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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601653

Mark De Wolfe Howe papers


Various materials relating to Howe's professional and teaching activities, his interest in American and English legal history, and his work in behalf of various civil rights, civil liberties, and national and local political causes; together with diary kept while secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, miscellaneous biographical papers, and notebooks (1930-1933) kept while a student at Harvard Law School.


  • 1933-1967

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. Literary rights in the unpublished writings of Mark De Wolfe Howe, including literary rights to the diary which he kept while serving as Justice Holmes' secretary, have been retained by Mary Manning Howe.


29 boxes (5 Paige boxes)

The 6,300 items in the papers of Mark De Wolfe Howe (1906-1967) span the years 1933 to 1967. There is a certain amount of correspondence post-dating Mark Howe's death, between Professor John Mansfield, Howe's daughter, Fanny, and correspondents of Professor Howe who were solicited for letters of Mark Howe's in their possession or for Xerox copies of such letters.

The collection includes correspondence; memoranda; minutes of meetings; reports; transcripts; legal documents; press releases; research notes; financial statements; form letters; telegrams; drafts and typescripts of writings, speeches, and special lectures; teaching notes; index cards; news clippings; printed items; and photographs.

The papers of Mark De Wolfe Howe related to his professional activities as law teacher and legal scholar, to his involvement in the civil rights movement, his work with civil rights organizations, and his championship of parties in civil rights cases who were defending their civil rights, either as defendants or plaintiffs.

Professor Howe's main teaching interests were in the fields of legal history, both British and American, and in constitutional law in general and First Amendment problems in particular. He kept a considerable amount of his teaching and research notes for his courses in American Legal History, Church and State, Development of Law and Legal Institutions, and so-called "Social Science" courses he taught in Harvard College. There is also a small amount of material on courses in Admiralty and Equity.

Professor Howe's writings, speeches and special lectures also reflect his particular interest in American and English legal history and in civil rights causes. He delivered special lectures at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts (1950), Williamsburg, Virginia (1957), Villanova University Law School (1957), Princeton (1961), The Frank L. Weil Institute, Cincinnati (1964), and Louisville, Kentucky (1966); he also read papers before many scholarly societies, both national and local. Most of these lectures and papers have been published, and Professor Howe retained some of his research material, drafts, and correspondence regarding publication or the arrangements for delivery of speeches and papers.

Publication projects of other than his own writings in which Mark Howe assisted in various capacities were The Adams Papers, the James Fenimore Cooper Letters, and the Webster Papers Project. Civil liberties endeavors and organizations with which he was closely and actively associated and for which he kept files were the

  1. American Civil LibertiesUnion,
  2. The Committee to Assist inEstablishing a Division of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in theMassachusetts Department of the Attorney General,
  3. Emergency Civil Liberties Committee,
  4. Freedom Budget for All Americans,
  5. Harvard Civil Rights Committee,
  6. Law Students Civil Rights ResearchCouncil,
  7. Lawyers ConstitutionalDefense Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union,
  8. Massachusetts Commission AgainstDiscrimination,
  9. and the NAACP.

He also kept files for his participation in local and national political issues, mostly in indirect ways through letters to the editor and board membership of organizations such as the National Committee for an Effective Congress.

Major civil rights cases in which Professor Howe supported those whose civil rights had been threatened or infringed upon were the Furry case (United States v. Wendell H. Furry) 1954-1955; the Futorian case (Futorian v. Foster), 1965-1966; the Ginzberg case, 1966; Markham casethe , 1953; the Scales case, 1961-1962; and the Stamler case, 1965-1966.

Professor Howe's correspondence is of a professional-scholarly nature, relating to his broad scope of interests. Among his correspondents were:

  1. AlexanderBickel,
  2. Francis Biddle,
  3. Daniel J.Boorstin,
  4. Kingman Brewster,
  5. Charles CulpBurlingham,
  6. Grenville Clark,
  7. Henry SteeleCommager,
  8. Arthur W.A. Cowan,
  9. Robert F.Drinan,
  10. Felix Frankfurter,
  11. Donald A.Gianella,
  12. Learned Hand,
  13. Alger Hiss,
  14. Willard Hurst,
  15. Howard Mumford Jones,
  16. Philip B. Kurland,
  17. Leonard W. Levy,
  18. Dumas Malone,
  19. Donald G. Morgan,
  20. WayneMorse,
  21. Leo Pfeffer,
  22. Elliot L.Richardson,
  23. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.,
  24. SaulTouster,
  25. Alan F. Westin,
  26. Frederick BernaysWiener,
  27. and John C.H. Wu.

