John T. Noonan, Jr. papers
Assorted material created and assembled by John T. Noonan, Jr. from approximately 1966-2017. The collection includes a large amount of case files and other court records from Noonan's judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, including correspondence, as well as approximately 83 feet of material related to Noonan's twenty-year career as Professor of Law at the The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law) from 1966-1986.
The collection also contains a smaller amount of research material including drafts of Noonan's published works and speeches, books, articles, clippings, correspondence, and professional material. Much of this material is related to Noonan's scholarship on Catholicism, specifically canon law; Catholic history and theology; and both the evolution of Catholic teachings and the practice of law in relation to moral and social issues including abortion and reproductive rights, slavery, usury, bribery, religious freedom, divorce, and other topics.
- circa 1912-2017
- Majority of material found within 1966-2017
Language of Materials
The majority of the collection is in English, but it also contains a small number books and journals in Latin, Italian, French, and German.
Conditions Governing Access
Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. A portion of this collection has been minimally arranged and described, and is open to the public. It is housed off-site at the Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. The remainder of the collection is unprocessed and currently closed for research. Please consult Historical & Special Collections staff for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to Historical & Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.
Extent290.42 linear feet (291 boxes)
Biographical / Historical
John T. Noonan, Jr. was born in 1926 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received his BA from Harvard University in 1946, where he was elected Phi Betta Kappa. He then studied English Literature at Cambridge University during 1947, and received his MA and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America in 1951. After earning his LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1954, he went into private practice at the firm of Herrick & Smith in Boston from 1955 to 1960. Noonan held several academic positions, including assistant professor, 1961-1963, and professor, 1963-1966 at Notre Dame University, Robbins Professor of Law at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law) 1967-1985, and Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard University, in 1989. President Ronald Reagan nominated Noonan to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in October 1985, where Noonan attained senior status in December of 1996 and served as judge until his death in 2017. Noonan’s professional and personal lives were heavily informed by his Catholicism. He authored numerous books and articles relating to canon law, Catholic history and theology, and the practice of law in relation to moral and social issues including abortion and reproductive rights. Noonan served in leadership roles for many organizations, including Pope Paul IV’s Commission on Problems of the Family and the Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, and sat on the editorial boards of several legal journals, including the American Journal of Jurisprudence and the Law and Society Review.
Other Finding Aids
A partial inventory of the unprocessed material in this collection is available at the repository. Please consult Historical & Special Collections staff for further information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of John T. Noonan, Jr. in July, 2003, & Mary Lee Noonan in January, 2018.
The first 83 boxes in this collection (accession 2003.16) arrived at HLSL in 2003 and primarily include material related to John T. Noonan, Jr.'s position as Professor of Law at the The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law) from 1966-1986. They also include some material related to the first one-and-a-half decades of his judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The remainder of the collection (accession 2018.66) arrived at HLSL in 2018, and primarily includes case files from Noonan's judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, as well as assorted personal and professional material.
In the spring of 2022, a portion of this collection (36 boxes) was minimally arranged and described by Harvard Law School Library staff in response to a research request. All of this material was re-boxed due to the condition of the original containers, with original order maintained as closely as possible. Select material was also re-foldered due to concerns over condition.
Processed and described by Chris Spraker and Natalie Sinclair.
- John T. Noonan, Jr. papers, circa 1912-2017, bulk circa 1966-2017: Finding Aid.
- Harvard Law School Library
- Description rules
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository
Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.
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