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COLLECTION Identifier: ALEPH 601608

Archibald Cox Papers


Archibald Cox's papers relate to the various aspects of his professional/private and professional/public activities, with a relatively small group reflecting on his personal life.


  • 1862 - 1978

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.

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. Professor Cox's approval necessary to quote Watergate materials.


131 boxes

The papers of Archibald Cox (1912-2004 ) span the years 1945 to the 1990s, with the bulk falling into the 1945 to 1978 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legal and legislative documents; clippings, reprints, and other printed items; drafts; manuscripts of published and unpublished writings; and a small amount of memorabilia such as honorary degree certificates. Photographs have been transferred to the Law Library's Art Collection.

Archibald Cox's papers relate to the various aspects of his professional/private and professional/public activities, with a relatively small group reflecting on his personal life. The group which looms the largest in bulk are his arbitration files 15 MS boxes of processed case files. Cox has been a member of the American Arbitration Association since 1947, arbitrating essentially labor disputes. Panels on which he sat dealt with cases ranging from local level confrontations such as those brought by specific school boards to major interstate cases such as Consolidated Edison Co. of New York and New England Petroleum Corporation. Material Cox retained from these cases are drafts and typed copies of the text of his awards and/or opinions and awards; background material; handwritten notes; correspondence re: arrangements for panel sittings; exchanges between members of the various panels; official appointments to specific boards or hearings; transcripts of proceedings; minutes of meetings; schedules; printed items. Some of the cases in these files were arbitrations not channeled through the American Arbitration Association such as the two Commonwealth (MA) cases in which Cox represented two prison inmates, separately, who were seeking writs of habeas corpus, or the several United Airlines cases.

The second largest contingent in the Cox papers is his correspondence/subject files, 22 MS boxes, covering the years 1945 to the present. This group includes correspondence with individuals, e.g., colleagues at Harvard and other institutions; Harvard alumni/ae; public officials including members of the U.S. Congress; members of the judiciary; members of the press; former members of the National Labor Relations and the Wage Stabilization Boards.

Included also is correspondence with his publishers, e.g., The Foundation Press; requests for articles by law review editors; requests for appearances with the media; invitations to be Commencement speaker; correspondence with Institutes of Industrial Relations at Harvard, Princeton, University of California at Los Angeles, and McGill; congratulations on his appointment to the Solicitor Generalship of the United States; and matters concerning private social clubs to which Cox belonged. The series includes Watergate "fan mail"; and a few items relate to Ford's pardon of Nixon.

Although smaller than the two preceding SERIES, three groups in the Cox papers are of unique significance, namely his files on Watergate, on the Bakke case, and on his role as Chairman of Governor Michael S. Dukakis's "Select Committee on Judicial Needs", commonly known as the "Massachusetts Court Reform Committee." Watergate papers cover the period from Cox's appointment as Special Watergate Prosecutor on 25 May 1973 to Cox's public statement on the Nixon pardon, 8 September 1974. They include legal documents such as the subpoenas of President Nixon's tapes; Cox's drafts of oral arguments before the U.S. District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals; memoranda; reports; exchanges with Elliot L. Richardson, Charles Alan Wright, and Leon Jaworski; and selected material relating to other Watergate prosecutions, e.g., against Liddy, McCord, Ehrlichman, Barker, and Martinez. Of particular interest is the transcript of the tapes of an oral history interview with Cox on his role as Special Prosecutor, conducted 19 February 1974 by Phil Heymann and others. In the case, the Regents of the University of California v. Allan Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), Cox, together with three others, was retained as Counsel by the Petitioner, the Regents of the University of California; it was he who argued the case before the Supreme Court of the United States. Files include a considerable amount of background material; legal documents; briefs; drafts of Cox's oral argument; transcripts of oral arguments of both parties; some correspondence, especially between the Counsel. The Massachusetts Court Reform Papers, 1976-1977, represent the working papers of the Select Committee on Judicial Needs. They include correspondence; minutes of meetings, tables; reports; press releases; legislative documents; newspaper clippings; and much printed background material. Correspondence is with members of the Committee and with private persons. There is a certain amount of critiques of the final report.

