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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601718

Lawrence Graham Brooks papers


Papers reflect four aspects of Brooks' professional and personal life: his activities and concerns as attorney and judge; his championship of civil liberties; his efforts on behalf of international cooperation; and his personal relationships and interests.


  • Creation: 1897 - 1981

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.


15 boxes

The 5300 items in the Papers of Lawrence Graham Brooks (1881-1981) span the years 1897 to 1981.

The collection includes: correspondence (letters received and carbons of letters sent); memoranda; agenda and minutes of meetings; reports; summaries; statistical tables; financial statements; lists; legal documents; legislative documents; holograph notes and drafts of Lawrence G. Brooks; typescripts of speeches and writings; galleys; newspaper clippings including photo clippings; other printed items, both hard-bound and soft-bound; photographs; diaries.

The Papers of Lawrence Graham Brooks in the Manuscript Division of the Harvard Law School Library reflect these four aspects of his personal, professional and public life: (a) his professional activities and concerns as attorney and judge; (b) his life-long ardent and courageous championship of civil liberties; (c) his efforts in behalf of international cooperation and friendship; and (d) personal relationships and interests. In this SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE major correspondents are listed as (e).

(a) Professional activities:

Lawrence Graham Brooks practiced law full-time from 1905 to 1928. From this period of his law practice he retained a small number of briefs. The bulk of his judicial papers consists of his opinions, findings and rulings while sitting on the First District Court of Eastern Middlesex (1928-1970) and while a Judge in the Appelate Division of the Northern District of Middlesex (1950-1970), both Massachusetts Courts. These opinions are predominately in the form of carbon copies of the final draft, as Judge Brooks handed them down. There are occasional corrections, and a very small number are first drafts, in holograph form. Ancillary materials relating to Brooks' Court work are an almost complete set of statistical compilations of the work of the Massachusetts District Courts, together with annual circular letters reviewing the work of the Courts, including recommendations (1929-1969). As a result of the hundreds of cases which came before Judge Brooks, he became particularly alarmed by the wide-spread problem of alcohol abuse and the drunken driver. Fourteen folders contain material relating to his studies of this particular problem and his strong endorsement, both through writing and speaking, of legislation requiring alcohol/blood-tests for drunken drivers, mainly in the 1950's and early 1960's. Other related material deals with his concern for the prevention of automobile thefts through anti-theft devices; with the extent of illegal gambling; with juvenile delinquency; with crime, and with the rise in narcotics use.

During the Depression era of the 1930's Judge Brooks served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Lawyers' Committee Cooperating with E.R.A. (Federal Emergency Relief Act) to find or create employment for needy lawyers and to locate destitute lawyers (1934-1936).

(b) Civil libertarian:

Throughout his life, Lawrence G. Brooks was a stout champion of civil liberties, and his involvement in some of the tests of our constitutional guarantees of these liberties is well documented in his Papers.

As early as 1912 Brooks declined membership in the A.B.A. because of its discriminatory practices. Earliest evidence of his membership in the so-called Harvard Liberal Club is a form letter listing his name. The period 1919 to 1928, before his ascension to the bench and beginning with the post-World War I anti-communist and other war, labor and immigration related hysterias, was Brooks' most active and intense period of involvement in civil liberties battles. Folders labeled "Amnesty," "Civil liberties," "Deportations," and "Red raids" include Brooks' correspondence with the early members of the American Civil Liberties Union such as Roger Baldwin, correspondence regarding 1920 anti-sedition bills, clippings relating to the so-called "Palmer raids" of January 1920, items relating to Brooks' participation in the defense of William T. Colyer (COLYER v. SKEFFINGTON) in 1920, correspondence and clippings relating to his participation in the fight for speaking facilities for controversial speakers in public auditoriums, and the release of I.W.W. "political" prisoners (1922, 1923). Later materials illustrate his alarm at some of the transgressions of the Cold War and McCarthy years following World War II, and his active participation in the Civil Rights demonstrations of the 1960's, in particular by his participation in the Civil Rights protests in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

(c) International concerns:

Following the end of World War I, concerned citizens throughout the world sought out ways to educate their fellow citizens to the necessity of international cooperation. Lawrence G. Brooks became actively involved in this effort by joining two organizations: the Boston branch of the Foreign Policy Association and the Massachusetts Citizens' Committee on the World Court. Eight folders headed "Foreign Policy Association" (1921-1948) contain correspondence, bulletins, agenda of meetings, and membership and financial matters, mainly of the Boston branch of the F.P.A. Correspondence mostly concerns arrangements for speakers at the Saturday luncheons, especially after LGB became chairman of the Boston branch in 1945. Brooks continued his interest when they merged, in 1949, with two other organizations, to become the United Council on World Affairs (now World Affairs Council). Six folders, headed " World Court," relate to Brooks' advocacy of U.S. membership in the so-called "World Court" ( Permanent Court of International Justice), which never came to pass. This group of items covers the period 1922 to 1935; it includes correspondence with Professor Manley O. Hudson of the Harvard Law School and with members of the U.S. Congress.

Post-World War II international activities of Brooks included his membership on the board of directors of the Hugh Cabot Memorial Fund, Inc. (1946-1951), a fund which, among other aims, promoted the exchange of medical data with Russia, and his membership in the International Friendship League, Inc., which promoted international understanding through exchange of personal letters between individuals in various countries.

Throughout the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's, Brooks was active in other organizations working for world-wide disarmament, U.S. membership in the League of Nations, relief of world-wide starvation, and the resettlement of refugees, such as the Committee for International Reduction of Armaments (1922), the League of Nations Non-Partisan Association (1924), the American Society for Russian Relief (1945-1947), and the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee (1948).

(d) Personal relationships and interests:

Many, but not all, of Judge Brooks' personal friendships and interests are documented in these Papers. Correspondents in his GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE SERIES include public figures, both national and local, journalist-friends, Harvard alumni, family friends, and acquaintances. Items of his personal interest that are included range from genealogical items to mayoral campaigns and zoning decisions in Medford, Massachusetts, the Ford hall Forum, Harvard College and Law School alumni matters, restoration of Harvard's Memorial Hall, international sport including the U.S. flag-dipping at the 1972 Olympic Games, peace-time conscription, Republican Party concerns, and his love of the outdoors, in particular the areas of his two summer residences, Pleasant Bay on Cape Cod and Jackson, New Hampshire. This wide range of interests is also reflected in his writings: he preserved most of his speeches, memorials, testimonials, letters-to-the-editor, radio addresses, and humorous pieces. Personal materials in the Papers also include a certain amount related to his war time and post-war time (WW I) service in Washington and Chicago, respectively, 1918-1922: the A.B.A.'s Special Committee for War Service, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Service, and the United States Railroad Labor Board.

(e) Major correspondents

Since Judge Brooks resided in the Boston area from the time of his graduation from his preparatory school, and since most of his professional and non-professional activities were of a local nature, he saw those with whom he associated on a regular bases, and this personal contact eliminated the necessity for extended correspondences. The major correspondents listed below are the most prominent names in his Papers; however, for most of these names correspondence is limited to a few items. These are some of Judge Brooks' correspondents: Wayne N. Aspinwall; Roger N. Baldwin; Francis Biddle; Robert F. Bradford; Edward Brooke; William Butler; Edward C. Carter; (Cardinal) Richard Cushing; Frederick W. Dallinger; Bob Dole; Robert F. Drinan; Frederick Gillett; Samuel Gompers; Carl R. Gray; Robert Haas; Richard W. Hale; Sidney Howard; Manley O. Hudson; Charles Evans Hughes; Hubert H. Humphrey; Edward M. Kennedy; John F. Kennedy; Esther Lape; James R. Lawton; Henry Cabot Lodge; Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.; George McGovern; Joseph Mire; Endicott Peabody; Louis F. Post; Walt W. Rostow; Harrison E. Salisbury; Leverett Saltonstall; Alfred P. Sloane; Robert A. Taft; Norman Thomas; Oswald Garrison Villard; John A. Volpe; Joseph Walsh; David I. Walsh.

Papers of Judge Brooks relating to his Unitarian-Universalist and Community Chest activities were transferred by the Brooks family to more appropriate repositories.

