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COLLECTION Identifier: LAW-MMC-036

W. Barton (Walter Barton) Leach papers


Contents of this collection relate to Leach's teaching career, professional activities, service in the Air Force during World War II, and involvement in national defense matters. Includes material relating to his role as consultant to the Air Force, 1946-1966, his work with Harvard University's Defense Policy Seminar, which he founded, and drafts of an incomplete autobiography.


  • Creation: 1920-1971


Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.


Copyright for these papers has not passed into the public domain. Permission to publish is required.


45.5 linear feet (84 boxes)

The 16,000 items in the papers of Walter Barton Leach (1900-1971) span the years 1920 to 1971, with the bulk of the papers falling within the 1940 to 1970 period. The collection includes correspondence; memoranda; minutes of meetings; reports; transcripts; press releases; government and other forms and form letters; official documents; legislative bills; financial statements; drafts and outlines of speeches and writings; typed manuscripts; proof sheets; lecture notes; lists; tables; news clippings; printed items; photographs; one phonograph record.

The papers of Walter Barton Leach relate to his professional life and activities as law teacher and legal scholar (1930-1971); his service in the American Air Forces during World War II (1942-1945); his role as a consultant to the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of the Air Force (1946-1966); his founding and work with the so-called Defense Policy Seminar, established at Harvard University in 1954; and his involvement in national defense matters beginning in the early 1950's. There are drafts of several sections of an autobiography which 4dBL had planned but which was not completed. The Leach Papers also include manuscripts of most of his published and unpublished speeches and occasional pieces such as anecdotes and poems.

The correspondence files of WBL include both letters received and carbons of letters sent. There is a complete file of carbons, the so-called "dictation file", in chronological order, covering the years 1958 through 1970; carbons are bound, each volume covering a six-months' period. Among Professor Leach's correspondents were:

  1. Robert Amory
  2. Robert R. Bowie
  3. Edward W. Brooke
  4. Harold Brown
  5. JosephS. Clark
  6. James B. Conant
  7. ArchibaldCox
  8. R, Ami Cutter
  9. James If. Douglas
  10. Robert F. Drinan
  11. Trevor N. Dupuy
  12. Herbert B. Ehrmann
  13. Thomas K. Fin letter
  14. Felix Frankfurter
  15. James M, Gavin
  16. Arthur L. Goodhart;
  17. Murray Green
  18. JohnM, Harlan
  19. Christin A. Herter
  20. Edward F.Kennedy
  21. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (President of theU.S.)
  22. Robert F. Kennedy
  23. Henry A.Kissinger
  24. Laurence S. Kuter
  25. Curtis E.LeMay
  26. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
  27. James K,Logan
  28. Glen W, Martin
  29. Bernard Law Montgomery(Field Marshal)
  30. Lauris Norstad
  31. Frank Pace,Jr.
  32. Thomas S. Power
  33. Nathan M. Pusey(President of Harvard University)
  34. Donald A.Quarles
  35. Fred Rodell
  36. LeverettSaltonstall
  37. Sir John C. Slessor
  38. StuartSymington
  39. Telford Taylor
  40. BarbaraTuchman
  41. Nathan B. Twining
  42. Hoyt S.Vandenberg
  43. Raymond S. Wilkins
  44. Charles E.Wyzanski, Jr
  45. Eugene M, Zuckert.

Historical/Biographical Information

  • January 6, 1900b. Boston, Massachusetts. s. Walter Barton and Grace Winifred (Wise) L.
  • 1921A.B., cum laude, Harvard University
  • Summer 1920Graduate student, Universite de Grenoble,
  • 1924LL.B., cum laude, Harvard Law School
  • 1924m, Florence T. Malcolm; divorced, 1941
  • 1944m. Jane Mcllwraith; deceased, 1963
  • 1964m. Blanche C. Bartlett
  • 1924-1925Secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1925Admitted to Massachusetts bar
  • 1925-1930Engaged in general practice of law in Boston, associated with the firm of Warner, Stackpole & Bradlee
  • 1929Instructor in law, Harvard Law School
  • 1930Assistant professor of law, Harvard Law School
  • 1931-1960Professor of law, Harvard Law School
  • 1960-1969Story Professor of law, Harvard Law School
  • 1954-1969Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration
  • 1952Visiting professor, Oxford University
  • 1947Consultant to U.S.A.F.
  • 1918Served as private, Infantry, U.S. Army
  • June 1942Commissioned major, U.S. Army
  • January, 1943Lt. col. Air Corps
  • August, 1944Col., Air Corps
  • 1949Brig, general, 11.5. Air Force Reserve
  • 1945Legion of Merit
  • 1949Exceptional Civilian Service Award
  • December 15, 1971d. Waltham, Massachusetts
Author of:

  1. Cases on Future Interest, 1935
  2. Cases on Massachusetts Law of Evidence, 1935
  3. Cases on Mills, 1939; revised edition, 1960
  4. Handbook of Massachusetts Evidence, 1940; the third edition (with John T. McNaughton), 1956; 4thedition with Paul J. Liacos, 1967)
  5. Cases and Text on Property (with A. James Casner), 1950; second edition, (with A. JamesCasner), 1969
  6. The Rule against, Perpetuities (England, with J.Ii.C. Morris), 1955
  7. The Rule against Perpetuities (U.S., with Owen Tudor), 1957
  8. Cases and Text on Future Interests and Estate Planning, 1961 (with J, K. Logan)
  9. Also author of articlesin legal and other periodicals
  10. Co-author of American Law of Property, 1952

Series List/Description

This collection is grouped into two contingencies. The first is arranged in eight series. The second is arranged into four of the initial given eight series.

