland were reinstated. In 1908, the Maryland Legislature passed a new City Code for Annapolis that denied blacks the right to vote if they had less than $500 worth of property or if a parent, grandparent, or direct ancestor was not permitted to vote before 1868 (known as a grandfather clause). The Supreme Court found this and other similar laws contrary to the provisions of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, but left the door open for other kinds of restrictions such as those based upon literacy tests and the nonpayment of poll taxes.

1920- 19th Amendment grants women the right to vote.

1935-1936- [Maryland Courts] Murray v. Pearson. Court orders integration of the University of Maryland Law School.

1936-1937- NAACP fails in its attempt (with Thurgood Marshall as counsel) to integrate Catonsville High School in Baltimore County, Maryland. NAACP successful in obtaining equal pay for black teachers in segregated schools in Calvert County, Maryland. State of Maryland greatly increases funding to black colleges in Maryland and to scholarships for blacks. NAACP successful in preventing an amendment to the Black Scholarship Fund that would have required recipients to attend out-of-state colleges.

1954-1955- Brown v. Board of Education (2 cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court). Court ordered integration of secondary public schools and, on matters of individual rights, the Court adopted as its majority opinion that the Bill of Rights does apply to individuals in disputes between individuals and their state and/or local government, and that enforcement of those rights can be a federal matter.

1964- 24th Amendment abolishes poll taxes as a means of preventing participation in federal elections.

1971- 26th Amendment gives 18 year-olds the right to vote.

Additional Instructional Resources 

Resources on Incorporating Primary Sources and Historic Sites in Classroom Instruction

The Learning Page: Lessons by Themes, Topics, Disciplines or Eras

Secondary Resources

Associated Heritage Sites and Preservation Organizations

Credits

The Archives of Maryland Documents for the Classroom series of the Maryland State Archives was designed and developed by Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse and Dr. M. Mercer Neale and was prepared with the assistance of R. J. Rockefeller, Lynne MacAdam, Leigh Bond, Matt Brown, Laura Lisy, and other members of the Archives staff. MSA SC 2221-11. Publication no. 1844.

For further inquiries, please contact Dr. Papenfuse at:
E-mail: edp@mdarchives.state.md.us
Phone: MD toll free 800-235-4045 or (410) 260-6401

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© Copyright, Maryland State Archives, June 23, 2004