Following in this puritanical stride, “Banned in Boston” became the catch-phrase for censorship of literary works because the “Watch and Ward Society” compelled Boston’s city officials to ban anything they found offensive. It was not until the Warren Court (1953-1969), Supreme Court Justices under Chief Justice Earl Warren, upheld civil liberties that censorship was reduced in Boston. The last major literary battle was over Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. It was banned in Boston in 1962 for obscenity, but the decision was overturned in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Today, Banned Book Week is supported by the American Library Association (ALA), the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The ALA actively “advocates in defense of the rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. A publicly supported library provides free and equal access to information for all people of that community. We enjoy this basic right in our democratic society. It is a core value of the library profession.”
The ALA website has much history and lots of lists of banned books. Their motto is: “Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.”
Stop by the library and read a banned book today. A brochure of Banned Books is also available.