The John G. Palfrey (1875-1945) collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. papers
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
The collection consists mainly of correspondence between Holmes and his family and friends. The six primary correspondents are Lewis Einstein, Felix Frankfurter, John Chipman and Nina Gray, Harold Laski, and Frederick Pollock. Holmes also had less frequent correspondence with hundreds more friends and acquaintances, and the collection contains most of the letters received by Holmes in these cases. There is also significant correspondence between Holmes and his family, as well as his wife Fanny’s family, the Dixwells. Of note is the cache of letters Holmes sent home documenting his experiences in the Civil War along with other war-time records such as his diary.
In addition to correspondence, Holmes held on to some of his docket books from his time on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the United States Supreme Court. The collection also contains a significant amount of financial documents such as bank statements and receipts.
In the description of the material, the following should be noted:
- Oliver Wendell Holmes refers toJustice Holmes; his father is referred to as Oliver Wendell Holmes(Dr.)
- EJH refers to Edward Jackson Holmes, the nephew ofOliver Wendell Holmes; his father is referred to as Edward JacksonHolmes (brother of Oliver Wendell Holmes)
- A.L.S. standsfor autograph letter signed, A.M.s. stands for autographmanuscript.
- Visual material and objects that were partof the John G. Palfrey (1875-1945) collection of Oliver WendellHolmes Jr. Papers have been transferred to the Art and VisualCollections. All visual materials were digitized in 2009 and can beaccessed through VIA.
- Within each series and/or subseries individualitems or folders are identified by box and folder number. Forexample, 3-5 before an entry signifies box 3, folder 5
- March 8, 1841, b. Boston, Mass. to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, poet and essayist (1809-1894) and Amelia Lee (Jackson) Holmes.
- 1861A.B., Harvard
- 1861-1864Served 3 years with 20th Mass. Volunteers, lt. to lt. col.; mustered out July 17, 1864 with rank of captain.
- 1866LL.B., Harvard
- 1867Admitted to Massachusetts bar
- June 17, 1872m. Fanny Bowditch Dixwell (died 1929)
- 1886LL.D., Yale
- 1870-1871Instructor in Constitutional law, Harvard College
- 1870-1873Editor, American Law Review
- 1873-1882Member, law firm of Shattuck, Holmes and Munroe
- 1880Lecturer on Common law, Lowell Institute
- 1882Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
- 1882-1899Associate Justice, Mass. Supreme Judicial Court
- 1895LL.D., Harvard
- 1899-1902Chief Justice, Mass. Supreme Judicial Court
- December 4, 1902-January 12, 1932Associate Justice, Supreme Court of U.S.
- 1909D.C.L., Oxford
- 1910LL.D., Univ. of Berlin
- 1912LL.D., Williams
- March 6, 1935Died
- March 8, 1841,
- b. Boston, Mass. to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, poet and essayist (1809-1894) and Amelia Lee (Jackson) Holmes.
- A.B., Harvard
- Served 3 years with 20th Mass. Volunteers, lt. to lt. col.; mustered out July 17, 1864 with rank of captain.
- LL.B., Harvard
- Admitted to Massachusetts bar
- June 17, 1872
- m. Fanny Bowditch Dixwell (died 1929)
- LL.D., Yale
- Instructor in Constitutional law, Harvard College
- Editor, American Law Review
- Member, law firm of Shattuck, Holmes and Munroe
- Lecturer on Common law, Lowell Institute
- Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
- Associate Justice, Mass. Supreme Judicial Court
- LL.D., Harvard
- Chief Justice, Mass. Supreme Judicial Court
- December 4, 1902-January12, 1932
- Associate Justice, Supreme Court of U.S.
- D.C.L., Oxford
- LL.D., Univ. of Berlin
- LL.D., Williams
- March 6,1935
- The Common Law (lectures at Lowell Institute), 1881
- Speeches , 1891, 1913
- Collected Legal Papers , 1920
Series List/ Description
- Series I. Major Correspondence, 1874-1935 1874-1935 The six subseries in this Seriesrepresent Oliver Wendell Holmes' most prolific correspondents: LewisEinstein, Felix Frankfurter, John Chipman Gray, Nina Gray, HaroldLaski, and Frederick Pollock. Much of this correspondence is of apersonal nature.
- ___Subseries A. Einstein, Lewis, 1909-19351909-1935
- ___Subseries B. Frankfurter, Felix, 1912-19341912-1934
- ___Subseries C. Gray, John Chipman, 1875-19151875-1915
- ___Subseries D. Gray, Nina, 1888-1932 1888-1932
- ___Subseries E. Laski, Harold, 1916-19351916-1935
- ___Subseries F. Pollock, Frederick, 1874-19341874-1934
- Series II. General Correspondence, 1849-1935 1849-1935 The General CorrespondenceSeries was divided into two subseries based on the original order ofthe collection as it was received by the library, though they coverthe same time period, and many correspondents may be found in bothsubseries. Little of Oliver Wendell Holmes's correspondence in thisseries seems to be of a casual, unsolicited nature. Hiscorrespondents were predominantly close family friends, distantrelatives, European acquaintances, professional associates,etc.
- ___Subseries A. Correspondence from Receipt # 1, 1877-1933 1877-1933
- ___Subseries B. File Drawers, 1849-19351849-1935
- Series III. Massachusetts. Supreme Judicial Court, 1882-19021882-1902
Docketentries, in the handwriting of Oliver Wendell Holmes, relating tocases heard by the full court of the Supreme Judicial Court,1899-1902.
- Series IV. U.S. Supreme Court, 1902-19311902-1931
This Seriesincludes petitions for certiorari, hand-written notes by OliverWendell Holmes, docket entries for the October term, 1931, andoriginal actions and appellate cases, arranged chronologically byfiling date.
- Series V. Family and Personal Material, 1715-1938 1715-1938 This Seriesconsists of old Holmes, Wendell, and Jackson family material; Dr.Oliver Wendell Holmes items; Oliver Wendell Holmes' diaries, lettersand Civil War material; and Fanny B. Holmes items.
- ___Subseries A. Family and Ancestors, 1715-1935.1715-1935.
- ___Subseries B. Civil War, 1861-18661861-1866
- ___Subseries C. Personal, 1857-19381857-1938
- ___Subseries D. Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1902-19321902-1932
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Existence and Location of Copies
- The John G. Palfrey (1875-1945)Collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Papers, 1715-1938;
- The Mark DeWolfe Howe Research Materials On Oliver WendellHolmes, Jr., 1858-1968;
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,Addenda, 1818-1978;
- The Edward J. Holmes Collection ofOliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Materials, 1853-1944;
- Letters from Holmes to Lady Castleton Small ManuscriptCollection.
- Holmes, Oliver Wendell. The John G. Palfrey (1875-1945) collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Papers, 1715-1938: Finding Aid.
- Harvard Law School LibraryCambridge, MA 02138
- EAD ID
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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