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HOLLIS 601605

Hand, Learned, 1872-1961. Papers, 1840-1961: Finding Aid.

Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard Law School

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: HOLLIS 601605
Repository: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Hand, Learned, 1872-1961.
Title: Learned Hand papers, 1840-1961.
Date(s): 1840-1961
Quantity: 235 MSS boxes, (18 Paige boxes,; 116.6 linear feet)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Materials relating to Hand's private and public life, his activities as an alumnus of Harvard University, his friendship with Felix Frankfurter, and to the Hand family. Includes material on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York City; information on the Progressive movement (1909-1914) and the beginnings of the New Republic and its early staff; and transcripts of oral-history interviews conducted by Gerald Gunther of Stanford Law School and others, of Judge Hand, his family and associates.

Acquisition Information:

The papers of Learned Hand, attorney and Federal Judge, were presented to the Harvard Law School on June 7, 1966, by Norris Darrell, Esq., executor of the will of Judge Hand.

Processing Information:

Prepared by Erika Chadbourn and Jack Molloy, September, 1968.

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-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.
Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library, and by the Agreement between Norris Darrell and the President and Fellows of Harvard College, signed April 26, 1966, and amended on May 2, 1968.


Copyright for these papers has not passed into the public domain. Permission to publish is required. Until August 18, 2011 permission to publish must be obtained from Jonathan Hand Churchill (see case files).

Historical/Biographical Information

b. Albany, NY, 27 January, 1872
s. Samuel and Lydia Coit (Learned) Hand
A.B., Harvard, 1893.
A.M., Harvard, 1894.
LL.B., Harvard, 1896.
LL.D.: Columbia, 1930; Yale, 1931; University of Pennsylvania, 1933; Amherst College, 1938; Dartmouth, 1938; Harvard, 1939; Princeton, 1947; New School of Social Research, 1950; New York University, 1951; Cambridge (England), 1952; State University of New York, 1952; Chicago, 1952; Yeshiva University, 1953; Washington University, 1953; Wesleyan University, 1957.
m. Frances Amelia Fincke, December 6, 1902.
Children: Mary Deshon, Frances Lydia, Constance.
Admitted to New York bar, 1897.
With Marcus T. Hun, Albany, as clerk, 1897-1899.
Member, firm of Hun, Johnston, & Hand, Albany, 1899-1902.
Managing clerk, Zabriskie, Burrill & Murray, New York, 1902-1904.
Member, firm of Gould & Wilkie, New York, 1904-1909.
U.S. District Judge, Southern District of New York, 1909-1924; appointed by President Taft.
Judge, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 1924-1961; appointed by President Coolidge.
Senior Circuit Judge, 1939-1951.
Semi-retired, 1951-1961.
Member and co-founder of the American Law Institute.
Clubs: Association of the Bar of the City of New York, American Bar Association Clubs, Century, Harvard.
d. 18 August, 1961.

Series Description

Scope and Content

The 65,000 items in the collection of papers of Judge Learned Hand span the years 1892-1961, with a few family biographical items dating back to 1846. The collection includes correspondence, opinions, memoranda, reports, statistical tables, legal documents, drafts of speeches and writings, typescripts of oral history interviews, diaries, address books, ledgers, letter-press books, bills, bank statements, newspaper clippings, photos, maps, printed material, microfilm, files of index cards, and memorabilia.
The largest contingent of this collection of papers consists of Judge Hand's correspondence (115 MSS boxes, approximately 50,000 items). This correspondence contains: a) general matters, other than official correspondence, relating to Judge Hand's everyday life, correspondence with casual acquaintances, matters relating to various clubs of which he was a member, general Harvard matters, social engagements, etc., b) correspondence with close friends which extended over long periods of time; and c) correspondence with the various members of his own family and with his wife's relatives.
The second largest contingent comprises the Circuit Court material (69 MSS boxes, approximately 10,000 items), which consists of the day-to-day business of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, official Court correspondence, reports on the Judicial Conferences, and all of the Memoranda from the time Judge Hand joined the Court of Appeals until his death.
The third most important group of papers consists of the District Court Opinions (9 MSS boxes, approximately 1,000 items), which Judge Hand wrote while sitting on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Since only about one out of four of the District Court Opinions is published in the official reporter series, this series is especially valuable.
Among Judge Hand's major correspondence were: Dean Gooderham Acheson, Charles Lowell Barlow, Gordon Knox Bell, Bernard Berenson, Lawrence Berenson, Robert Pendleton Bowler, Louis Dembitz Brandeis, Edward Burnham Burling, Charles Culp Burlingham, Benjamin Nathan Cardozo, Charles Edward Clark, Morris Raphael Cohen, Herbert D. Croly, Louis Henry Dow, Francis Hackett, Hamish Hamilton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Felix Frankfurter, Augustus Noble Hand, Charles P. Howland, Charles Evans Hughes, Pierre Jay, Walter Lippmann, Philip Littell, Frederic W. Lord, George Rublee, Harlan Fiske Stone, Thomas Walter Swan, Frederick Townsend, Charles Edward Wyzanski, Jr.
The material was left in the arrangement imposed upon it by Judge Hand. For the sake of convenience of consultation, his 160 odd file boxes of correspondence, each covering about four calendar months, were consolidated into larger groupings.

List of Law Clerks


I. U.S. District Court. N.Y. (South. distr.) - Opinions
II. U.S. Circuit Court (2d circuit) - Opinions


(1) Griffith, Kathryn
Judge Learned Hand - The American Judiciary (Dissertation, probably 1966 or 1967) 318 p. (Catalog number: T 13476)
Obtained from:
Dissertation written for Department of Political Science, University of Chicago


Clark, Fred G. How We Live. 1944
Congress of American-Soviet Friendship. American Industry Commemorates The Tenth Anniversary of American-Soviet Diplomatic Relations, 1933 - 1943
Dr. Carlos J. Finlay and the Hall of Fame Today
Griswold, E. N. The Fifth Amendment Today, 1955
Roper, H. R. Man Against Pain. 1945
Stout, W. W. A War Job "Thought Impossible". 1945


Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
Minutes of Trials (25 volumes):

Container List