For information about access, permissions, and citations, please consult our Modern Manuscripts FAQ.
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 Joseph Story, Simon Greenleaf, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Learned Hand, and Roscoe Pound, among others.
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, the New England Watch and Ward Society, the Ruhleben British Civilian Internment Camp, the Lotta Crabtree will case, and the 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.
To search the Modern Manuscripts Collection:
If you are interested in researching any of the Modern Manuscript collections, in addition to HOLLIS, you should consult the central access point for Harvard University’s archival and manuscript finding aids, HOLLIS for Archival Discovery. 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. To learn more about how to search HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, review this research guide. 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.
Some of the Law School Library’s Manuscript collections have been digitized as part of the Library’s ongoing effort to preserve our collections and make them more accessible to scholars. These collections, which include parts of Harvard’s collection of Nuremberg Trials documents, are listed on our digital collections page. For preservation purposes, if a manuscript has been microfilmed or digitized (or if any facsimile is available), researchers may no longer access the original manuscript and must use the digital or microfilm copy.
For additional information, please see our Modern Manuscripts FAQ. If questions remain, please contact:
Edwin Moloy, Curator of Modern Manuscripts
Image credit: Oliver Wendell Holmes to Felix Frankfurter, November 11, 1927, Mark DeWolfe Howe Research materials relating to life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1858-1968. Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections, Box 2, Folder 19.