Ellen L. Lutz papers, 1942-2010


56.3 cubic ft., 1 audio-visual media, 255 digital objects
Call Number: MS177

Ellen Louise Lutz (1955-2010) devoted her life to the defense and advocacy of human rights as a prolific lawyer, teacher, writer, world traveler and activist. She worked in several positions at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from 1995 through 2004, eventually serving as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law and as Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (2000-2003).

Read more about Lutz, Ellen L.

Contents of the Collection

This collection contains research material and notes, publication drafts, correspondence, lectures, conference papers, and project files that span 1960 through 2010, documenting Ellen Lutz’s life experiences and career in human rights, international law, mediation and conflict resolution. The collection includes correspondence from friends in Uruguay during the early 1970s; material regarding her travels in South America in the 1970s and 80s, particularly her work in Uruguay; photographs from her work as an election supervisor in Bosnia in 1997; photographs and itineraries from her participation in the 2003 Colombia Delegation with Congressman James McGovern; drafts and research for Cultural Survival’s 2008 petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding human rights violations against the indigenous Ngobe tribe by the Government of Panama; and her work for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Fletcher and the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, and Cultural Survival. Topics covered include reparation, torture, universal jurisdiction, accountability, democracy, human rights in Latin America, transitional justice, alternative dispute resolution, and the application of negotiation and mediation skills in human rights advocacy.

Series Description

  1. Personal files, 1963-1986

    This series contains personal correspondence, diaries, schoolwork, job applications and other non-professional material dating from 1963 to 2004, with the bulk of the material from 1963 to 1986. A significant portion of this series consists of correspondence with family and friends from Ellen’s year as an exchange student in Uruguay in 1971-72. After her return to the United States Ellen continued her correspondence with friends in Uruguay, much of which dates from the period directly preceding and following the establishment of the military regime in 1973.

  2. Research materials and field investigations regarding victims of the military juntas in Uruguay, Argentina and Chile , 1976-1985

    This series contains correspondence, reports and project files regarding torture and human rights violations by the military junta in Uruguay, as well as newspapers, pamphlets and other literature regarding political prisoners and abuses by military Juntas from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. The material dates from 1978 through 1985, and roughly a third of it is in Spanish. About half of the material is labeled “Uruguay” and dates from Lutz’s time working as Amnesty International’s Campaign Assistant for Latin America in Washington, D.C. (1978-1979) and then as their Western Regional Organizer in San Francisco (1980-1982). In a letter dated December 10, 1980 she describes herself as having “taken responsibility for administering much of AIUSA’s work on that country [Uruguay] during the past two years.” (see 001:00010, Uruguay – “AI Correspondence” folder) The other half of the material documents Lutz’s travels in the summer of 1985 to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, where she researched the trial of members of Argentina’s former military government and government assistance for victims of human rights violations (see 002:00016, letter to Margo Picken). Included are two cassette tapes of interviews with Ester Kaufman and Marcelo Parrilli, an Argentine human rights lawyer and founding member of the Center for Legal Social Studies (CELS).

  3. Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union files , 1989-1994

    This series contains presentations, notes, reports, testimony and correspondence. The bulk of the material dates from 1989 to 1994, when Lutz worked as the California Director for Human Rights Watch. Most of the series consists of Human Rights Watch testimony and correspondence regarding the US ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the US ratification of the Torture Convention. Also included are reports from 1991 to 1992 regarding policy brutality and the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the abuse of Rodney King.

  4. Human rights litigation files, 1986-1999

    This series contains complaints, pleadings and motions, amicus curiae briefs, declarations, depositions, judgments, and appeals, as well as material regarding settlement and damages, dating from 1986 to 1999. The material documents human rights litigation in suits brought against the estate of the former President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, and against the Argentine general, Carlos Guillermo Suárez-Mason, as well as some files from Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Alvarez-Machain. Lutz represented clients in both the Marcos and Suarez-Mason cases, and the material covering these cases include working notes and drafts of testimony and briefs.

    1. 4.1. Humberto Alvarez Machain, 1990-1991
    2. 4.2. Ferdinand Marcos, 1986-1999
    3. 4.3. Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason, 1987-1988
  5. Harvard fellowship files, 1993-1995

    This series consists of case literature, articles and notes. The material supports Lutz's research on "evidentiary problems that arise in the context of accounting for violations of human rights," which she conducted as a fellow at Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program in 1994-1995.