The SERIES Special Activities (SERIES IX.) and Writing, Speaking, Special Lectureships, Teaching (SERIES XI.) above all others reveal the constant demand for Cox's talents as writer, speaker, and conciliator.

The papers in these two SERIES contain a perpetual stream of invitations to contribute to law reviews; to participate in conferences and symposia; to assess confrontations such as the Columbia University disturbances of 1968; to assist with the drafting of federal legislation such as the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970; to sit on committees and commissions; to be the special lecturer of distinguished lectureships; to participate actively in national celebrations like the Bicentennials of the United States in 1975/1976 and of the U.S. Constitution in 1987. The Writing SERIES includes the typed manuscript of his monograph The Court and the Constitution, some of his working papers for this publication (1987), as well as material relating to Cox's role as advisor to U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy on labor legislation and his participation in the Senator's Presidential Campaign.

SERIES XII, Personal/Biographical Miscellany, is small (2 MS boxes). Items included are correspondence re: arrangements for receiving honorary degrees and other recognition, appointment calendars, texts of interviews, and miscellaneous Harvard items. SERIES XIII contains Cox's correspondence of the 1980's.

Papers created by Cox and his office whole as he was the Solicitor General of the United States (1961-1965) are located with the U.S. Department of Justice. He did not retain, or bring back with him, his correspondence in England while Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge.

There are no extended correspondences in the Cox papers. However, there are significant shorter exchanges with individuals with whom Cox worked during specific periods of his career or on special projects. The most prominent of these are:

  1. Baker, Howard H., (Howard Henry), 1923-
  2. Bellotti, Francis X.
  3. Bidden, Joseph R., Jr.
  4. Celler, Emanuel, 1888-1981.
  5. Clark, Ramsey,1927-
  6. Coleman, William T. (William Thaddeus),1920-
  7. Curtis, Charles P. (Charles Pelham),1891-1959.
  8. Deloney, Dexter
  9. Dukakis, MichaelS. (Michael Stanley), 1933-
  10. Dunlop, John Thomas,1914-
  11. Eagleton, Thomas F., 1929-
  12. Feinsinger, Nathan Paul, 1902-
  13. Finletter, ThomasKnight, 1893-
  14. Fleming, R.W. (Robben Wright),1916-
  15. Fordham, Jefferson Barnes
  16. Frank,Jerome, 1889-1957
  17. Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965
  18. Goldberg, Arthur J.
  19. Griswold, Erwin N. (ErwinNathaniel), 1904-
  20. Hand, Learned, 1872-1986
  21. Hennessey, Edward F.
  22. Herzog, Paul M.,1906-1986
  23. Hoffa, James R. (James Riddle), 1913-
  24. Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
  25. Ickes, Harold L. (Harold LeClair), 1874-1952
  26. Inouye, Daniel K., 1924-
  27. Jaworski, Leon
  28. Kadish, Sanford H.
  29. Katz, Isadore
  30. Kaufman, Irving R. (Irving Robert), 1910-1992
  31. Kenison, Frank R.
  32. Kennedy, Edward M.oore,1931-
  33. Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald),1917-1963
  34. Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
  35. Killingsworth, Charles C.
  36. Lazarus, Herman
  37. Lester, Richard L.
  38. Lewis, Anthony, 1927-
  39. McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 1922-
  40. Magruder, Calvert
  41. Mahoney Jack C.
  42. Mann, J. Keith
  43. Muskie, Edmund S., 1914-
  44. Noonan, John T. (John Thomas), 1926-
  45. Richardson,Elliot L., 1920-
  46. Sargent, Francis W., 1915-
  47. Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1930-
  48. Tydings,Joseph D. (Joseph Davies), 1928-
  49. Van Dusen, FrancisL.
  50. Wellington, Harry H.
  51. Wirtz, Willard,1912-
  52. Wright, Charles Allen
  53. Wyzanski,Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1906-

