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HOLLIS 9121242

Harvard Law School. Student Law Club Records, 1857-1971: Finding Aid

Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University

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Harvard Law School

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: HOLLIS 9121242
Repository: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Harvard Law School
Title: Harvard Law School Student Law Club Records
Date(s): 1857-1971
Quantity: 12 boxes (9 Paige boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection consists mainly of handwritten and typed records of moot court cases argued by various law clubs at the Harvard Law School. The collection also includes a small amount of materials related to the various clubs, such as correspondence, minutes, and ephemera.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Contact Curator of Modern Manuscripts and Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed by Erica C. Bicchieri, May 2003.

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.

Historical/Biographical Information

During much of the nineteenth century, moot court exercises were an integral part of the Harvard Law School curriculum. When interest in these school-sponsored moot courts began to wan in the 1870s, it was due in part to the rise in popularity of various law clubs, which held moot courts of their own. In the mid-1800s the prominent clubs were Coke, Kent, Bracton, Fleta, and Marshall. The Marshall Club was the oldest, having been founded in 1825. The clubs were made up of students elected from each class based on their social prominence and legal ability, and were often organized according to previous affiliation. (The Kent Club, for instance, was made up of students who had attended college at Yale.) During these years, the law clubs often argued cases that were on the school-sponsored moot court docket, but which had not yet been decided. The differences between the decisions of the clubs' student judges and those of the Professors who decided the moot court case were apparently the subject of amusement.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the law clubs increased in both number and popularity. The new clubs were divided into three courts: the Superior, consisting of first year students; the Supreme, consisting of second year students; and the Court of Appeals, consisting of 3rd year students, once the Law School program included a third year. The school-sponsored moot court system was discontinued, and the Law School faculty began taking an active interest in the law clubs. By 1908, the school had approximately fifty different law clubs, the most prominent being Ames-Gray, Williston, Kent, Austin, Choate, George Gray, Harlan, English 6, Bryce, Holmes, Langdell, Moody, Parsons, Smith, Story, Westengard, Witenagemot, and Wyman.
The law clubs continued to hold moot courts into the second decade of the twentieth century, but after 1910, with the institution of the Board of Student Advisors and the Ames Competition, interest in the clubs decreased.

Series List

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mainly of handwritten and typed records of moot court cases argued by various law clubs at the Harvard Law School. Most of these records are organized by academic year, and many are in bound volumes. Some of the volumes include copies of the club constitution, as well as a list of members. Generally the docket for the academic year is at the beginning, followed by the full text of all documents relevant to each case. The collection also includes a small amount of materials related to the various clubs, such as correspondence, minutes, and ephemera.

Container List


law00127