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Collection Number: 04431

Collection Title: Lawrence Carmen Roush Papers, 1946-1987

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 550 items)
Abstract Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other material documenting the life of Lawrence Carmen Roush, salesman, social activist, and militant atheist. Roush wrote prolifically to newspaper editors about various social, economic, and religious issues, 1960s-1985. These papers consist largely of clippings of Roush's letters to editors of North Carolina newspapers concerning religion, capital punishment, civil rights, gun control, prison reform, and other matters; and material concerning a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina to force the removal of a prayer from the official state highway maps.
Creator Roush, Lawrence Carmen, 1920-
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Lawrence Carmen Roush papers #4431, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Lawrence C. Roush of Wilson, North Carolina, in December 1985, July 1986, and January 1987.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Lawrence Carmen Roush was born 1 July 1920 in Elmira, New York, the only son of an illiterate, Italian immigrant. During World War II, he served three years in the United States Navy. After the war, he attended Sampson College, Sampson, New York, 1948-1949. He graduated from George Washington University in May 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and began work on a master's degree there until his G. I. Bill funding ended in 1952.

From 1952 to 1954, Roush worked in the business department of the Library of Congress. In 1954 he became a traveling salesman for Lincoln Institute, a correspondence college in Illinois, retaining that position until 1979. (The organization went bankrupt in 1979.) During most of this period, he lived in Fayetteville and Wilson, North Carolina. In 1962, Roush began writing frequent letters to newspaper editors on various social, economic, and religious issues. Roush achieved much public attention because of his public opposition to religion and his dedication to Free Thought.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other material documenting the life of Lawrence Carmen Roush, salesman, social activist, and militant atheist. Roush wrote prolifically to newspaper editors about various social, economic, and religious issues, 1960s-1985. These papers consist largely of clippings of Roush's letters to editors of North Carolina newspapers concerning religion, capital punishment, civil rights, gun control, prison reform, and other matters; and material concerning a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina to force the removal of a prayer from the official state highway maps.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1963-1983; 1985.

50 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Letters chiefly to Roush from government and political officials, usually in response to Roush's letters to them. The letters to Roush are typically brief, formal replies with little substance. Notable correspondents include U. S. Supreme Court Justices Hugo L. Black, William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, UNC President William Friday, Hubert H. Humphrey, James B. Hunt, Jr., James G. Martin, Richard M. Nixon, Nelson A. Rockefeller, and General W. C. Westmoreland.

Three items of interest are letters from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (30 October and 5 November 1963) relating to Roush's criticism of the bureau and J. Edgar Hoover, and one from James G. Martin (19 February 1985) responding to Roush's criticism about his apparent lack of interest and concern in aiding the poor. Correspondence about the "Motorist's Prayer" Case is in Series 3.

Folder 1

Correspondence 1963-1983 #04431, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1963-1983; 1985." Folder 1

Folder 2a

Correspondence 1985 #04431, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1963-1983; 1985." Folder 2a

Folder 2b

Correspondence 1986 #04431, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1963-1983; 1985." Folder 2b

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Printed Material, 1962-1985.

About 440 items.

Clippings of Roush's letters to various newspaper editors, chiefly from North Carolina newspapers. Roush wrote on a wide range of social, economic, and religious issues. Topics include religion, capital punishment, civil rights, gun control, and prison reform. Clippings in folder 23 consist of biographical information about Roush. Roush gained public notoriety because of his militant atheism, public opposition to religion, and his dedication to Free Thought.

Folder 3-4

Folder 3

Folder 4

Clippings 1962-1963 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 3-4

Folder 5

Clippings 1964 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 5

Folder 6

Clippings 1965 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 6

Folder 7

Clippings 1966 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 7

Folder 8

Clippings 1967 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 8

Folder 9

Clippings 1968 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 9

Folder 10-12

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Clippings 1969 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 10-12

Folder 13-14

Folder 13

Folder 14

Clippings 1970 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 13-14

Folder 15-16

Folder 15

Folder 16

Clippings 1971-1972 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 15-16

Folder 17

Clippings 1973 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 17

Folder 18

Clippings 1974-1976 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 18

Folder 19

Clippings 1984-1986 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 19

Folder 20

Clippings Gun Control, 1963-1964, 1970, 1973-1974 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 20

Folder 21

Clippings Prison Reform, 1968-1971, 1974-1985 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 21

Folder 22

Clippings Religion, 1964, 1967, 1980 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 22

Folder 23

Clippings About Lawrence C. Roush, 1975, 1980, 1985 #04431, Series: "2. Printed Material, 1962-1985." Folder 23

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers, 1946, 1949, 1974-1981, and undated.

About 75 items.

Correspondence, clippings, legal items, and other material relating chiefly to the "Motorist's Prayer" Case, a lawsuit brought by the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union to force the removal of a prayer from the official state highway map. Roush was a co-plaintiff in the case. Additional items include two copies of Roush's college newspaper (The Arrowhead/Sampson College, New York), and a copy of his student activities record at Sampson College.

Folder 24

"Motorist's Prayer" Case 1974 #04431, Series: "3. Other Papers, 1946, 1949, 1974-1981, and undated." Folder 24

Folder 25

"Motorist's Prayer" Case 1975-1981 #04431, Series: "3. Other Papers, 1946, 1949, 1974-1981, and undated." Folder 25

Folder 26

Miscellaneous, 1946, 1949, n.d. #04431, Series: "3. Other Papers, 1946, 1949, 1974-1981, and undated." Folder 26

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Processing Information

Processed by: Connie Cartledge, January 1986; Mark Beasley, January 1987

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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