Historical/Biographical Information

  1. 17 May, 1912 in Plainfield, NewJersey
  2. Son of Archibald (Harvard Law School1899) and Frances Bruen (Perkins); great-grandson of William MaxwellEvarts; great-great-great-grandson of Roger Sherman, one of thesigners of the Declaration of Independence.
Preparatory School
  1. St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, 1930
  1. Harvard College - A.B., 1934
Law School
  1. Harvard University - LL.B., 1937
  1. M.A. - Sidney Sussex College, UniversityCambridge, England 1974
  2. L.H.D. - HahnemannMedical College, Philadelphia, 1980
  3. LL.D. - Loyola(Chicago), 1964, Univ. of Cincinnati, 1967, Univ. of Denver, 1974, Amherst College, 1974, Rutgers, 1974, Harvard, 1975, Michigan State, 1976, Wheaton College, 1977, Northeastern Univ., 1978, Clark, 1980, Univ. of Massachusetts (Amherst), 1981, Notre Dame, 1983, Univ. of Illinois, 1985, Claremont Graduate School, 1987, Colby College, 1988.
  1. Phyllis Ames, granddaughter of Harvard LawSchool Dean James Barr Ames, 12 June, 1937
  1. Sarah, Archibald, Phyllis
  1. Massachusetts 1937
  2. Supreme Court of theUnited States and other Federal Courts
  1. 1937-1938, Law Clerk to U.S. Court ofAppeals Judge Learned Hand (New York)
  2. 1938-1941, practiced law with Ropes,Gray, Best, Coolidge and Rugg (Boston)
  3. 1941-1943, Attorney in the Office of theSolicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice
  4. 1943-1945, Associate Solicitor,Department of Labor
  5. 1945-1946, Lecturer in Law, Harvard LawSchool
  6. 1946-1958, Professor, Harvard LawSchool
  7. 1958-1961, Royall Professor, Harvard LawSchool
  8. 1961-1965, Solicitor General of theUnited States
  9. 1965-1976, Williston Professor, HarvardLaw School
  10. 1976-1984, Carl M. Loeb UniversityProfessor, Harvard University
  11. 1984-2004, Carl M. Loeb University,Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University
  12. 1985-2004, Visiting Professor, BostonUniversity School of Law
  1. 1947, Member, National Panel ofArbitrators, American Arbitration Association
  2. 1951-1952, Co-chairman, ConstructionIndustry Stabilization Board
  3. 1952, Chairman, Construction IndustryStabilization Board
  4. 1962-1965, Member, Board of Overseers,Harvard University
  5. 1973, Director, Watergate SpecialProsecution Force, Washington, D.C.
  6. 1974-1975, Pitt Professor of AmericanHistory and Institutions, University of Cambridge, England
  7. 1976-1978, Chairman, Select Committee onJudicial Needs, [The Massachusetts Court Reform Committee]
  8. Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  9. Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  10. Member, AmericanPhilosophical Society
  11. Member, Phi Beta Kappa
  12. Member, Town Council of Wayland, Massachusetts
  13. Member of Board of Common Cause; National Chairman since1980

Series List/Description

  1. Biden, Joseph R., Jr.
  2. Crawford, J.M.B.
  3. Crocker, David
  4. Doyle,James
  5. Dukakis, Michael S.
  6. Eagleton, Thomas F.
  7. Gardner, George K.
  8. Goldberg, Arthur J.
  9. Hennessey,Edward F.
  10. Inouye, Daniel K.
  11. Kennedy, Edward M.
  12. Noonan, John T., Jr.
  13. Panjwani, Ram
  14. Richardson, ElliotL.
  15. Wolfman, Bernard
  16. Wyzanski, Charles E., Jr.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Archibald Cox (1912-2004 ), attorney, educator, legal scholar, public servant, Solicitor General of the United States, have been presented to the Harvard Law School Library as a gift by Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus Archibald Cox in several contingents since 1978. The formal letter of deed of gift was executed by Professor Cox 6 June, 1980.

Cox, Archibald, 1912-2004. Papers, 1862-1978: 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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