Biographical Note

  • 21 February 1881 b. Roxbury, Massachusetts
  • 1882-1885 Lived in Germany
  • 1885-1891 Lived in Brockton, Mass.
  • 1891-1893 Lived in Germany and England; subsequently in Cambridge
  • 1912-1981 Lived in West Medford, Massachusetts
  • 1896 or 1897 Volunteer for Cambridge Good Government Association
  • 1902, 1903 B.A. and M.A., Harvard College
  • 1905 LL.B., Harvard Law School
  • 1905 Admitted to the Bar in Massachusetts
  • 1905-1906 Attorney with Putnam and Putnam,
  • 1906-1909 Legal Counsel for Boston Elevated Street Railway
  • 1906-1909 Member Cambridge School Committee
  • 1909- Independent law practice
  • 1912 m. Susan M. Hallowell ; children: John Graham, Ann (Carter), Charlotte Hallowell (Read), Catharine
  • 1912-1918 Treasurer, Massachusetts Civic League
  • 1913-1917 Secretary-Treasurer, Mass. Highway Safety League
  • 1914-1917 Secretary-Treasurer, Union for a Progressive Constitution
  • 1918 Executive Secretary, A.B.A. Committee for War Service, Washington, D.C.
  • ca. 1920 Active in defending victims of the "Red Raids" and protesting anti-sedition legislation
  • 1923-1927 City Solicitor, Medford, Mass.
  • 1926 One of the organizers of the First National Bank in Medford; on Board through 1969
  • 1926 Secretary, Citizens Committee on the World Court
  • 1926 Chairman, Massachusetts Council for International Cooperation
  • 1928 Appointed Special Justice of the First District Court of Eastern Middlesex
  • 1929 Chairman, Massachusetts Committee to Modify the Cruiser Bill
  • ca. 1930 Chairman, Massachusetts Committee on Militarism in Education
  • 1921-1949 Member, Foreign Policy Association of Massachusetts; Chairman, 1942-1948; Director of successor organization, the World Affairs Council, 1946-
  • 1940-1968 Chairman, Medford Draft Board
  • 1945-1946 Chairman, Massachusetts Committee for Russian Relief
  • 1946 Member, Board of Directors, American Unitarian Association; Chairman, 1947-1960; Vice-Moderator, Unitarian-Universalist Association, 1961-1964
  • 1948-1963 Chairman, International Friendship League; Chairman Emeritus, through 1978
  • 1950 Appointed Justice of Appelate Division of Northern District of Massachusetts; appointed Presiding Justice in 1960
  • 1960 Recipient of Unitarian Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Liberal Religion
  • 1965 Recipient of the Charles M. Rogerson Award of the United Community Services
  • 1965 Chairman, Medford Fair Housing Committee
  • 1965 Member of Executive Committee, Boston Committee on Foreign Relations
  • 1966 Recipient of honorary degree, "Doctor of Humane Letters," Tufts University
  • 1970 Retired from judgeships
  • 1972 Recipient of the Abraham Alper Award, from the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
  • 12 September 1981 Died in West Medford, Massachusetts

  1. "The Structure, Functions, and Operations of the DistrictCourts in Massachusetts." 1964. In Vol. VI of Tufts Assembly Papers.
  2. "Comments on MIRANDA v. ARIZONA." In Boston Bar Journal, Vol. 10, No. 9 (October 1966).
  3. "Scaling theHeights - 63 Years Ago." In The New York Times, 13 May 1973 (Travel Section).
  4. The Memoirs of Lawrence Graham Brooks. Boston, 1981.
  5. Also editorials, memorials,speeches, and radio talks.

Series List

  1. Series I. Judicial
  2. Series II. Subjects/Activities
  3. Series III. General Correspondence
  4. Series IV. Personal Miscellany
  5. Series V. Addenda

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Papers of Lawrence Graham Brooks (1881-1981), attorney, judge, civic leader, were presented to the Harvard Law School Library on 26 June 1980 as a gift by Judge Lawrence Graham Brooks.

Processing Information

Prepared by Erika S. Chadbourn, Deborah Springer and Lynne Hollyer.

Brooks, Lawrence Graham. Papers, 1897-1981: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School LibraryCambridge, 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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