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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS1347560

Erwin N. (Erwin Nathaniel) Griswold papers


Material covers Griswold's professional career as teacher, scholar, and private consultant, also his public service. Among his papers one significant group pertains to his work as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Other material relates to his legal writings, and to special trips he took to Africa and Russia.


  • Creation: 1925 - 1994


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 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the 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 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.


1 collection (361 boxes, 3 Paige boxes)

The papers of Erwin Nathaniel Griswold (1904-1994) span the years 1925 to the 1994, with the bulk falling in the 1934 to 1967 period.

The collection includes correspondence (both letters received and carbons of letters sent); agenda; minutes of meetings; memoranda; reports; legal and legislative documents; clippings, reprints, and other printed items; drafts; manuscripts of published and unpublished writings including two travel journals; and a small amount of memorabilia such as honorary degree certificates. Photographs have been transferred to the Law Library's Art Collection.

Erwin Griswold's papers relate to the various aspects of his professional and public activities, with a relatively small group reflecting on his personal life. Perhaps the most interesting group of the papers are the five manuscript boxes of correspondence for the years 1934 to 1939 which is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Correspondence is with law school colleagues on other law faculties, former students, jurists, government officials, law review editors, and personal friends. It is of a predominantly professional nature; however, there is a certain amount of discussion of the current controversies of that period, e.g., President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Court-packing" plan. Later correspondence was kept by Griswold within special subject categories.

Another significant group (17 manuscript boxes) are the papers which Griswold accumulated while serving on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1961-1967). This group includes correspondence between Commission members, memoranda, drafts of reports, fact sheets, statements, press clippings, agenda, minutes of meetings, and directories. It documents, almost day- by-day, Griswold's activities as a Commission member. Included are drafts and analyses of the various chapters of the two reports in which he participated, namely the " Race and Education Report " and the " Urban Report."

A third group which bulks large are the papers generated by Erwin Griswold as a tax expert and consultant on tax matters, both to government agencies and to private companies. Some of the private companies whom he advised were the Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company, American Chicle Company, American Paper Writing Company, and International Hydro-Electric System. His public service as tax consultant included his work for the U.S. Treasury's Advisory Committee on Estate and Gift Taxation (1941-1946).

The SERIES: SPECIAL TRIPS and HAGUE CONFERENCE ON PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW illustrate Griswold's increasing concern, beginning after World War II, with international legal problems and global concerns about war and peace. Griswold became quite an expert on Africa: In 1958 he was called upon to attend the "treason" trial of ninety-two South Africans as an observer, and in 1963 he visited Liberia as part of an educational strategy advisory group. There is also a folder containing a copy of 132 pages of his diary of and report on his visit to Russia in May 1961 to attend an American-Soviet Conference in the Crimea. The Hague Conference on Private and International Law took place 1964, 1965, and 1967. Griswold served as the United States expert. His papers of the Hague Conferences consist of working papers; background material; questionnaires; reports; draft conventions; correspondence, especially with Richard D. Kearney.

Although Dean Griswold was active in many professional organizations, the only ones represented in the Law School's contingent of papers are the American Bar Association's Committee on Professional Relations and the Practicing Law Institute. There is a certain amount of material on his public service other than the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, e.g. the (Massachusetts) Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the U.S. Congress's Joint Committee on the Economic Report; the U.S. Department of Justice's Alien Enemy Hearing Board; and the U.S. Treasury Department. Nine folders contain items related to Griswold's assistantship in the Solicitor General's Office of the U.S. Department of Justice, 1930-1934.

Nine manuscript boxes contain drafts of some of Griswold's writings (excluding his case and textbooks); five of these are various drafts of his first book, SPENDTHRIFT TRUSTS (first edition, 1936). Two of the manuscript boxes hold reprints of a great number of his articles.

Finally, the papers contain miscellaneous Harvard Law School and personal items, e.g., letters of congratulations upon his appointment as Dean in 1946; papers relating to his opening of the Bodleian Law Library complex in 1964; programs of special Law School events which occurred during his Deanship; lecture notes; and a large amount of clippings, arranged in roughly chronological order and covering the years 1946 to 1974. Many of the clippings relate to Griswold's public criticism of Senator Joseph McCarthy and Griswold's stand on and writings about the Fifth Amendment issue.

The papers contain three over-size scrapbooks: two relate to his attendance at the South African "treason" trial in 1958, one relates to his stand on the School Prayer decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1963.

Biographical note

Erwin Nathaniel Griswold

  • July 14, 1904Born in East Cleveland, Ohio. Son of James Harlen and Hope Erwin Griswold
  • 1925College: Oberlin College - A.B., A.M.
  • 1928Law School: Harvard - LL.B summa cum laude
  • 1929Harvard Law School, S.J.D.
  • December 30, 1931Married Harriet Allena Ford; children: Hope Eleanor (Murrow), William Erwin
  • 1929Bar Admissions: Ohio
  • 1932Bar Admissions: Supreme Court of the United States
  • 1935Bar Admissions: Massachusetts
  • 1973Bar Admissions: District of Columbia
  • 1929Practiced with Griswold, Green, Palmer & Hadden (Cleveland)
  • 1929-1934Attorney in Office of the Solicitor General (Washington, D.C.)
  • 1934-1935Assistant Professor, Harvard Law School
  • 1935-1946 Professor, Harvard Law School
  • 1946-1950Dean and Charles Stebbins Fairchild Professor, Harvard Law School
  • 1950-1967Dean and Langdell Professor, Harvard Law School
  • 1967-1973Solicitor General of the United States (Washington, D.C.)
  • 1973Partner, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (Washington, D.C.)
  • 1941-1945Member, Alien Enemy Hearing Board for Massachusetts
  • 1942Consulting expert, U.S. Treasury Department
  • 1961-1967Member, U.S. Civil Rights Commission
  • 1975Member, Commission to Investigate Domestic Activities of the CIA
  • 1936-1981Trustee, Oberlin College; 1981- - honorary trustee
  • 1942-1949 Trustee, Bradford Junior College
  • 1942-1946Trustee, Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association
  • 1938-1967Trustee, Harvard Law Review Association
  • 1971-1974President, American Bar Foundation
  • 1957-1958President, Association of American Law Schools

