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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601605

Learned Hand papers


Materials relating to Hand's private and public life, his activities as an alumnus of Harvard University, his friendship with Felix Frankfurter, and to the Hand family. Includes material on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York City; information on the Progressive movement (1909-1914) and the beginnings of the New Republic and its early staff; and transcripts of oral-history interviews conducted by Gerald Gunther of Stanford Law School and others, of Judge Hand, his family and associates.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1840 - 1961


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 the Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. 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.


116 linear feet linear feet (in 235 boxes and 18 paige boxes)

The 65,000 items in the collection of papers of Judge Learned Hand span the years 1892-1961, with a few family biographical items dating back to 1846. The collection includes correspondence, opinions, memoranda, reports, statistical tables, legal documents, drafts of speeches and writings, typescripts of oral history interviews, diaries, address books, ledgers, letter-press books, bills, bank statements, newspaper clippings, photos, maps, printed material, microfilm, files of index cards, and memorabilia.

The largest contingent of this collection of papers consists of Judge Hand's correspondence (115 MSS boxes, approximately 50,000 items). This correspondence contains: a) general matters, other than official correspondence, relating to Judge Hand's everyday life, correspondence with casual acquaintances, matters relating to various clubs of which he was a member, general Harvard matters, social engagements, etc., b) correspondence with close friends which extended over long periods of time; and c) correspondence with the various members of his own family and with his wife's relatives.

The second largest contingent comprises the Circuit Court material (69 MSS boxes, approximately 10,000 items), which consists of the day-to-day business of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, official Court correspondence, reports on the Judicial Conferences, and all of the Memoranda from the time Judge Hand joined the Court of Appeals until his death.

The third most important group of papers consists of the District Court Opinions (9 MSS boxes, approximately 1,000 items), which Judge Hand wrote while sitting on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Since only about one out of four of the District Court Opinions is published in the official reporter series, this series is especially valuable.

Among Judge Hand's major correspondence were: Dean Gooderham Acheson, Charles Lowell Barlow, Gordon Knox Bell, Bernard Berenson, Lawrence Berenson, Robert Pendleton Bowler, Louis Dembitz Brandeis, Edward Burnham Burling, Charles Culp Burlingham, Benjamin Nathan Cardozo, Charles Edward Clark, Morris Raphael Cohen, Herbert D. Croly, Louis Henry Dow, Francis Hackett, Hamish Hamilton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Felix Frankfurter, Augustus Noble Hand, Charles P. Howland, Charles Evans Hughes, Pierre Jay, Walter Lippmann, Philip Littell, Frederic W. Lord, George Rublee, Harlan Fiske Stone, Thomas Walter Swan, Frederick Townsend, Charles Edward Wyzanski, Jr.

The material was left in the arrangement imposed upon it by Judge Hand. For the sake of convenience of consultation, his 160 odd file boxes of correspondence, each covering about four calendar months, were consolidated into larger groupings.

Historical/Biographical Information

b. Albany, NY, 27 January, 1872

s. Samuel and Lydia Coit (Learned) Hand

A.B., Harvard, 1893.

A.M., Harvard, 1894.

LL.B., Harvard, 1896.

LL.D.: Columbia, 1930; Yale, 1931; University of Pennsylvania, 1933; Amherst College, 1938; Dartmouth, 1938; Harvard, 1939; Princeton, 1947; New School of Social Research, 1950; New York University, 1951; Cambridge (England), 1952; State University of New York, 1952; Chicago, 1952; Yeshiva University, 1953; Washington University, 1953; Wesleyan University, 1957.

m. Frances Amelia Fincke, December 6, 1902.

Children: Mary Deshon, Frances Lydia, Constance.

Admitted to New York bar, 1897.

With Marcus T. Hun, Albany, as clerk, 1897-1899.

Member, firm of Hun, Johnston, & Hand, Albany, 1899-1902.

Managing clerk, Zabriskie, Burrill & Murray, New York, 1902-1904.

