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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601622

Raoul Berger papers


Berger's papers relate mainly to the preparation and publication of his written works, and his role as an authority on judicial review, executive privilege, Presidential war powers, and impeachment.


  • Creation: 1921 - 2000

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 (8 boxes, 1 Paige Box)

The papers of Raoul Berger (b. 1901) span the years 1921 to 2000, with the bulk of the material falling into the period 1969 - the year his first book, Congress V. the Supreme Court, was published by Harvard University Press - to 1979. Dr. Berger's papers of the 1970's stem, for the most part, from:

  1. 1) preparation of the manuscripts and publication byHarvard University Press of his subsequent three books: Impeachment: The Constitutional Problems, 1973; Executive Privilege: A Constitutional Myth, 1974; and Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment, 1977; and
  2. 2) Berger's role as an authority onjudicial review, executive privilege, Presidential war powers, andimpeachment. The events of "Watergate" and the resignation ofPresident Richard M. Nixon dramaticallyheightened his stature as an authority in these fields.

Papers relating to Berger's fifth book, Death Penalties: The Supreme Court's Obstacle Course, 1982, were not included in the original gift, with the exception of the book review by Eric Stange in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 October 1982.

The papers contain letters received, carbons of letters sent (correspondence), telegrams, brochures, certificates, fliers, news and photo clippings, programs, periodical articles, reprints, photocopies, typed manuscripts of articles (some with holograph additions and corrections), typed copies of speeches, transcripts of television programs. Berger's research notes for and manuscript drafts of books are not included. Photographs were transferred to Harvard Law School Library's Art collection. The arrangement imposed upon the papers by the donor was retained.

Raoul Berger's legal education is documented in the Correspondence Series. The years spent at Northwestern Law School, 1932-1935, where he received his J.D., are reflected in letters from Dean John Henry Wigmore, who continued corresponding with Berger for many years after Berger's graduation. While at the Harvard Law School, 1937-1938, where he took his LL.M., Berger received letters from Felix Frankfurter, his teacher and mentor. Correspondence spanning Berger's years at Northwestern and Harvard Law Schools reveals his concentration on administrative law, constitutional law and legal history.

During the twenty-year period 1938-1958, Berger had a distinguished career in government service, followed by private law practice in Washington, D.C. Correspondence with Benjamin V. Cohen, Jerome Frank, Robert H. Jackson, James E. Markham, and others documents this period.

Berger's production of scholarly writings gained momentum in the years he served as Regents' Professor at the University of California School of Law at Berkeley, 1962-1965, and, subsequently, as Charles Warren Senior Fellow in American Legal History at Harvard Law School, 1971-1976. The Correspondence Series is especially rich during these years because of the extensive commentaries on Berger's writings that he received prior to publication of his monographs. Such reviews and critiques were invited by the author and by his publishers. In many instances, he responded to these commentaries, and an interesting exchange of letters ensued. During the 1970's he was sought after for speaking engagements, as the principal speaker or as a participant in symposia and panel discussions. U.S. Senators and Representatives called on him to be an expert witness in Congressional hearings and read excerpts from his writings into the Congressional Record.

The above-mentioned activities are further documented in Series III: Writings, Speeches, Interviews, Congressional Testimony, Etc. Of special interest are the complete transcripts of Bill Moyer's Journal, "A Question of Impeachment," TV: Educational Broadcasting Corporation [P.B.S.] 22 January 1974, and of Aussenpolitik/Michael Verde, "Macht and Recht - Watergate und die amerikanische Prasident-schaft," TV: 12-13 May 1974, a conversation in German between Verde and Berger.

Series II, Published Reviews of Books by Raoul Berger, reflect both positive and negative reaction to his writings. This Series includes originals, reprints, and photocopies, comprising a wide sampling of reviews in legal journals, professional journals in the political science and history fields, and in serious publications aimed at the general public. Such periodicals include Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Political Science Quarterly, and the New York Times Book Review. Some of the reviewers represented are Alexander M. Bickel, Philip Kurland, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Abraham D. Sofaer.

Series IV, Biographical Miscellany, consists essentially of music memorabilia, e.g. printed programs, news and photo clippings, and some correspondence, all reflecting Berger's years as a professional concert violinist between 1916 and 1932, and the years since, when playing the violin has continued as an avocation, and when involvement in music in general turned him into an active patron of the musical arts.

Correspondents in these papers whose names have not already been mentioned include Louis D. Brandeis, Thomas F. Eagleton, Leon Green, James W. Hurst, Stanley N. Katz, Alpheus T. Mason, and Harlan F. Stone.

