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The Jacobus tenBroek Personal Papers

Identifier: 02-02-C2005.1

Scope and Contents

The Jacobus tenBroek papers span from 1924 to 1997 and consist primarily of the personal and professional papers of Jacobus tenBroek. Upon tenBroek's death in 1968, his wife, Hazel tenBroek, continued to add materials to the collection.  The collection includes correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, lists, drafts, notes, legislative documents, legal documents, newspaper clippings, telegrams, financial documents, photographs and photographic negatives, pamphlets, manuscripts of published and unpublished writings and speeches, books and journals, diplomas, awards, and miscellaneous Braille documents. A few sound recordings on talking book records and audio tape are also included in the collection. The major portion of the collection relates to Jacobus tenBroek's work as the founder and president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB); as a professor and legal scholar at the University of California, Berkeley; as a recognized expert on California's social welfare system; and as president of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB). A smaller portion of the collection consists of tenBroek's personal correspondence with family members, friends, and colleagues (1938-1968). Access to some documents, such as student records and legal case files, may be restricted for privacy and attorney-client privilege reasons. Materials pertaining to the founding and early history of the National Federation of the Blind span the years 1924 to1996 (bulk 1939-1977) and document the people, issues, and events that marked the beginning and initial period of a national civil rights movement among blind Americans. Included in this subcollection are NFB constitutions, incorporation papers, meeting minutes, convention minutes and resolutions (1940-1986), correspondence (1940-1996), legislative documents (1935-1974), financial documents, fundraising materials, and NFB publications (1941-1993). Also included are documents related to the right to organize movement (1953-1965), the NFB "civil war" (1958-1962), the rehabilitation and employment of the blind, the fight to receive social security benefits, and the affiliation of state and local organizations of blind consumers into the NFB. This subcollection also includes NFB staff correspondence files (1924-1977) for Jacobus tenBroek, Kenneth Jernigan, Russell Kletzing, Perry Sundquist, Raymond Henderson, John Nagle, George Card, and others. The University of California at Berkeley subcollection (1941-1975) documents Jacobus tenBroek's tenure as a professor and administrator in the Speech and Political Science Departments through class files (1941-1968), correspondence (1950-1968), and department and committee correspondence and meeting minutes (1945-1969). Dr. tenBroek's role at Berkeley as an advocate for academic freedom and free speech are documented by correspondence, speeches, newspaper clippings, and legal documents related to the Free Speech Movement (1964-1966) and the loyalty oath controversy of the 1950's. Documents relevant to tenBroek's work as a legal scholar are included in the Writings subcollection (1931-1967, bulk 1944-1967) in the form of correspondence with collaborators, including Howard Jay Graham (1946-1968); draft manuscripts; conference papers; reprints of law review articles; and published articles and books. The text of speeches (1940-1968) given by tenBroek in his capacity as president of the NFB and IFB, member of the California State Social Welfare Board, and university professor are also included in the Writings subcollection. Dr. tenBroek's interest in the California social welfare system, both as a legal scholar and as a member of the California State Social Welfare Board (SSWB), is reflected by the documents in the California Social Welfare series (1942-1972) of the Personal Files subcollection (1936-1972, bulk 1938-1968). Documents included in this series include state and county agency procedure manuals, opinions issued by the California attorney general, SSWB case files, hearing and court documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and state and county agency statistical data and reports. Other materials included in the Personal Files subcollection include tenBroek's research materials (1937-1970), as well as newspaper clippings, telegrams, cards, and letters that the tenBroek family received upon the death of Jacobus tenBroek. Also included is tenBroek's personal correspondence (1938-1969) with family members, including sister Lillian Preston (1942-1964) and son Dutch (1965-1967), friends, and colleagues, including Berkeley professor Charles Aiken (1939-1960) and Harvard Law professor Thomas Reed Powell (1939-1947). Materials pertaining to the founding and administration of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB) span 1954 to 1984 (bulk 1954-1974) and consist of the IFB constitution, IFB publications (1964-1974), correspondence (1964-1984), convention materials (1969-1979), mailing lists, executive committee correspondence and meeting minutes, fundraising letters, financial documents, and publications of blind consumer groups from throughout the world. Also included in this subcollection is correspondence with leaders of blind consumer groups affiliated with the IFB, including Dr. Fatima Shah of Pakistan (1967-1968), Horst Geisler of Germany (1967-1968), Rajendra Vyas of India (1967-1968), and Tom Parker of Great Britain (1967-1968). Upon the death of Jacobus tenBroek in 1968, his wife, Hazel tenBroek, continued to add to the collection until 1997. Materials related to entitlement programs, and the education and rehabilitation of the blind that were similar in nature to those collected by her husband, continued to be made a part of the collection by Mrs. tenBroek. In addition, the Hazel tenBroek subcollection (bulk 1968-1983) includes correspondence (1965-1993), documents related to the activities of the California affiliate of the NFB (1957-1996), and materials regarding access technology (1969-1977). The correspondence series includes Mrs. tenBroek's personal correspondence, NFB correspondence, drafts, notes, and newspaper clippings. Documents included in the California affiliate series include correspondence, convention minutes and resolutions, affiliate constitution and bylaws, materials related to the Blind Californian, meeting minutes of committees and divisions, and legislative documents. The access technology series includes sales promotional materials on access technology such as closed circuit television, a Braille calculator, and the Optacon. Many of the documents included in the Hazel tenBroek subcollection were acquired by Mrs. tenBroek in her role as associate editor of the Braille Monitor.