Member, firm of Gould & Wilkie, New York, 1904-1909.

U.S. District Judge, Southern District of New York, 1909-1924; appointed by President Taft.

Judge, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 1924-1961; appointed by President Coolidge.

Senior Circuit Judge, 1939-1951.

Semi-retired, 1951-1961.

Member and co-founder of the American Law Institute.

Clubs: Association of the Bar of the City of New York, American Bar Association Clubs, Century, Harvard.

d. 18 August, 1961.

Series Description

  1. SERIES 1: General correspondence. 98 MSS boxes. This SERIES is arranged into 5 SUBSERIES:
  2. ___ SUBSERIES A. Period 1: 1897 - April 25, 1909. Boxes 1-11
  3. ___ SUBSERIES B. Period 2: April 26, 1909 - December 19, 1924. Boxes 12-46
  4. ___ SUBSERIES C. Period 3: December 20, 1924 - January 29, 1939. Boxes 47-65
  5. ___ SUBSERIES D. Period 4: January 30, 1939 - May 31, 1951. Boxes 66-83
  6. ___ SUBSERIES E. Period 5: June 1, 1951 - August 16, 1961 June 1, 1951 - August 16, 1961. Boxes 84-98
  7. SERIES 2: Personal Correspondence. 17 MSS boxes.
  8. ___ SUBSERIES A.Extended correspondence. Boxes 99-108
  9. ___ SUBSERIES B. Family correspondence. Boxes 109-115
  10. SERIES 3: American Law Institute. 6 MSS boxes. Boxes 116-121
  11. SERIES 4: Harvard University. 3 MSS boxes. Boxes122-124
  12. SERIES 5: Miscellaneous activities, topics. 7MSS boxes. Boxes 125-131
  13. SERIES 6: Writings: Articles, lectures, speeches,etc. 5 MSS boxes. Boxes 132-136
  14. SERIES 7: Biographical and BibliographicalMaterial. 3 MSS boxes. Boxes 137-139
  15. SERIES 8: U.S. District Court: Opinions. 9 MSSboxes. Boxes 140-148
  16. SERIES 9: U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 69 MSS boxes.
  17. ___ SUBSERIES A. Correspondence of Learned Hand as Senior Circuit Judge Boxes 149-150
  18. ___ SUBSERIES B. Judicial Conference of the U.S. Boxes 151-163
  19. ___ SUBSERIES C. U.S. Administrative Office of the U.S.Courts Boxes 164-170
  20. ___ SUBSERIES D. Judicial Conference of the U.S. Courts: 2d Circuit Boxes 170
  21. ___ SUBSERIES E. Opinions, motions, petitions Boxes 171-177
  22. ___ SUBSERIES F. Memoranda Boxes 178-217
  23. SERIES 10: Miscellany Boxes 218-230
  24. SERIES 11: Addenda Boxes 231-235
  25. SERIES 12: Paige Boxes

    This groupcontains Court records of various types which Hand kept; diaries,personal notebooks, student notebooks, student textbooks, etc. Boxes1-18

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Acquisition Information:

The papers of Learned Hand, attorney and Federal Judge, were presented to the Harvard Law School on June 7, 1966, by Norris Darrell, Esq., executor of the will of Judge Hand.

