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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 8976492

Burlingham Underwood LLP. records


The majority of this collection consists of over six hundred bound volumes of briefs produced by Burlingham Underwood, LLP and its predecessors. Also included are various materials related to the history of the firm and to the lives of its partners, especially Charles Culp Burlingham.


  • Creation: 1876 - 2002

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 (7 boxes, 105 Paige boxes)

The majority of this collection consists of bound volumes of briefs produced by Burlingham Underwood, LLP and its predecessors. Two card catalogues, one organized by case name and the other by subject, accompany these volumes in order to provide simple name and subject access to the firm's individual cases. Also included are various materials related to the history of the firm and to the lives of its partners, particularly Charles Culp Burlingham. These materials include extensive personal and professional correspondence, office memoranda, case files, office directories, letterhead samples, associate lists, floor plans, newspaper and magazine clippings, printed historical accounts of the firm and its founders, memorials for various firm associates and partners, account ledgers, bound volumes, and other miscellaneous items. Of particular interest are materials related to the firm's representation of the White Star Line, owner of the Titanic, after the sinking of the ship in 1912. Also of interest are biographical materials related to Charles Culp Burlingham, including typescripts of correspondence to and from him during his years as a college student at Harvard. Further materials related to Burlingham can be found in the collection of his Papers here at the Harvard Law School Library Special Collections.

Historical/Biographical Information

The New York City admiralty firm of Burlingham Underwood LLP was originally formed as Rice and Hill in 1858 by James King Hill and James Clay Rice. Charles Culp Burlingham joined the firm in the late 19th century, shortly after graduating from Columbia Law School and being admitted to the New York bar, and in 1898 the firm became Wing, Putnam and Burlingham. Though the firm underwent numerous name changes over the years, the name Burlingham remained a constant from that point on.

Some of the companies represented by the firm included Anchor Line, Holland America Line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, and other European and South American lines, as well as some Atlantic Coast lines. After the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, the firm represented the White Star Line in a Supreme Court case that resulted in a landmark ruling in which American laws were judged applicable to foreign shipping firms. The result was, according to a history of the firm found in the collection, "a signal victory for the White Star Line and all other foreign ship owners who need to have recourse to our courts in cases appropriate for limitation of liability."

The firm remained one of New York City's major admiralty firms throughout the twentieth century. It closed its doors in 2002.

Series List

  1. Series I. Briefs, 1901-1983, n.d.

    This Series contains over six hundred bound volumes of briefs produced by Burlingham Underwood, LLP. Access to individual cases in these volumes is made possible by two card catalogues, one organized alphabetically by case name and the other by subject.

  2. Series II. Firm History, 1876-2002. This Series contains materials related to the history of Burlingham Underwood, LLP and its predecessors. Most of these materials were gathered by members of the firm specifically for the purpose of recording the firm's history.
  3. ___ Subseries A: Firm History I.
  4. ___ Subseries B: Firm History II.
  5. ___ Subseries C: Firm History III.
  6. ___ Subseries D: Firm History IV.
  7. ___ Subseries E: Firm History V, Obituaries.
  8. ___ Subseries F: Firm History VI, Miscellaneous.
  9. ___ Subseries G: Elliott B. Nixon.
  10. ___ Subseries H: Move to 25 Broadway.
  11. ___ Subseries I: CCB Memorabilia.
  12. ___ Subseries J: Titanic.
  13. ___ Subseries K: Passenger Vessels Destroyed/Damaged by Fire.
  14. ___ Subseries L: Miscellaneous.
  15. ___ Subseries M: Firm Directories.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Records of Burlingham Underwood LLP were donated to the Harvard Law School Library by the law firm upon its dissolution in 2002.

Processing Information

Processed by Erica C. Bicchieri, 2002.

Burlingham Underwood LLP. Records, 1876-2002: 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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