  • Created: 1924-1997, undated
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1938-1978
  • Other: Date acquired: 04/00/1998


Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Jacobus tenBroek Library. Materials containing student coursework and grades are subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) restrictions of seventy-five years from the date of creation of the record. Some legal files protected by attorney-client privilege are restricted. Please consult the Archives staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Jacobus tenBroek Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Archives staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Jacobus tenBroek Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

Jacobus tenBroek was born on July 6, 1911, in Alberta, Canada. He was blinded as the result of a childhood accident in the summer of 1918. After the tenBroek family moved from Canada to California in June 1919, Jacobus tenBroek attended the California School for the Blind, where he met teacher and lifelong mentor Dr. Newel Perry, a blind mathematician. Dr. tenBroek received his undergraduate degree in history and master's degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1934 and 1935, respectively. He earned a law degree in 1938 and the Doctor of Juridical Science Degree in 1940 from Berkeley's law school at Bolt Hall. He attended Harvard Law School as a Brandeis Research Fellow from 1939 to 1940. After founding the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) in 1940, tenBroek served as its president from 1940 to 1961 and from 1966 until his death on March 27, 1968. He also served as president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind and the International Federation of the Blind. He was a member of the California State Social Welfare Board from 1950 to 1963, and served as its chairman from 1960 to 1963. In 1942, after working as a tutor and lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School for two years, tenBroek became an instructor in the Speech Department at the University of California, Berkeley. By 1953 tenBroek had been promoted to the position of professor in the Speech Department, and he served as chairman of that department from 1955 to 1961. He transferred to Berkeley's Political Science Department in 1963, where he remained until his death. During the period 1937 through 1966, tenBroek authored over thirty scholarly articles and books on constitutional law, civil rights issues, and social welfare. His Fourteenth Amendment scholarship in "The Equal Protection of the Laws," coauthored with Joseph Tussman and published in 1949 in the California Law Review, and "The Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment," published in 1951, played a role in the Supreme Court's decision to invalidate the separate but equal doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education. His 1966 California Law Review article "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts" stands as a seminal article in the field of American disability law. Hazel Feldheym tenBroek was born on December 19, 1911, and she married Jacobus tenBroek on April 10, 1937. The tenBroeks had three children. Throughout their married life, Hazel tenBroek assisted her husband as a reader, secretary, and research assistant. Upon Jacobus tenBroek's death, Hazel tenBroek was employed by the NFB as associate editor of the Braille Monitor from 1969 through 1976. Hazel tenBroek died on October 7, 2005.

