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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601714

Thomas Reed Powell papers


Collection consists of papers relating to Powell's career as law teacher and legal scholar, consultant and mediator in legal cases involving tax, insurance, and railroad matters, and as president of the American Political Science Association. It also includes mss. of his humorous prose and verse.


  • Creation: 1905-1955

Language of Materials


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 (11 Paige boxes (lettered A-H, J) in 25 Hollinger boxes)

The Thomas Reed Powell Papers span the years 1905-1955. The collection includes correspondence, memoranda, drafts, notes, briefs, newspaper clippings, telegrams, financial statements, photographs, reports, legislative documents, pamphlets, judicial decisions, petitions, indexes, lists, manuscripts of published and unpublished writings and speeches, and miscellaneous printed material.

The major contingent of Professor Powell's papers (approximately 3,000 items) consists of correspondence (both incoming and copies of outgoing mail) during the period when he was a member of the Harvard Law School faculty, namely 1925-1955. This correspondence is of a professional nature, with colleagues and other professional persons, relating directly to his work as law teacher and legal scholar. Another large group of materials relates to Professor Powell's work as consultant and mediator in legal cases, involving mainly tax, insurance and railroad matters. The third significant group in these papers consists of manuscript material, both professional and non-professional; the latter group includes his various humorous pieces in verse and prose. Professor Powell was president of the American Political Science Association during 1937-1938, and his correspondence relating to this office is included in his papers.

Among Professor Powell's correspondents, besides colleagues on the Harvard Law School and other faculties, were: Arnold, Thurman Wesley, 1891-1969; Beard, Charles Austin, 1874-1948; Biddle, Francis, 1886-1968; Brandeis, Louis Dembitz, 1856-1941; Burlingham, Charles Culp, 1858-1959; Cardozo, Benjamin N., 1870-1938; Clark, Charles Edward, 1889-1963; Dewey, John, 1859-1952; Dickinson, John, 1894-1952; Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-; Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957; Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965; Hand, Learned, 1872-1961; Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1841-1935; Jackson, Robert Houghwout, 1892-1954; Laski, Harold Joseph, 1893-1950; MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-; Morse, Wayne Lyman, 1900-; Stone, Harlan Fiske, 1872-1946; Van Doren, Irita, 1891-1966; Wyzanski, Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1906-.

Historical/Biographical Information

  • April 29, 1880 b. Richford, Vermont. s. E. Henry and Georgiana (Reed) Powell
  • 1900 A.B., University of Vermont
  • 1925 LL.D., University of Vermont
  • 1904 LL.B., Harvard
  • 1913 Ph.D., Columbia
  • 1930 D.C.L., University of New Mexico
  • July 27, 1915 m. Mary Lee Hale; children - Mary Lee (Mrs. Robert H. Davenport, Jr.), Georgiana Reed (Mrs. Brent Maxwell Abel), Thomas Reed, Jr.
  • 1904 Admitted to Vermont Bar
  • 1904-1906 Practiced at Burlington
  • 1904-1906 Assistant treasurer, University of Vermont, and State Agricultural College
  • 1907-1908, 1911-1912 Lecturer in public law, Columbia
  • 1908-1910 Associate in political science, University of Illinois
  • 1910-1911 Honorary fellow administrative law, Columbia University
  • 1912-1913 Associate in law, Columbia University
  • 1913-1920 Associate professor constitutional law, Columbia University
  • 1920-1923 Professor, Columbia University
  • 1923-1925 Ruggles professor constitutional law, Columbia University
  • 1925-1928 Professor of law, Harvard Law School
  • 1928-1938 Langdell professor of law, Harvard Law School
  • 1938-1949 Story professor of law, Harvard Law School
  • 1949 Emeritus, Harvard Law School
  • 1950-1955 Professor of constitutional law Suffolk University
  • 1951 Lecturer New School of Social Research
  • 1942 Admitted to Massachusetts Bar
  • 1945 U.S. Supreme Court Bar
  • 1923-1924 Visiting professor, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1929 Visiting professor, Columbia
  • 1936, 1941 Special assistant to Attorney General of U.S.
  • 1941 Member President's Emergency Board on National Railway Strike
  • 1918-1920 Member, executive council, American Political Science Association
  • 1921 Third vice-president, American Political Science Association
  • 1937 President, American Political Science Association
  • August 16, 1955 Died

  1. Separation of Powers, 1913
  2. Indirect Encroachment on Federal Authority by the Taxing Powers of the States, 1919.
  3. The Supreme Court and State Police Power, (1922-1930), 1932.
  4. Managing editor, Political Science Quarterly, 1913-1916.
  5. Contributor to legalperiodicals

Series List

Arranged in the following series:

  1. Series I. Correspondence
  2. Series II. Papers in Consultant Work
  3. Series III. Other Materials
  4. Series IV. Professional Activities other than Consultant Work
  5. Series V. Manuscripts of Speeches and Writings
  6. Series VI. Harvard Law School Miscellany
  7. Series VII. Addenda

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas Reed Powell, Jr. in 1982.

Processing Information

Prepared by Edith G. Henderson, 1965.

Powell, Thomas Reed. Papers, 1905-1955: Finding Aid. HOLLIS 601714
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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