National Consumer Law Center records

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2008.04

Level of description



National Consumer Law Center records


  • 1969-2016 (Creation)


40.50 Linear Feet, 35.00 Boxes

Name of creator


Administrative history

1969        The National Consumer Law Center is founded at the Boston College School of Law 1969-Present Advocated for fairness in the Uniform Consumer Credit code 1969-Present Advocated on behalf of the Truth-in-Lending Act and subsequent revisions as applied to the poor and middle-income families in several states

1972         Participated in the trial of Fuentes v Shevin, asserting unconstitutionality of the Uniform Commercial Code 1972         Participated in the trial of Swarb v Lennox, arguing that Philadelphia business actions violated the right to "due process"

1974        Shaped the implementation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act

1974        Lobbied for the creation of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

1976        Lobbied the Federal Trade Commission to retract a statement on Enforcement Policy, which opened consumers to lender exploitation

1978        Aided in the passage of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. 1980s        Advised on the application of the Unfair and Deceptive Practices Acts (UDPA), including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (1978, 1986) 1984 March  Robert Erwin Offered testimony before the United States Congress Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee on Bill S.2181

1987        Actively opposed the "Depository Institution Deregulation and Monetary Control Act"

1989        Queried the Federal Home Loan Bank Board on regulations concerning time shares

1990        Lobbied for the creation of the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

1990        NCLC presented the Vern Countryman Consumer Law Award to Henry J. Sommers for "leadership in promoting the field of consumer law."  The annual award was given to a legal service or public interest attorney who provided a special contribution to the practice of consumer law on behalf of the rights of low-income Americans.

1994        Advised the Federal Trade Commission on the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act 1996-Present Participated in the enforcement of Federal Reserve System Regulation Z of the Truth-in-Lending Act

1996        Shaped the implementation of an electronic payment of funds system by employers

1996        Argued on behalf of Dorothy McFarland in McFarland v. Southern Division Credit Union, regarding alleged improper loan/debt disclosure.

1997        Offered testimony before the United States Congress on behalf of the Regulatory Relief and Economic Efficiency Act

1999        Began Sustainable Homeownership Group Projects to combat high rate lending abuses

2000        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Broomfield, CO

2000        Organized an ongoing initiative focusing on the providing of affordable low-income access to private energy and public utilities services

2001        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Baltimore, MD

2002        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Atlanta, Georgia

2003        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference Oakland, CA

2004        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference Boston, MA

2005        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference Minneapolis, MN

2006        Organized the Consumer rights and Litigation Conference Miami

2007        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Washington, D.C

2008        After raising $5.5 million over a three year Building for Marketplace Justice Campaign NCLC moves into an 1870s apartment building on the corner of Summer Street and Otis Street in Boston's financial district

2009        Organized the Consumer Rights Litigation Conference and Consumer  Class Action Symposium 2009        Organized the Fair Debt Collection Training Conference in San Diego, CA