Note written by Lou Ann Blake


399.80 Linear Feet

66 file cabinet drawers, 147 paige boxes, and 154 Hollinger boxes other_unmapped

Language of Materials



Correspondence, manuscripts, publications, teaching materials, research materials, and case files pertaining to the writings, advocacy work, and academic career of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, founder and president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), president of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB) and the American Brotherhood for the Blind, member and chairman of the California State Social Welfare Board, legal scholar, university professor, and civil and constitutional rights activist. Also includes correspondence, research materials, and administrative files of Hazel tenBroek, wife and assistant to Jacobus tenBroek, and associate editor of the Braille Monitor.

Arrangement Note

The collection is currently housed and arranged in its original forty filing cabinets; however, much of the original order does not appear to be intact. It has been indexed electronically and assigned to series at the folder level. The intellectual arrangement is divided into eight subcollections composed of fifty-six series and thirteen sub-series.

The majority of the collection is physically arranged as received with the following exceptions arranged by series:

  • Subcollection 1: University of California, Berkeley Files, 1941-1975, undated
  • Subcollection 2: Records of the National Federation of the Blind 1924-1996, undated, bulk 1939-1977
  • Subcollection 3: Writings, 1931-1968, undated, bulk 1944-1967
  • Subcollection 4: Case Files, 1947-1976, undated, bulk 1955-1973
  • Subcollection 5: Records of the International Federation of the Blind, 1954-1984, undated
  • Subcollection 6: Personal Files, 1936-1970, undated (excluding Series 6: Research Materials, 1937-1970, undated)
  • Loose correspondence from File Cabinet 31, Drawer 3, have been divided by series and put in temporary housing (9 Hollinger boxes).

    Custodial History

    The majority of the collection was gifted to the National Federation of the Blind by tenBroek’s widow, Mrs. Hazel tenBroek, in April 1998. Oversight of the collection was transferred to the Jacobus tenBroek Library after its establishment in 2004. The portion of the collection donated by Jacobus "Dutch" tenBroek was received by the National Federation of the Blind in 2008.

    Source of Acquisition

    Hazel Feldheym tenBroek, 1911-2005; Jacobus "Dutch" tenbroek, 1945-

    Accruals and Additions

    An additional installment was donated in 2008 by tenBroek’s son, Jacobus "Dutch" tenBroek. This addition was rehoused in 2009, and the folder index and series assignment were completed in September of 2017.

    Related Materials

    Related materials providing further information on the National Federation of the Blind and the California Council of the Blind can be found in the following collections at the University of California at Berkeley, Bancroft Library: Aid to the blind in California, 1918-1955: an interview: oral history transcript / 1955 and The California Council for the Blind and other activities of the blind, 1881-1956: oral history transcript / and related material, 1955-1956. Both are additionally available as full text documents at the Internet Archive. For related materials on tenBroek’s book, Prejudice, War, and the Constitution, consult the following collection at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University: The Preliminary Inventory to the Edward Norton Barnhart Papers, 1942-1959. A digital exhibit on the life and work of Jacobus tenBroek is also available online through Digital Maryland, part of the Digital Public Library of America. This exhibit mainly focuses upon Dr. tenBroek's life outside of his work with the NFB and the organized blind movement, including his post-secondary education, initial struggles to find work as a blind man, teaching career, family life, and research projects. These specially selected records span the years 1938-1967 and provide a unique glimpse at his personality, sense of humor, and intelligence. Some materials also touch on the events of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the mid-1960s.

    Other Descriptive Information

    Materials primarily in English, with some correspondence and printed matter in German, French, Spanish, and Arabic, indicated at the folder level. A significant portion of the collection is in Braille based on a system of contractions created by Jacobus tenBroek. Collection originally processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), as part of the project Bringing Blind History to Light.

    Processing Information

    Lou Ann Blake, September 2005-February 2010, and Anna Kresmer, September 2009-February 2010. Finding Aid encoded by Anna Kresmer, March 2010. The accrual donated by Jacobus “Dutch” tenBroek was indexed at the folder-level by volunteers from 2011-2017. Series assignment and a revision to the finding aid were completed in September 2017.

    Archon Finding Aid Title
    Lou Ann Blake and Anna Kresmer
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the Jacobus tenBroek Library, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Repository

    200 East Wells Street
    at Jernigan Place
    Baltimore MD 21230 US
    (410) 659-9314