  1. Contingent I.
  2. ___Series I. General Correspondence (Unbound)Correspondence is mainly of a professional nature. Topicsdiscussed in the letters include publications by WBL and by hiscorrespondents, employment matters of former students, nationaldefense matters in general way, studies at Harvard and other placesin the field of military defense.Correspondents includeprofessional colleagues, persons in Massachusetts and nationalpolitics, Harvard alumni, news media editors, members of the armedservices of the United States and Great Britain. Correspondenceconsists of letters received and carbons of letters sent. Asubstantial amount of correspondence is with various members of theCenter for International Affairs at Harvard University, a divisionunder the Graduate School of Public Administration. In 1954, WBLhelped establish the Defense Policy Seminar at the Center, and he wasinstrumental in procuring many of the Seminar's guest lecturers suchas Field Marshall Montgomery. Of interest are the folders relating toWBL's activity as an advisor to John F. Kennedy during the 1960presidential election.Important correspondents: U.S. SenatorsJoseph Clark, Edward Brooke and Stuart Symington, U.S. Supreme CourtJustices Felix Frankfurter and John Harlan, Henry Kissinger, Sir JohnSlessor, Telford Taylor, and Barbara Tuchman.
  3. ___Series II. General Correspondence (Bound)This is a so-called "dictation file" of carbons of letters sentout by WBL. Carbons were bound in chronological order, each volumeconvering six months of a given year. The period covered is January1, 1958 to December 31, 1970. In content, the series is similar tothe unbound correspondence series.
  4. ___Series III. Teaching NotesThis seriesrelates primarily to courses on Property (conveyancing, wills, futureinterests, perpetuities) with some material on Evidence andContracts. Boxes 19-24 contain loose-leaf books filled with notes andassignments. Boxes 25 and 26 contain unbound notes, correspondencewith students, and material for a manual (never published) for lawstudents.
  5. ___Series IV. Writings and ResearchThisseries relates to books, articles and speeches by WBL and to materialon perpetuity reform throughout the world. It consists of notes,drafts, research material, final typewritten manuscripts and reprintsof some of WBL's writings and speeches as well as correspondenceabout specific subjects or specific pieces of writing. A substantialpart of this series deals with the three casebooks (on wills,property and future interests) put together by WBL, alone or inconjunction with others.This series begins with books by WBL,arranged alphabetically by author or co-author. Speeches and articlesare then arranged chronologically by date of publication or delivery.Research material on perpetuities reform is at the end, arrangedalphabetically.
  6. ___Series V. Defense StudiesThe majorportion of the material in this series concerns matters relating tothe Defense Policy Seminar which WBL helped establish at Harvard in1954. Other groups of material deal with WBL's involvement innational defense matters beginning in the early 1950's, and witharticles and speeches of WBL advocating a strong defense force. Thematerial has been left in its original arrangement. Dates covered are1951-1966.
  7. ___Series VI. Harvard MiscellanyThisseries consists of correspondence with colleagues, speeches atmeetings of Harvard Clubs and Harvard Law School Associationsthroughout the country, and material relating to the Harvard LawReview, the Harvard Law School Model Trial, the Leach Club, and otherHarvard University activities. Period covered is1930-1970.
  8. ___Series VII. Biographical and Other MiscellanyThis series contains clippings, photographs, correspondence,and typewritten drafts for a proposed autobiography (unpublished) byWBL. There is a good deal of material relating to his activities inthe United States Air Force; also a section on legal poetry. Theseries is arranged alphabetically.
  9. ___Series VIII. U.S. Air ForceProfessorLeach's Air Force files consist chiefly of material relating to hisservice with the American Air Forces during World War II andsubsequently with the United States Air Force, both active serviceand service after retirement. Files include his reports and memorandarelating to operations analysis; material relating to his work as aconsultant; appointments and travel orders; correspondence concerningspecial missions; material relating to investigations of particularstrategic weapons or aircraft; recommendations regarding the U.S. AirForce Academy at Colorado Springs and other Air Force schools.The series contains a sizeable amount of correspondence withvarious staff officers. Among Professor Leach's major correspondentsare: Harold Brown, James B. Conant, James H. Douglas, Jr., Thomas K.Finletter, Murray Green, Henry A. Kissinger, Laurence S. Kuter,Curtis S. Power, Donald A. Quarles, Stuart Symington, Nathan P.Twining, Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Eugene M. Zuckert.All of thismaterial is now de-classified.
  10. Contingent II.
  11. ___Series IX. General Correspondence (Unbound)
  12. ___Series X. Defense Studies
  13. ___Series XI. Harvard Miscellany
  14. ___Series XII. Air Force

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Walter Barton Leach, professor of law, legal scholar, and consultant on military affairs to the U.S. Government and the Armed Services, were presented as a gift to the President and Fellows of Harvard College by Professor Leach's widow, Blanche C. Leach. The letter of gift, dated 24 October 1972, states that this gift "is intended for the use and benefit of the Harvard Law School".

Processing Information

Processed by Danny Brudney, August 1973.

Leach, W. Barton (Walter Barton), 1900 -1971. Papers, 1920-1971: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University
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.

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