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Ellen L. Lutz Papers

Call Number: MS177

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960 -- 2010
  • Creation: 1942 -- 2010


Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have been transferred to Tufts University.

Biographical / Historical

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).

Lutz’s interest in human rights began in 1971-1972, when she traveled to Uruguay as a high school exchange student and witnessed the turbulent months preceding the military dictatorship. “The experience profoundly altered my life and laid the foundation of my career as a human rights lawyer and law professor,” she wrote in her 1999 Fulbright application. “The military’s response a year later forever altered my perception that democracy and the protection of human rights could be assumed. If such repression were possible in tiny, historically democratic Uruguay, it could happen anywhere.” She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University in 1976 and a Master’s in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr in 1978. From 1979 to 1981 she worked for Amnesty International, first as a Campaign Assistant for Latin America in Washington, D.C., and then as their Western Regional Organizer in San Francisco, CA. She earned her law degree from UC Berkeley in 1985. In 1986 and 1987 she worked as an Associate Attorney for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. During this period, she and her first husband, Glenn Randall, advocated for legal, medical and psychological assistance for victims of torture. From 1989 to 1994, Lutz served as the California Office Director for Human Rights Watch, where she researched and publicized human and civil rights violations in Mexico and represented clients in groundbreaking human rights cases against former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Argentine General Carlos Guillermo Suárez-Mason.

In 1994 she moved with her husband and two children to Westborough, Massachusetts, where she became involved in community initiatives, founding the Westborough Community Land Trust in 1997, serving as Chair of the Westborough Open Space Preservation Committee, and facilitating Worcester’s Middle East Dialogue Group. In 1999 she partnered with Timothy Buckalew to establish Buckalew & Lutz, a Westborough firm specializing in labor and employment law, public policy, and international arbitration and mediation. Meanwhile, she continued her work in human rights as a Visiting Fellow to Harvard’s Human Rights Program in 1994 and 1995. She began teaching at Tufts University in 1995, when she joined the Fletcher School as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law. In 2000 she helped establish Fletcher’s Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, with the mission of teaching the application of negotiation and mediation skills in human rights advocacy. While working and teaching at Tufts, she pursued other professional projects. In September of 1997, she traveled to Sarajevo, Bosnia as an International Election Supervisor for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Working again for Human Rights Watch, Lutz served as Delegate to the Diplomatic Conference to establish an International Criminal Court in 1998. In the summer of 1999 she traveled back to Uruguay as a Fulbright Fellow at the Universidad de la Republica Law School in Montevideo. In 2003 she joined Congressman James O. McGovern’s Mission to Colombia to evaluate the impact of U.S. policy and armed conflict on Colombian civil society.

In 2004 Lutz left Tufts University for the position of Executive Director at Cultural Survival (CS). Through her work at CS, she met her future husband, Theodore (Ted) Macdonald. She worked for CS until just a few weeks before her death in 2010. In a memoriam written for Lutz on behalf of CS, the author describes her accomplishments for the organization: “She led Cultural Survival into Native American language revitalization; she started a program to submit Indigenous rights reports to the UN Human Rights Council; she launched our first on-the-ground human rights investigation in Kenya; she oversaw Cultural Survival’s merger with Global Response; she helped organize congressional hearings on Indigenous rights[…] And that’s the short list.” Throughout her career, Lutz collaborated with other human rights advocates to publish dozens of articles and books, including the two most recent volumes, Prosecuting Heads of State (2009) and Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in Context (2009). Colleagues in the human rights community she has worked closely with include Eileen F. Babbitt, Hurst Hannum, Paul Hoffman, Caitlin Reiger, Naomi Roht-Arriaza, and Kathryn Sikkink.

Ellen Lutz passed away on November 4, 2010 at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


45.89 Linear Feet (37 record cartons, 2 legal size document boxes, 1 half letter size document box, 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder )

1 Audiovisual Object(s)

255 Digital Object(s)


This collection is organized into eleven series: Personal files; Research materials and field investigations regarding victims of the military juntas in Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile; Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union files; Human rights litigation files; Harvard fellowship files; Fletcher and the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution files; Mediation and arbitration files; Cultural Survival files; Projects and subject files; Publications, presentations, and conference files; General research materials

Processing Information

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.

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States