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The papers of William Lorenzo Patterson (1891-1980), often known as “Mr. Civil Rights,” document the life of the noted political activist, lawyer, orator, organizer, writer and Communist from San Francisco. The papers, which contain correspondence, printed materials, writings, and clippings, span the years 1919-1979. The bulk of the material covers the mid-1950s through 1979 when Patterson lived in New York. The collection measures approximately 15.5 linear feet and mostly highlights Patterson's political activism. His professional career as a lawyer can be analyzed through various cases he worked on through the Communist Party U.S.A. and the International Labor Defense. A view into his personal life can be obtained through his diaries and birthday tributes, as well as in the drafts and galleys of his autobiography, The Man Who Cried Genocide: An Autobiography.