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) Records (1968-2015) consists primarily of administrative files, case files, research material, and inter-office memoranda in defense of individuals and small groups against unfair corporate practices and inefficient government oversight. Covering many aspects of twentieth-century consumer movement history, these records shed light on the role of a non-profit organization in advocating fairness on behalf of low-income individuals against corporate practices, the development of the protective consumer-oriented state and federal legislation, and their assistance in providing research, analysis, and experience to other non-profit entities working across the nation.
The Original Files Series, spanning ten boxes in the original collection and an additional one in the addition making eleven in total, gathers into an assortment of NCLC internal memoranda, staff reports, manuals, organizational policy statements, testimonies before state and federal congressional houses and consumer print matter bibliographies. The series also contains material from outside sources, including class action suits, banking, housing, lending and layaway plans of various institutions, debt collection credit rates, laws and individual practices, proposed federal trade regulations, and scams involving vocational schools, and various Universal Consumer Credit Code reports.
Likewise, some individual files contain published articles on subjects of on-going interest to the organization, including Gary Klein’s “Consumer Bankruptcy in the balance: The National Bankruptcy Review Commission’s Recommendations Tilt Toward Creditors” and William Willier’s “If Credit Reporting Agencies are Doing Their Jobs, Is There Really Any need for Collecting Agencies.” Where possible, the original organizational file structure of numerical case files has been retained as a contiguous unit.
The Standing and Advisory Committee Files Series is comprised of two boxes of material arranged in chronological order, which contain internal reports on regularly scheduled committee meetings (beginning in December 1998 and running into the twenty-first century) to address issues affecting the staff of NCLC, including budgetary allocations as well as office and personnel issues. The documents also cover issues relating to the Social and Unity Committees, changes to the internal database, and the role of a staff ombudsperson.
The General Files (Washington, D.C. Office) Series consists of one box, collecting in chronological order documentation on consumer affairs lobbying efforts at the organization’s Washington office, including correspondence, public statements, and newsletters. Some of the issues covered in the files include state oil overcharge allocation decisions involving Exxon, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Coalition on Human Needs, and the proposed re-regulation of interest rates.
The Advocacy and Conference Files (Massachusetts Office) Series spans seven boxes (five are from the original collection while two are from the addition) of material arranged in chronological order and by subject pertaining to material used in NCLC’s annual consumer affairs conferences, including reports on consumer fraud laws, advocacy highlight reports, market failures and predatory lenders, specialist training in consumer affairs as well as consumer manuals and several issues of the Legal Service Corporation Quarterly Report.
The Research Materials Series covers nine boxes of primary source and reference material amassed by NCLC as background for several on-going projects. Some items include different versions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, correspondence with the Federal Trade Commission, VHS tapes of news segments on family loan programs and predatory mortgage lending, bank creditor surveys, savings and loan, and insurance packing cases, reports on changes to credit rates and regulations in the 1970s and 1980s, analyses of different Truth-in-Lending Act iterations, court files relating to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and comments on different drafts of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. Where possible, the original organizational file structure of numerical case files has been retained as a contiguous unit. Those segments of the series which do not possess case numbers have been arranged chronologically by subject.
The NCLC Reports series, added for the purposes of the 2015 addition, consists of one box containing numerous reports officially published by the NCLC on a variety of topics (such as consumer credit, usury, bankruptcy, debt collection, foreclosure, and others of NCLC interest). The dates of these reports range from 1982 to 2013. These reports cover cases that fall in the realm of consumer law and provide teaching tips for consumer rights advocates.
The Media Series, added for the purposes of the 2015 addition, spans one box and covers the chronological span of 1983 to 2016. This series consists of press releases and articles from various media sources (such as journals, newspapers, magazines, and online sources) that make mention of the NCLC and its work, often commenting on cases undertaken by the organization or its publications. These clippings include sources such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and local news sources. They cover a large variety of topics such as student debt, foreclosure, credit card debt, credit unions, and others.
The Printed Materials Series is in one box and contains materials that are published and bound, consisting of publications that span numerous topics and include law journals, Congressional hearings, and bound publications by the NCLC and staff.
The Digital Files Series, added to the collection in 2017, contains 10 digital folders of information pertaining to NCLC. The first two folders include HTML data files from the NCLC website from 2002 and 2016 including many records, and published material for consumers. The third folder contains PDF and Word documents of amicus briefings and the sixth folder contains information from the fair debt collection practices act. Several folders, 4, 5, 8, and 9, contain information in regards to NCLC conferences, press releases, reports, and brochures. Folder seven pertains to mortgage conferences held in 2012, 2014, and 2015 and folder ten includes documentation from webinars given by NCLC staff and personnel from 2009-2015.

System of arrangement

The records have been arranged into five series: 1) Administrative Files; 2) Standing and Advisory Committee Files; 3) General Files (Washington); 4) Advocacy and Conference Files (Massachusetts Office); and 5) Research Materials. The addition recieved in 2015 added on to the previous series and 3 additional series were added: NCLC Reports, Media, and Printed Materials. A final additional series, Digital Files, was added in 2017 after being received in March of 2016.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

It received accession number P2008.04.
The original organizational file structure (a numerical case filing system) of different subjects has been retained as a contiguous unit. The remaining files have been organized by subject and chronology.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Willard P. Ogburn, Executive Director of NCLC
Acqusition Method: Donation.
Acqusition Date: 20080101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

In 2008, the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections at Hale Library, Kansas State University, became the official repository for the historical records (1968-2003) of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). Willard P. Ogburn, Executive Director of NCLC, and Anthony R. Crawford, University Archivist/Curator of Manuscripts of the Morse Department of Special Collections, coordinated the arrangements for this cooperative agreement. As part of the Consumer Movement Archives, the papers provide a subject-based and legal context to over thirty years of the Boston and Washington, D.C. based organization’s national non-profit activities on behalf of low-income consumers seeking economic justice.


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Fifteen binders containing clippings from prominent news organizations were received in January 2019. These have since been processed and added under the Media series.

Related descriptions

General note

See accession record processing notes for further details

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], National Consumer Law Center records, Box [number], Folder [number or title],  Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Paul Thomsen (2008 accrual), Artemis King (2015 accrual)
Processing Info: Processing by Paul Thomsen and Artemis King
Archon processing by Edward Nagurny, graduate research assistant, May 2015.
The collection was assigned the acession number P2008.04.
Publication Date: 2015-05-20

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