List of Law Clerks

  1. Adams, Daniel Nelson1935-1936
  2. Aidinoff, M. Bernard 1955-1956
  3. Allan, F. Aley 1945-1946
  4. Barbash, Joseph1948-1949
  5. Bender, Paul 1958-1959
  6. Boskey,Bennett 1939-1940
  7. Calkins, Hugh 1949-1950
  8. Claytor, W. Graham, Jr. 1936-1937
  9. Cooper, James W.1929-1930
  10. Cound, John James 1952-1953
  11. Cox,Archibald 1937-1938
  12. Dougan, Arthur 1934-1935
  13. Dworkin, Ronald M. 1957-1958
  14. Ehrlich, Thomas1959-1960
  15. Finkelstein, Herman 1927-1928
  16. Fisher, Benjamin Chatburn 1951-1952
  17. Friedman,Milton R. 1928-1929
  18. Goldman, Max 1944-1945
  19. Goldman, Robert H. 1943-1944
  20. Gribbon, Daniel1941-1942
  21. Gunther, Gerald 1953-1954
  22. Hallett, Richard M. 1910-1911
  23. Hawes, AlexanderBoyd 1931-1932
  24. Henkin, Louis 1940-1941
  25. Judd, Orrin Grimmell 1930-1931
  26. Kaufman, Charles R.1933-1934
  27. Leiman, Leonard M. 1954-1955
  28. McKusick, Vincent Lee 1950-1951
  29. Richardson, Elliot1947-1948
  30. Schoettle, Fernand Paul, Jr. 1960-1961
  31. Silverberg, Stanley 1942-1943
  32. Scott, Donald A.1956-1957
  33. Von Mehren, Robert B. 1946-1947
  34. Willner, Sidney 1938-1939
  35. Wyzanski, Charles E.,Jr. 1932
  36. Youngman, William 1932-1933


I. U.S. District Court. N.Y. (South. distr.) - Opinions

  1. A.Alphabetical File of Litigants
  2. ___4 drawers (3 x 5cards)
  3. ___Entries for both plaintiff and defendant
  4. ___Date of opinion
  5. ___Reference to Federal Reporter ifpublished
  6. ___Note if reversed later
  7. B. Subject File
  8. ___2 drawers (3 x 5 cards)
  9. ___Subjects with sub-divisions, eg. Admiralty - Fog
  10. ___Reference to case, date, no. in Federal Reporter
  11. ___Brief explanation of circumstances
  12. C. Subject File2 drawers (5 - 8 cards)

II. U.S. Circuit Court (2d circuit) - Opinions

  1. A.Alphabetical File of Litigants
  2. ___2 1/2 drawers (3 x 5cards)
  3. ___Entries for both plaintiff and defendant
  4. ___Date of opinion
  5. ___Peference to FederalReporter
  6. B. Subject File
  7. ___21/2 drawers (3 x 5 cards)
  8. ___Subjects withsub-divisions
  9. ___Reference to case, date, no. in FederalReporter
  10. ___Brief explanation of circumstances


(1) Griffith, Kathryn

Judge Learned Hand - The American Judiciary (Dissertation, probably 1966 or 1967) 318 p. (Catalog number: T 13476)

Obtained from:

  1. Department ofPhotoduplication
  2. The University of ChicagoLibrary
  3. Swift Hall
  4. Chicago, Illinois60637

Dissertation written for Department of Political Science, University of Chicago


Clark, Fred G. How We Live. 1944

Congress of American-Soviet Friendship. American Industry Commemorates The Tenth Anniversary of American-Soviet Diplomatic Relations, 1933 - 1943

Dr. Carlos J. Finlay and the Hall of Fame Today

Griswold, E. N. The Fifth Amendment Today, 1955

Roper, H. R. Man Against Pain. 1945

Stout, W. W. A War Job "Thought Impossible". 1945


Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Minutes of Trials (25 volumes):

  1. 20 v.Minutes of District Court trials (from Nov. 24, 1909 to March 14,1922)
  2. 1 v. on Admiralty (from Dec. 6, 1922 to Feb. 26,1924)
  3. 1 v. on Criminal law (from Jan. 2, 1923 to Nov.22, 1923)
  4. 1 v. on Equity (from Dec. 11, 1922 to March 6,1924
  5. 1 v. on Civil Jury 1 (from April Term 1922 to April16, 1923)
  6. 1 v. on Civil Jury 2 (from March 10, 1924 toOctober 9, 1924)

Processing Information:

Prepared by Erika Chadbourn and Jack Molloy, September, 1968.

Hand, Learned, 1872-1961. Papers, 1840-1961: 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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