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Federal Judicial History

The Center conducts research and produces resources on the history of the judicial branch of the federal government.  These resources include compilations of historical data on the courts, information about judges and judicial administration, as well as publications on federal judicial history. The Center also maintains a biographical directory of Article III judges from 1789 to the present, engages in outreach and education on federal judicial history, and works to promote the preservation of the history of the judicial branch.

Twitter Feed (@FedJudicialHist)

  • Take a look at our newly expanded gallery of federal courthouses:
    2 weeks 19 hours ago
  • New Orleans attorney A.P. Tureaud filed a complaint in federal court challenging the segregation of local public schools #OTD in 1952; read our materials on Bush v. Orleans Parish School Board here:
    2 weeks 4 days ago
  • Senior U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Clyde H. Hamilton (4th Cir.) died September 2 at age 86
    2 weeks 4 days ago
  • In a statute intended "for the purpose of correcting obsolete references" Congress provided #OTD in 1954 that the justices of the U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia were judges in the same sense as those of the other federal courts.
    2 weeks 5 days ago
  • Congress created the Department of the Treasury #OTD in 1789; the department assumed responsibility for the financial administration of the federal courts until the Department of the Interior took over this function in 1849
    2 weeks 6 days ago


Debates on the Federal Judiciary: A Documentary History

This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.

Volume I: 1787-1875
The first volume traces the long process of defining the judiciary within the relatively brief outline provided by the Constitution.

Volume II: 1875-1939
Volume II introduces readers to public debates on proposals to alter the organization, jurisdiction, and administration of the federal courts, as well as the tenure and authority of federal judges, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Volume III: 1939-2005
The concluding volume of the series covers debates concerning structural changes to the federal courts, criminal justice reform, proposed civil justice initiatives, and the discipline of federal judges.

Approaches to Federal Judicial History

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This volume presents a range of scholarly approaches to the field of federal judicial history. Essays by scholars and public historians evaluate the current state of the field and offer insights into new potential areas of study.

To submit questions about federal judicial history, email us at