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Judith Holmes legal papers on Susan Rosenberg

Identifier: SSC-MS-00806

Scope and Contents

This collection contains court documents and legal records documenting Susan Rosenberg's case, appeals, and pardon. Files include court documents and transcripts, memos and correspondence, parole and clemency applications, FBI files, research, press clippings, and files documenting support for Rosenberg and her parole appeals.

While the records were collected by lawyer Judith Holmes when she represented Timothy Blunt, Susan Rosenberg's codefendant, they do not cover Blunt's defense.

Dates of Materials

  • 1981 - 2000

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Holmes has assigned the copyright in her works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Holmes, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Judith Holmes was a lawyer who represented Susan Rosenberg's case and a senior lecturer at UMass Amherst. Holmes recieved her B.A. from Chicago University in 1973 and her J.D. from Catholic University in 1976. Holmes because a lawyer in New York, and eventually joined with Susan Tipograph to create Holmes & Tipograph law firm in New York City. She represented many civil rights activists, including Kuwasi Balagoon of the Black Liberation Army and Susan Rosenberg of the May 19th Communist Organization. In 1992 she got her M.A. from University of Massachusetts and in 1996 she recieved her Ph.D. from the same University. Her disertation was titled "The politics of anticommunism in Massachusetts, 1930-1960." She went on to lecture at UMass Amherst until her retirement in 2014. In her time there she was a Senior Lecturer, the Undergraduate Program Director for Legal Studies, and the Associate Director of the Writing Program for Junior Year Writing.

The case that is represented in this collection is Susan Rosenberg's 1984 charges for possession of explosives and later appeals. Susan Rosenberg was active in the New Afrikan and Puerto Rican independence movements and even more active in the May 19 Communist Organization, a coalition consisting of the Black Liberation Army and one faction of the former Weather Underground. In 1982, accused of assisting in the 1979 prison escape of Assata Shakur, Rosenberg went underground. She was also accused of driving the getaway car in the 1981 Brinks robbery that led to the deaths of two police officers and an armored-car guard in upstate New York. She was captured in 1984, along with Timothy Blunt, while transferring guns and explosives from a car into a Cherry Hills, New Jersey storage unit. Found guilty of the illegal possession of firearms and explosives, Blunt and Rosenberg were each sentenced to fifty-eight years in jail. Many at the time felt the unusually long sentences were due to the revolutionary beliefs both expressed throughout their trial. She served sixteen years before President Bill Clinton pardoned her on his last day in office, January 20, 2001.


2.604 linear feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



The Judith Holmes legal papers on Susan Rosenberg contain court documents and legal records documenting Susan Rosenberg's case, appeals, and pardon. These records were collected by lawyer Judith Holmes when she represented Timothy Blunt, Susan Rosenberg's codefendant in the 1984 charges for possession of explosives and later appeals.


Files have been left in the order they were recieved from Judith Holmes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Recieved from Judith Holmes in 2013.

Related Materials

Information related to Susan Rosenberg's experience in prison can be found in the Susan Rosenberg papers.

Processing Information

In 2020, while processing the Susan Rosenberg papers, Madison White and student assistant Grace Hartley moved materials received from Judith Holmes into their own separate collection. This collection was created as a result. When Holmes sent materials to the archive, it was already well housed and weeded for anything that might breach attorney–client privilege with Timothy Blunt. Therefore, files were left essentially as we had received them from Holmes. A new finding aid was created to reflect the organization for the new collection.

Finding aid to the Judith Holmes legal papers on Susan Rosenberg
Enhanced Finding Aid (Completed)
Grace Hartley and Madison White
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-05-22: Created new finding aid to reflect processing

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063