Materials in the addenda are similar to those found in the original collection. They include correspondence, miscellaneous writings, materials related to the publication of Berger's monographs, and biographical items. Addenda 2 includes correspondence, reviews, and other material related to the publication of Federalism: The Founders' Design, 1987, and The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights, 1989. Of interest in Addenda 3 is a scrapbook containing materials related to Berger's musical career. Addenda 4 includes materials related to Berger's death in 2000, including obituaries and sympathy cards and letters written to Berger's widow, Patty Wolcott.

Series List

  1. Series I: Correspondence, 1932-1982, and undated.1932-1982,

    Letters sent and received, some with critiques of Berger'swritings attached; telegrams; brochures, fliers, and programs ofspeaking engagements; certificates of honor and of appointments.Arranged alphabetically by correspondent and chronologically within correspondent's file.

  2. Series II: Published Reviews of Books by Raoul Berger, 1969-1982, and undated.1969-1982,

    Periodical articles, reprints, news and photo clippings,and photocopies. Book titles are arranged chronologically by date ofpublication. Reviews of each book are arranged alphabetically by nameof publication in which review appears.

  3. Series III: Miscellaneous Writings, Speeches, Interviews,Congressional Testimony, etc., 1938-1981, and undated.1938-1981,

    Periodical and newspaper articles by Berger; typed copiesof speeches; transcripts of TV programs; periodical articles; newsand photo clippings which cover Berger's public appearances and/orrelate to his writings; issues of the Congressional Record; andphotocopies. Miscellaneous writings, speeches, interviews arrangedchronologically. Congressional testimony arranged chronologically.

  4. Series IV: Biographical Miscellany, including Memorabilia ofBerger as Concert Violinist, 1921-1979.1921-1979.

    Periodical articles, news and photo clippings, programs, and a fewletters. Biographical miscellany arranged chronologically; music memorabilia arranged chronologically.

  5. Series V: Addenda 1
  6. ___Subseries A: Correspondence, 1968-1985

    Correspondence relates mainly to Raoul Berger's writings, especially for the 1982-1985 period. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

  7. ___Subseries B: Honorary Degrees, 1975-1978

    Two honorary LL.D. degrees; one from University of Cincinnati, 1975, and the other from University of Michigan, 1978.

  8. Series VI: Addenda 2
  9. ___Subseries A: Correspondence, 1986-1997Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
  10. ___Subseries B: Miscellaneous writings, statements, etc., 1972-1997Includes material related to executive privilege, the War Powers Act, and President Nixon's impeachment proceedings.
  11. ___Subseries C: Reviews of Raoul Berger's writings, 1977-1989Includes reviews of Government by Judiciary, 1977; Berger on Public Law (4 titles); Death Penalties, 1982; Federalism: The Founders' Design, 1987; and The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights, 1989.
  12. ___Subseries D: Biographical Information, [1926?]-1996Includes award materials, 90th birthday congratulatory letters,and fan mail written to Berger.
  13. Series VII: Addenda 3
  14. ___Subseries A: Correspondence, 1934-1998Letters received and copies of letters sent; arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
  15. ___Subseries B: Reviews of Raoul Berger writings, 1974Includes Impeachment: The Constitutional Problems, Gerard, Jules B. Reprint 1974. Signed presentation copy.
  16. ___Subseries C: Biographical, 1938-Contains miscellaneous items including Berger's written remarks for his father's funeral, 1967, and Andrea Berger's (daughter)article reprint; one scrapbook containing clippings and printedprograms relating to Berger's musical career, and news clippingsregarding a SEC inquiry into Howard C. Hopson and Associated Gas andElectric, 1938-1939, in which Berger was trial examiner.
  17. Series VIII: Addenda 4

    Containsmiscellaneous items including Berger's research notes for his book onExecutive Privilege, various writings, and a box of index cards withquotations used by Berger in his writing, organized by subject;materials related to Berger's death in 2000, including sympathy cardsand obituaries; various honorary degrees and awards; materialsrelated to an oral history interview with Berger conducted in 1999;miscellaneous groups of correspondence; and materials related to twolibel suits involving Berger and two newspapers in 1946 relating toarticles linking Berger with communism.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original gift donated to the Harvard Law School Library by Raoul Berger in 1982. Addenda 3 and 4 donated 1999 and 2000-2001 respectively.

General note


Thirty-nine photos, mainly portraits of Raoul Berger, spanning the years 1916-1977.

General note


1. 28 photos of Raoul Berger and family members, ca. 1910-1990

2. Unidentified photos

3. Plaque: ABA 1978 Gavel Award Certificate

Processing Information

Finding aid processed by Judith W. Mellins, 1983; Addenda 1 and 2 processors unknown; Addenda 3 processed by Anne Lozier, 2001; Addenda 4 processed by Erica Bicchieri, 2001.

Berger, Raoul. Papers, 1921-2000: 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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