Henry J. Haldeman vs. United States

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Pictured: Henry Haldeman and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius

Original housed at the Special Collections, the Axe Library, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas

Henry J. Haldeman, the son of Emanuel and Marcet Haldeman-Julius, was born in 1919. He took over the printing press of the Haldeman-Julius company following his father’s death in 1951. In 1963, Henry was arrested for the distribution of obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, and filthy, in violation of the Comstock Act (18 U.S. Code § 1461). Despite this, he continued to operate the press until a fire destroyed it in 1978.


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Opening Brief for Appellant Henry J. Haldeman, circa 1963-65

In 1963, Henry Haldeman was convicted for distribution of obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, and filthy, in violation of the Comstock Act (18 U.S. Code § 1461). There were several expert witnesses called to the stand during this case. Joseph Rubenstein from the KU libraries was called to the stand to outline that the books Haldeman was indicted for distributing were part of the KU libraries collections. Dr. Lawrence Bee, a professor at KU, was also called to the stand.  Haldeman and others felt that this was a wrongful conviction which led to Haldeman appealing the decision.

This document is the opening brief for Henry J. Haldeman in his appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Within this document, Haldeman’s lawyers Sam A. Crow and Stanley Fleishman outlined the ways in which the indictment of Haldeman was unconstitutional. They outlined four reasons:

  1. It violated the first amendment.
  2. The court erroneously instructed the jury on the Law of Obscenity.
  3. The conviction without any requirement of proof by Appellee (United States) violates the first and fifth amendments.
  4. Conviction for mailing books appellant believed were not obscene violates the first and fifth amendment.

This court case would lead to the conviction of Henry J. Haldeman being reversed due to the reasons outlined above and the testimony of expert witnesses.


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Henry Haldeman to Laird Wilkins [Wilcox], March 30, 1964

Laird Wilcox, a student at the University of Kansas in the 1960s, began amassing a collection of political literature as a teenager. KU libraries bought his collection – comprised of four filing cabinets of materials – in 1965 and began the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements. The collection is housed at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, where it has grown into one of the largest assemblages of left- and right-wing U.S. political materials in the world.


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Letter from Laird Wilcox to Henry Haldeman, June 29, 1964

This is one of many letters between Wilcox and Haldeman in which donations for Haldeman’s defense fund were discussed. Haldeman received donations from all over the United States and beyond, with one contribution coming from as far away as Czechoslovakia. Most donations came from Lawrence residents, including several KU faculty members.


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Letter from ACLU to Laird Wilcox, June 5, 1964

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) felt that Henry Haldeman’s conviction by the United States federal government was an unjust conviction and a violation of the First Amendment. In this letter to Laird Wilcox they outline their intentions to help Haldeman with his appeal. This was a promise that the ACLU made good on, helping Haldeman win his appeal and be his conviction reversed.