Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: LAW-MMC-401

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. papers Digital


Assorted material that document Charles Ogletree, Jr.’s career as a Harvard Law School professor, author, and legal theorist from 1970-2007.

The collection's digital content can be accessed directly through the individual folders described in this finding aid, as well as by downloading the following document:
Master document (provides access to digital content)


  • Creation: 1970-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1981-2004


Language of Materials

The majority of the collection is in English but it also includes a small amount of Chinese and Hebrew language materials.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. Physical access to the collection is restricted for preservation purposes. The collection is in the process of being minimally arranged, described, and digitized. Digital content will be released and open to the public on a rolling basis. Closed material has been removed from the digital content due to the presence of one or more of the following: restricted personal, financial, or health information, student and/or university records, and/or to protect attorney-client privilege and attorney work product. Please consult the 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 the Historical and 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.


559 linear feet (623 boxes)

The Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. papers consist of approximately 559 linear feet of mixed material created and assembled by Charles Ogletree from 1970-2007. The papers document Ogletree's career as a Harvard Law School professor, author, and legal theorist with interests in comparative law, international law, race and the law, and criminal law. Material related to Ogletree’s activities at Harvard Law School include the opening of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, the Trial Advocacy Workshop course, and Saturday School. The collection also includes material related to some of his work beyond Harvard, with two smaller subsets of material being of particular note. These are Ogletree’s involvement in a 2003 reparations lawsuit filed on behalf of survivors of the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Massacre, as well as his involvement with the Reparations Coordinating Committee during the early 2000s, and its efforts to file lawsuits against agencies of the U.S. federal and state governments on behalf of the descendants of enslaved Africans. The collection includes course and other professional material, case and client files, correspondence, research files, and a smaller amount of audio-visual material, art and objects, bound published material, newspapers, and ephemera.

Biographical / Historical

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. is a native of Merced, California, where he attended public schools. Professor Ogletree earned an M.A. and B.A. (with distinction) in Political Science from Stanford University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He also holds a J.D. (’78) from Harvard Law School. He worked as a public defender in the District of Columbia from 1978-1985 and began teaching law as an adjunct professor at both Antioch Law School and American University School of Law between 1982 and 1984. In 1985, Ogletree became a partner in Jessamy, Fort & Ogletree. He became an assistant professor at the Harvard Law School in 1989 and was appointed the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law in 1998. Ogletree also founded the Saturday School program – a forum for students to engage in constructive dialogue with professors, legal practitioners, elected officials, judges, and others – in 1988, oversaw the HLS Trial Advocacy Workshop in 1989, established the school’s Criminal Justice Institute, and founded the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice in 2005. Ogletree’s name became well known in the United States when he represented Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings to the U.S. Supreme Court. He also represented the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa (Oklahoma) Race Massacre as they sought reparations, advocated for victims of racial profiling, and spoke in favor of reparations for descendants of enslaved persons. Ogletree’s areas of interest as a professor and scholar include capital punishment, clinical legal education, comparative law, criminal law, international law, and race and the law.

Other Finding Aids

An inventory of the processed material that is not yet available to the public, as well as a partial box inventory of the unprocessed material, is available at the repository. Please consult Historical & Special Collections staff for further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Pamela Ogletree in September, 2022.

Content Warning

Please be aware that this collection includes graphic images of crime scenes including images of murder victims. Specific images are noted in the individual folders described in this finding aid, as well as in the “Ogletree Master Document” located at the top of the finding aid. Please consult Historical & Special Collections staff for further information.

Release Schedule

Digital material from the collection will be released publically on a rolling basis until the project is complete. Digital material that is currently available can be accessed directly through the individual folders described in this finding aid, as well as by clicking on the links to the “Ogletree Master Document” located at the top of the finding aid.

  1. The first batch of material was released on October 3, 2023 and comprises 33 boxes totaling approximately 30 linear feet of material. These include documents related to Ogletree’s work regarding the Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Massacre and with the Reparations Coordinating Committee. Also included are documents from Ogletree’s activities at Harvard Law School, including the opening of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, the Trial Advocacy Workshop course, and Saturday School. Records in this batch of boxes and folders include articles and press clippings, briefs, motions, memoranda, course materials, correspondence, event files, reports, and other assorted research materials.

Processing Information

In an effort to make material open and available to as many users as possible, as quickly as possible, work on the collection is utilizing a minimal processing and mass digitization workflow initiated by Harvard Law School Library staff. The ultimate goal of the project is to produce a fully digital collection that is open for free to anyone with internet access. In accordance with the project plan, all of the material was appraised for content, restrictions, condition issues, and its overall suitability for rapid digitization. To date, the collection has been completely rehoused and is currently in the process of being refoldered (as needed), described, and prepared for digitization by HLSL staff. Description of the collection is at the folder level using the original folder titles whenever possible. Original order is being maintained throughout processing and digitization as closely as possible.

Staff at Harvard Library Imaging Services began scanning materials in the collection in late 2022, and digital objects are being created at the folder level. Once digitized, every item is reviewed by HLSL staff for quality and content before it is made available to the public. Closed material is removed from the digital objects and replaced with a target image that reads "Restricted material not digitized." Entirely closed folders are noted both in this finding aid and in the collection's master document.

The collection was appraised, processed, prepared for digitization, and reviewed by Harvard Law School Library Historical & Special Collections and Digital Initiatives staff, including: Kylie Baker, Jessica Chapel, Margaret Dalton, Evgenia Diakonenko, Alex Dunn, Jane Freiman, Mara Gregory, Emma Hayden, Katie Kerekes, Ed Moloy, Leanne Pierson, Paola Salazar, Chris Spraker, Alan Tong, and Brianna Turner.

Funding to digitize this collection was made possible by Harvard Library's EDIBA (equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism) Digitization Program.

Harvard Law School Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

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.

1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Langdell Hall
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-4550