Mark De Wolf Howe's research materials for his books and articles about Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, for his editions of Holmes' diaries, speeches, and letters, and correspondence relating to these publications, were deposited with the Holmes Papers in the Harvard Law School Library. They are listed in the Inventory to the Holmes Papers, pages 77-89.

Historical/Biographical Information

  • May 22, 1906b. Boston, Massachusetts. s. Mark Antony De Wolfe and Fanny Huntington Howe.
  • 1928A.B. Harvard College
  • 1933LL.B. Harvard Law School
  • February 19, 1935m. Mary Manning; children: Susan, Fanny, Helen
  • 1933 to 1934Secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • 1933Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar
  • 1933 to 1937Practiced in Boston with Hill, Barlow, Goodale and Wiswall
  • 1937 to 1945Professor of Law, University of Buffalo School of Law
  • 1941 to 1945Dean of the University of Buffalo School of Law
  • 1945 to 1967Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  • 1966 to 1967Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, (appointed, December 1965)
  • February 28, 1967d. Cambridge, Massachusetts

May 22, 1906
b. Boston, Massachusetts. s. Mark Antony De Wolfe and Fanny Huntington Howe.
A.B. Harvard College
LL.B. Harvard Law School
February 19, 1935
m. Mary Manning; children: Susan, Fanny, Helen
1933 to1934
Secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar
1933 to1937
Practiced in Boston with Hill, Barlow, Goodale and Wiswall
1937 to 1945
Professor of Law, University of Buffalo School of Law
1941 to 1945
Dean of the University of Buffalo School of Law
1945 to 1967
Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
1966 to 1967
Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, (appointed, December 1965)
February 28, 1967
d. Cambridge, Massachusetts


  1. Cases on Church and State in the United States. 1950, 1952.
  2. Constitutional Law; cases and other problems with Paul A. Freund, Arthur E.Sutherland, Ernest J. Brown. 1954, 1967.
  3. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: The Shaping Years, 1841-1870. 1957.
  4. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: The Proving Years, 1870-1882. 1963.
  5. The Garden and the Wilderness: Religion and Government in American Constitutional History. 1965.
  6. Civil Rights, The Constitution and the Courts, by Archibald Cox, Mark De Wolfe Howe, and J.R. Wiggins.1967.

Series List

  1. Series I. General Correspondence, 1933-1967.1933-1967.

    ThisSeries includes letters received and copies of letters sent,memoranda, and miscellaneous attachments. Materials arealphabetically arranged by correspondent and chronologically arrangedwithin correspondent's file. MS box 6 contains miscellaneouscorrespondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

  2. Series II. Subject File, 1934-1967.1934-1967.

    ThisSeries contains correspondence, memoranda, minutes of meetings,reports, programs, legal documents, government documents, politicalpapers, statements, papers relating to publications other than MarkHowe's, and lists. Materials are arranged alphabetically bysubject.

  3. Series III. Teaching Notes and Materials, 1940-1967.1940-1967.

    ThisSeries consists of outlines, holograph and typed notes, resumes ofcases, reading lists, student papers, examination questions,correspondence, and mimeographed unpublished manuscripts of coursematerial used for distribution to students. Materials are arranged byname of course.

  4. Series IV. Writings, Speeches, SpecialLectures.

    This Series includes hand-written andtypewritten drafts and near-print and printed copies of, and somecorrespondence relating to, speeches, special lectures, articles,remarks, tributes, letters to the editor, book reviews, and books.Also included are reprints with marginalia. Materials are arrangedchronologically.

  5. Series V. Biographical and BibliographicalMiscellany.

    This Series consists of abibliography, a diary, and correspondence. Materials are arranged bysubject.

  6. Series VI. Teaching Materials, 1946-1966.1946-1966. 5 Paige boxes.

    This Series consists of typed, mimeographed and printedteaching materials by Howe and others, used by Howe in his courses,with marginalia. Also included are index cards.

  7. Series VII. Student Notebooks of Howe as Student at Harvard LawSchool, 1930 to1933.1930 to1933.2 Paige boxes.

    This Seriesconsists of handwritten student notes on various courses.

    Series removed from collection. Contact Curator of ModernManuscripts and Archives for access information.

  8. Series VIII. Addenda

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Mark De Wolfe Howe, law professor, law school dean and legal scholar, were presented to the Harvard Law School in September, 1974 as a gift by his widow, Mary Manning Howe.

Addenda in Box 30 was donated by Fanny Howe, Mark De Wolfe Howe's daughter, in 2007.

Processing Information

Prepared by Erika S. Chadbourn

Howe, Mark De Wolfe. Papers, 1933-1967: 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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