  6. Fletcher and the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution files , 1995-2002

    This series contains course material and working files of Lutz from her time at the Fletcher School and the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), dating from 1997 through 2004. The bulk of the series consists of lecture notes, reading lists and syllabi from courses taught by Lutz at Tufts. A few folders and electronic files contain CHRCR material, which includes correspondence planning the establishment of the Center in 2000. Ongoing projects that Lutz worked on while at Fletcher, but that extend beyond her time there, are located in Series 8 (Projects and subject files).

  7. Mediation and arbitration files, 1998-2004

    This series contains mediation course material, applications for American Arbitration Association panels, alternative dispute resolution literature and notes, and case files from the law firm of Buckalew & Lutz, which specialized in labor and public policy arbitration. The bulk of the material dates from 1998 to 2004.

  8. Cultural Survival files, 2004-2010

    This series consists of correspondence, reports and petition materials dating from 2000 to 2010. Most of the material concerns a 2008 petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights titled “Human Rights Violations by the Government of Panama Directed Against Ngobe Indigenous Communities and Individuals in the Changuinola River Valley, Bocas Del Toro, Panama.” The petition was drafted by Lutz, and Cultural Survival was one of the petitioners. A few folders contain general literature regarding indigenous rights and other Cultural Survival projects and activities. Most of the material is in Spanish.

  9. Projects and subject files, 1990-2005

    This series contains subject files, dating from 1983 through 2004. The material concerns Lutz’s various ongoing projects and professional activities, including the 2003 Colombia Delegation with Congressman James McGovern, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution training programs at Fletcher, University of Massachusetts and American University, the Middle East Dialogue Group in Worcester, MA, and the Reducing Political Violence Action Group with Milt Laurenstein. The series also includes many photographs from her work in Bosnia as an election supervisor in September, 1997.

  10. Publications, presentations and conference files, 1985-2008

    This series contains drafts, research material and correspondence regarding articles and books written and/or edited by Lutz, as well as lectures, conference files, and workshop and panel presentations. The material dates from 1980 through 2009, with only a small number of files dating from the 1980s. Most of the lectures and presentations were given by Lutz, but a few were by visiting scholars at Fletcher. A significant portion of this series documents research and drafts for Lutz’s 2009 book, Prosecuting Heads of State. Other topics represented in the material include democracy and human rights in Latin America, human rights and conflict resolution, transitional justice, universal jurisdiction, reparations and accountability.

  11. General research materials, 1970-2010

    This series contains literature collected by Lutz regarding topics in human rights and dating from approximately 1970 through 2010.

Names and Subjects

  • Lutz, Ellen L.
  • Human rights
  • International law
  • Lawyers
  • Latin America
  • Conflict management

Access and Use

Some of the records in this collection are restricted. See the DCA's General Policy on Access for more information about access to records.

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. Please see the DCA's policy on Copyright and Fair Use for more information.

Administrative Notes

Processing Notes

The papers were processed between summer 2011 and fall 2012 by Molly Bruce, a graduate assistant supervised by Susanne Belovari, Archivist for Reference and Collections. Whenever possible, we maintained original order of the material as transferred to DCA. Unfortunately, aside from a few distinct groupings, much of the collection was in disarray, without any discernible overarching original order. The following six series existed in original groupings: Personal files (001), Research material and field investigations (002), Human rights litigation files (004), Harvard fellowship files (005), Mediation and arbitration files (007), and Cultural Survival files (008). Although each of those six series constituted a discernible original grouping, there was no logical order to the material within them. The remaining material was completely disorganized. It was not usually in folders but rather loosely piled in boxes. When appropriate we incorporated some of this material into the six series listed above. We rearranged most of the disorganized material into five new series: Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union files (003), Fletcher and the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution files (006), Projects and subject files (009), Publications presentations and conference files (010), and General research files (011). Upon transfer to DCA the collection contained a lot of secondary and published research material. If such research material was notated by Ellen or interfiled among her project or publication material, it was retained and left in original order. Secondary research materials that were not interfiled among Ellen’s working papers and were not easily available elsewhere were retained in the General research files series (011). Widely available secondary research materials were weeded from the collection. This weeded material included photocopies of journal articles and book chapters, Lexis Nexis print-outs, text books, and government and UN reports. Receipts and personal bank statements were also weeded from the collection and confidentially destroyed. Overall, the material is in good condition, with the exception of a few boxes of Marcos litigation files that were water damaged prior to transfer to DCA. Rusty staples and paper clips were removed, and significantly moldy material was photocopied and the infected originals were confidentially destroyed. There was also a significant amount of fading thermal faxes among the litigation files; these were photocopied and originals were retained along with their copies. The Personal files series includes correspondence from Uruguay written on thin tissue-like paper. Because these letters are so fragile, they were unfolded to be stored flat together with their envelopes in archival sleeves.



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