Citizens Committee for Decent Publications

September 23, 2011

Example of a poster Evanston newstands displayed to indicate they were complying with the committee's code of decency.

The week of September 24th – October 1st is Banned Books Week. It made me think of a file of newspaper clippings we have here at the Evanston Library on the Evanston Citizens Committee for Decent Publications. The committee was formed in 1958 as the result of a petition with widespread support that was presented by Alderman Willliam Nott to Mayor John R. Kimbark protesting the exhibition and sale of obscene literature in Evanston. The appointments of four Evanstonians to the Committee were quickly confirmed. According to an Evanston Review article from 1959, the purpose of the group was to “effect restraints upon dealers, wholesalers and distributors of objectionable publications.” Newsstands that cooperated in the program and stopped selling objectionable publications were awarded posters indicating that they were complying with the committee’s code of decency. The ACLU made public their position against the committee in an Evanston Review article in which they stated “we question both the constitutionality and the propriety in a democratic society of the enforcement of purely private tastes and moral standards upon the community as a whole.” Visit the third floor of the library to view the file about the committee and to learn more about this interesting piece of Evanston’s history.

Rika G.


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