Honorary Degrees:

July 14, 1904
Born in East Cleveland, Ohio. Son of James Harlen and Hope Erwin Griswold
College: Oberlin College - A.B., A.M.
Law School: Harvard - LL.B summa cum laude
Harvard Law School, S.J.D.
December 30, 1931
Married Harriet Allena Ford; children: Hope Eleanor (Murrow), William Erwin
Bar Admissions: Ohio
Bar Admissions: Supreme Court of the United States
Bar Admissions: Massachusetts
Bar Admissions: District of Columbia
Practiced with Griswold, Green, Palmer & Hadden (Cleveland)
Attorney in Office of the Solicitor General (Washington, D.C.)
Assistant Professor, Harvard Law School
Professor, Harvard Law School
Dean and Charles Stebbins Fairchild Professor, Harvard Law School
Dean and Langdell Professor, Harvard Law School
Solicitor General of the United States (Washington, D.C.)
Partner, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (Washington, D.C.)
Member, Alien Enemy Hearing Board for Massachusetts
Consulting expert, U.S. Treasury Department
Member, U.S. Civil Rights Commission
Member, Commission to Investigate Domestic Activities of the CIA
Trustee, Oberlin College; 1981- - honorary trustee
Trustee, Bradford Junior College
Trustee, Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association
Trustee, Harvard Law Review Association
President, American Bar Foundation
President, Association of American Law Schools


  1. L.H.D. Tufts College, 1949, Case Instituteof Technology, 1950
  2. LL.D. University of BritishColumbia, 1949, Brown, 1950, University of Sydney, 1951, Universityof Melbourne, 1951, Dalhousie, 1952, Harvard, 1953, Amherst College,1953, Columbia, 1954, University of Richmond, 1954, Brandeis, 1956,University of Michigan, 1959, Northwestern, 1960, Notre Dame, 1961,Allegheny College, 1961, University of Toronto, 1962, WilliamsCollege, 1966, Tulane, 1968, Boston College, 1968, Princeton, 1968,Ripon College, 1972, Suffolk, 1973, New York Law School, 1978,University of Bridgeport, 1982, Oberlin College, 1982.
  3. D.C.L. University of Western Ontario, 1961, University ofToronto, 1962, University of Edinburgh, 1963, Georgetown, 1963,Oxford, 1964, D. Litt. - Western Reserve University, 1967

Bar Association memberships:

  1. Fellow, American Academy of Artsand Sciences (vice-president, 1946-1948)
  2. Fellow, BritishAcademy (corresponding)
  3. Honorary Bencher, InnerTemple
  4. Member, American Philosophical Society
  5. Member, Phi Beta Kappa
  6. Fellow, American College ofTrial Lawyers


  1. American - member, House of Delegates, 1957-1985;recipient, ABA Gold Medal, 1978 [highest award given by ABA - forconspicuous service to the legal profession and the cause of justicein the United States]
  2. Boston
  3. Association ofthe Bar of the City of New York
  4. Massachusetts
  5. American Law Institute (member of the Council)

Contributor of many articles to professional journals; special lectures; book reviews; In Memoriam remarks. Please see appended bibiography at the end of this inventory.

  1. Spendthrift Trusts, 1936 (2nd ed.,1947)
  2. Cases and Materials on Federal Taxation, 1940 (6thed., 1966)
  3. Cases on Conflict of Laws (with others), 1941(rev. ed., 1964)
  4. The 5th Amendment Today, 1954
  5. Law and Lawyers in the United States (Hamlyn Lectures),1964
  6. Federal Income Taxation: Principles and Policies(with Michael J. Graetz), 1976 [successor volume to Griswold: Casesand Materials on Federal Taxation, 6th ed., 1966]

Series List

  1. Bennett, Hugh M.
  2. Bilder,Nathan
  3. Blodgett, Thomas H.
  4. Brickley,Batholomew A.
  5. Catheron, L.J.
  6. Donovan,J.F.
  7. Freedman, Peter
  8. Hoppenfeld, J.
  9. Hughes, John E.
  10. Kirkpatrick, Charles L.
  11. McEachern, A.J.
  12. Mills, Wilbur D. [U.S.Congressman]
  13. Moore, Edward
  14. Nash, FrederickA.
  15. Palmer, Herbert D.
  16. Paul, RandolphE.
  17. Pepper, George Wharton
  18. Prince, FrederickH.
  19. Robertson, A.H.
  20. Sack, AlexanderN.
  21. Salamune, S.A.
  22. Sanford, HerbertR.
  23. Seligson, Harold P.
  24. Smith,Orville
  25. Stephens, Harold M. [U.S. Circuit Judge]
  26. Taft, Robert A. [U.S. Senator].

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Erwin N. Griswold, September 19, 1978.

Related Materials

For Griswold's official correspondence and other files as Dean of the Harvard Law School, see HOLLIS 604043.

Processing Information

Processed by Erika Chadbourn in 1988.

The Addenda was processed in 2008 by Margaret Peachy, Edwin Moloy, and Mary Eagle.

Griswold, Erwin N. (Erwin Nathaniel). Papers, 1925-1994: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School Library, Cambridge, MA 02138
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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