What is in the Modern Manuscripts Collection?
In 1964 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote to Professor Alexander M. Bickel of the Yale Law School, “…all my private papers pertaining to my work as an Associate Justice are eventually to go into your keeping for ultimate permanent deposit in the Harvard Law School.” These papers became the nucleus of the Harvard Law School Library’s Modern Manuscript Collection.
This collection contains the papers of eminent nineteenth- and twentieth-century jurists, legal educators, and attorneys. Representative of the collection are the papers of:
In addition to these personal papers, the collection also includes the records of important law cases and selected organizations, such as:
- The Sacco-Vanzetti case
- New England Watch and Ward Society
- Ruhleben British Civilian Internment Camp
- Lotta Crabtree will case
- Records of the Wood Detective Agency
The Modern Manuscripts also include over 440 small collections of individual letters and documents of personal papers or records relating to legal matters. Most of these date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Modern Manuscript Search Tools
The following tools can assist you in your research:
- HOLLIS for Archival Discovery: the central access point for Harvard University’s archival and manuscript finding aids. With HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, researchers may search finding aids from the Law School Library and across Harvard, view the full text of a finding aid, and search by keyword within that finding aid.
- Check out the HOLLIS for Archival Discovery research guide for search tips.
- To learn more about how archives and manuscript collections are created by people and organizations, acquired by libraries, analyzed by archivists, opened for research, and used by researchers, review The Hows and Whys of Finding Aids, created by Harvard’s Houghton Library staff.
For preservation purposes, if a manuscript has been microfilmed or digitized (or if any facsimile is available), researchers must use the digital or microfilm copy.
How do I find out if a manuscript collection has been digitized?
A growing number of the Law School Library’s Manuscript collections have been digitized, either in whole or in part, as a result of the Library’s ongoing effort to preserve our collections and make them more accessible.
- Look for links to digitized content in HOLLIS for Archival Discovery finding aids. You can also browse by “Digital Materials.”
- Visit the ProQuest History Vault American Politics and Society module, “Law and Society since the Civil War: American Legal Manuscripts from the Harvard Law School Library.” Eleven modern manuscript collections, listed below, were microfilmed by University Publications of America and later digitized by ProQuest. You must have a HarvardKey to use this resource remotely.
- You do not need an appointment with Historical & Special Collections to view material on microfilm. The collection is paged by Access Services with a turnaround time of one business day so please plan accordingly. Check out the guide on using microforms at the Harvard Law School Library for more information.
- Louis D. Brandeis Papers, 1881-1966
- Zechariah Chafee Jr. Papers, 1898-1957
- Richard H. Field Papers, 1932, 1942-1978
- Felix Frankfurter Papers, 1900-1965
- Sheldon Glueck Papers, 1916-1972
- William Hastie Papers, 1916-1976
- Albert Lévitt Papers, 1817-1968
- Sir Frederick Pollock Correspondence, 1848-1937
- Roscoe Pound Papers, 1888-1964
- Sacco-Vanzetti Case Records, 1920-1928
- Explore Harvard Digital Collections.
- Explore CURIOSity Digital Collections: Curated views that provide specialized search options and unique content.